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Home > Tips and Hints > Trip planning and safety > Full time on the road
Nomads on the road - no fixed address

Government departmental administration has not really caught up with the wave of modern day gypsies who live in their mobile homes; be they anything from large and luxurious caravans, fifth wheelers or motor homes towing the family car to simple camper trailers. They are still really classified as ‘homeless persons’ similar to the vagrant sleeping under a bridge or the itinerant worker.  These travellers may be just touring in their retirement, or may be going between different locations and obtaining work for many months at a time, some with young families and some leaving adult children while they take the opportunity to see as much of this land as they can.  A number of retirees do voluntary work, giving further benefit to communities that they visit and stay in. 

 

Issues that need to be addressed include insurances, vehicle registrations and electoral roll.  The fact that these travellers may travel through several different states complicates the situation.  The personal issues of leaving the family and medical conditions should be considered before planning to be away indefinitely.  Fortunately there are not many medical conditions that will stop the most determined travellers.  

 

In reality, the best method if selling your home is to ‘move in’ with a relative (such as son, daughter, sister or parent) or a good friend and use their address.  Consider this the home base you return to between trips.  This family member will most likely be the one you choose to look after you mail. 

Electoral Roll and voting: Persons with no fixed address must enrol in the Division in which they were last entitled to enrolment. If they have not previously been entitled to enrolment they can enrol for the division in which their next of kin is enrolled, or, if there is no next of kin, the division in which they were born.  See Enrolling to vote with no fixed address.

 

It is wise to be enrolled at the address of your relative that you are using as your address for vehicle licensing, just so that no questions are asked about multiple addresses. 

 

Some travellers have been successful when requesting their names temporarily removed from the electoral roll whilst travelling.  However voting whilst touring is usually not difficult; either by absentee vote, early vote (available at a few selected polling stations), absentee vote (not suitable for state elections unless at a certain electoral offices in other states) or by postal vote.  If your movements and/or remote location prevent any of these in the time frame, a phone call to the electoral office prior to the election explaining why you will be unable to vote can save a fine being levied for failure to vote.  For all about options for voting see here

 

Centrelink  If you are relying on a Centrelink benefit or pension you need to check that long term travel is permitted when on your benefit.  Reporting requirements can be done on line, by fax, at Centrelink offices or from the many Centrelink agencies in community resource centres across the country.  Retaining the one address and having renewed cards posted to you by your relative keeps it simple and avoids the risk of mail going astray when changing your address frequently with Centrelink.   Some people are eligible for rent assistance when staying for a period of time at a caravan park.  Ensure Centrelink has not changed your address to this venue when you move on.  Renewal application forms if required can be forward to you with your mail, downloaded from the internet (but not all forms can be downloaded) or picked up from Centrelink offices or agencies.  See Centrelink

 

Seniors Cards As these are administered by each state, the conditions specify you must be a permanent resident of that state.  When outside of the state for long periods, you may no longer be eligible for the card.  Card holders are required to notify the department issuing that card of any changes to eligibility.  See Government Seniors Card

 

Commercial mail forwarding agencies will post your mail as requested, or many can be contracted to open your mail, scan and email copies to you.  Some can even provide a street address for you to use when necessary, eg when a post office box is not sufficient.  However this address is not a suitable option for use as a garaging address for vehicle licence and insurance purposes. 

 

 

Mail: See Keeping it simple - Mail

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Views like this from your front door beat a home in a street any day
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The early explorers needed mail, whereas with internet and mobile telephones communication for us is much easier.  Much of the exploration of central Australia took place to develop a network of telegraph lines and stations.  These are now obsolete. 

 

Prior to the overland railway, Chambers Pillar was a significant landmark in the desert for travellers.  Messages were sometimes left at the base of the pillar.  Early travellers carved their names into the soft sandstone of the pillar, including John Ross, the leader of the exploring party for the Overland Telegraph Line construction and his second in command Alfred Giles. 

Be sure you insurer or broker is aware of your plans.  If your house is rented out or left vacant, variations to the policy may be needed, and extra charges may apply. 

 

Insurance for your rig will centre on garaging address, which again is not at all suitable for the permanent traveller.  It is also wise to use the same address for insurance and registration purposes. Again, using the address of your trusted family member may be the only practical option.  Make sure there will be no nasty surprises if you have a claim, by discussing your situation with your insurer when setting up your policies for the nomadic lifestyle. A broker may be more helpful to you than going direct to an insurance company, and will find the company most suited to your needs.  Not all will insure a vehicle when there is no real home address.  Contents cover may also be limited while you are in a mobile home.  Keep your insurer informed of any events which otherwise may give them cause to decline a claim, such as notifying if you get any traffic infringement tickets.  Ensure your fully loaded rig complies with the weight limits for the trailer and for the towing vehicle. 

 

Insurances

There are many people choosing to have no other home than their caravan, camper or motor home.  What happens about licensing their vehicle or their voting obligations?    

Full time on the road?  How to cope with no fixed address.  Insurance matters.  This page contains trip planning articles and advice about these areas.

Vehicle registrations, annual inspections and driver’s licences:  Your vehicle and trailer need to be registered in the state where you reside; hence once again you will need to use the address of your relative.  With registration payments being made on line, paying from another state is easy.  If licence stickers are sent, they will go to the registered address (being your family member, friend or mail forwarding agency) ready to be forwarded to a post office where you plan to collect mail.  Vehicle licence stickers are no longer used in Western Australia.  For states where an annual inspection is required, this can usually be done by an authorised person in another state and forwarded to your state’s licensing authority.  Contact you licensing authority before you leave to find out acceptable alternatives.  

 

See Licensing websites for driver's licences. 

 

Note the wisdom in having both your tow vehicle and caravan registered in the same state, using the same garaging address with this example from RMS New South Wales Interstate vehicles kept or garaged in NSW

Licences

Family:  How will you cope with being away from family, particularly small grandchildren, if you have been living close to them? Communicating with older children and grandchildren can be easy by email, telephone or webcam.  Not being there to see the tiny one’s first steps, birthdays, or school awards may be difficult for some grandparents.  Having grand children growing up and only seeing you occasionally as a virtual stranger may also be difficult to handle.  Some people may be taking a major role in caring for ageing parents and/or their affairs.  These can all seriously curtail the dream of being a carefree nomad.  However you can always fly back to family occasionally, either at times they need you or you need to see them, and this should be budgeted for. 

 

Health:  Those touring full time are amongst the fittest senior citizens we meet.  Long walks and climbs to see lookouts, waterfalls and other features are being taken by elderly tourists with a fitness that puts me to shame.  Walking sticks become hiking sticks on long and difficult climbs.  Paunches from years of sitting in an office soon flatten and energy returns. 

 

It often takes a life threatening situation before many make the step to fulfill their life long dream of taking to the road. Some are travelling against the odds or with great medical needs.  Sometimes flights back to the city for treatment or visits to their specialists are essential.  Some arrange to have regular treatments at hospitals on the way around, requiring far more structured touring, but they are still living their dream.   

 

Handling prescritions when travelling click here

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What about your home?  Should you sell?  See Sell, Rent or Leave Vacant?