Van Life & RV Travel with Pets: A Complete Pet-Friendly Road Trip Guide

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Well, well, well…looks like y’all are gearing up for the ultimate road trip bliss – RV adventures with your four-legged friends! As a grizzled van life with my crew of canine road dogs, let me say…you’re in for a wildly memorable ride.

Traveling with pets adds laughter, love, and simple joys that make van life magic. But it takes preparation too. This trusty guide covers all the need-to-knows for epic pet-friendly road trips – from getting pets road-ready to finding pet-welcoming campsites, safety tips, and more. Stock up and buckle in, adventurers!

Why Travel with Pets in Your RV or Van?

Alright, let’s kick the tires and light the fires on what may be one of the most important questions for us road-bound adventurers – why in tarnation should we bother traveling with our furry friends in tow? Well, buckle up and allow me to lay it out for you, my seasoned roaming amigos.

For those of us bitten hard by the van life wanderlust, our pets aren’t just beloved animal companions. They’re our ride-or-die road dogs, our co-pilots on this wild journey across the highways and backroads of America’s sprawling landscapes. Having their unbridled spirits and goofy grins along for the ride adds an extra spark of joy to every new campsite, hike, or unexpected detour.

These four-legged nomads keep us present, reminding us to stop and sniff the roses – or squirrels – at every opportunity. They shower us with unconditional love after a long day’s drive. And their antics seldom fail to make us howl with laughter just when we need it most out there on the endless miles of blacktop.

But our pets don’t just fuel our souls as travel companions – they’ve got our backs too. That furry little security system comes in handy when posted up at remote boondocking spots in the middle of nowhere. And avid hikers like myself rest much easier knowing we’ve got a canine copilot loyally scouting the trails ahead for anything unscented.

Now, I won’t fib to you, beloved wanderers – the van life ain’t always a

Sausage fest when you’re rolling with pet passengers.  Dealing with pet dander and fur tumbleweeds is a whole discipline in itself. And good luck finding the best boondocking spot to let your pooch potty without being noticed!

But listen up – for us devoted pet parents, those fleeting frustrations are but tiny pebbles in the shoe compared to the priceless joys of experiencing America’s wide open roads as a bonafide pack. So lace up those hiking boots and grab the foxtail tennis balls – your next furry-friendly RV adventure awaits!

Preparing Your Pets for Van/RV Travel

Having your animal companions along for the ride is half the fun of van life adventuring. But before you can embrace that warmly chaotic pup shuffle at every new campsite, you’ll need to properly prep your pets for life on the open road.

Getting Pets Accustomed to the RV/Van Environment

Just like us humans, our furry friends need time to get comfortably accustomed to their new mobile digs. Start by introducing them slowly to the RV/van environment, allowing them to sniff around and get familiar with all those new sights, smells, and sounds.

For dogs, crate training can be a literal lifesaver when driving with a secured, calm canine. The same goes for harness training to keep them tethered when hanging out ramp-side. As for cats, make sure they have a designated litter hideaway and vertical scratchers to avoid unfortunate vehicular redecorating.

Essential Pet Supplies for the RV Roadlife

Proper planning is paramount when adventuring with pets in tow. Before hitting the road, stock up on these essential pet travel supplies:

  • Crates/carriers and tie-downs for safe pet transport
  • Collapsible food/water bowls
  • Plenty of potty bags for doggy doo-doo duty
  • Litter boxes and eco-friendly litter for cats
  • Portable pet beds, mats, and blankets
  • Vaccination/medication records
  • Updated ID tags with cell phone number
  • Doggy jackets/sweaters for cool climates
  • Balls, frisbees, etc to burn off zoomies energy

Making sure your pet passengers are comfortable, secure, and stimulated in your RV/van living space will make those long-haul drives infinitely more velvety for all.

Establish a Pet Routine for the Road

Just like us roving humans, our animal roadies thrive best when maintaining a routine. Before departing on your RV adventures, get your pets acclimated to a consistent schedule for meals, potty breaks, exercise, and simply snuggling up with their humans.

Establishing these familiar patterns builds reassurance and reduces stress for pets in the constantly changing environments of van life travel. It’ll also make your job easier managing their needs at each new stop.

So start prepping those furry vagabonds early by slowly van-life-proofing their expected behaviors. With a bit of patience and training, you’ll all be rolling down the road as one happily nomadic pack!

Finding Pet-Friendly Campgrounds & Accommodations

One of the biggest challenges of hitting the road with animal companions? Knowing where to park your rig without getting the cold nose from campground hosts. Luckily, more RV parks and hotels are embracing the pet travel trend these days.

