The Economics of a Month-long Campervan Adventure through New Zealand

The Economics of a Month-long Campervan Adventure through New Zealand

This post provides a cost breakdown of a five-week JUCY Chaser campervan adventure beginning in Christchurch and ending in Auckland.

We really had no idea how much our journey would end up costing us prior to leaving. In total, we spent more than $10,000 for two people, which was more than we expected, but was completely worth it in the end! In theory, the camper we selected sleeps 3-4 people, so an easy way to bring down the cost is to bring more folks along! However, I can’t imagine coexisting with three-other people in such a tight space, one was enough.

Included in the breakdown are the following items: lodging, food, transportation. Souvenirs and excursions (Hobbiton tickets, Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound cruise tickets, etc.) were not included.

NZ Economics

  • Lodging: As mentioned in New Zealand: Month-long Campervan Route and Lodging Information, DOC sites generally cost half the price of the private holiday parks, and freedom camping is FREE. We stayed in private holiday sites more frequently because we needed power for laptops, but the DOC sites and freedom camping were easily our favorite spots. For a more detailed breakdown of where we stayed and what we spent per night, check out the post with our route here.
  • Transportation: The JUCY Chaser has a 70 liter fuel tank. We averaged between 7.0 – 8.4 km/L (a total range of 490 – 560 km, but around 445 km the gas light will come on). During the five weeks, we drove a total of 3357 miles (more than half of that was on the South Island)
  • Food: Restaurants are incredibly expensive in New Zealand. Eating out will quickly break the bank if you’re not careful, but living off “cup-of-noodles” can get old quickly. We enjoyed picking up groceries and cooking in our van, as well as trying out a raw diet. Check out recipes the following recipes for inspiration: Recipe: Raw Italian Pesto Salad Bowl and Recipe: Raw Tofu Asian Salad Bowl
  • It’s useful to know that most places take credit cards throughout New Zealand, save a few coffee shops here and there. We took out $100 NZD at the airport, which lasted us right until the end.



JUCY Campervan 101

Full disclosure, we were completely new to camping when we rented our JUCY Chaser, so if you are an experienced camper this post may be less useful. Here I describe everything we wish we would have known or done differently prior to setting out on our month long camper van adventure in New Zealand, and provide a packing list at the bottom!

  • When you pick up your JUCY be sure to check out the corner of the JUCY office where there is a “take/leave table” – when we arrived, the area was full of free items campers had left after their trip. We had no idea this existed! We managed to grab two small rugs (doormats that helped keep dirt contained), toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, clothes detergent, instant coffee, cooking essentials (oils, soy sauce, salt, pepper, etc.), Tupperware, water bottles and more!
  • JUCY provides you with many supplies – bedding, towels, sheets, plates, wine glasses, cups, bowls etc., and if you’re lucky previous campers will have left supplies in the JUCY office you can pick up. In addition to items we grabbed at the JUCY office, we ended up needing to purchase the following items throughout our trip:
    • Sponges for cleaning dishes
    • Rope for making a clothes drying line (generally clothes driers cost 4 NZD for 20 – 40 minutes, so having a clothes line can save money, and provide an alternative solution if the dryers are occupied)
    • Pasta strainer (they make collapsible strainers, which I recommend)
    • 12V PC car charger – this charges a laptop from the cigarette lighter. These can be purchased off amazon before you travel. For Mac users, I recommend this type of 12V Computer car charger.
  • The ceiling lights on the roof of your camper aren’t controlled by a light switch on the wall, simply tap them on the indented spot to turn theimg_5353.jpgm on (Notes: your lights must be turned on via your power control panel)
  • When you pick-up your JUCY you might be briefed that to secure your toilet tank (aka black water tank) simply “throw it in, and snap it in place”. In some models, the tank needs to be carefully aligned, or some “matter” will not actually make it in to the tank. This isn’t fun. I recommend the first few times pouring water in your toilet to ensure you have properly aligned your tank… cleaning up your own, or your travel partner’s “stuff” gets old quickly.
  • Two weeks in to our trip, our sink drain pipe loosened itself and water ran everywhere under the sink. We managed to fix this by simply tightening the screw in the drain.
  • Make sure you have wide tape to close off your ceiling vent on the West Coast of the South Island – an area known for Sand Flies! Swarms of sand flies will come in if it isn’t covered, and tape is a great way to keep them out!
  • Inside your fridge there is a freezer tucked behind a door on the upper portion of the fridge.


