One of the things I find interesting when I talk to other caravanners is the way people organise their time. What do they do all day? Do they have routines? Do they just meander about, deciding on a whim where to stay and where to go next?
Just as there is no such thing as a ‘typical grey nomad’, there is no common pattern to what people do all day. Some people are self-confessed ‘lizards’; they like nothing better than to spend a large chunk of the day basking in the sun, either outside the van or on the beach.
(This means, of course, that they need to follow the sun, or they’ll find themselves in a cold spot with a huge frown on their faces as they huddle into a padded jacket and keep checking the temperature every hour to see if it’s getting any warmer.) Lizard-people often invest in recliner-type chairs so they can loll about outside the van for hours on end.
Then you have the outdoor lovers who eagerly scan maps from the local info centre to find where the hiking trails are. They fill up their water bottles, tuck a spray jacket and trail mix into their backpacks, and off they go. If they’re not hiking they’re jumping on their bikes and pedalling off down the road to check out the township on two wheels. They love National Parks and often set themselves up for their outdoor lifestyle with an off-road RV, tents, sleeping bags, generators, solar panels and inverters.
And of course, keen fisherman are found everywhere on the road – which makes a lot of sense, because they get to try all those spots recommended by anglers who have been there before them. (I have a sense that I should be politically correct here and write something like ‘fisherpeople’ or ‘fisherfolk’ instead of ‘fishermen’, since a large number of females love fishing too. But since it’s a lot easier to talk about ‘fishermen’ than to find a gender-neutral term, that’s what I’m going to do. So sue me.)
Likewise, there are people who are crazy about a sport or hobby who spend a large part of their time doing that: they happily head off to play golf or bowls at the latest destination, or sit down with a sewing machine and create a quilt featuring a different square for every area visited.
While I do have a lightweight sewing machine tucked away in a cupboard in the van, I use this mostly for running repairs. I’ve found that knitting is a good way to while away the hours: I prefer this to sewing while travelling, because a knitting project is easy to pick up and put down to fit in around other things. I also find it easy to knit in the car (not complex patterns, though!) and this makes the hours on the road go a lot faster. I’ve completed various soft toys, scarves, booties and a throw, and I’m always checking out craft stores for more ideas.
By far the largest segment of travellers are pretty much like us, in that they like a mix of activities. We like to swim and paddle kayaks, but we don’t do this every day or at every destination (crocs and stingers kind of spoil the moment). We sometimes go on walks in National Parks; we sometimes do a tour, visit museums or we might just drive around checking things out (like the Argyle Dam and 5 Rivers lookout).
Then there are the days when we don’t feel like doing much at all except sitting in the sun, doing a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, reading a book/magazine or wandering down to the local café to have a cappuccino. Quite often our ‘mooch about’ days follow a day where we’ve been out for a day doing something strenuous, and we’re ready for a bit of down time! A friend of ours enjoys jigsaw puzzles; he puts them together on a mat that rolls up around a tube that keeps all the finished puzzle pieces in place when it’s time to clear a space at the table for dinner.
And speaking of dinner: we’ve encountered some keen cooks who like to try out recipes as they go… but most people prefer to use a few basic cooking devices (plug-in ovens or caravan ovens, a Weber, a Shuttle Chef or Dream Pot, a Cobb) and like simple recipes with easily-obtained ingredients. The slow-paced caravan lifestyle allows plenty of time to cook meals ahead and freeze some for the journey. It’s always good to have a meal or a pasta sauce ready to thaw and eat after a day’s travel (or a tiring day out!).
And of course… I mustn’t forget to mention photos!!! In the age of the digital camera, we tend to take lots of photos, which means that they need to be organised. It’s all too easy to forget where a photo was taken (or when) if you don’t import them into the computer and sort them into folders as you travel. Keen photographers can try different techniques and use programs like Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) to edit and enhance photos. Once that’s done, you can make slideshows from them, or send them to others, or put them into scrapbooks & albums, or upload them to Facebook or a blog. Some keen bloggers find that keeping an online trip diary takes up hours of their time.
Finally, there’s the issue of personal space: time to ourselves – which can be hard to come by when you’re sharing a caravan space.
It’s important to most of us to have a bit of personal space during a trip: even the most devoted of couples like to split up at times and just go off to do things individually. Lots of females like to head off for a local mall for a quick shopping fix, to get haircut, or (I’m putting my hand up here!) to see if there’s a craft shop to browse around.
I must add here that Rob is actually very patient when it comes to waiting around in a shopping centre, but I prefer to go by myself so I’m not constantly thinking that I’d better finish up because he’s standing there being patient… you know how it is!
What about males? If they don’t want to go shopping (which is usually the case) what do they do? Males, in our experience, tend to potter about the van & car, tinkering with one thing or the other, and maybe do some scheduled maintenance on the car – or else pick up a fishing rod and sit for a few quiet hours communing with nature. (Fishing is not necessarily all about catching a fish!) Then there are the clever types who come up with a new “invention” for use with the van and spend some time trying it out and refining it.
And so it goes on. Some like routine, some don’t. Some like being busy, others like sitting about relaxing and watching life go by. And isn’t that the great thing about caravan life? You meet so many different people, doing so many different things… and then sometimes, you get to try ‘something different’ yourself.