Tips for Booking Pet-Friendly RV Parks & Campgrounds

When making campground reservations, always double-check their pet policies first. Some have weight, breed, or number limits on dogs. Others prohibit pets from certain areas like playgrounds or pools.

Call ahead to get the full scoop – what’s the pet fee? Are there designated pet walking areas? Any rules about leaving pets unattended? Getting these details upfront avoids any headaches down the road.

Footage from past guests is also a great resource for scoping out the most pet-welcoming RV parks. I’ve got tons of campground reviews over on my RVerTV channel to help sniff ’em out!

Boondocking with Your Pets

For ultimate van life freedom, boondocking with your pets on public lands can be positively dreamy. Just be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles like properly disposing of pet waste and keeping dogs leashed when required.

The biggest challenge is finding safe spots that don’t risk disturbing others. You’ll want to camp well away from trails and popular areas. And be sensitive to your dog’s barking at every passing critter!

Come prepared with foul-weather gear like booties and jackets for your furry crew. Out there in the wilderness, avoiding burrs and rough terrain is ruff. But the memories of romping under wide open skies? Simply amazing.

What to Look for in Pet-Friendly Hotel Stops

Occasionally, you’ll need to unhitch at a pet-friendly hotel during your RV voyages. Seek out those advertising as truly pet-friendly, not just pet-tolerant. Haulers with designated pet floors, dog parks, or pet-walking areas get a chef’s kiss from me.

Call the front desk to verify any pet fees and restrictions. And be sure to inspect the room carefully for any pet danger zones before letting your furry freedom rangers go gonzo. With everyone on their best behavior, these pet-friendly intermissions let you all get some solid shutbark between long-haul drives!

Safety Tips for Traveling with Pets

Traveling with your beloved pets in an RV can bring a whole new layer of joy to your adventures. However, ensuring their safety and comfort requires thoughtful preparation and awareness. Here, we’ll dive into some essential safety tips that every pet owner should consider while hitting the road. From securing your pets safely to maintaining their daily routines and being prepared for unexpected health issues, these tips will help you create a safe and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry companions.

Keeping Pets Secured in Transit

It’s crucial to keep your pets safe and secure while you’re on the move. Use a pet carrier or a vehicle pet harness to ensure they don’t roam around the RV. This isn’t just about their safety, but also about preventing distractions that could lead to accidents. Make sure the carrier is well-ventilated and positioned where it won’t slide around.

Maintaining Their Routine (Feeding, Potty Breaks, etc.)

Sticking to a routine is key for keeping your pets happy and healthy on the road. Plan your stops around their usual feeding and potty times. Frequent breaks are not only good for stretching their legs but also help to relieve anxiety and prevent accidents inside your vehicle. Always have fresh water available, and try to mimic their home feeding schedule as closely as possible.

What to Do If a Pet Gets Lost or Ill on a Road Trip

Always be prepared for the unexpected. Keep a pet first aid kit in your RV and familiarize yourself with the basics of pet health care. Ensure your pet’s tags are up-to-date and consider a microchip if they don’t already have one. If your pet gets lost, having recent photos and a detailed description can help with recovery efforts. Know where the nearest vet is located as you travel, and have their contact info at hand should your pet fall ill.

Best Vehicles & RV Layouts for Traveling with Pets

As any seasoned van lifer will tell you, not all RVs and camper vans are created equal when it comes to accommodating furry travel buddies. Getting the right set of wheels with an ideal layout can make or break those pet-included adventures.

Van Conversions Perfect for Pets

If you’re a duo or smaller crew hitting the road with just a dog or cat, van conversions offer a compact but super pet-friendly mobile setup. Brands like Winnebago’s Revel and Pleasure-Way are designed with secure pet areas and doggy access in mind.

Converted camper vans like Sprinters and Promasters allow you to fully customize the interior for your animal’s needs. Add in doggy door exits, designated pet crates/kennels, movable pet beds, and any other bow-wow amenities you desire.

Just be mindful of overall space – larger dogs may feel caged in cramped van conversions on extended trips. If you’ve got multiple big-breed furbabies, an RV might be better suited.

RV Classes and Layouts Ideal for Pets

When it comes to RVs built for comfortable pet travel, Class C motorhomes strike a nice balance of living space and manageable size. Many models feature bunkhouse floorplans with dedicated pet quarters.

For larger crews and multiple pets, a Class A motorhome provides the most room to comfortably create pet-centric living zones. Look for RVs with devoted pet suites including indoor/outdoor kennels, feeding stations, and pet ramps for easy access.

