On the road with Alison Turner: one woman, her van and a dog named Max

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, ‘A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.’ For Alison Turner, and ever-trusty travel companion Max (her rescue dog), life is a series of new experiences. On the road in their van ‘Campy’, perpetual wanderers Alison and Max live for adventure and share quiet moments of awe through Alison’s inspiring photography. We asked Alison what the road less travelled looks like, and what wisdom she’d offer to fellow wanderers:

What sparked your love for travel and being on the road? 

I have camped ever since I can remember. My family would travel and camp for vacations and we would always meet the same families each year to camp in San Diego county at the San Elijo campground.

When did you start travelling with your gorgeous rescue pup, Max? Is he a considerate travel companion?

I adopted Max at a farmers market seven years ago, where they were having an adoption event with rescue pets. I didn’t plan on adopting him but I decided to take him home the moment I saw him. We hit the road together a month later. He is the best travel companion I could ask for. He keeps me laughing and always reminds me to make room for play wherever we go.
alison turner 2

What’s it like travelling in your van ‘Campy’? 

The transition from tent to van was an easy one. In fact, it was a very luxurious upgrade. It was nice to be able to have a place where I could cook on the spot or just park and chill out for a while. I feel more protected in the van as opposed to being in a tent like I used to travel in.
Could you name your all-time favourite travel destination?
That’s a tough question to answer. There are a few places in my mind that I never get tired of when I travel. I think of the California Coast, Maine Coast, Yellowstone and White Sands … just to name a few.
What are your happiest travel memories?
I think my happiest memories are when Max has been the happiest. Whenever I see him run around with me and play, that makes me happy. There are times where we spend the majority of the day driving so when he gets to run around and smile, that makes me the happiest.
Your photos are beautiful. Where’s your favourite location to shoot?
Thank you. I don’t really have a favourite. I enjoy shooting the landscape wherever I am at. Some might be prettier than others, but each moment on the road is special to me so I want to be sure to capture it no matter where I am.
What are your top travel tips?
Take half as much as you think you need and budget twice the amount of money. Trust your gut no matter what. If you feel uncomfortable somewhere, move along. Be comfortable being alone. Give yourself a goal or purpose so you can refer to that when you start questioning what you’re doing.
What do you take with you on the road?
Coffee, warm vest, warm layers, a good sleeping bag, headlamp, camera, journal. Don’t over pack. If you don’t want to haul it on your back for weeks, keep it behind. You really don’t need that much. Ditch the makeup. Take the trousers that are comfortable. Nobody cares what you wear. All that matters is that you are comfortable. Stop worrying what people think. These things are important to remember when packing.
alison turner
What’s something you’ve learnt from spending time on the road?
That your problems won’t go away if that is what you are traveling for. I felt it’s important to have goals and a purpose. There will be times when you question everything. Fact is, you will have nothing but time to think. Try to get out of your head and do something. Take a walk, write in a journal, take photographs. Remember that nothing lasts forever. It’s a good reminder when you are having a bad day or even when it’s the best day ever … savour it and count yourself fortunate to be able to do what you’re doing.
Where’s next on your must-visit list?

I would like to go to Alaska. I just traveled to Iceland, Norway and Denmark and that was my first time ever in Europe. I would like to explore more there and other places in the world. Who knows what’s next? That’s part of the fun.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Want to see more of Alison’s photography? Head to her website, or check out her Instagram.

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