Travel Stories

Like many in the caravanning world, I have been following Sid and Sandie Whiting's stories for years. If you haven't come across their email newsletters, you may have watched their DVD's or come across the Whiting's stand at one of the many Camping and Caravanning Expo's around Australia. 

I recently recommended their DVD's to my parents (I'm a pre-grey nomad. My parents are fully certified), which got me wondering what their story is and how they got to live the life they do now. 

What follows is a full access interview with Sid Whiting. It's definitely one to read with recounts of how they got started, their DVD's and "snakes up the pants". Grab yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy the following interview with Sid.

About Sid

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Sid Whiting is the producer of the highly rated “Grey Nomad 101” DVD series on Australian caravanning. In entertaining video format, he and wife Sandie present hours of tips, tricks and traps gathered over 200,000 kilometres of roaming Australia and beyond. Like many in the caravanning world, I have been following Sid and Sandie Whiting's stories for years. If you haven't come across their email newsletters, you may have watched their DVD's or came across the Whiting's stand one of the many Camping and Caravanning Expo's around Australia. 

Hi Sid, so where do you now call home this week?

We’re actually at home this week, in Bridgetown, south-west WA. But,we were in Hobart last week and Melbourne the week before, doing shows.

What was it like being “homeless tramps” (your words, not ours!) for over five years? How did you and Sandie manage the change?

I think the change might have managed us, not the other way round!  It was a bit of a “cold turkey” thing. We each had our own house, so had never lived together. We decided to sell them both and hit the road in a caravan. We promised ourselves that if we survived for 12 months in such close confines, then we might as well get married (and we did). The experience itself was amazing, and we have no regrets. It was a great way to see Australia. After a while it did become a bit monotonous because we were following the caravan show circuit, going over the same old ground. That’s why we’ve pulled our heads in a bit now as far as shows are concerned, and we’re going to get back to just going where we want when we want.

What’s been one of the most memorable moments out on the open road?

Too many to count! But I suppose the time a dugite snake tried to crawl up my trouser leg is not likely to be forgotten any time soon. I surprised it as we were walking down into one of the Nullarbor caves, and it reared back, ready to strike. So I did the recommended thing and froze – the snake is then supposed to think you’re a tree and loses interest. Well, if it thought I was a tree, it must have also reckoned there were bird’s eggs up there and it came straight at me. I got all this on video of course...

You’re up to GN108 now and have covered much of Australia. Any pockets of this wonderful country yet to explore? If not, what would you do again?

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After over 200,000 kms, we feel we’ve still only scratched the surface. For instance, we still haven’t done Cape York or the Birdsville Track. But there are other places we will return to, like Ningaloo (been there about 4 times so far, we just love snorkelling there) and the Gibb River Road – the Kimberley in general always fascinates us.

Q&A with Sid and Sandie Whiting  - The #GreyNomad101 Team.  #Camping #CampinginAlaska #JethroBatts #ParkMyVan  www.parkmyvan.com.au
YOU HAVE RECENTLY EMBRACED THE DIGITAL WORLD BY BRINGING YOUR DVD’S ONLINE. HOW ARE CUSTOMERS AND YOU RESPONDING TO THE CHANGE? WILL WE SEE YOU ON INSTAGRAM SOON?

Talk about dragging ourselves kicking and screaming into the 21st century! So far I’ve only got Caravan Cooking 101 on Vimeo on Demand, and a small trial video as a download on greynomad101.com.  Neither have been marketed properly yet, because I want to get a lot more content up there first. And that’s going to take a bit of time, but I’ll get there eventually.

YOU AND SANDIE ARE A TEAM IN LIFE AS WELL AS IN BUSINESS. HOW HAVE YOU BOTH MANAGED TO FIND THE BALANCE?

She just has to learn to behave herself! But seriously, we reckon we’re a fairly normal couple, and we have our moments. But it’s not too difficult really. On the business side, there’s only so much time spent actually filming or manning the stand at caravan shows. The rest of the time might find me editing footage on the computer while Sandie watches TV or cooks dinner. And whenever we’re home and I get on her nerves, she just sends me off to play golf!

AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, YOU MUST HAVE SOME BRILLIANT TRAVEL TIPS FOR CAMPING AND CARAVANNING. WHAT’S SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES?

Too hard to answer that one!  I have hours and hours of this stuff on my DVDs, and it’s clear from the feedback received from thousands of viewers that there’s no single tips that stand out above the rest – it all depends what pushes your buttons. Some folk tell me they love the fire bucket thing, while others really appreciate the photography section. One bloke said he’s now finally having success in his fishing endeavours after viewing my fishing tips, while another bloke walked up to me at a show and shook my hand, and said he’s now at last able to reverse his van up the driveway! I think the most consistent comments concern the tips right at the start on how to choose the best van for you – we get heaps of thank you’s for that bit.

ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CAMPING IN ALASKA? DID YOU GET TO TEST OUT ANY RV’S OVER THERE?

 No, none. This trip wasn’t about camping. We did it by ferry, plane, train, bus and car. But we certainly have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of doing it. I’m only now getting it all together as part of the editing process, and I’m not going to let too many secrets out just yet! But as usual, it will be along the lines of “Don’t do it like we did it because we got it a bit wrong – do it like this instead.” For example, we did the Inside Passage on a ferry (which is a great way to do it) but we did it too fast, with not enough time to explore along the way. Better to use the ferry to island hop, staying a day here and there.

YOU HAVE RECENTLY EMBRACED THE DIGITAL WORLD BY BRINGING YOUR DVD’S ONLINE. HOW ARE CUSTOMERS AND YOU RESPONDING TO THE CHANGE? WILL WE SEE YOU ON INSTAGRAM SOON?!

Talk about dragging ourselves kicking and screaming into the 21st century! So far I’ve only got Caravan Cooking 101 on Vimeo on Demand, and a small trial video as a download on greynomad101.com.  Neither have been marketed properly yet, because I want to get a lot more content up there first. And that’s going to take a bit of time, but I’ll get there eventually.

YOU AND SANDIE ARE A TEAM IN LIFE AS WELL AS IN BUSINESS. HOW HAVE YOU BOTH MANAGED TO FIND THE BALANCE?

She just has to learn to behave herself! But seriously, we reckon we’re a fairly normal couple, and we have our moments. But it’s not too difficult really. On the business side, there’s only so much time spent actually filming or manning the stand at caravan shows. The rest of the time might find me editing footage on the computer while Sandie watches TV or cooks dinner. And whenever we’re home and I get on her nerves, she just sends me off to play golf!

AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, YOU MUST HAVE SOME BRILLIANT TRAVEL TIPS FOR CAMPING AND CARAVANNING. WHAT’S SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES?

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Too hard to answer that one!  I have hours and hours of this stuff on my DVDs, and it’s clear from the feedback received from thousands of viewers that there’s no single tips that stand out above the rest – it all depends what pushes your buttons. Some folk tell me they love the fire bucket thing, while others really appreciate the photography section. One bloke said he’s now finally having success in his fishing endeavours after viewing my fishing tips, while another bloke walked up to me at a show and shook my hand, and said he’s now at last able to reverse his van up the driveway! I think the most consistent comments concern the tips right at the start on how to choose the best van for you – we get heaps of thank you’s for that bit.

Q&A with Sid and Sandie Whiting  - The #GreyNomad101 Team.  #Camping #CampinginAlaska #JethroBatts #ParkMyVan  www.parkmyvan.com.au
If you had to choose between a 5 wheeler, caravan, campervan or Winnebago to drive around Australia, which would you choose and why?

For us it would be 5th wheeler or caravan. These options give you the advantages of full mobility once you’ve unhitched, and heaps of living space. You also get a good choice of fairly “ruggedized” units to handle our corrugated gravel roads – there are very few “off-road” motor homes out there, and they are extremely expensive.

Finally, for all the fans out there, where are you and Sandie off to next?

Don’t know!  We have to go back to NZ and do the North Island some time. We want to do Cape York. And we want to go back to the Gibb. We’re also guilty of not doing a DVD on our own south-west WA, and we aim to rectify that before too long.

 

For more information on the whiting's adventures, check out:

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http://www.greynomad101.com/ or
https://www.facebook.com/GreyNomad101

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