Traveling with cats? Keep their litter station easily accessible yet out of the main living quarters. And be sure to block off any tight spaces where a feline can get trapped or overly stressed.

Creating a Pet-Friendly RV Living Space

No matter which type of RV or camper van you choose, optimize the interior to make your pets feel right at home on the road:

  • Designate a secure pet travel area with crates/kennels
  • Install removable pet gates to control access
  • Outfit with washable pet beds, rugs, and furniture covers
  • Add pet ramps and stairs to prevent injuries
  • Use spill-proof food/water bowls
  • Pack plenty of familiar toys, treats, and scent-marking items

With a cozy, pet-tailored living space and the right RV to accommodate your furry brood, you’ll all stay comfortable, safe, and endlessly entertained on those long-haul travel days!

Activities & Destinations That Welcome Pets

When you’re out on the road with your pet, it’s important to know the spots where both of you are welcome. Let’s look at some ideal activities and destinations that cater to pet owners. From expansive parks to trails and urban attractions, there are plenty of places where you and your furry companion can enjoy your travels to the fullest. Here are a few top picks where pets are not just allowed, but welcomed with open arms.

National/State Parks That Allow Pets

Exploring national and state parks with your pet can be a thrilling part of RV travel. Before visiting, review the specific park’s guidelines as some areas within parks may restrict pet access to protect wildlife. Generally, pets are allowed in most campgrounds and some trails as long as they are on a leash. Research ahead to find parks with pet-friendly facilities, and consider parks known for their extensive walking paths and pet-specific areas.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails and Beaches

The United States boasts an array of dog-friendly hiking trails and beaches specifically designed for pet owners. When planning a hike, look for trails that offer natural shade and water access to keep your pet cool and hydrated. For beach outings, seek out those that allow dogs year-round and have leash-free zones where pets can roam freely. Always respect local guidelines to ensure these areas remain open and welcoming to pets.

Pet-Friendly City Attractions

Urban environments are increasingly accommodating pets, especially in tourist-friendly cities. Many urban centers now feature pet-friendly attractions such as botanical gardens, outdoor historic sites, and markets that welcome pets. Some cities even host special pet events or offer tours that cater to pet owners, allowing you to experience the local culture without leaving your pet behind. Always keep an eye out for pet-friendly accommodations like restaurants with outdoor seating and stores that allow pets inside.

Gear Essentials for Van/RV Pet Travel

When traveling with pets in an RV or van, having the right gear can make the journey smoother and safer for your furry friends. Here are some essential items to pack:

Remote Monitoring Tools

One of the biggest concerns when traveling with pets in an RV or camper van is ensuring their safety and comfort, especially when leaving them unattended in the vehicle. Temperature extremes can be dangerous and even life-threatening for pets. That’s why a monitoring system like Waggle is invaluable for pet owners hitting the road.

Waggle allows you to remotely monitor the temperature and humidity inside your RV or van in real-time through the Waggle app on your phone. If conditions become unsafe, you’ll receive instant alerts via text and email so you can take action quickly. No more worrying if you’ll return to find your furry friends overheated or freezing.

In addition to environmental monitoring, the new WaggleCam 2.0 gives you a direct window into your pets’ world through live streaming video and two-way audio. You can check in on them, give commands, and even toss them treats from anywhere using the treat tossing feature. With night vision, you can keep tabs on your pets overnight too.

Having a way to look after your pets’ well-being while on the move provides incredible peace of mind for RV and van life travelers. Waggle combines cutting-edge monitoring with innovative pet camera technology, making it an essential piece of gear for any pet parent exploring the open road. Keep your adventure buddies safe and happy wherever your travels take you.

Collapsible Gear for Convenience

Opt for collapsible bowls, beds, and kennels which are not only space-saving but also easy to set up and break down. These items provide familiar comfort for your pet while keeping your RV organized.

Accessibility and Cleanliness Accessories

Consider accessories like dog ramps for older pets or those with mobility issues. Ramps make entering and exiting the RV easier on their joints. Don’t forget essential pet clean-up tools like waste bags, portable scoopers, and sanitizing wipes to maintain cleanliness during your travels. Ensuring you have these items can greatly enhance the travel experience for both you and your pet, making your adventures as enjoyable as possible.


Traveling with your pet in an RV or van can transform a simple road trip into an unforgettable adventure. With the right preparation and gear, including remote monitoring tools, collapsible essentials, and accessibility aids, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for your furry companion. Remember to research pet-friendly destinations and maintain your pet’s routine to keep them happy. Embrace these tips, and you’re set for a journey filled with shared moments and discoveries alongside your pet. Safe travels and happy tails on the road!

Thanks All and travel safe with your pets.


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