Van Life with Dogs: Tips and Tricks for a Happy Adventure

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Many will say that nothing is better than life with a dog. But what about van life with dogs?

If you’re planning van life with dogs or another pet, there are a few things to consider to ensure a happy and safe journey for both you and your pet.

We’re big dog fans here at RoamRest, so we thought you’d like to read about some real-life tips and tricks we’ve learned while traveling with our furry friends.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable and Safe in the Van

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As a dog owner, the first thing to consider when deciding to embark (pun intended) on an adventure in your campervan is to provide your dog with a comfortable and safe space.

Consider investing in a high-impact rated crate or pet harness to keep your dog safe while driving. You can also create a cozy bed area for them to relax during the road trip, regardless of whether they are in a crate or restrained by a harness.

We designed the RuffRoost Dog Bed specifically for this purpose. This versatile cushion fits between your van’s driver and passenger seat to give your dog a comfortable place to ride so he can see all the views, just like you! It also doubles as a bench cushion, a fitness mat, and a durable dog bed you can throw out on the ground for your pup without damage concerns.

If you leave your van unattended with your pet inside, you may want to use a video monitoring device that works off cell service. The app iHeartCam can be used if you have an extra device, such as a 2nd phone or tablet, to live stream video from your van to your phone.

Ensure your furry friend is comfortable traveling in a camper van by taking a few test drives before your trip. If you can, have someone come with you in case your pet has issues while driving so they can help keep your pet safe while you pull over to address the situation.

Packing List for Life with a Dog in a Van

Always research the area you will be traveling to and pack accordingly for your pet to prepare for any weather conditions or terrain. You can call the local Forest Service or BLM office to ask if there is anything you should be aware of, such as rattlesnakes, mountain lions, or poisonous plants.

Regardless of your destination, always bring the following items for your best friend:

  • Enough dog food and treats for the trip length
  • Dog bowls (avoid metal, as when they are in the sun, they heat up and can make the water too warm to drink or make food undesirable)
  • Your dog’s vaccination records
  • Dog bags for waste
  • Spare collar and leash
  • A first aid kit for your pet
  • Any medication, such as heartworm or flea and tick
  • Pet claw clippers
  • If your dog sheds, bring a brush and a small vacuum to manage dog hair
  • Extra cleaning supplies in case of an accident
  • Weatherproof dog coat
  • Rag to clean muddy paws
  • Any toy(s) your dog loves

Campervan Climate Control for Your Pet

When living van life with a pet, you must be aware of weather conditions. Some campervans can be well insulated and maintain a desired temperature for a few hours in inclement weather.

Still, you should never leave your dog unattended in such a small space for extended periods unless you have a proper climate control system with air conditioning and heat.

You can use a smart temperature monitoring system such as Waggle to track temperatures in hot and cold weather to ensure your pet is comfortable and safe. Utilizing window covers and a vent fan will also help keep your dog cool on a hot day.

Always do your grocery shopping and run other errands during the colder parts of the day. If you plan a trip in extreme weather conditions, consider getting a dog sitter and bringing your pet on your next adventure.

Plan Ahead for Dog-Friendly Activities and Destinations

This seems obvious, but always double-check that your destination allows dogs. Most National Parks, State Parks, and Wildlife Refuges have pet restrictions, so check their policies beforehand.

You can look up off-leash dog parks, dog-friendly restaurants, or a coffee shop that allows dogs on to help plan your travel itinerary.

Many National Parks welcome pets, but it’s important to note that each park has its rules and regulations. Some parks may only allow pets on specific trails or designated areas or prohibit them altogether.

If you’re a National Park chaser, you’ll be excited to learn about these super-pet-friendly parks you and your furry friend can visit!

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, located in Arizona, is a unique and beautiful destination that offers visitors the chance to see an incredible collection of petrified wood and other geological wonders. Almost the entire park is pet-friendly, making it a great destination for pet owners looking to explore the area with their furry friends.

Grand Canyon National Park

Also in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most iconic destinations in the United States, with stunning vistas and awe-inspiring natural beauty. For visitors with pets, it’s important to note that pets are not allowed into the canyon. They are, however, allowed on all upper trails along the rim of the canyon.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, has incredible trails and stunning scenery, with over 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails. Some popular dog-friendly trails include the Jordan Pond Path, the Ocean Path, and the Great Head Trail.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, located in Virginia, is known for its stunning vistas, waterfalls, and over 500 miles of hiking trails. Over 100 miles of trails are dog-friendly. Some popular trails include the Limberlost Trail, the Dark Hollow Falls Trail, and the Overall Run Falls Trail.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Did you know that Colorado is home to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the tallest sand dunes in North America? Here you’ll find a diverse array of wildlife and plant species. Dogs are allowed in many areas, including all campgrounds, picnic areas, and on several trails.

Dogs are also allowed on the dunes, but keeping them on a leash is important to protect both the pets and the fragile dune ecosystem. Some of the most popular dog-friendly trails in the park include the Mosca Pass Trail, the Montville Nature Trail, and the Sand Ramp Trail.

White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park, located in New Mexico, is a stunning destination known for its vast white gypsum sand dunes that stretch for miles.

Dogs are allowed on the trails and dunes, but always keep them on a leash to protect your dog, other dogs, and the sand dune’s ecosystem. Some of the most popular dog-friendly trails in the park include the Interdune Boardwalk, the Dunes Life Nature Trail, and the Playa Trail.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

A lesser-known park in Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is totally worth the visit for pet owners looking for a dog-friendly destination. With over 125 miles of hiking trails, the park offers plenty of opportunities for exploration with furry companions.

Dogs are allowed on all of the park’s hiking trails, including the popular towpath trail, which follows the route of an old canal towpath and offers scenic views of the Cuyahoga River. There are also several dog-friendly picnic areas and campsites available in the park.

Are You Ready to Start Van Life with Pets?

With proper planning and preparation, van life with dogs can be a wonderful, rewarding experience. Always prioritize your pet’s well-being and ensure they’re happy and comfortable throughout your next van life dog adventure.

Always practice proper pet etiquette by keeping your pet on a leash, cleaning up after your pet, and following rules on public lands. Van life with a dog makes for a little extra work, but we promise it makes van life so much more enjoyable!