Viw Magazine

The Property Pack
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  • Written by Viw Magazine

Ian and Lucy resent the idea that they’re “grey nomads”. Both in their late 50s, they’ve paid off their home and their youngest is off to university. Despite being at the top of their careers and they’ve taken the increasingly popular step of chucking it all in to hit the open road.

Ian left his role as a high school principal to register as a casual supply teacher. Lucy threw in the corporate HR Management towel, and now works on flexible consulting contracts. They’re done with the 40 (50+) hour week. They’re now part-time travelers spending up to 30 weeks of the year on the road. They’re not alone. Australia’s new breed of “salt and pepper nomads” aren’t waiting for retirement to live their best lives.

The Caravanning Revolution

The days of Dotty and Bill blocking traffic with a cumbersome van have passed. Well, not completely. Motorists can still enjoy that frustration. But the salt and pepper crew have sparked a new standard in caravanning. The offroad camper adventure van. Instead of settling in cheek to jowl in one of Australia’s packed caravan parks, Salt and Peppers are opting for roads less travelled, towing sleek, narrow, low vans with engineered suspension that can take them to the places formerly only accessible by the gruntiest 4WD.

Industry on Notice

The ACCC last year put the caravanning industry on notice for poor treatment of clients. The industry has been accused of poor communication, misleading promises and lackluster after-sales care.

Link: https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/caravan-industry-on-notice-for-poor-treatment-of-consumers

It’s no secret to seasoned caravanners that our industry has a reputation for poor customer service. While that’s disappointing, when you start getting into adventure vanning, it becomes dangerous. When the ACCC found that 18% of buyers were misled about tow weight and off-road capabilities, that means nearly one in five caravanners are in active danger. It’s not good enough and needs better regulation,” said industry leader John Perry, Owner/Director of JAWA Off Road Campers.

Where Trouble Arises

Australia. That’s where the trouble arises. Australia’s terrain is tough. It’s rocky. It’s dusty. It’s muddy. It’s humid. And sometimes, it’s even snowy. Australia’s emerging off road camper industry relies on Chinese manufacturing to build out the vans. In most cases this includes Chinese installed electrical and ventilation systems. There’s an increasing issue with these systems failing to cope with Australia’s rugged environment, and that’s dangerous for Salt and Pepper travelers, stranded in the dusty Aussie outback with no ventilation or damaged suspension.

Avoiding Newbie Off Road Camper Mistakes

  • Customer service is a major issue in the industry. Be informed about the company, not just the features of the van.

  • Choose an off road camper that has Australian electrical components, including dust reduction systems and other safety essentials

  • Keep your paperwork with you on the road

  • Investigate the quality of the suspension and towing gear, especially if you plan to take your new van off road

  • Choose an off road camper on quality build first and foremost

  • Know your rights before you buy, check your warranty and get written clarification on any issues you don’t understand.

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