A Kiwi cou­ple share their story of life on the road with two lit­tle ones

Little Treasures - - CON­TENTS - Fol­low the Craws’ ad­ven­tures here: noww­ere­tour­

Ever won­dered if there’s more to life than just the daily grind? Kas­teel (Kas) Craw, a for­mer busi­ness owner, and her phys­io­ther­a­pist hus­band Nic did. Two years ago they were liv­ing a busy life in Tau­ranga – jug­gling work and house ren­o­va­tions, with their two young chil­dren. Life grew even more hec­tic when their old­est daugh­ter Frankie, who suf­fers from Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis, fell ill for about six months re­quir­ing con­stant med­i­cal treat­ment. The cou­ple knew they wanted to spend qual­ity time with their chil­dren be­fore they hit the school years while liv­ing a more sim­ple ex­is­tence. So early last year, they took the bold step of say­ing good­bye to life as they knew it. They sold their newly-ren­o­vated house, along with nearly all of their pos­ses­sions, and bought a caravan. As Kas ex­plains, their plan was to spend a year or so liv­ing largely off the grid while ex­plor­ing the length and breadth of the coun­try, and mak­ing every day count. “We saw the caravan in the morn­ing and paid a de­posit by lunchtime. We just locked it in and said okay, we’re go­ing to do this now. I guess friends, in a way, prob­a­bly ex­pected no less and they all just thought it was amaz­ing, but we did get feed­back through fam­ily that maybe we weren’t pri­ori­tis­ing Frankie’s health. We had that in the back of our minds as well… is this the best thing for her? You just never know. Be­fore we left she was on a neb­u­liser ma­chine and she needs to be in a pri­vate room to do that treat­ment, so if she needed that again, how would we do it in a caravan? There were lots of ‘what ifs’ but we de­cided we can only give it a go, and if things come up then we can change our plans.”


“I’d say the big­gest thing the kids had to get used to was sleep­ing in the kitchen. We sit there do­ing the dishes right next to their heads. That would be the big­gest ad­just­ment – us be­ing in their rooms when they go to sleep. But they were to­tally fine with it. And now they go to sleep any­where. For me, I reckon it took about six months to re­ally get into the swing of caravan life. The thought of win­ter was the thing that scared me the most, but I feel like we got through it pretty well. It was quite mild at the start through to July so that helped, then as we got deeper south it seemed like a re­ally long sea­son. I re­mem­ber a week of rain in the Catlins, that was prob­a­bly one of the hard­est weeks – but oth­er­wise it was not too bad. You just wear more clothes! And the caravan’s so easy to heat – you just flick a switch and it’s hot within a minute.”

Daily rhythm

“We def­i­nitely do still have a rou­tine. Rio still has a sleep every day and we al­ways work around that. In the morn­ing, one of us may go for a run and I’ll do yoga or some­thing like that. We do Frankie’s physio and then we’ll go and do some form of ac­tiv­ity whether it’s go­ing to a beach to ex­plore, go­ing for a walk, or go­ing to a play­ground. Then we come back for Rio’s sleep. We’re gen­er­ally around home un­til about 3pm, and af­ter that we’ll do some other out­door ac­tiv­ity. We’re back in the caravan at about 4 or 5 o’clock for an evening of meals, books,

play­ing – you know, the stan­dard - but the only dif­fer­ence re­ally is that every day we ex­plore a new lo­ca­tion. We’ve cov­ered a huge chunk of the South Is­land – right down to Slope Point, the south­ern­most part of New Zealand. We’ve done most of the south­ern part of the north and now we’re ex­plor­ing North­land.


“We store our wash­ing for about three days, then visit a Laun­dro­mat. At the start I thought I’d do hand wash­ing but be­cause we’re so lim­ited with wa­ter we can’t re­ally do that, and in win­ter we could never dry the clothes any­way. If we’re at a friend’s place then we wash all our bed­ding. Go­ing to the Laun­dro­mat is quite a nice bit of time out for me. Just sit­ting there wait­ing for the dryer to dry the clothes is quite dreamy! The kids have a bath once every three days – and it’s fine. Sure they’ll have days when they’re grub­bier and then they’ll have a wash, and in sum­mer they swim in the sea or get wet in some way – but gen­er­ally it’s a shower or bath once every three days. We have a lit­tle Shub, so the girls both sit in there and have a bath and they love it.


“I do miss my kitchen. I got a food pro­cesser be­fore we left home and I miss that the most. We have to go the su­per­mar­ket all the time be­cause we have such lim­ited stor­age so you can’t buy in bulk, and we tend to spend a lot more money as a re­sult. But the kids are quite in­volved in din­ner prep, which is awe­some, be­cause they get to see how things are made rather than it just turn­ing up on the ta­ble. All our meals are quite sim­ple. We haven’t ac­tu­ally had an oven since Novem­ber be­cause it broke, so that cut out a few other food op­tions for us. Frankie needs ex­tra fat and ex­tra salt in her diet so we just tend to add things to her meals. She’ll of­ten have cheese added, and al­ways has ex­tra salt. We tend to eat quite healthily, and then maybe once every two weeks we’ll go and get fish and chips just to give her a good dose of some fatty foods. We can kind of tell when she’s been eat­ing a bit lighter be­cause she tends to lose weight quite quickly so we have to keep those fats up for her. But she’s had the best year of health. A lot of it I put down to not

It gives you per­spec­tive on what so­ci­ety makes you be­lieve you need. I’ve def­i­nitely re­alised that there’s more to life than just work­ing to have ‘things’.

hav­ing much con­tact with other peo­ple, be­cause she’s sus­cep­ti­ble to bugs. Ev­ery­one says it’s the sea and fresh air and things, but I think the ma­jor­ity is just the non­con­tact.”

The fu­ture

“A year on – this life we live feels so nor­mal. We for­get that ev­ery­one else is do­ing it dif­fer­ent to us, and we’ve for­got­ten to a cer­tain de­gree what life was like be­fore­hand. Just the other day, Nic and I were dis­cussing how much we’ve kind of re­moved our­selves from so­ci­ety a bit, and it gives you per­spec­tive on what so­ci­ety makes you be­lieve you need. I’ve def­i­nitely re­alised that there’s more to life than just work­ing to have ‘things’. I’ve be­come more aware of wastage and wa­ter usage and what we think we need in a house. We’ve talked about set­ting up a bit of a com­mu­nity with friends – that’s one op­tion. We’ve got a few ideas so we’ve just got to lock one in and then start look­ing for the prop­erty to suit. It could be Bay of Plenty, but I think North­land is more likely. That was prob­a­bly a big in­sti­ga­tor of the trip. We thought we might like to move to North­land but we were too scared to take the step be­cause we didn’t know much about any of the towns. We thought it would be cool to ac­tu­ally go around and see these places and get a feel for each be­fore de­cid­ing where we want to live. The blogsite that we set up at the start of our jour­ney is headed ‘Free­dom and Sim­plic­ity’. That’s what we hoped for, and that’s what we got – 100 per­cent.” 

Fresh start: Nic, pic­tured with daugh­ters Rio (2) and Frankie (3), finds liv­ing sim­ply and grid” “off the has been cleans­ing.

Kas and Nic may have swapped a house for the chal­leng­ing yet cosy quar­ters of a caravan but kids Rio and Frankie get to ex­plore the ever-chang­ing out­doors as their vast play­ground.

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