Part of the beauty of traveling is making memories with those dearest to you, so why leave your pet behind? Traveling with dogs is far easier on the road than in the air — especially with an RV, when you’re bringing your lodging with you. There’s no being separated on the plane, rushing back to pick her up from the sitter, or packing a suitcase for all her stuff. Plus, being able to snuggle up with your little guy during the journey is like bringing a core part of home with you.
When you travel by RV, it’s you, your best friend, and the open road. Here’s what you need to know to make the journey easier so you and your pup can focus on crafting those lifelong memories.
Plan ahead for pet-friendly adventures.
Even though traveling with an RV means having the freedom to go anywhere you want at your chosen pace, it takes some planning to know where you can and can’t take your dog. Many national parks, for example, don’t allow pets. Save yourself some stress by researching pup-friendly outdoor adventures in advance of your trip. It won’t be a fun experience for anyone if you’re caught trying to hide your pup, or end up with a scenario where you’ll have to either skip an activity or find an emergency sitter.
Check out BringFido for a list of dog-friendly parks, beaches, and hotels in every state to help plan your stops. This way, you’ll spend your time having fun rather than frantically looking for a place where your dog is welcome.
Tip: Always know and follow local leash laws. Even if your pet is super well behaved, you can’t control wildlife — and a spooked dog could put you both in danger around big animals like moose, bears, and mountain lions. Err on the side of safety and heed the rules if a trail says to leash up your pup.
Update your contacts.
Before you make any bookings, do some research on nearby emergency vet services. Knowing there’s a vet within an hour’s drive of where you’re going will provide peace of mind, especially if you’re planning any long hikes or other strenuous activities with your pet.
Tip: Have a 24-hour vet line saved in your phone for any urgent questions about unfamiliar plants or litter your pup may have snacked on while on the trail.
Similarly, if you’re looking into any not-so-pup-friendly activities, be sure to plan ahead and search for doggy daycare or local pet sitters to keep your dog safe and sound while you’re otherwise occupied.
Help your pup feel at home.
Just like how you brought your favorite blanket in your RV, your pet needs to feel comfortable too. RV travel may take some getting used to for them, especially if it’s a new experience for all of you. Consider doing a test run of the adventure by spending a night or two camping in your own driveway or yard, to see how your pet reacts to the new surroundings.
Do what you can to help your dog find her own cozy little corners — bring a bed, enough food, her favorite toys, and maybe a new treat to help her get excited about the experience. A folding step ladder is a simple way to help your pups climb up into the vehicle or onto your bed (if that’s allowed, that is). This way, they can go up and down as they please. When it’s not in use, just fold it up and slip it somewhere out of the way.
Tip: Traveling with your pup means being more mindful. Don’t leave anxious dogs unattended for long periods, especially in your vehicle on sunny days, even if it isn’t hot outside — it’s just not worth the risk.
Pack essential adventure gear for your dog.
It makes sense to invest in adventure gear like a sturdy helmet before rock climbing up a cliff face, so do the same for your pet. Have an adventure-ready kit to keep them safe and within sight — especially at night.
Ruffwear’s Knot-a-Hitch stretches between two trees to give pups the roam of the campsite on a tangle-proof, hands-free lead. You can also pick up a light-up or glow-in-the-dark collar or attach a small light or headlamp to their harness so you can always see where they are as the sun goes down. Finally, a dog-specific first aid kit — like this one from Adventure Medical Kits, which specializes in camp-friendly kits — will keep you stocked with the nonnegotiable essentials in the event you need to pull a thorn from a paw or tape up a sprain. Now your pup can run around in all that open space and fresh air.
Tip: Don’t forget that your dog needs clean drinking water too and, just like us humans, can get sick from untreated sources. Pack enough water for all of you or bring a portable filter if you’re camping by a lake or pond.
All it takes is a little extra planning and a new toy — or two — to make your next RV adventure perfectly dog friendly, and you’ll be happy you thought ahead. Seeing your pup run around in wide open spaces and take in all the sights, sounds, and, of course, smells nature has to offer make for some of the most fulfilling parts of being their best friend.