Whether you’re thinking about renting a pet friendly motorhome for a family vacation, or considering buying an RV to make traveling with your furry family members easier, rest assured you won’t be alone. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association‘s spring survey (completed in April), 61% of RV owners travel with pets!
There’s nothing better for pet friendly trips than a vehicle that provides all the comforts of home, but comes on wheels. One of the primary benefits of RV travel is that your pets can enjoy the great outdoors all day, but always sleep in the same space at night. This consistency allows dogs and cats to become familiar with their new environment, develop a routine, and accept the RV as another “home.” Of course, there’s also something to be said for storage compartments where you can stow all your pet’s necessities, and conveniences, like outdoor showers, to keep pet messes to a minimum.
But traveling by RV can also present some unique challenges in caring for your pets. After years of traveling with Ty and Buster in our motorhome, we’ve picked up a few tricks for keeping pets safe and happy along the way.
Before you leave, start by making a list of all the things you think your pet will need on your trip. (You can check this handy pet packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything important.) Take your list with you, and once you’re underway add any items that you wish you’d have brought along, and cross off anything you packed and found you didn’t need. Your revised list will make the next time you pack for your pet a lot easier!
Traveling with pets requires a little more planning before you leave. You’ll want to make sure your destination has a nice selection of pet friendly RV parks or campgrounds, restaurants, and things to do – because there’s nothing worse than realizing that your pet friendly vacation spot isn’t all that pet friendly! Calling ahead to confirm the pet polices will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises, and you can peruse our “paws on the ground” pet friendly destination guides for ideas on the most pet friendly locations.
Your RV will feel like a home, so holding your cat on your lap, or letting your pup roam around while you’re driving may seem natural. It’s actually very dangerous … not only for your pet, but for yourself, and everyone else on the road. Pets should always ride in the same vehicle as you – not inside a camper you’re pulling – and be secured in a seat belt harness or a carrier that’s been fixed in place. This will protect your pets from being injured in an accident, and keep them from distracting the driver and causing a crash.
We use the lap belts in our sofas to buckle Ty and Buster up anytime the motorhome is in motion. They see it as part of our standard operating procedure, and settle in for a nap while we pilot them to their next destination.
Related Topic: Seat Belt Harnesses Keep Ty And Buster Safe In The RV
Another reason to use seat belts or secured carriers for your pets is to prevent them from getting lost. Once we were at a gas station when a new RV owner clipped the concrete barrier beside the fuel pump with his brand new rig. He jumped out to assess the damage, and just as he opened the door to get back in, his terrified cat bolted out. Luckily, he managed to catch the cat in midair – but without sharp reflexes, that little bump could have turned into a disaster.
Related Topic: Keep Pets From Getting Lost On Your Next Road Trip
A folding barrier is another great way to keep your pets from making an unexpected departure from your RV. Placing a pet gate between our living space and the door of the motorhome allows us to come an go without having to wriggle past the dogs, while trying to keep them from scooting out the door.
We know how tempting it is to put the RV in drive and keep on rolling, but making time for potty breaks and walks in the park is one of the best parts of traveling with pets. Ty and Buster love stopping to sniff the pee-mail or mosey down a trail to break up the drive – and it’s good for us all! Plan a picnic or scope out a little town you’d like to explore, and it won’t feel like you’ve spent the whole day behind the wheel. Our pet friendly road trip planner allows you to map your route and make sure you don’t miss any hotspots along the way!
For as homey as RVs can be, when it comes to weather extremes, you’re still at the mercy of Mother Nature. Always keep an eye on the weather forecast and be on the lookout for storms, high winds, or dangerous temperatures. Locate the storm shelters at the RV parks or campgrounds where you stay, and take your pet with you in an emergency situation.
During the summer, be aware that your air conditioning could be impacted by power outages, so take precautions before leaving pets unattended. Many RVs come with generators that can be set to auto-start if the power supply is interrupted and the interior thermostat reaches a predetermined temperature. These provide a good backup plan, and can be added to RVs that don’t have them as part of their original equipment. Add a wireless temperature monitoring device, which allows you to remotely check temperature, and you can always be sure your pets are comfortable when they’re in the RV alone.
Related Topic: Gadgets That Keep Your Pet Safe From The Heat
More and more places are adopting pet friendly policies and allowing us the privilege of traveling with our pets – but it’s privilege, not a right. Bad behavior by one pet owner can have a detrimental impact on us all! So, be sure that you’re a good representative of the pet travel community by keeping barking and noise to a minimum, obeying leash laws and pet guidelines, and always, always, always picking up after your pets. Check out our post on Making A Zip Line For Your Dog to keep your dog from wandering off when you’re at the campground.
Most importantly, have fun! The whole point of a vacation is to kick back and relax with your best friends. Staying calm and cool will help you and your pets enjoy your RV trip to the fullest.
Update: We recently added a dog ramp to our RVing essentials, to help Buster get in and out of the motorhome. If your pet is having difficulty with the RV steps, click here to check out what we’ve learned!
We also realized that, if something happened to us while Ty and Buster were alone in the RV, our family would need help locating the motorhome and details on taking care of the boys. Check out how we’ve prepared for the worst.