Jackie's Journey: Hobbies for the road

By: Jackie Norman, Photography by: Gareth Scurr

NZMCD writerJackie Norman shares hobby ideas for all RV travellers. There's DIY projects, volunteering, and even brewing on the road!

When you live on the road, there’s always something to do or new to see. But if you find yourself with time on your hands in between all the adventuring, here are some enjoyable and interesting ideas to fill it. No matter how big or small your motorhome, there is a hobby to suit.



Hubby Gareth loves to create miniature masterpieces. His passion is Warhammer—a fantasy-based game that involves building and painting models from kit sets. In a van just a few metres long, this is a challenge, but that doesn’t stop him.

"Most Warhammer enthusiasts have a big workspace set with multiple projects, whereas I’m limited to focusing on one at a time," he says. "However, this is a bonus, as it makes me do a better job. It’s painstaking and precision work but still very relaxing. You’re so focused on painting the right bits the right colour, the world just passes you by."

The most challenging part is storing and keeping track of all the small parts. "And trying not to get superglue where I shouldn’t," he adds. "However, one of the things I like most about Warhammer is there are multiple ways to enjoy it, from reading the novels to building models and even participating in full-scale club battles. If anything, being mobile is better in that respect. Since being on the road, I’ve visited the southernmost Warhammer outlet in the world. If you have an interest in building things, it’s a great hobby to get into."

Knitting and card-making


Leanne Johnston finds her nine-metre bus an ideal place to indulge her knitting and card-making hobbies.

"When I lived in a house, I had a whole room devoted to them," she says. "I didn’t think it would be easy on the road but it is. Knitting takes up little space, and I still have my card-making area in the bus. The only real difference is I can’t leave everything out the way I used to."

She adds that working in a smaller space is a positive, "I put more thought and detail into each project now. Before, there was so much stuff I wasn’t even really aware of what I had.

"Neither hobby costs much to get set up. You can spend as much or as little as you want. For knitting, I always buy wool on special. For card-making, I recycle old tissue boxes, cards, wrapping paper, packaging—you name it. It makes you creative and resourceful. While you can get all the professional bits and pieces, you don’t really need them. All you need are good knives, good scissors, and imagination. YouTube and Pinterest are a crafty person’s best friend.

"I find both hobbies very rewarding. Every card I make is a one-off, using a three-dimensional technique called paper tole. I make them to suit the recipient’s personality or interests, and I love their reaction when they receive a card made just for them. I donate many of the things I knit to charity, e.g. Plunket and Hospice, especially baby clothes. Thanks to my hobbies, I never get caught out when a special occasion arises and I never have a shortage of gifts."

Brewing in an RV


Brent Little has been a home brewer for years and since hitting the road has adapted his set-up to suit his home on wheels.

"While I soon realised there wasn’t space in the motorhome for brewing beer, it doesn’t take up much room at all to make spirits," he says.

Brent’s kit comprises a 25-litre plastic drum, the distillery—similar to a small crock pot—and a collection bottle.

"Running the still draws 380 watts an hour, which isn’t much, but you do need to make sure you have enough power supply and an inverter to be able to run it in a motorhome," he explains.

A couple of days into the brewing process, Brent finds somewhere to park up to let the still run. Once finished, each batch results in around six bottles of spirits.

"While the initial set-up costs around $250–300, the long-term savings are huge. I can make my own bourbon, whiskey, rum, or gin for as little as $12 per bottle compared to around $40 wholesale. The ingredients are easy to source; most bulk food shops carry them, as well as home-brew shops or online."

Aside from the savings, the social side of Brent’s hobby is a huge bonus.

"It’s definitely a good icebreaker for conversations on the road. I once showed six people the process of how to make it and two of them went and bought their own kits."

And as for the taste, he says "My eldest son tasted my latest Golden Aussie Rum recently and pronounced it a nice drop. High praise indeed from a chap who buys top-shelf rums wholesale!"



Dianna Stallinger has been living on the road for 12 years and devotes her spare time to helping the less fortunate.

"Over the years, I’ve done a lot of charity work, from Hospice and Refuge to Samaritans, driving for the elderly and budgeting advice," she says. "Now I’m in my motorhome and I often support people with health issues, such as cancer patients going through radiotherapy and fellow motorhomers. I know how it feels to be sick with no family on hand to help."

Dianna says she loves to make people smile. "Previously, I spent months in South Indian orphanages. The poor children never owned a toy so my backpack was always laden with them. Back in New Zealand, I still carry a few toys to amuse the children I meet. Little things like wind-up toys are fun. I put teddies from op shops in public places with notes pinned to them asking to be loved, then quietly watch from my van as they get picked up with smiles."

Wherever she goes, Dianna seeks out people in need. "I buy bulk food to share with the homeless. You soon become aware of the cars used as homes or bush camps and tents. I’ve cooked for anywhere between one and 10 using my big soup pot or BBQ. I also look out for motorhomers who struggle. Blankets and jackets are welcomed in winter as are battery lamps, voltage meters, and other things that make this lifestyle easier. I just enjoy sharing a little wherever I go on my travels. It costs me very little and the people I meet enrich my life."

More hobby ideas for RV travellers


Need more ideas on what to do with your spare time? Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up from other motorhomers.

  • Colouring books for adults. These are surprisingly relaxing and addictive. And they are cheap, too.
  • Brain busters. I love quizzes and puzzles of all kinds: newspaper quizzes, daily online quizzes, crosswords, and other mind bogglers, even phone apps. It’s amazing how much you can learn.
  • Take a class. Check out the local newspaper when visiting an area to see what education classes are running for adults. From card-making to teddy bear-making and even massage, it’s never too late to pick up a new skill.
  • Get writing. In a world of modern technology, there’s nothing nicer than doing something old-fashioned, such as writing a letter or sending a postcard. Or how about starting a journal? Not only is it a wonderful way to record memories and places of things we would otherwise forget, it’s also a lovely keepsake for future generations.
  • Volunteer your time. If you’re going to be in an area for a while, why not visit the local op shops and charity shops and ask if they need an extra hand? It’s a great way to meet new people while helping the community.
  • Look up what’s on. Always check out what there is to do in an area, even if you’re only passing through. There are stacks of free and low-cost entertainment to enjoy, from music to sports and, my personal favourite, quizzes!

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