Travelling Hints and Tips

A few tips and hints are listed here that Kevin and I found useful in preparing and setting off for our year of travelling. If anyone reading this has good ideas we haven’t thought of, please let us know and we’ll put them into action, and add them in here!

  • Join the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) as it gives a lot of perks and benefits for motorhome/caravanners including park up points. They have a great website full of useful information ranging from practical advice to recommended trips and journeys.
  • Ensure you have insurance on all your vehicles and belongings. We used our usual provider for most of our needs, but as they didn’t cover caravans we also joined Covi Insurance as recommended by NZMCA to stay fully covered.
  • Keep your NZMCA travel directory and a North and/or South Island Road Map book on you – we use these all the time for deciding where to park up next. Through NZMCA, you can buy a pass a couple of times a year that will give you access to park up overnight at many of the DOC parks throughout NZ – note though that this pass doesn’t work over the Christmas/New Year months when there are many travellers out and and about.
  • Use plastic containers with decent lids to store all your stuff while you’re travelling – this prevents mice infestations (yip, happened to us)! We ended up getting a container to store everything which also takes care of the mice situation as they can’t get through steel – ha!
  • Some dump sites are equipped with hoses and others are not. So keep a hose and a variety of hose fittings for both washing out your cartridge and for filling your water containers. Some dump sites have separate taps to fill your water containers, if not you’ll find places to fill these easily enough. Use a different (shorter) hose for washing out your cartridge, and a longer one is best for filling water containers. Having separate hoses and being able to keep the one for washing out your cartridge separate to everything else is vital for good hygiene.
  • Pour half a scoop of scented soap powder into your toilet so it washes into the cartridge below. This helps the contents to break down and makes it easier to empty at dump sites. We do this once for every time we fill the cartridge – we have a 25 litre cartridge.
  • You’ll work out with time what you do and don’t need, but we quickly found we needed a bigger range of blankets. This is because the temperature of a caravan is less regulated than a house and so there are bigger fluctuations. This really comes to light at night when, depending on outdoors temperatures, we needed to be able to switch between lighter and warmer blankets.
  • Overall we found we needed less gear than we initially took with us, including fewer clothes!
  • We are currently using two solar panels with a total of 175 watts, fixed to the roof of our caravan. Combined with a 2000 watt generator we get by with enough power for our needs. We always have one of our phones or our camera plugged into the car charger whenever we are driving. We also have a 3 watt solar panel that is just about always on the front dashboard of the car. It takes about four days to charge from empty, so it’s a good backup for charging the camera or phones.
  • We found out about Wireless Nation through the NZMCA. There are three levels of data you can take up – we have the middle deal which more than covers our needs. We sometimes think we should drop to the lower level, but winter is coming and we might find we use more then. Kevin has limitless data on his cellphone but mine has very little so I count on what we have with Wireless Nation.
  • We have a small 900 watt vacuum cleaner with us! Our caravan is lined with carpet which, even though we take our shoes off inside, very quickly becomes blown with grass and bits and pieces. So the vacuum cleaner is pretty vital and gets used almost daily.
  • Get yourself set up for being able to carry on with hobbies. If you’re long-term travelling this is important. For both of us on this trip we see our main hobby as seeing and doing new things and finding more out about the world. But we each have our own favourites – for me walking/reading and for Kevin gaming so we keep set up for these too.
  • If you are into walking, it can be good to buy an annual hut pass through DOC which gives you access to most of the backcountry huts without having to organize separate hut passes for each trip.
  • Keep a pile of small notes and gold coins with you, as everywhere you go you will be asked for donations – museums, heritage sites, treasured local community projects, even sometimes to use a toilet!