Woman's Charming Van Conversion Includes an Important Safety Feature

This solo traveler's van conversion features a cozy interior and some great design ideas.

Julieta van conversion interior

Marta Zaforteza

For many of us, the global COVID-19 pandemic has meant a whole slew of big choices to be made: a change in the way we work, commute, how we interact with family, friends, and strangers on the street. Some have had to hunker down at home, others have had to go out bravely as essential workers, while others may have made the choice to pick up and start anew on the road of life. Big changes can be big opportunities that can lead us to new and unexpected joys.

That's the story behind Marta Zaforteza and her decision to go traveling full-time in her van conversion, which she's nicknamed Julieta. At the onset of the pandemic, Marta was living and working in London, England. First introduced to the van life through her ex-boyfriend, Marta's initial plan was to use her van conversion only for weekend jaunts, and to rent it out for extra income. But once the full lockdown became reality, she decided to move out of her rented accommodations in the city and into the van, hitting the road full-time, working and living out of her van. We get a tour of her lovely home-on-wheels via fellow vanlifer Nate Murphy (who is also the author of the ever-helpful Van Conversion Guide):

Julieta is built out of blue Citroën Relay that Marta purchased and handed off to Right To Roam, a UK van conversion company, who transformed the bare vehicle into a homey interior that's full of tasteful, rustic touches.

Julieta van conversion exterior
Marta Zaforteza

First off, we have the kitchen, where Marta's love of baking has meant the inclusion of a relatively large oven, in addition to a gas-powered, two-burner stovetop. The countertops are made from reclaimed wood, which aligns with the van's homespun feel. There's an integrated trap for collecting food scraps, plus a small sink with a full-sized pull-down faucet for making dishwashing a breeze. Marta chose a RV-style, 12-volt Vitrifrigo refrigerator-and-freezer manufactured in Italy, because she wanted to be able to keep food fresh in the warmer Spanish climates that she planned to travel through.

There's plenty of storage in the cabinets, and lots of various knick-knacks and mirrors (which help to bounce natural light off around in the van) – all smartly secured by velcro.

Julieta van conversion kitchen
Marta Zaforteza

To eat or prepare food outside, we have this long slide-out table that extends from under the oven.

Julieta van conversion pull out table
Nate Murphy

Another big design decision in Marta's van is the small window that's been built into the partition separating the main living space and the driver's cab. It's something that Marta decided to do after chatting with other solo female van travelers, who recommended having some kind of immediate access to the driver's seat in the event of an emergency. She's actually had to use it once when someone recently tried to break into the van! It's a sad reality, but safety precautions like this should be a top priority for women travelling solo.

Julieta van conversion safety window
Marta Zaforteza

Next, we have Marta's sleeping and working space at the rear of the van.

Julieta van conversion rear of van
Marta Zaforteza

She has two upholstered benches with integrated storage on either side, and an adjustable work table that is mounted on an extendable arm that can swivel around to almost any direction. Above the benches are more storage cubbies.

Julieta van conversion adjustable table
Nate Murphy

To sleep, all Marta has to do is place the table on top of the long wooden supports at the edge of the benches, and add some cushions, pillows and sheets.

Julieta van conversion bed set up
Nate Murphy

Above the bed, there's a skylight where Marta can see the stars at night.

Julieta van conversion skylight
Nate Murphy

On the practical side of things, Marta has a split-charging system installed on the van, which allows her to run things on either solar power or the van's vehicle alternator. She has a RV-style toilet unit hidden under one of the benches that slides out, as well as an on-demand water heater for her outdoor shower at the rear of the van. For water, she has a 80-litre (21-gallon) tank under the kitchen sink and a 100-litre (26-gallon) greywater tank under the van.

Julieta van conversion toilet
Marta Zaforteza

For lighting, the van has three dimmable lights, but Marta often uses her strings of fairy lights to prevent people from looking into the van's interior.

After nearly a year of happy travels in sunnier places, Marta is now making her way back to England for an even happier event: she's expecting a baby in a few months! As a solo traveler who's soon to be a proud future solo mom, Marta now plans to take a hiatus from van life, and will rent out the van via Quirky Campers for the time being – though she plans to move back in with baby later on. To follow Marta on her incredible life travels, visit her Instagram.