A note from Mosaic: A couple weeks ago, I found myself chatting online with Marcella Wright who’s currently living in a caravan with her family in New Zealand. She is interested in eventually taking her family sailing/cruising and we struck on the idea of writing guest posts for each others’ blogs. I hope you enjoy reading about another family living ‘outside the box’! Leave a comment and let me know what you think and if you’d like to see more guest posts in the future! Thanks! ❤ ~Rachel
Our Family Gap Year: Family of 5 Take a Year Off to Travel New Zealand
If you have ever dreamed of giving it all up and hitting the road, you’ll know by now you are not the only one! What’s holding you back? Job security? Finances? Family? For us, it was job security and a mountain of debt that held us back for years!
Hi, I’m Marcella from Making Cents in Life.
We dreamed of hitting the road, with the kids, and exploring all of what New Zealand had to offer. But with debts and bills up to our eyeballs, it wasn’t going to be any more than just that – a dream.
This dream of mine would continue to gnaw away at me for another year or so and when things got to a point where our living expenses were high, hubby was working 70 hours a week and we couldn’t keep up with the unexpected expenses and bills, that’s when we realized something had to change.
What’s Holding You Back?
Job security and debt were the only things holding us back. We talked ourselves into the fact that we can always get another farm job. While the next job may not have all the benefits of our current position, we always have that option. The good thing is, we could do this anywhere too! So if things didn’t work out on the road, we could just park up and get a farm job no matter where we were!
Our finances were stopping us though. We had overcommitted ourselves with three credit cards and a massive car loan. Silly, I know, but I learned a lot about Bad Debt that year!
Enough was enough and we just couldn’t continue living like this anymore. So we took the leap and knuckled down and we did everything in our power to clear our debts! We embraced minimalism!
And how I went from paying $260 a month in credit card interest to ZERO dollars a month and still had debt to pay!
We got our finances under control and went from $57,000 in debt to $0 in just one year! Admittedly, our caravan was already freehold but we were able to pay most of our debt off and re-finance the rest with the bank.
When we refinanced the mortgage, we ensured that the rental we were going to receive would cover all the costs, so when we are on the road our house wasn’t going to cost us any extra!
What Was Our Plan?
The plan is to take one year off to travel all of NZ in our caravan, and pick up casual work along the way. We organized a couple of small jobs before we left, one month helping on a dairy farm over calving season, then we would have some more time off before starting a job camp-minding for another month. We still had to earn some kind of a living! But it was about $500 less a week than how we were living!
So How Do We Earn Money on the Road?
So far we have done farm relief work and camp-minding. We are currently parked up for four weeks at Okarito on the West Coast of New Zealand in what we call Glacier Country. We don’t get paid much but we have the use of showers and toilets, Free WiFi and free power. There are no shops nearby so we haven’t spent a cent! We are parked up right on the beach and lagoon and we only work a couple of hours a day! And to top things off we got our first influencer gig.
We have a blog www.makingcentsinlife.com that brings in a little petty cash and I am always looking for ways to earn more money online. The only problem here is that if and when we do have the power to power our laptops, the kids usually commandeer them for schoolwork or games. I just can’t always guarantee I’ll have internet and power as we do prefer to travel the backroads!
Homeschooling + Kids Social Skills
We do our best to homeschool our kids, who are 13, 11 and 8. I am by far not the homeschool type Mum even if that is a thing. I didn’t go to University, consider myself average, and a lot of the time my 13-year-old knows more than me.
I look at homeschooling as learning alongside them. We are enrolled with Te Kura Correspondence School so Te Kura supplies everything we need and I simply have to supervise and ensure they do their work.
Although we have our bad days, we also have good days. I remember one day I asked my 11-year-old a question and they both looked at me and said: “OMG Mum you sound just like a real teacher!” I felt very proud of myself there for a moment. 🙂
When we first started traveling, I noticed a huge difference in the number of questions they would ask when we were out and about. I suppose I noticed because normally they would be gone to school from 8am in the morning until nearly 4pm in the afternoon.
Living Together in a Small Space
I absolutely love living together in a small space. I love that I get more cuddles, and snuggles on the couch from the kids. I love that we are always together. I love that I can easily peer over their shoulders to see what they are doing on their technology. When we lived in a house, they would play in their bedrooms and as the boys are getting older I probably wouldn’t see them for hours on end. I love the fact that their Dad is around and we do everything together now! Our backyard is huge! You step out our door and sometimes you have a whole beach or a whole campground all to ourselves! But I do feel we still packed too much… less is best!
Our saving grace is our little 19 inch TV where we can play movies, either DVDs or Netflix. We always did love our family movie nights. We also have Internet on the road, but not enough for these growing tweenies!
Are You Ready to Hit the Road?
So, if you have a dream, don’t let a mountain of debt stop you! Or if living in a tiny space scares you! Don’t let it. There is a huge backyard just waiting for you to explore! Take the leap and live life how you want to!
Tips for Newbie RV Families
- Start following similar families doing similar trips (but you’re probably already doing that)
- Don’t overpack! Less is totally best!
- Start downsizing your house six months before D-Day!
- Start a blog to record your adventures – before you hit the road!
- If you are worried about finding work, set your first job or two up before you leave.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – it will all work out in the end!
Our dreams don’t stop here. We dream of sailing around NZ after this adventure so will be watching the Mosaic Voyage journey with interest!
Happy Travels Everyone!!