Campervan Packing List

  • Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and tall socks to hide your skin from sand flies! Yoga pants / compression pants work well, as does a long sleeved athletic shirt. You will want to cover as much of your skin as possible!
  • Duct tape
  • Pick up at least two empty boxes from the grocery store when you arrive (most NZ stores keep them in front after check out). We used one for our “breakfast box”, one for hardware, and another for our “lunch/dinner box”. They help you stay organized, which is important when living in a tight space for multiple weeks.
  • Rubber bands, bag clips, zip lock bags, dish sponges, dish soap
  • If you are bringing a laptop, a 12V to computer charger adapter will charge your machine from the cigarette lighter of your camper or vehicle! There were numerous instances where had I not purchased this charger, I wouldn’t have been able to take care of work, book excursions, or check on reservations for camp sites. I recommend this PC laptop car charger, and this for a Mac laptop car charger.
  • All items mentioned in the first two bullets of this post!



Recipe: Raw Italian Pesto Salad Bowl

This raw salad is vegan (depending on your choice of pesto), paleo, quick to make and delicious! The first seven ingredients are the same as the Recipe: Raw Tofu Asian Salad Bowl, but instead of tofu/soy sauce simply add pesto!

Ingredients: IMG_E2163.JPG

  • Baby Kale (or the leaf base of your choice)
  • ½ Avocado cubed
  • Cherry tomatoes halved
  • Raw Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Carrot, beet and cabbage salad (mix available at most grocery stores)
  • Pesto – there are a variety of types (traditional non-vegan,


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
  2. For more protein, add a thickly shaven parmesan cheese.

Recipe: Raw Tofu Asian Salad Bowl

You may think, “Raw tofu? Yuck!”, but don’t be too quick to judge! This recipe is incredibly quick to make, delicious and healthy! I came up with this bowl during our week-long raw diet while living in a campervan in New Zealand for five weeks. It is vegan, gluten free, raw and paleo, and great for campervan living!

IMG_E2184 (2).JPG


  • Baby Kale (or the leaf base of your choice)
  • ½ Avocado cubed
  • Cherry tomatoes halved
  • Raw Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Carrot, beet and cabbage salad (mix available at most grocery stores)
  • Raw bean sprouts
  • Raw tofu
  • Soy Sauce


  1. Unpackage, pat dry with a paper towel, then cube the tofu.
  2. Place cubed tofu in bowl and pour soy sauce over to marinate. Mix the tofu and soy sauce in the bowl to evenly coat
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
  4. For more dressing pour any remaining soy sauce from the tofu marinate over your salad.
  5. For more protein, add a soft boiled egg (or two!)


Recipe: Chilled Beet Soup

When traveling through Eastern Europe, I fell in love with the taste and vibrant color of cold beet soup. Interestingly, the dish is fairly consistent throughout Eastern Europe, but it has a different name in each country. In Lithuania it is called Šaltibarščiai, in Poland it is called Chlodnik, and in Belarus it is called Holodnik, meaning something that cools you.

I ordered the dish in numerous countries and pledged that when I returned home I would study the recipe and share it with you all.

After reviewing many recipes online, and I am ready to share my own version of this easy to make, low-calorie, vegetarian dish!

The recipe below is for one large bowl of soup, so multiply based on the number of people in your party.

Ingredients for one bowl of soup

  • 1 cup of kefir
  • 1 cup of beet juice*
  • 3 cooked beets*
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 tbsp of chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp of chopped chives
  • 2 hard boiled eggs**

For *, ** see the Ingredient Tips section below.


  1. Slice the radishes and cucumbers in to thin rounds, then cut them in to then 1 mm wide strips. For the radishes, cut the strips so IMG_6328.jpgthat the bright pink skin is on either end.
  2. Cut the beets in to small cubes (approximately 1 cm per side)
  3. Pour the kefir and beet juice in to a large mixing bowl. Note that a 1:1 ratio of kefir to beet juice produces the vibrant color. For a more creamy colored soup, like the one I’m holding in the picture below (taken in Lithuania) add less beet juice.
  4. Add the cubed beets, chives, green onion, and thinly sliced strips of radish and cucumber to the kefir and beet juice mixture, and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. If you’d like your soup to have less green things floating in it, reduce the amount of chives and green onion.
  5. Get creative with your hard boiled eggs… I like to add 1 finely chopped hard boiled egg to the chilled soup and garnish the top of my soup with another hard boiled egg either halved or quartered. It’s really up to you how you’d like to include the eggs, if even at all!


