See The World
Seek Adventure Travel Happy
It all started with the idea to get a visa and move to New Zealand for a year. Going abroad for a year isn’t that crazy of an idea, particularly in places other than the U.S.
Beginning with what seemed like a normal idea; pick a city, find a job and an apartment, have an awesome time. That seems easy enough.
The more I thought about it though, the more that sounded like a terrible idea. The whole point of this trip was to not be tied down and to travel as much as I could in the little time that I had.
Que the idea to buy a van and live in it while exploring every beautiful corner of New Zealand possible. Yes, that’s what I’d do.
So, over the next nine months I sold everything that my husband and I owned (he happily didn’t seem to mind), got Working Holiday Visas, and saved every penny.
Boom! The next thing we know, we’re in Auckland buying a sweet (rough) 20 year old van that we lovingly named Delilah and we were off on an adventure.
Let me back up a bit
Before this trip, neither of us had traveled much outside the U.S. and we had never been to New Zealand. For this reason, it was reasonable that people thought we were crazy. They were certain that being cooped up in a van all the time would lead to homicidal tendencies and that we’d regret not focusing on our careers.
It was late 2008 when we decided to do this and the U.S was firmly entrenched in the recession. It seemed like a pointless time for us to focus on our careers and the perfect time to take a time out and travel…and it was.
Living in a van in a foreign country with a finite amount of financial resources and the knowledge that you’ll have to find a way to get home and live without a job for an indeterminate amount of time makes you frugal. It also makes you realize that you can get by just fine without all that extra crap you've got stored in every nook and cranny of your house. Living in a van leaves only room for the necessary.
It also opens up an entirely new world
We got to New Zealand in May which meant it was getting close to winter and the days were getting shorter. We weren’t prepared for what we would do when it got dark at 6:00pm and we didn’t have electricity to keep the lights on.
We ended up laying there for hours playing Would You Rather, and getting to know each other better. It also meant that we feel asleep earlier, allowing us to see the sunset and sunrise Every.Single.Day.
Going back to a time when you’re lulled asleep by the sunset and greeted happily by the sunrise every morning changes you. It makes you lust more for the beauty in the world. It makes you realize how many times you missed an opportunity to see something naturally wonderful, and it makes you realize that you have to change right now.
Living in a van isn't always sunshine and rainbows though
When you’re in a country where the only other person you know is sitting right next to you, your life lines to help get a lot shorter. Somehow I still have a fondness and nostalgia for our van Delilah, despite her breaking down, multiple times, usually in the middle of nowhere, and generally letting us down around every corner. Some of these adventures in car maintenance include:
Despite these challenges, Delilah and our my husband’s ability to fix most things, we got to where we were going. We couldn't just call a friend or family member to bail us out of a jam. We had to figure things out. It’s given me a confidence that most things can be worked out if you want it bad enough.
You can’t live in a van forever though
I couldn’t think of a better place to live in a van than New Zealand. With that said though, it makes having people over for dinner awkward. It’s not a lifestyle that can be sustained long-term by most people. It is something that I think would be good for everyone to do at some point in their life, and not just for a long weekend.
It makes you realize what is most important to you in this life and what you’re really capable of. This knowledge will make every decision you make from that point on easier and more meaningful.
It will even make you sob uncontrollably while you sell your beloved van to a nice Russian lady when “Hey There Delilah” comes on the radio. Damn you universe!
This story has been featured by Sarah from Journey to Design!
Click over to check it out!
Sarah is a Spatial Designer from Germany, who moved to Hamburg four years ago after studying in London and calling several places all over Europe her home.
When she is not designing temporary architecture, Sarah is travelling the world looking for the most inspiring designs, the coolest architecture and the nicest people, telling her stories on www.journeytodesign.com. She also really likes puppies.
Oh yeah, and don't forget to travel happy!
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz