This is Marina Piro and Odie, her rescue canine friend. Marina, who was born in Italy, resides in the UK but travels around the world with Odie by her side in a van she renovated. She quit her stable job in order to live out her lifelong dream of being, in her words, a “self-sufficient forest fairy.”
Marina says she mainly chose to travel by van because she wanted to bring Odie along with her. She says that often times public transportation does not allow dogs, and finding alternate suitable accommodations can be very difficult.
Now let’s meet Pam, the trusty old van that Marina and Odie use to get around. She’s a 2001 Renault Kangoo, and according to Marina, when in a good mood, she runs like a dream. After Marina bought Pam, she spent about two months researching how to transform her into a home with which to travel the world.
Marina says she knew absolutely nothing about van renovation before embarking on this particular project. She took out the van’s back seats and cut floorboards herself, installed LED lights and a small bed and some curtains.
So, how on Earth does she shower whilst living in a van? Marina says her favorite way to stay clean while traveling is jumping into a crystal-clear lake. She also uses what’s called a “solar shower” where water is put into a black bag and hung up in the trees to heat up via the sun. This photo shows her hanging up the solar shower.
However, she adds that “if you are a hygiene freak that showers twice a day using dozens of beauty products, van life might not be for you.”
Marina says there were a lot of things she had to consider before taking her furry friend along for the journey with her. She says you need to make sure your dog is a-okay with constantly being in new and different surroundings, and to plan for unexpected trips to the vet that can add up in cost.
Unfortunately, having a dog along for the ride does come with its difficulties. Marina says she does not like to leave Odie alone in the van, so it becomes difficult when she has to go to places, like the supermarket, that don’t allow dogs. And of course, dogs will track in paw prints and other mess into the van, she says.
But in the end, Marina says having Odie with her has worked out incredibly well. She says he enjoys the car rides, provides her with some much-needed cuddles, and has even made her feel more safe as a solo female traveler. Not to mention he loves the fresh air and exercise he gets on a consistent basis!
So far, Marina and Odie have traveled around England, France, Switzerland and Italy. Her favorite place so far? The lake of Xonrupt-sur-Longemer in France. “It’s a lovely lake surrounded by pine trees,” she says. “It was super quiet and no tourists whatsoever, the perfect spot for spending a couple of days.”
Marina said in an Instagram post that although it isn’t always easy travelling alone, she’s able to “gain strength and new skills.” She adds, “only by being on my own I can find what true happiness means to me. Oh and yes I do know I have that furry beast with me but you see, conversations with him tend to come to a dead end.”
Marina says she would like to continue traveling for as long as she can, whether with Pam or through another means of transportation. Her plan is to spend 2-3 weeks in each destination and to really get to know the places she travels to. She says she plans to visit Spain and Portugal this year.