Ingredient Tips*, **

* My favorite brand of beets is Love Beets, which provides healthy, organic beets and beet juice. If this brand is available in the grocery store near you, I highly recommend using their products! If they aren’t in your grocery store, a single can of Whole Beets Grade A generally contains ~1 cup of beet juice, and will have more than enough beets for a single large bowl of soup.

Love Beets.png

** If you haven’t tried Vital Farms Eggs yet, add it to your grocery store list right now. This company is outstanding, and treats their hens with utmost care. Did you know that “cage-free” only gives hens an average of 1.5 square feet to roam? Imagine standing in roughly a 1 ft. x 1 ft. square for the rest of your life. Vital Farms provides pasture-raised eggs, which means the hens have an average of 108 square feet. You can taste the difference, and you can see the difference in the vibrantly colored yolk.


For Inspiration: I consumed my most beautiful bowl of cold beet soup in Riga at Gutenberg’s Rooftop Restaurant. If you find yourself in Latvia you have to go an order the beet soup as a starter. The picture below is proof of its beauty! One of the greatest things about this dish internationally, is that it was always affordable. I never paid more than $10 per bowl regardless of presentation.



What to pack for your European Summer

What to pack for your European Summer

When it came time to pack for our two-month trip to Europe, I told myself everything I brought needed to fit in my 21” carry-on suitcase and North Face backpack, both pictured above. Also pictured is a yellow stripped market bag that I fell in love with during our time in Provence, but I carried that around empty to get through airport security.

A week before our trip, I thought to myself, “Packing for two months will be a piece of cake!”, but ultimately, I had to reconsider my packing list several times before I was able to zip my suitcase. I also have to confess that after a few weeks I ended up sending a several items home with my mom: a pair of long yoga pants (it was way too hot for them), a white blouse, and some souvenirs.

In this post, I provide general packing tips for spending more than a couple of weeks in Europe, and a list of items that I packed in both my suitcase and backpack!

General Packing Tips

When travelling to Europe for more than a couple of weeks, I recommend the following:

  1. Leave all electronic hair appliances (hair dryers, straighteners, curlers) at home
    • You may think you can’t live without them, but keep in mind that hair dryers are often provided in Airbnbs and hotels. These appliances are heavy and require a power converter. Even when you convert the power there’s a risk of them overheating and burning your hair!
  2. Leave your “special occasion items” (high heels and fancy dresses) at home
    • Unless you have a specific occasion for which you are certain you will use them, leave these items behind. An alternative to heels is to bring a comfortable pair of wedge sandals that you can also wear while touring.
  3. Pack solid colored clothes over loud patterned clothes
    • While there is an argument to be made that patterned clothes hide stains more easily than solids, I recommend sticking to solids because they can be easier to mix and match – enabling you to create more combinations
  4. Pack solid deodorant over liquid: it won’t count towards your liquid allotment! I recommend the brand Native. If you click on the link you will get a free travel size deodorant with your purchase!
  5. Pack Sudafed. It is common to catch a cold while travelling, and in Europe Sudafed is difficult to find.
  6. Try to limit single use plastics by purchasing refillable toiletry bottles that you will keep long-term rather than disposable samples that you will discard.
  7. Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs, or pack an additional bag that folds up. This way, if you find an item you want to purchase you can check your bag on the way home and use the folded bag as your carry on.


Suitcase Contents

Below is a picture of the contents of my carry-on suitcase.

Suitcase items for 2 month europe trip


  • 1 loose cardigan (great for plane rides, and chilly evenings)
  • 2 long sleeved shirts (these came in handy in the Baltics)
  • 3 v-neck tops (all solid colors – white, black, and gray)
  • 2 sleeveless button up shirts (all solid colors – blue and yellow)
  • 3 tank tops (I originally packed only one sleeveless shirt, but purchased two during our trip)
  • 3 dresses (I originally packed only one dress, but purchased two during our trip)


  • 2 pairs of Crocs Sandals
  • 1 pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
  • 2 pairs of shorts (one white pair one navy pair)
  • 1 jean skirt
  • 1 pair of long dark jeans
  • 1 pair of jean capris
  • 1 pair of white linen capris
  • 1 pair of yoga capris (I ended up sending my pair of long yoga pants home with my mother. At home I wear long yoga pants frequently, but even on travel days felt they were too hot!)

