A good campervan holiday needs different thinking, writes Claudia Tarrant.
Two weeks living, eating and sleeping in my little rental campervan flew by. Despite what many people may think, I could do this long term. Obviously, the luxuries of a bouncier bed and your own private bathroom are missed — but if it's a matter of being able to see the world at an affordable price, I could persevere.
You may have to walk 50m to get to the amenities but you also only have to walk 50m (or less depending on how prime your location is) to get to a lake or a beach or a bay.
Nothing beats sliding open the door to your motorised house, chucking a beanie on to cover the messy bed hair and seeing the morning sun peering over the horizon, lighting up the lake that sits in front of you.
With a campervan-made coffee in hand, those moments seemed to thrust energy and excitement on me. Kick-starting my day, the body of water was too tempting to dismiss and I would follow up every morning coffee with a mid-morning swim. I don't know about you but I just wouldn't have the same motivation to take that early plunge if I was living in a house.
A perspective adjustment must occur however, if one is going to embrace the "sharing is caring" practices of living the campervan life. For the most part a lot of private things become public and you must take other people into consideration. No longer can you take 30-minute showers or slowly and methodically make your dinners. This is because there will be a high chance of 10 others waiting for you to finish. Speed is key when it comes to using bathrooms and kitchen equipment.
The sharing practices don't stop here and you won't always been on the losing end. When making a campground your temporary home you begin to realise the generosity of your short-term neighbours. You ran out of dishwashing liquid? No worries, the family tenting next to you has plenty to spare. The kindness of others extends more than just physical giving; the sharing of thoughts, words and knowledge are also evident.
I was showered with smiles and genuine questions — where was I from and what were my plans — every day from at least five strangers. Comparing this to standard interactions with the residents near my actual house — I give the odd wave and a smile and that's about where it ends. We just don't have the same opportunity to embrace the curiosity, learn about one another or help each other out with the small things, because it's a rarity to cross paths.
Ultimate freedom sits in the palm of your hand when living in a mobile home. Spontaneity beckons every day. Will you stay or will you go?
You may choose to follow the best surf one day to a freedom camping spot near the beach. Maybe you'll find yourself craving some warmer weather, so you go north. Either way the flexibility of this lifestyle is undeniable.
My campervan journey had its highs and lows, but that's what made it an adventure. I once found myself driving at 10pm on an expedition that was a somewhat exhilarating experience, the eerie drive ending with settlement in a desolate forest. The toilets at this destination were a particular highlight. The stench that escaped the doors was one of power — I knew I was getting close when my body began to involuntarily retch.
The state of the facilities also gave rise to a couple of games I liked to play, every time I had to venture into the stinky abyss.
How long can you hold your breath was a must. I imagined the walls, floor and toilet seat are all lava, and touching any of them would result in being melted.
That situation may not have been terribly pleasant but it was an experience, a memory and a funny little anecdote to share.
Overall, the campervan lifestyle may not suit everyone but if you've never thought of testing the waters and giving it a go, I suggest you reconsider.
The possibilities this way of life offers are endless and leave you with many moments to cherish because you truly are living — through every down and every up.
The Covi Supershow features the best motorhomes, caravans and accessories from New Zealand and around the world. This year's show will features a dedicated accessories area and an expanded Bluebridge Stop n Stay zone featuring many of New Zealand's motorhome friendly towns and regional tourism offices. March 16-18, ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.
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