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Ten tips for hitting the road full time

Kimberlea Turner

Van life is becoming more and more popular but the transition to this lifestyle can be far from smooth. Don’t worry, we’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to. After 3 years on the road, here’s our list of 10 tips to get you from house life to road life.


1. Join a club


We recommend joining All Points Camping Club of NZ which opens up a whole host of events, advice, regional groups to connect with, people to meet as well as a host of discounts — ferry crossings, internet, insurance, retail, experiences etc.


2. Check your insurance


Check your insurance is for living full time in your caravan/motorhome, plus contents. Star Campercare is a popular option as they specialise in caravan, camper and motorhome insurance. Most policies include a figure for caravan-related contents, but weigh up your options whether it’s worth adding on an extra contents policy for your personal effects.


3. Internet


You’ve got a few options these days between endless data plans, portable wifi and satellite wifi. A popular portable option is Netspeed Mobile Broadband, who can also supply antenna boosters and 12V adapters so if you need to be on grid while you’re off grid your internet connection is something to look into.


Abel Tasman National Park

4. Homeschooling


If you’re travelling with kids, plan for their schooling well in advance — the two main options are


a. Te Kura Correspondence via the Itinerancy Pathway, where they are “attending” a registered school with a teacher setting their work.


b. Homeschooling, where you are building your own curriculum and required to apply to the Ministry of Education for an ‘Exemption from Attending a Registered School’. This requires at least 6 weeks to be approved, plus the time it takes you to research and write it, so get started early!


5. Move into a smaller place (if possible)


One of the best things we did was move from our huge 4 bedroom home, into a smaller 2 bedroom flat for the last 6 months while we prepared to hit the road.


It allowed us to get our home ready to rent, and we were forced to do most of the downsizing then, taking with us only what we needed to get through the next 6 months. It made it much easier to pack up all our belongings at the end and the kids got used to having only a box or two of toys, and we all got used to putting things away as soon as we used them… well that was the theory anyway, it’s always a work in progress.


6. Pick a date and stick with it


Our deciding date was our eldest daughter turning 5 in February 2021, but we ended up picking a date just shy of the Christmas before, and once we had that date in our minds we had something to work back from otherwise it’s so easy to drag it out longer and longer because, SPOILER ALERT, you’ll never feel “ready”.



7. Take half of what you “need”


Disclaimer: we’re still learning this one. But honestly, in your mind what you think you need and what you actually need are worlds apart. We each have one small cupboard of clothes and only one “going out” outfit each and a small selection of toys. One option is to store a bunch of things you might need, and if you haven’t come back for them in a year you’ll be more open to donating or sell them.


8. Pack all-weather gear


Have gear ready for all seasons when you head off — good quality rain jackets and gumboots as well as sun hats and swimming togs — you’ll be way more in touch with nature and surprised how often you need clothes for every season.


9. Pack a tool kit


If you’re not already a handy person, you will be! Four people in a 14m2 home on wheels is going to put stress on things and between the caravan, the car, and the bikes there’s always something to fix. Maybe our claim to fame is we’ve visited almost every hardware store in the South Island!


10. Be prepared for the highs and lows


We have some pretty neat highs, but remember not everything makes it to social media… There are days we want to pull our hair out (or each other’s) or sometimes you’re just “go go go” for so long you start to burn out and take the journey for granted.


Remember it’s a long-term journey and the vibes will ebb and flow. Always, when we look back at our journey, we are blown away with where we’ve been, what we’ve seen and all the time we’ve been able to spend together.


We can’t wait to see you out there!


All photos ©2024 Two Kids and a Caravan facebook.com/twokidsandacaravan


St Arnaud Bushline Hut overnight walk

we’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to

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