Other Items:

  • 1 Bathing suit
  • 1 Bathing suit cover-up
  • 1 Longchamp purse
  • 1 reusable grocery bag
  • 1 scarf
  • 9 pairs of underwear
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 4 bras
  • 1 brown leather belt
  • 1 SteriPen: a handheld UV water purifier (this is a lifesaver when it comes to limiting your use of single-use water bottles)
  • 2 toiletry bags (containing shampoo, soap, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, deodorant, make-up, face wash, band-aids, Ibuprofen, Sudafed, tide pens, and Tide detergent packets)


Backpack Contents

Below is a picture of the contents of my backpack.

backpack items for a 2 month trip to europe

  • Water bottle
  • Computer and charger
  • Kindle
  • Wallet
  • Passport
  • Sunglasses
  • Journal – shout out to my mom for the beautiful journal cover that she embroidered for me!
  • Raincoat & umbrella
  • Charger cords
  • Selfie stick
  • Kleenex
  • Pencil pouch – containing pens, earphones, travel scissors and scotch tape (useful for taping souvenirs in to your journal)
  • Logic Puzzle book and note pad – I wish I would have left these two items at home



The Cost of a European Summer

If you’ve made it to this page, you might be wondering, “How much does it cost to spend a summer in Europe?”

Prior to leaving for a two month trip to Europe, I had no idea how much to budget. There are thousands of blogs on how to travel for less than $20/day. Most of them require complete flexibility, and some form of couch-surfing, house-sitting, staying in a bunk in a hostel, or crashing with friends in order to save on lodging expenses. They also often don’t include destinations like Norway and Sweden, commonly sited as the most expensive countries in Europe.

A few months before I left, I attended a seminar where a couple spoke on travelling the world for ~$14/day. While this sounded enchanting, their calculus didn’t quantify their expenses covered by paid sponsorship from their seasoned travel blogging site.

I left thinking, “So what if you’re not sponsored to travel the world, and you’d prefer to stay in Airbnbs or private hostel rooms, instead of couch surfing or sleeping in a bunk with your suitcase locked to your bed? Maybe you also don’t have complete flexibility because you’re going to be meeting up with friends and family along the way.”

I had no idea what to expect.

Now that I am back from my trip, I want share the details!

My goal with this post, is to provide additional data points to reference in planning for your trip. Even though you won’t have the same travel schedule, I hope it will at minimum help you gauge your potential expenses.

In one of my first posts, European Summer 2018, I map out the route of our Eurotrip. As you can see, we did not optimize for transportation, a simple way to cut costs. We also mainly stayed in Airbnbs, renting either the entire place or a private room with shared common spaces.

Average Nightly Lodging Expenses Per Person

Our average nightly lodging expense came to ~$50 per person (~$20 more than I had hoped to spend per night). The figure below plots our average nightly lodging cost per person.

Graph of Average Nightly Lodging Costs Per Person

As expected, we found destinations like Italy and Sweden to be more expensive than the Baltic states, even though our accommodations were similar in quality.

Overall Expense Summary

In total, our 70 day Eurotrip cost $8,425.36 and 97k frequent flyer points per person.

The 97k frequent flyer points consisted of:

  • 40k points for BOS –> DUB (flight from Boston to Dublin)
  • 12k points for a rental car in Provence
  • 15k points for BUD –> VNO (flight from Budapest to Vilnius)
  • 30k points for AMS –> EWR (flight from Amsterdam to Newark)

I would estimate the monetary value of these points to be ~$1500 – $2000.

Expenses are broken into four categories: Lodging, Entertainment (museums, city bikes, etc.), Transportation, and Food. Lodging accounted for our greatest expense (>40% of our expenditures).

Trip Economics Table.png

Despite the summer costing more than we anticipated, we wouldn’t have changed our accommodations, as we found coming home to a place with a kitchen, where we could cook breakfast and occasionally dinner was important.

Pie chart of 2 month Eurotrip expenses

We always tried to book the cheapest transportation, and our dinners rarely exceeded $30 (meaning we didn’t frequent Michelin star restaurants), and ate every breakfast in our room.

I hope this information helps prepare you for your upcoming adventure! Enjoy your time in Europe!