After many years of traveling via plane, train, and humble automobile, my perceptions of travel really altered when discovering the wonderful country of New Zealand back in 2011. Unlike my regular journeys, I decided that this was the year myself and three of my close female friends were to travel via campervan. Yes, a campervan!
After checking in, boarding and braving an arduous 28 hour flight the tire finally hit the runway of Auckland airport. I made my way to the front of the aircraft and to my bemusement the heat of the New Zealand sun was beating down aggressively (which was a far cry from the dreary February morning I left behind in the UK). Feeling the sun’s warmth, the girls and I immediately perked up, swiftly disembarking the craft excited to go and pick up our new mobile home for the next two weeks. We managed to get a cracking deal on our camper, picking it up from the airport with the reasonable price tag of just over £1500 between four for the two weeks.
I have to admit when my good friend and colleague Ben Donovan, campervan enthusiast and managing director of major campervan accessory retailer Leisure Shop Direct, initially suggested that I chose a camper for my next break: I was skeptical. I had so many preconceptions about the idea, how it was more appropriate for the ‘older generation’ (I chose my words carefully). And that the cost would be through the roof. But after a small amount of research and the realization of the benefits, I decided to give it a go!
When deciding to travel in a campervan you soon understand that there’s fun to be had regardless of your surroundings. We found eating, sleeping and generally living out of a camper was a lively contrast to normal working life. Even the notoriously lame games of ‘eye-spy’ and ‘yellow car no return’ made time on the road fly by and even enjoyable. We made memories, shared stories and really strengthened our relationship as a group. Many an evening would be spent sitting round and reflecting on the day’s events, listening to music having an impromptu karaoke session and enjoying ‘home’ cooked meals with perhaps a few to many bottles of the regions reasonably priced wine. Luckily for us we were a laidback group, but I have to present you with the caveat that you need be careful when choosing your camper companions. If you’re all willing to embrace it, then you’ll have a blast, but if there’s likely to be arguments: being in a confined space isn’t a good idea. Another major plus for us was the camper’s practicality – it was a real money save! We found there was no real need to go out in the evenings to expensive bars or lavish restaurants. Most vans come equipped with a gas stove, oven, grill and fridge. Just make sure that you have at least one good cook otherwise that sweet deal will soon turn sour!
Four years later and I still find myself being a massive campervan ambassador. Reason being that those two weeks were the first time where I truly felt untethered. It sounds cheesy to say but whilst on the road ‘because it looked pretty’ seemed to be a completely valid reason to stop and spend the day at any given location! There was nothing stopping us, meaning we could tear up our original agenda and make ad-hoc decisions, going off to explore with the knowledge that we needn’t worry or cut the day short cause’ we had to get back to a hotel in the city. If we wanted a night out in the sticks – we could! Traveling in the camper left me feeling as though I was reliving my childhood, finding previously undiscovered gems that ooze beauty and charm just like Indiana Jones.
Now if you don’t like small spaces, long journeys or have chronic travel-sickness then a campervan probably isn’t for you. If none of those factors phase you, and you truly want to discover the beauty that your chosen destination has to offer, then I urge you to get onto Google and start planning your trip. Before long you too could be reaping the benefits of a more cost effective and freeing experience.
About the Author: Chris Boyd is an avid traveler who hopes his next jaunt takes him to see Europe by train. His colleague Ben Donovan has a passion for all things motorhome and campervan related and is the owner of Campsite Chatter and major campervan accessory retailer Leisure Shop Direct.