Imagine quitting your job, leaving your home, purchasing and converting a van, and hitting the road with your adorable labrador. Spending the next months and years travelling with no set plan, working on a permaculture farm, falling asleep and waking up in the wilderness...
Meet Marina, the girl who's done all this and more!
There isn’t actually a cool story about the name. When I started converting the van and started the blog, I wanted a catchy name and a name for the van as well. I wanted a short name that went with Van… and Pam came in mind! It sounded cool and it’s catchy and short, no deeper meaning sorry!
One reason why I started this journey was that I needed to spend some time by myself. I feel like at this day and age we are too used to being surrounded by people, by things, by distractions, wifi and internet and tv are always on. I feel like we are kind of scared of spending time just with our thoughts and analysing what we really want, and what our dreams are and what we fear. The biggest fear I had was loneliness and being alone, despite having (my dog) Odie, you can’t really have a full deep conversation with him! I feared loneliness over money and safety, loneliness was the biggest fear that I wanted to conquer.
When I started travelling I didn't actually have any plans of where I was going, or how I was doing things. I just lived life day to day, just travelling from A to B, B to C, without any base. Then when I arrived in Italy in the summer (this is where my family and friends are), I took a break from travelling to fix the van and to earn money to fund my next travel. RIght now, in spite of not living anywhere fixed, I'm happy because I just go from friend to friend or rely on my van. My van is my house and I have that anywhere I go!
It affects me LOADS! I’ve always been one of those kids that loved to go into the forest and just explore; go catch snails and observe insects. So when I was living in England, my connection in nature was interrupted by living in a house and working a full time office job. Despite the surroundings being very beautiful it wasn't what I felt I needed.
With this kind of life, van life, you take ownership again of the outside, and you stop differentiating between what’s inside and what's outside. When you live in a house there's a feeling that inside you are safe and when you’re outside you're not home. When you live in a van, you break the boundaries!
So yes, nature affects me greatly. I love to park in nature and sleep in the forest, and wake up with the birds singing and the river flowing- that makes my day!
I haven’t lived that many other than of course van life and farm life. I am planning to spend some time in communities this summer. I will see some eco villages in Spain and spend some time there.
So far I’ve spent 2 months in a farm learning about permaculture; this place in particular has the goal to become an eco village where people can live in harmony. Other than this, yes I have a LOT of different lifestyles I want to explore and I’m very excited to experience those.
I was very fascinated by permaculture ad that's why I wanted to work in this particular farm. My understanding is that permaculture is a less invasive and more in sync with nature way of cultivating the earth and the soil. In permaculture everything is recycled so you don't waste anything. There's no pesticides, and you really work in sync with the cycle of nature and you don't go against it.
The main thing is that nature is perfect so you don't force it and don't impose your processes onto nature. You let her give you what she wants to.
Self sufficiency principles include growing your own food; going out and picking your own tomatoes and it's such a fulfilling and grounding experience. Collecting and reusing rainwater is also an important principle. This farm I was at also had olives and vineyards, so that was great because I got to experience winemaking, and the harvesting of the olives. The processes are so beautiful - yes it’s a hard job but if you love what you're doing and you respect nature you go into a meditative state and the days go so fast.
They all think I’m a bit mad which is understandable! When I told my Dad that I was leaving my job and my house; he wasn’t that excited at the prospect of his daughter being homeless! But he is starting to get what van life is about.
You always have some people who are really really against your idea and are not going to be very supportive. I don't really care because I know that this is my truth and what I want to do in my life, so whether people support me or not, that’s their choice.
I understand why they think I’m mad though, and that’s fine!
I wouldn’t say it’s a LOT harder, it’s a bit harder. I Think it’s worth it; basically what it takes is a little bit more planning and knowing that you won't be able to do everything. You’ll need to check ahead (sending loads of emails etc) and checking if dogs are allowed. Living in England meant that I was used to dogs not being allowed anywhere, so I was used to having to plan ahead already.
Plan ahead, talk to your vet, read blogs about people travelling with dogs (there are plenty), ask all your questions, and be prepared before you leave. Before you undergo travelling, make sure that you try out a short trip with your dog first. Find out how he will feel about travelling, and check how he will do. Not all dogs are happy to travel and that's the truth - dogs are really territorial animals and a lot will not be happy to be somewhere new everyday.
Odie does great, he recognises the van as home. He has his bed there which I try not to wash too much so it has his smell. HE doesn’t mind at all, I think as long as he’s with me and in the van, then he is home.
When I was in the office in England he was at home all alone all day, just a few walks a day; so I can’t imagine that he would enjoy that life more than van life! Now he gets to explore new places every day and he’s in the wilderness all the time, what’s not to like! He’s a lucky boy.
I would love to do some more farm work, especially with permaculture, and especially in different seasons so I can see different processes. On the farm I was there in Autumn, and going into Winter there is less work to do with the soil.
I would also LOVE to do some building and construction work; learn how to build houses with domes and sandbags, things like that. There’s loads of projects going on in Europe building houses with stones, things like that. I really want to get my hands dirty.
Also as I mentioned, I want to live in an eco village for a couple of months, that really excites me.
Loads of tips… first of all just listen to your heart. Be ready, be prepared for people to go against what you believe in, for people to tell you that you're mad and making a mistake. If you know deep in your heart that that’s the truth just let it flow, let it flow away like water. There’s always people who are going to think you’re crazy.
Don't just go into work and tell them you’re leaving without a plan. Leave it all when you’re ready. You don't want to be in a situation where you have no money, no home, no friends, and you have no idea how to take care of yourself and what to do next. Have an emergency just in case fund. Plan your route, and check what options there are for work and remote jobs that you could do.
To travel with your dog, network online and meet people who are doing what you're doing. There’s so many people living travel lifestyles - vans, boats, bikes - and there’s really great blogs. Check them out and ask for tips.
When you travel you will probably meet up with people you spoke to on the internet, and even though you don't know these people in person (yet) it’ll be great to meet people you’ve met and get tips.
You can find Marina here: www.instagram.com/pamthevan91/
And here: www.pamthevan.com
Let’s start things off with a small bit of advice. Start using your travel journal before your trip.
Seriously, you’ll realise how important it is, when you are looking back at your adventures, to record even the slightest bit of planning to ensure that your trips have meaning and purpose.
Before all the memories and ticket stubs begin to flood the pages of your journal, make a list of things you want to see, food you want to try, or dedicate a page to language phrases you can use on the daily.
Fresh out of university after four years studying ecology, zoology and conservation genetics, I was well and truly ready for an adventure.
I wanted to book a plane ticket, pack my bags and head out the door as soon as possible.
But two things were stopping me. Firstly, money. Spending four years studying doesn’t mean you’re exactly raking in the cash. Secondly, when I got back and started looking for jobs, what would an employer think of a recent lengthy, self-indulgent holiday?
Then a solution came to me:
Why not combine some adventurous traveling with work experience?
In THE POWER OF MYTH by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers (1988), Campbell states that “Chief Seattle was one of the last spokesmen of the Paleolithic moral order. In about 1852, the United States Government inquired about buying the tribal lands for the arriving people of the United States.”
“The President in Washington sends word he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?”
- Chief Seattle