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Your Pet Travel Questions … Answered

So, do you live around here?

We probably hear that question a dozen times a week – from the hair stylist, from our neighbors in the next campsite, from a fellow laundromat patron. Never has such an innocent question created so much angst! The questioner is expecting a simple answer and unfortunately we can’t provide one. So we squirm, exchange a knowing glance, and just as the nervous laugh begins bubbling to the surface we explain, no, we don’t live here … we travel the country full-time with our dogs in a Winnebago.

Independence Pass on Continental Divide

It’s true that our lifestyle is a bit unusual – especially for two people who are clearly too young to be retired and far too good looking to be trust fund babies – and people inevitably have questions. Sharing what we do and how we do it is one of my favorite things! So, last week I invited the folks on the GoPetFriendly Facebook page to join the fun and post their questions. There were a bunch of good ones, and today I’m here to answer them. Here we go …

Doreen wants to know what size RV we’d recommend renting for two people and a dog on a three week trip to California, and where to rent it.

I’d recommend going with the smallest RV available, Doreen. Something in the 20 foot range will allow you to easily maneuver around cities and through traffic. Remember, you’ll spend most of your time outside anyway, so the RV doesn’t need to be that big. Our Winnie is 24 feet long and goes anywhere a UPS truck can go! As far as where to rent them, check out this post, which has a list of pet friendly RV rental companies and details on their pet policies.

Debbie says she’s going to start RVing part-time and needs to make an income along the way. She wants to know if I have any suggestions. 

I can tell you that people seem desperate for dog groomers. I cannot tell you the number of people who have knocked on our door hoping we’ll wash and trim their pooch. Their dejected looks when I tell them we barely clean our own dogs are heartbreaking. If grooming’s not your thing, look into work camping. Campgrounds all around the country are looking to hire people to staff the office in exchange for a free stay or salary. Good luck!

Tamara, Kelly and Tracie all asked about how we make money to pay our expenses while we’re traveling. Kelly also wants to know if the dogs get restless while we’re working on the computers.

My hope is that one day GoPetFriendly.com will support our lifestyle, but in the meantime I’ve very lucky to have a husband who works hard to pay the bills. Rod has turned the business appraisal company he and I used to run together into a solo mobile consulting firm. Via the wonders of technology, he now does the whole thing from the Winnebago!

Because it’s part of my “job” to have the dogs out exploring new places and scouting prime photo op sites, most days they’re pretty worn out. Buster does start to get antsy if we have several days of rain or if we stay put in one place too long. After being on the road for more than two years, he gets bored if he has to sniff the same trees day after day! Ty, on the other hand, loves it when we sit at our computers – it gives him time to examine the insides of his eyelids.

Ty under Pillow

Teresa asks whether traveling with seven dogs and a parrot in an RV is possible.

If you can dream it, you can do it, Teresa! I’m not sure how big your dogs are, but I imagine that with seven of them plus the parrot you’d need to look for an RV a little larger than ours. Something in the 35 foot range would probably work. You’d have plenty of floor space for the dogs and room for the parrot to fly around!

Sue is ready to go and wants to know where to rent the RV.

There’s only one RV that looks just like ours Sue, but this post will give you all the details on the pet friendly RV rental companies out there.

Christine wants to know how we got started and how to finance traveling for a few months at a time.

Our adventure started when a black German Shepherd strayed into our lives … literally. We came back from walking Ty one morning in 2008 and found Buster in front of our house. You already know how that crazy story ends, but this post gives you the play by play … with pictures.

As far as making the money to travel, you might be surprised to know that our expenses are much less now than when we lived in a house. Campground fees run about $35 per night on average and you usually get a nice discount if you stay for a week or more. We don’t eat out nearly as much as we used to, so that almost covers the campgrounds. We used to do a lot more shopping for stuff, but that came to an end  – there’s only room to store the necessities! Plus, we still needed to put gas in the car, buy tickets to the movies, and pay to go on vacations. It may not be as tough to cover the RVing costs as you’d think, and remember there’s always the opportunity to go work camping.

Ann is looking for advice on convincing an outdoor cat to move inside so she can join in the RVing fun.

Cats aren’t our specialty since Rod and I are both seriously allergic to them, but anyone who can offer Ann some advice, please leave a note in the comments below!

Roxy the Traveling Dog, Harold and Gail all asked about our hammock.

