23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting

By: Peta Stavelli

23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting Christine & Sam Carter 23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting
23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting 23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting
23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting 23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting
23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting 23 years of continuous RV travel… and counting

Just do it! Is a slogan which may have come from the lips of Christine and Sam Carter whose more than 20 years of continuous RV travel will inspire you to… well… just do it!

With grown up children and in a relationship that was still new, Sam and Christine Carter set off for the United States of America intending to spend 10 months traversing the country. Fourteen years later they returned to New Zealand and, after a week in a "real house", set off again in a motorhome.

They have now been on the road for 23 years and have not only clocked up the miles, they have more than sufficient expertise to inspire the most reluctant among us to throw caution to the wind and embrace the unknown. In fact, they make an art of the lifestyle we all wish was ours. All too frequently when imagining the dream lifestyle we focus on the ‘why nots’ instead of the ‘how tos’ and – in doing so – place immutable barriers across our path.

But Christine and Sam’s journey is a text book on trust and letting go. In some of the most dangerous places in the world, they freedom camped without incident. In New York, they ate cabbage and rice for a week before a job offer arrived. In Mexico, they momentarily wavered and thought they may have trusted the universe a little too much. But from this came the surety that no matter where they went, three days after arrival they would be up and running; gainfully employed in their new-found home.

How did they do it? You may well ask. Sam starts their story by winding back to the couple’s first meeting in 1992.

At the time, Sam - a self-employed plumber and part-time massage therapist – was recently divorced and pondering, as he drove to work, that there must be something more to life. He was listening to a radio interview with a woman who was talking about listening to one’s inner guidance. Sam made a spontaneous decision to exit the motorway and attend the seminar she was holding later that morning. Enter Christine; a business consultant who was helping the speaker. 

"We just clicked," says Sam.

Both experienced a deep sense of connection, bound by a mutual desire to help others to expand themselves and find out who they really are.

The couple left New Zealand with no set plans, save that they would buy a motorhome in the USA, travel in it for 10 months and then sell it and go to Europe. 

"Instead it took us 14 years to complete the trip," Christine laughs. Fourteen years and 700 massage tables later, she might have said, because the main stay of their income became the construction and sale of portable massage tables.

"The key to our lifestyle was to work in short bursts then spend the money we had made while travelling. It just kept evolving. We’d be in a café and someone would overhear our Kiwi accents and introduce us to other like-minded people."

In choosing a place to park, they only had one rule: both had to agree that it "felt" safe. If not they would move on.

On and on they went with the sole motivation of finding out who they were and honouring their life’s plan.

"That was the key to experiencing so much magic while we were travelling. We just allowed ourselves to see the guideposts rather than trying to crash through and do what we were not meant to be doing," explains Sam.

This ability to trust the universe unfolding was sorely tested in Mexico where the cultural clash with the USA was underscored. 

"In the USA, it’s all about agendas, but in the Latin countries things are so different. In many ways our ‘she’ll be right’ is similar to their ‘Hasta Mañana’. In the days before cell phones we established a formula that worked for us, which was to establish a contact number, and then place notices on message boards.

"That was more of a lesson for me than Christine. I had to go to the wire a few times before I got that it would all be okay," Sam admits.

Invariably they would be up and running in three days, building massage tables in car parks, or offering other skills.

"In Mexico City we began by going to a holistic centre and got chatting with the proprietor about what we did. A few minutes after leaving we received a phone call from her. She had just been contacted by a television company who needed someone who read auras for a segment. That aired the next day and we were inundated with work."

"You can read auras?" I ask incredulously. "Can you see mine? What colour is it? Turquoise I’ve been told."

"Yes there is some turquoise there," Christine replies without hesitation. "There are lots of other bright colours as well."

From that point, television was a continuing theme as the couple travelled into Central and South America. Their considerable spa and therapy experience led to an unexpected addition to their portfolio as they added spa design consultancy to their skillset.

"That took me back to my business consultancy background and it was a great development because we ended up in places where we socialised across the spectrum with the therapists and workers, as well as the managers and owners. We taught them how to improve the massage experience for everyone and that led to an increase in their earnings and a referral to the next place."

In Chile they sold their motorhome.

"It was 14 years old when we bought it for $10,000. Fourteen years later we sold it for $6000. We used the money to travel through Argentina and Brazil; it had cost us $6000 to travel all that way and in six weeks, with no motorhome – even staying in cheap backpackers and eating frugally – we chewed through the same amount."

Home again in New Zealand in 2007, they lasted a week in a house before buying a TrailLite motorhome. In this they have been travelling the length of the country, living much the same as they did overseas: by faith.

Shortly after returning to New Zealand they invested in a Swiss–made therapeutic lamp called Bioptron for which they are now New Zealand agents They also continue to run healing workshops and have retained a rental property in Tauranga.

In a few week’s they will say farewell to their current vehicle and take delivery of a new TrailLite motorhome.

"We didn’t think of going elsewhere. TrailLite’s after-sales service is fantastic. They always find a solution."

As with their current vehicle, the next will have room for their small boat. They love to take off and explore in the boat with no real plan, sometimes taking only food and wine and hammocks to sleep in, if the mood takes.

"Our home is our office. We run our businesses from the road. We meet a lot of people who think they can’t afford the lifestyle on the road. But we’d like to inspire people to think about what it is they are passionate about and just do it. Set off with the skills they have and with the knowledge they can enjoy a life on the road that is fully tax deductible."

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