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Tips for RVing with Pets

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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. By most estimates, over half 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. That 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 large storage compartments where you can stow all your pet’s necessities, and added conveniences – like outdoor showers – to help 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.

Pack The Right Gear

Before you leave, spend a couple weeks making a list of all the things you use to care for your pets. Whenever something new comes up, add it to your list, and then pack all those items for your trip. (This handy pet packing list will help ensure you don’t forget anything important.)

When you leave, take your list along and add any items that you wish you’d have brought, 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!

Packing the right gear for your pets is important for any pet friendly road trip.

Plan A Perfect Itinerary

Traveling with pets requires a little more planning. 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! You’ll find more than 65,000 pet friendly establishments listed on GoPetFriendly.com, but always call ahead to confirm the pet polices in case they’ve changed. You can also peruse our “paws on the ground” pet friendly destination guides for ideas on where to travel and the types of things you’ll find to do when you get there.

Always Buckle Up

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. RVs can weigh more than 40,000 pounds and driving a vehicle that large requires your full attention. Pets should always ride in the same vehicle as you – not inside a camper you’re pulling – and be buckled up in a seat belt harness or a carrier that’s been secured in place. This will protect your pets from being injured in an accident, and keep them from distracting the driver and causing a crash.

Buster in Sleepypod Harness Ty in Sleepypod Click-It Harness | GoPetFriendly.com

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 chauffeur them to our next destination.

Related Topic: Seat Belt Harnesses Keep Ty And Buster Safe In The RV

Come Home Together

Another reason to use seat belts or secured carriers for your pets is to prevent them from getting lost. We once saw an RV owner clipped the concrete barrier beside the fuel pump at a gas station with his brand new rig. He jumped out to assess the damage, and when he opened the door to get back in, his terrified cat bolted out. Luckily, he managed to catch her 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.

Pets should also up-to-date ID tags on their collars and you should make sure that your contact information is current with the service that registered your pet’s microchip before leaving home.

Sniff the Roses

We know how tempting it is to put the RV in drive and just 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 roses 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!

Find a nice picnic spot along your route and it won't feel like you've spent the whole day behind the wheel.

Be Weather Aware

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 start automatically 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 an RV that didn’t have one as part of the original equipment. You can also set up a wireless temperature monitoring device, which allows you to remotely check the temperature inside your RV, so you’re always sure your pets are comfortable while you’re away.

Related Topic: Gadgets That Keep Your Pet Safe From The Heat

Be a Considerate Neighbor

More and more places are adopting pet friendly policies and allowing us to travel with our pets – but we need to keep in mind that it’s privilege. 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.

Related Topic: Making A Zip Line For Your Dog

Park City, Utah

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.

Updates:

We recently added a dog ramp to our RV 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!
Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

Sitting outside at night has become less smokey and more enjoyable with our propane fire pit! With a few parts and about 30 minutes, it can be connected to your RV’s low-pressure quick-connect propane outlet for added convenience!

Hooking Up A Propane Fire Pit To An RV Quick-Connect | GoPetFriendly.com

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.

That's How We Roll: Preparing for the Worst | GoPetFriendly.com

We hope these tips make your next RV adventure even more fun for the whole family!

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
Pet Friendly Hotels | Pet Friendly Destinations | Pet Friendly Activities

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  • Hi Carlina! Thanks so much for your note. Different campgrounds have different rules for leaving pets unattended inside campers, but as long as it’s alright with the campground, we leave Ty and Buster alone when we run to pick up groceries or get dinner. Once your dogs are acclimated to the camper, it shouldn’t be a problem.

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