Italy-born travel enthusiast Marina Piro has grown up with two goals in mind: “to be a self sufficient forest fairy,” and to see the world with her rescue dog, Odie. While the first one may be a bit unrealistic, she has already achieved the second thanks to Pam, her fully restored and totally comfortable van.
Last year, after two months of research, Piro began her ambitious van restoration project by purchasing a 5-door 2001 Renault Kangoo. She first gutted the vehicle, and then gradually completed a number of modifications, including replacing the floor, installing LED lights, constructing a kitchenette, and building a bed. With a few finishing touches—pots and pans, curtains for privacy, cozy bedding, and some houseplants—the vehicle went from “little moving can” to home sweet home.
While voyaging by plane and train and staying in hotels and hostels may seem a bit more convenient than driving cross-country and snoozing in your car, Piro has opted to forego more conventional means of travel in order to bring along her four-legged friend. “The main reason why I chose to be traveling by van was that I wanted to have Odie with me,” she explains on her website. “A van seemed the most viable option. Too many bus, train, plane companies do not accept dogs, not to mention the difficulties you might have to find a suitable accommodation.”
With that said, although cruising down the highway with your canine companion by your side may sound like a picture perfect way to travel, Piro notes that such a way of life has its difficulties. “Despite being the most practical solution, van life with a dog can be difficult at times and you must consider various aspects of it before throwing yourself into it,” she says, before listing a few cons, including restriction of movement, the inability to leave your dog in your car, and general messiness. Still, Piro loves having the labradoodle cross’ cuddly company throughout all of her adventures and wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Seriously, who does not want cuddles?” she asks. Not us!