Photo ESSAY by Paul Beutel
Pinned to the wall at Searles RV are hundreds of photographs of smiling customers, captured at the very moment they embarked on a new adventure. The didn’t just buy a vehicle or trailer; they invested in a lifestyle.
The reasons they’ve chosen ‘van life’ vary greatly – from inspiring to bitter sweet – but the one unmistakable emotion that’s written on all of their faces is excitement.
Since starting Searles RV in 2008, Ben Searle (pictured left) has sold thousands of new and used caravans, campers and motorhomes to eager travellers. An avid collector of caravanning memorabilia, he’s seen many travel trends come and go, and his customer base has evolved significantly.
Once considered a right-of-passage for retired couples with empty nests, the ‘big lap’ of Australia is no longer reserved for so-called ‘grey nomads’. In the past eight years, Ben has noticed two distinct changes: his customers are getting younger and more of them are going it alone.
Crush Magazine spent an afternoon in January with the Kingfishers (pictured); the local solo-travellers’ arm of the Campervan Motorhome Club of Australia. Some are widowed and still Continued on page 44.
want to fulfill the dream they shared with their spouse. Or they’ve divorced, down sized and now travel with their dog. Others just prefer solitude, but like the security of travelling in convoy with like-minded people.
Faced with the prospect of being locked down at home indefinitely in the inner city suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne due to COVID-19, parents with the flexibility to work from anywhere are packing up their families, hitting the open road and visiting places like Bundaberg.
Young couples are opting for simplicity, cheap living and beautiful views. They’ve traded their apartments for minimalist ‘tiny homes’ on wheels; going from paying expensive rent and utilities to modest campground fees.
Demand for campervans, caravans and camper trailers may be at an all time high, making the job of a salesman that much easier, but award-winning dealerships like Searles RV understand it’s still all about people. They’re passionate about helping future generations experience our vast country.
“Whether someone wants to sleep in a swag under the stars or own a half-a-million dollar A-class motorhome; it’s our job to listen to what they want, understand their personal situation and point out all the pros and cons of every set up, make and model,” Ben said.
“The advice we give is based on feedback from the thousands of customers we’ve helped before them. People can fall into traps, thinking they need what their neighbour has got, but they should consider the practical things as well as the pleasurable aspects. Listen to what other travellers have to say, but weigh it against your own circumstances and trust your gut.”