If you have been following along with our adventures (we love all of you who are!), you can see that we split our time between working on farms and traveling in our tres chic van, Ms. Serena Williams. You may also know that our plan is to be here in New Zealand for about a year, with no income other than the occasional odd jobs here and there. One thing we are constantly minding is how we spend our time and money. There are endless opportunities to spend money on really enticing looking adventures like rafting, zip lining, jet boating, zorbing, and alpine climbing expeditions, but we would be flat broke after a week of that. We didn’t save for that. We saved enough to live very simply and to see the country by exploring on our own. This post is a break down of how we are making it work without an income.
By balancing our time between working and travel, we get different benefits and can live fairly inexpensively. WWOOFing (working on farms) gives us the opportunity to learn valuable skills, get to know people, and our meals and lodging is provided in exchange for 4-5 hours of work. We have been lucky enough to stay with farmers who want the work to be something that we are interested in, while also being of use to them. They ask questions like, “What do you want to learn and do while you are here?”
While WWOOFing, we spend most of our time on or very close to the farm. We get to know the surrounding area well, taking occasional afternoon trips to the mountains or the beach. Our only expenses are on extras, which are usually just wine and cookies. Except that our current hosts provide plenty of both. (Thank you L&S!) Who needs packaged cookies when Lyndal made mousse au chocolate on a Tuesday night?
In the last two weeks of WWOOFing, our expenses totaled $74.50:
- $50.00 Doctor’s visit and antibiotics for my foot (which is slowly, but surely on the mend)
- $20 Torlesse Vineyards Pinot Gris
- $4.50 Foccacia from the Farmer’s market
While traveling in the van, our costs are higher, but we have the freedom to make our own schedule, to sleep late, to spend the morning sitting on the beach, wearing my straw hat and sewing up the holes in the armpit of my denim shirt, or to keep going on a dirt road just to see what is at the end of it. With that freedom also comes the challenge of stretching the dollar by buying day old bread and brownish bananas and finding activities that are free. (Hello, hiking and biking!)
Our costs for one week of living in the van and exploring come to around $600.
- $400 gas
- $50 campsite fees (Freedom camping when possible and shelling out for a Dept. of Conservation campsite when we really need a shower)
- $100 camping food (box of wine, pb&j supplies, oats, nuts, canned beans, lentils, farm stand veggies)
- $20 entry to Lake Tekapo Thermal Pools (50% off thanks to bookme.com, kinda like a Groupon)
- $25 breakfast at a farm stand cafe.
It is the balance of these two ways of living that makes our long term travel work financially possible and rewarding. Balance between time spent with new people and time alone. Balance between boxed wine and vineyard tastings. Balance between sleeping in the van and in a bed. It all evens out to make it work pretty well so far.
Oh, and the money we save by eating canned beans will allow us to afford a few splurges like bungee jumping and knife making