From grey nomads to tour guides

Bill Holmes and his wife Jenni loved travelling Australia in their caravan. Bill, a paramedic, and Jenni, a nurse, retired early to enjoy life together as grey nomads. They rented out their house and hit the road.

But it was hard living on their superannuation alone. They decided to look for seasonal work as they travelled.

Tourism jobs top up super

They found their dream jobs in Longreach as a tour bus driver and . ‘We’re meeting people, travelling. We’re fed, accommodated and we’re getting paid!’ Bill says.

Travelling 7 months of the year, Bill and Jenni saw a lot of Australia. Working in tourism gave them the opportunity to share their love of the country with others.

Sharing the joy with other tourists

As social, friendly people, Bill and Jenni had found work that suited their personalities.

‘In the bus, you’re not doing the same thing every day,’ Bill says. ‘The people are different, the landscape is different. You don’t know what you’re going to do from one day to the next.

‘Because we’re all living in a small town, the other tourism workers become your social group too,’ Bill says. ‘It’s easy to do if you enjoy it. And employers are now starting to realise the benefits of hiring older workers.’

Sadly, Jenni passed away 4 years ago. Bill says he is grateful for all the wonderful memories of travelling and working with Jenni. A born-performer, Bill now drives for a bus company. He occasionally still gets on the mic to highlight the journey.

Why tourism jobs can work for age pensioners

The government has made temporary changes to the Work Bonus. This gives older Australians greater flexibility to work and earn more without affecting their Age Pension.

Tourism provides many opportunities for casual or temporary work around the country. As Bill and Jenni’s experience shows, tourism work can be:

  • social
  • seasonal
  • inclusive of accommodation and/or meals.

The changes to the Work Bonus allow mature-age workers to earn additional income while exploring Australia. 

Learn more

Learn more about the Work Bonus from the Service Australia website.

Know someone who would like to be a tour guide? Savannah Guides offer an online course Becoming a Tour Guide. The national body for Tour Guides is Tour Guides Australia and their website offers information and resources.

Growing the visitor economy

THRIVE 2030 is Australia’s national strategy for the long-term, sustainable growth of the visitor economy.