If camping and RV'ing around the United States is something you love and have a passion for, have you considered heading abroad and doing the same thing? Many people cite the high costs of travel abroad for staying in country, but once you actually pay to get to your destination across the ocean, it might be cheaper than you think. If you have time on your side and can take an extended trip (a month or two, or longer), then the high cost of the plane ticket to the other side of the world helps make the total cost of the trip considerably cheaper.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to go on a round the world trip back in 2008-2009. We saw and experienced some amazing things, and we have memories to last a lifetime. One of the highlights of our trip, though, was spending 5 weeks driving a camper van across New Zealand.
Budgeting for extended travel is difficult, and we focused on traveling to developing countries for most of our trip. After spending nearly six months in South America, we suffered from some sticker shock in the westernized country of New Zealand, and with the high cost of a plane ticket to New Zealand, we knew we had to do something to help keep our budget in line.
The first thing to do was choose the right type of transportation. Neither of us had driven a camper van or RV before, so we were a bit intimidated by the massive sizes of some. Add in the tiny, windy roads throughout the country, and we were even more nervous. Luckily we found the Spaceship, which is more like a glorified minivan than a camper van, but it had every amenity that we needed for our trip. I have never seen anything like this in the United States, but there are several companies in this region of the world (some of the companies also have offices in Australia). In addition to Spaceship, you can check out Escape Rentals, Jucy, or Wicked Campers, who all have similarly sized and priced campervans.
These types of campervans are old minivans that have been gutted and re-made to satisfy the needs of those looking for the campervan and RV expereince but don't want to drive one of those behemoths on small, windy roads around New Zealand. The gas mileage is obviously better, they're much easier to handle, and for two people, they really are the perfect size. The bed is a double, there is plenty of storage underneath the bed, it has a small cooler/refrigerator that runs off a second battery, and there is a dual-burner portable stove that pulls out of the side door so you can even cook. It even has a small television and DVD player in the back! There are also some downsides - there are no bathrooms on board, so if you are hoping to camp in free sites with no amenities, you'll have to pop a squat somewhere or hopefully find a place with a pit toilet.
The beauty of traveling around a country like New Zealand is admiring all the natural beauty it has, and what better way to experience that beauty than by campervan? The costs for renting a small campervan is on par with renting a car, and while it's certainly cheaper to travel around by bus, the money you'll save by being able to cook your own meals and sleep in your car will more than make up for it.
New Zealand also has a massive number of campgrounds all over the country, from the very basic, remote, and often free sites run by the Department of Conservation, to what seems like luxury campgrounds like Holiday Parks. The sites run by the Department of Conservation are where you want to go if saving money is your main goal. Keep in mind that these will be very basic, but if you have one of the bigger RV's with a toilet on board and a full kitchen, these sites work great. If you are driving one of the smaller campervans, you can certainly make do with one of the free or cheaper sites, but you may want a splurge here and there, and the Holiday Parks certainly provide that. Most have massive indoor kitchens for use, with big, clean, warm bathrooms and showers, and many even have swimming pools, hot tubs, playgrounds, and WiFi.
If you're the adventurous type who is looking to get out and explore a new country by taking an epic road trip, consider heading all the way across the world to New Zealand. It's hands down one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and because of all the outdoor opportunities, it lends itself perfectly to exploring by campervan or RV.
About the Author
Adam Seper took a year off to travel the world with his wife, Megan. He now writes full time for BootsnAll, where he has helped update, revamp, and add content to their round the world trip planning section.