Traveling Solo at Eighty-Plus

No, I’m not eighty yet, but I know someone who is. And she is still traveling at … well – let’s just say she is still traveling solo at Eighty-plus. And no – she doesn’t get a taxi to the cruise terminal and live in the lap of luxury for a few weeks while someone else takes care of everything.

Let me explain who Noeline is…

Noeline is a native of another land – not too far from Australia’s golden shores. The inhabitants of this close neighbour of ours are Australia’s friends – unless you mention sport. Then all bets are off and the rivalry is very real.

And it seems that sport isn’t the only thing that natives of New Zealand are good at. If Noeline is anything to go by, our neighbours across the ditch are also extremely resourceful and independent.

Road-Tripping – the only way to go

Luxury travel doesn’t seem to have ever been in Noeline’s vocabulary. No cruise ships or guided tours for her. She sets her own pace and marches to the beat of a very different drum. Traveling at eighty-plus is one thing, but traveling solo at eighty-plus, in a campervan, is something else.

Noeline’s preferred method of travel is being tucked up in her own campervan under a star-lit sky at night. And daylight hours will find her navigating her way along the East or West Coast or across the Nullarbor on a trip from Perth to Murwillumbah.

Perth to Murwillumbah? Are you serious?

Under pressure from well-meaning family members a few years ago, Noeline traded her compact campervan for a big-rig with all the trimmings – you know the ones – toilet, shower, everything that opens-and-shuts.

And that big-rig sat in the big-rig carpark gathering dust. As Noeline explained, it was too technical. There were too many checks and balances to be done in the cabin before she even turned the engine on.

She missed her little camper.

And there were still so many places to explore!

So Noeline drove the big-rig to the big-rig sale yard and sold it. Then the real fun began.

She found a company over in Perth (on the West Coast) who not only sold campervans like her old one, but fitted them out as well.

With a little technological help from me, Noeline sealed the deal online and designed the fit-out of her new van. The only problem was, she had to fly to Perth to collect it and then drive it all the way back to Murwillumbah – a trip that involved crossing the Nullarbor.

Image by Lenka Svobodova from Pixabay 

I used the word ‘problem’ because for me it would have been an insurmountable problem. The loneliness of that long stretch of road across the centre of Australia would have turned me right off. But then, I’m put off by having to stay in anything less than at least a four-star hotel.

But not Noeline – she had it all worked out. She would stuff as much as she could into the baggage allowance of a domestic flight, fly to Perth, collect the new campervan and take a leisurely drive home, across the Nullarbor.

And that’s exactly what she did.

Summer had lost its sting when Noeline flew from Brisbane to Perth – and she could only take a limited amount of warm clothing and bedding with her.

She froze!

She reports having woken up one morning on that Nullarbor trip with ice on the inside of the windows. And she slept in ALL the clothes she had taken with her. She was seriously COLD! But she persevered and she made it – all the way from Perth to Murwillumbah.

No moss grows on Noeline’s rolling stone.

As soon as she was suffeciently rested from the Perth to Murwillumbah trip – she was off again. The East Coast of Australia beckoned – and she heeded the call.

Packing up the van for the East Coast trip…

Noeline phoned me one night from Duaringa in Central Queensland. I knew the area well, having lived not too far from there before retiring.

This time it was the heat that was making the trip a little more arduous, so she planned to head over to Rockhampton for a while and then come home.

A week came and went, and then another. I hadn’t heard from her and her van wasn’t in its usual parking spot at home. I started to worry – should I call her?

Why Worry?

I soon discovered that worrying about Noeline when she is traveling solo is a waste of time and effort. She is resourceful and independent.

But when an incoming call with Noeline’s number on it finally flashed up on my mobile phone, I was relieved.

There wasn’t any problem – she had just decided to detour via Grafton to see the beautiful Jacaranda trees in flower.

And that is how this incredibly independent and sprightly lady rolls. She makes traveling solo at eighty-plus seem so easy that heck – anyone could do it – or not. I still have to psych myself up to drive my medium-sized sedan from Murwillumbah to the north-side of Brisbane – a trip of (on a good day) two hours.

As much as I want to be like Noeline, I doubt I ever will. I lack the sense of adventure and confidence that just oozes out of her.

I like to sleep in a king-sized bed in a good-quality hotel – Noeline pulls up on the side of the road and rolls into her platform bed in the back of her van.

I fly to my destination – Noeline takes days or even weeks to drive to hers.

And that is why this gutsy-lady…..

… is my super-hero!


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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Love the article. I will be 80 in about three weeks. My wife and I Moved to Mexico about 6 years ago and I don’t speak Spanish, or at least very little. We invested and build a farm in the hills overlooking Puerto Vallarta and I enjoy exploring the area without any idea where I will end up when I start out. Adventure should increase as we age and not decrease. Noeline has found the secret to enjoying life to it’s fullest.

    1. Absolutely, William! I admire Noeline so much. She might only be knee-high to a grasshopper, but she packs a heck of a lot of adventure into everything she does. Your adventures sound fantastic! I haven’t been to Mexico but I have some friends who live there and I really should try to get there to see them. Although, one of them lives in Vancouver BC as well, so again, I’ve taken the easy way out and visited him there. As you said, adventure should increase as we age, not decrease. Because really, age is just a number. What we think and do determines our real age. I know some people who are old at sixty. Happy trekking and enjoy your farm, as I’m sure you do.

    2. William, I should have added that I watched an episode of Michael Mosley’s medical show last night and he found that learning a new language is beneficial for seniors (they even made greater improvements in their learning than the younger ones). It can apparently delay the onset of dementia by about five years. So that’s it! I’m off to learn a new language. In fact, I’m going to start up a class in the retirement village I live in. There are plenty of online courses we could use. I’ve been dabbling in learning Swedish, so now it is time to get serious about it.

  2. Ha ha Maureen. I too had a van like your friend, which I sold over the weekend. I drove it to Uluru and back. There are so many solo senior ladies driving vans, or pitching tents all around the country. But I do like the comfort of a nice motel.

    1. I remember Myrtle! And your trip to Uluru, Di. I told Noeline about the group you belonged to and she was considering joining them for a trip at some stage. And I’m definitely like you – love a comfy Hotel room with room service and all the trimmings. I enjoyed camping when I was younger, but now I’ve moved to the ‘glamping’ stage of life.

  3. Wow, what an inspiring story, Maureen! I’ve travelled solo a few times – on cruises. I can handle camping and roughing it but not alone. I have to remember Noeline for courage and resourcefulness.


    1. I’d never get past the stage of putting the tent up if I camped on my own, Lily.
      I have traveled a lot on my own – but I also enjoy having a good travel-buddy with me to share the special moments.
      Noeline is just amazing!

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