Life on the road

Practical advice: living on the road

Seasoned full-time traveller, Lisa Jansen, outlines seven key questions you should ask yourself before embracing full-time life on the road

We live in a land of breathtaking landscapes and mesmerising natural wonders, so it’s no surprise that more and more Kiwis are considering living and travelling full-time in a motorhome or caravan to explore all New Zealand has to offer.

However, life on the road is not without challenges – and it’s not for everyone. In this month’s Getting into Gear column, we look at seven core questions you should ask yourself before committing to full-time life on the road to ensure it’s right for you and to help ensure that you do it right if it is.

What do you hope to gain from full-time RV life?

Before embarking on something as significant as living full-time in your motorhome or caravan, it’s a good idea to think about why you want to do so.

Do you want liberation from a mortgage or life in the city? Do you want to see the country? Do you crave independence and self-sufficiency? Maybe more time and freedom are your core motivators, or perhaps it’s just been a life-long dream and now is the time to make it a reality.

Whatever you hope to gain, understanding your goals will help you design a full-time travel experience that’s right for you. Discussing your goals is especially important if you’re embarking on this journey with a partner or family. You might all be excited about living on the road, but you might have very different expectations. If that’s the case, it’s best to know this ahead of time so you can make sure everyone gets what they need out of this adventure.

Do you know enough about RV-ing to decide to go full-time?

Living and travelling in an RV is often romanticised. While it’s an amazing way to live and see the country, there’s more to it than waking up in epic locations every day. The constant change, the small living space, the crowded campgrounds, and the dump station routine are all part of it just as much as freedom and adventure are.

Therefore, before committing to full-time life on the road, ensure you understand what you’re getting yourself into. Consider embarking on shorter trips before being all in and maybe even rent
an RV before buying one.

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Life on the road
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What kind of RV is right for your life on the road?

Next, it’s time to think about what RV is right for your full-time adventures. It’s worth noting that the perfect RV for weekends and holidays might not be ideal for full-time life on the road, so even if you already own an RV, you might want to consider if that’s the best one for your new lifestyle.

Finding the right RV is often a balancing act. Too small and you might feel cramped, but too big and it might be too hard to manoeuvre around towns, require a special driver’s license, and likely use more fuel. Of course, there’s also the question of whether a motorhome or caravan is right for you.

The best RV for your full-time travels will depend on your priorities and preferences. Spend some time thinking through what your life on the road might look like and how that might be different to weekend and holiday life in the RV. It’s also a good idea to talk to people already living in their RVs to learn about what’s worked well for them and what hasn’t.


How much will your life on the road cost?

Another important question is what kind of budget you will need. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. In many ways, it’s no different than living in a house. Some do so with very little money, and others need a lot more to be comfortable. The budget you need will mainly come down to how much you can afford and what kind of life you want.

Before you swap your stable job and life for full-time travel, take some time to think through the different expenses to get an idea of how much your life on the road might cost. Make sure you consider the set-up cost to get your rig and all the other equipment you need, as well as the ongoing living cost.

Life on the road
Crowded campgrounds are also part of the lifestyle

How will you support yourself financially?

Once you know what budget you need, the next question is where that money will come from. Maybe you have enough passive income to cover you. Perhaps you’re on a pension and it will be enough. However, many Kiwis living full-time on the road rely on generating income at least some of the time. Luckily, there are many opportunities to do so, including seasonal work and remote jobs.

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In next month’s Getting into Gear column, we will take a closer look at ways to earn money while travelling, so keep an eye out for that.

How will you access healthcare?

There are lots of admin and logistical issues that can be complex when living full-time on the road, including where to get mail delivered, access to the internet, insurance, and many more. However, the most important one you will want to consider is healthcare, especially if you rely on it regularly.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand healthcare system is not set up for nomads. If you need regular check-ups or treatments, you will likely find that they must be done by the same practitioner each time, limiting how far you can travel.

It can also be tricky to get a doctor’s appointment anywhere outside the practice you’re enrolled with, so keep that in mind as you make your plans.

Life on the road
If you plan to live on the road with a partner, it’s important to align goals

What’s your back-up plan?

Most people who embark on a full-time life on the road absolutely love it. However, there’s no guarantee that you will, and even if you do, things could change.

The COVID lockdowns, for example, were difficult for many nomads who didn’t have a home to return to. Health issues, family emergencies, and other changes in circumstance can also make life on the road difficult – or even impossible – at times. Your RV could require repairs during which you can’t live in it. There are many reasons why your life on the road might be interrupted or even end unexpectedly. Make sure you have a back-up plan for when that happens.

Living and travelling full-time in beautiful New Zealand is an often magical way of life. While it’s not without challenges, if you take the time to work through these questions and prepare yourself for the lifestyle change, there’s a good chance that you will have the time of your life exploring our beautiful country in your home on wheels.

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