Rod in Hammock

There’s something about a hammock that takes camping up a notch. And this hammock absolutely rocks – it’s comfortable, easy to use, and takes up less space than a grapefruit. It’s made by ENO and we got it and the tethering straps at an REI store. In fact, I love it so much, I wrote a whole post singing it’s praises.

Erin’s been wondering how we picked which style and size RV was right for us. 

When we reached the conclusion that we wanted to travel in a motorhome, we went to one of the biggest RV shows in the country in Hershey, PA. After two solid days of perusing and comparing we decided on the Winnebago View for a few reasons:

  1. The full-wall slide out and bed over the cab give us more floor space, which is important for the dogs.
  2. We have an enclosed shower – not a wet bath like you’ll find in some small motorhomes.
  3. The compact size allows us to go everywhere we want and eliminates the need to tow a car.
  4. It’s super-cute and the European styling appealed to us right away.

Martini and Tim want to know how we get our “snail mail.”

This was one of our biggest concerns, and it turned out to be one of the easiest things to resolve. We found a mail service company and for less than $20 a month they provided us with a mailing address and started receiving all of our mail. When envelopes or packages arrive, they scan them and send us an email telling us how many pieces of mail came that day. We can log into our account via the Internet and can “see” each piece of mail and decide if we want the service to hold onto it, forward it to us immediately, or shred it. We even signed a form that allows the service to open our mail and scan the contents if we see something that looks important or that we don’t recognize. Once every couple of weeks, when we’re stationary for a few days, we have them send all the mail to us wherever we are.

I hope this was as much fun for you as it was for me! And if you have more questions, post them below – maybe we’ll have these campfire chats on a regular basis.

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

  • This was really interesting to read, and I hope you do more. I’m particularly fascinated by this mail service. I mean, wow. I imagine they have all kinds of policies about identity theft, right?

  • lol Amy I’m away from all my animals right now, My husband and daughter are tending to their needs. My little Shadow dog is lost without me right now. Poor guy is always glued to my side. I figured he’d attach to someone else but I guess that’s not happening!

  • You answered questions I didn’t even know I had! lol It’s pretty cool that you get to travel all the time!

  • That’s a tough one. You might need help – one person to hold her (and I recommend wearing a large fuzzy bathrobe for whoever’s holding her!) while the other one puts it on. This is what my daughter and I do with Lucy when we have to epiotic her ears. She starts out resisting but has learned that it gets over quicker if she just sits still through it. Large fuzzy bathrobes provide some comfort for the cat, a little bit of protection for the wearer – and – it soaks up the blood when she tries to shred your arms! :D

  • one more silly question – this cat is interesting so i apologize for the questions. How do you get a harness on a cat who does not like to held much…i’m working on trying to hold her up to at least 5 min a day and plan to start rewarding her everytime she is held…right now she gets verbal praises. We adopted her when she was about a year – so we don’t know much about her home before we adopted but we have our suspicions of possible abuse since she can be very skittish at times and does not like to be held. she is now over 3 years.

  • My Max wouldn’t tolerate a collar but he got used to the harness and he got LOTS of attention when we’d walk him around the campground! Another thing to be cautious of is cabinets and closet doors. One time I thought we lost Max and was so distraught, I spent half the night wandering the campground calling him. It wasn’t until the next morning that we heard him scratching from inside one of the cabinets! <3 Also, if your screens are loose? Find a way to secure them because some cats (Max) can also pull the screen open. . .

  • Ann, we do not have a collar on the cat since she she does go outside and I’m afraid it would get caught. The “safety” collars dont last a day. I would recommend starting with the harness and leaving it on for short durations, then try the lead with the harness outside. When we first put the harness on Cleo she would not move. Eventually she realized she could move. The tricky part is getting it on tight enough that the cat cannot get out (they are very good at this) but not too tight. She does not like it but likes to go outside. This is the only time we have it on her. Also lots a toys in the RV and something to scratch. We’ve put a rug over the dash where Cleo hangs out to protect it from the claws. We also have 2 big dogs we travel with that think they need on the dash as well. Talk about doggie(s) in the window – just not while we are driving ;)

  • no problem…do you know if there are people we can talk to about preparing, etc? Support type groups for people who want to know the ins and outs of rving…we are in the planning stage. We have the cat along with a disabled husband who has medical issues…i’m short so I wonder if I will be able to drive an RV, all kinds of questions, etc..

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