Road trippin’ solo at 74 – be like Karen

In Travel
7 September 2023
5 min read

My lovely neighbour Karen just got home after driving around the country for 2 months in a campervan. She’s 74 years old, and a total inspiration.

I asked her what prompted her to hit the road, and she said that while she’d made sure her 3 sons had visited important places like Uluru, she had never been there herself.

‘I’ve been thinking about a road trip for 3 years. Finally, I just decided to pick a date and go’, she said.

Karen is no stranger to road trips…

‘My late husband and I had a caravan years ago. On long weekends he’d drive to the end of the street and say ‘left or right?’. We came across some interesting places this way… and we’d ring the kids to let them know where we were each night.

‘We also did a campervan relocation once, from Cairns to the Gold Coast. They gave us 7 days to drive the van down and it only cost us a dollar a day as they needed the camper moved.

To plan her trip, Karen sat down with a big map of Australia and a list of the places she wanted to visit. Ideally, she wanted to drive around 200-300 km a day, arriving at each overnight stop with plenty of daylight. Some days she had to drive a few more hours when there were big gaps between towns.

Karen's hand drawn map showing the palces she visited
Karen’s map of all the places she visited

Using Google to research ‘things to do’ at each of her stopovers, Karen created an itinerary full of things that interested her, like historic pubs and golf courses (she took her set of golf clubs with her). Some of her favourite places were Uluru, Kings Canyon, Daly Waters and Ilfracombe.

Blue sky and grassy green foreground with majestic Uluru in the middle
Uluru was top of Karen’s bucketlist

The camper

Karen researched several camper hire companies, including Britz and Apollo, but ended up using local company Gold Coast Motor Home Hire because of the convenient location (the other companies are in Brisbane making logistics a lot more challenging).

The Mercedes Benz Sprinter she hired was a complete home on wheels, with a bed, table, sink, microwave, cooktop, fridge, shower and toilet. It came fully kitted out, with pots, pans, crockery, cutlery and even a toaster and kettle. Magnetic flyscreens kept the bugs out and let the fresh air in. Staying in campgrounds (caravan parks, old pubs and free-camping sites) meant she generally avoided using the onboard loo and the hassle of dumping waste.

Large white van with open sliding door located in a campground

Karen said she was happy driving the large camper, though being a manual it took a bit of getting used to but ‘really it’s just like riding a bike’.

‘The camper hire company offer to take you out for a driving lesson before you leave if you want, which I think is great for people who haven’t driven a big vehicle before. I found it easy to drive.’

‘I actually overtook a road train that was driving too slow, but I was always conscious about pulling over to let people past if I felt like I was holding anyone up. I wasn’t in a hurry and I really enjoy driving.’

‘The cost of hiring the van for 2 months worked out to around $150 a day, with diesel, food and campground fees on top of that. ‘I travelled 11,000 km and got to see so many of my bucketlist places.’

Comfy, cosy bed inside the van

Be smart, be safe

I asked Karen if she had any worries when setting off on her big adventure, like what if she got a flat tyre?

‘The owner of the camper company gave me his number and said ‘call me any time – 24/7 – if you need any help.’

‘People warned me about different places, and I met people who’d had rocks thrown at their vehicle, but nothing happened to me. I never went out at night and was always home before dark. I felt safe and secure locked in my van. I never felt scared or nervous the whole trip.’

‘I met some lovely people along the way, mostly couples. I’d ask ‘do you mind if I join you?’ and was always welcomed to sit down and chat. Now I’m friends on Facebook with some of the people I met, people are lovely.’

So what would you say to ladies who might be thinking of doing a trip like yours?

‘Go for it! The trip opened my eyes to this country, what it has to offer, and how different all the places are.’

Yaasss, hit the road I say! Be brave and have adventures, be like Karen!

Karen in a humorous bar stool so it looks like she is wearing polka dot bikini bottoms
shannon the blogger with long hair and a friendly smile

Hi, I’m Shannon, a travel and food blogger living on the Gold Coast in Australia.
My favourite things are long lunches, bike rides and food tours.
Read about my adventures
Follow me on Instagram @_eatwelltraveloften_ or sign up for my (more personal) newsletter on the home page.

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