After nearly 26 hours in transit, we have arrived in New Zealand! This camper van is our home for the next 69 days. I’ll do a full internal photo tour soon, but for now we’re enjoying our parking spot in the lovely Ambury Regional Park in Auckland. We’re going to get to know the van a bit and start to formulate an adventure plan for the next few months.
Auckland is on the north island, so we’re thinking of heading up to the top of the island and then making our way south, eventually crossing over to the south island by ferry. We’re aiming to both stay at camp sites (where we can plug the van in, get fresh water, and dump our waste, usually for a fee) and also freedom camp (camping in public spaces without having to pay, and often with very few people around). We intentionally chose a van that allows us to camp for a couple of days without having to plug in and re-water so that we’re able to take advantage of freedom camping, something that isn’t permitted in all countries.
Initially we weren’t sure all our things would fit, but the van is surprisingly spacious from a storage point of view (let’s see if I continue to feel that way after a few days of living, cooking, and sleeping!). We’re also the first people to rent this particular van so it’s BRAND NEW and super clean, which is a fab bonus.
Tomorrow morning we set off on our year of adventuring! We’re beginning our travels in France — where Carl spent many youthful summers camping and surfing with family and friends, where he and I took our first international trip together, where we’ve celebrated weddings and births, and where we’ve made a summer home for the past several years. Our one-way tickets from New York to Toulouse are booked, and from there we’ll arrange around-the-world tickets and set our itinerary in a little more detail.
We’ve decided to focus on a small number of countries and spend extended periods of time in each, something that will be more difficult to achieve in the future when we’ll be working around school holidays and office vacation days. We wanted to explore at least some countries neither Carl nor I have visited, prioritize spending time with Carl’s sister and family who live in Australia, make sure there was plenty of time spent outdoors, and simply focus on enjoying life together as a family of four.
With those general guidelines, our itinerary after France includes: New Zealand (in a camper van), Australia, Japan (hopefully in time to see the cherry blossoms), and Sri Lanka. We’ll finish the year by returning to France, and then head back to life in New York. Unless we decide to stay somewhere along the way…
In about a month, Carl, Grace, Max, and I will be packing up our apartment in Brooklyn and heading out for a year of traveling and exploring. I love the idea of living minimally in terms of possessions and focusing on doing versus acquiring. We are trying to balance the conceptual appeal of traveling light with the reality of traveling as a family of four. Luckily, we’ll mostly be in warm climates, saving us from bringing lots of bulky winter items.
We’ll have three main bags: one large wheeled duffel for our camping gear (first two photos), one slightly smaller wheeled duffel for Carl and me (middle two photos), and one medium backpack duffel for Grace and Max (bottom two photos). We’ve decided to embrace color-coded packing cubes to keep ourselves as organized and compressed as possible. I can’t decide if we’re taking way too much or delusionally little. Time will tell…