I very recently had the pleasure of traveling through the majority of New Zealand for slightly over two weeks by Winnebago aka Camper Van aka RV (recreational vehicle), and in my case a supped-up van (meaning it wasn’t that big), which I shared with two other fully grown adults and too many bulky suitcases and other items. To say it was an “experience” is an understatement. It was amazing and challenging in ways I didn’t even know I needed to know until I was already on the road, fully immersed in the experience.
*The campervan I lived in for 2+ weeks.
To help you enjoy future trips via Winnebago and to maintain some semblance of sanity and peace (as in not ending up murdering your fellow travelers), here are five tips to help you make the most of your camping via Winnebago experience.
1.) Treat Your RV Like Your House – Because for the time you are using the RV, it is your house. There should be clear “chores” as in, today I will sweep it out, you do the dishes, and someone else cleans up the beds and folds the sheets and blankets etc. You are living in a very confined space and it can get dirty and cluttered fast, so to maintain some semblance of order and organization, take care of your space and divide up these responsibilities.
2.) Pack Light – Since most camper vans come equipped with bedding, have a “toilet”, shower, and kitchenette that means there is limited space for storage. To maximize space, pack light, use bags like duffle bags or camping backpacks instead of bulky suitcases that aren’t flexible and can’t be broken down to take up less space. Pack appropriately. If you in an RV chances are you are on a more outdoorsy adventure so you don’t need to pack for every occasion and plan to wear the same outfit a few times as there are numerous opportunities to do laundry along the way. Believe me after a few days in a shared confined space, anything you can do to create space is welcome.
3.) Courtesy is King – My philosophy is “better out than in” for most things, but when you are in a Winnebago this doesn’t always apply. For instance, if you have to “let one rip”, or are a smoker etc., even if the weather is bad, do it outside. Be courteous to others in the van and employ the golden rule. Use headphones or earbuds if you want to listen to or watch something that isn’t of interest to the whole group. If you snore, have a plan of action to minimize your loudness, or at a minimum inform the others in your travel party so they can plan accordingly. Clean up after yourself, and treat others the way you want to be treated with the utmost courtesy and respect.
4.) Use the Window Shades – The window shades in a campervan serve multiple purposes. They can keep in the heat if you are somewhere cold, keep out the sun if you are somewhere hot, and above all be used to provide some modicum of privacy and security when you leave the camper van or are using it. Not everyone needs to see everything, so if you are changing in the camper van or using the shower or need to a create a separation between the driving area and the living area, use the window shades. Good practice: If you are thinking of doing something that you would normally do in private or behind a closed door, use the window shade!
5. Be Flexible – This may seem like a no-brainer but flexibility in my opinion is essential to surviving most things in life and camping in an RV is no exception to that rule. To have a successful camping via RV experience: You have to be willing to live in another person’s or persons space all the time, which can be difficult for some. You have to be willing to pitch in and help in whatever way is needed – driving, cleaning, pumping gas, doing laundry, shopping, cooking, making the beds, etc. You have to be accommodating and find solutions that work for everyone, like the sleeping arrangements in terms of who gets the top bunk, who has to share, etc. If you can keep an open-mind, do your part, and be flexible, you will have an amazing experience both in the RV and on your vacation.
Since there is still time to get out there, travel, and enjoy the outdoors before the summer ends, exploring via Winnebago is a great option. RV travel gives you almost total control over your comings and goings, it offers you a mode of transportation and lodging all in one. RV’s offer you not only the chance to see the sights at the end points but to enjoy the scenery along the way, and is a terrific opportunity to spend quality time with those you are traveling with. Happy travels! Also stay tuned as this is the first in a series of three posts related to traveling in New Zealand.