Being a “dog mom” or “cat dad” has many benefits, but it also comes with great responsibility – one of which is knowing how to safely and lovingly care for your pet when it’s time to travel.
While full of excitement and possibility, traveling can bring trepidation to pet owners. For starters, leaving your furry friends behind takes away from the joy of the getaway. And, your options for not bringing Fido along are bad and, well, bad. Either give a stranger access to your home on the hope that they will care for your pets in the same fashion that you do or find a “pet resort” (kennel) and essentially put your pets in jail for a week or two! You may have even considered flying with your pet, but it’s just too scary if they need to fly in the cargo hold.
Does that mean responsible pet lovers are supposed to refrain from traveling or simply leave our best friend at home? Absolutely not! Instead, imagine going on an adventure in an RV with your furry friends right by your side — happy without confinement or sedatives — just tails wagging enjoying what the open road holds.
Traveling by RV offers many benefits for not only you, but also your pet. Some hotels strictly prohibit pets or have non-refundable pet fees; however, depending on the size of the RV, you’ll have a bed for at least two plus plenty of space for your dog or cat to sleep comfortably. There are also plenty of windows for your furry friend to enjoy the views while you’re driving along the open road. Does your pet require a special diet or need refrigerated medicines? RVs have both a cook top and refrigerator to ensure you can travel peacefully knowing you’ll be able to easily accommodate your pet’s needs. You’ll even have the option to give your cherished companion a quick cleaning if a nature walk or bathroom break gets too dirty as most RVs are equipped with a shower, and sometimes a bathtub in the master suite.
You get the idea – an RV comes equipped as your home-away-from-home with all of the comforts you’re used to plus the added bonus of taking the amenities with you. If you’re considering a full commitment to the travel-warrior lifestyle through purchasing an RV, renting one first is a great way to test if RVing is the right form of travel for both you and your pet. Many companies, including Allstar Coaches, offer pet-friendly RVs you can rent for your next getaway.
Here are some RV travel tips for pet lovers:
Take a Test Drive
Give your pet the time to get accustomed to its new home prior to setting out on your journey. Spend some time with them in your RV, feed them and play with them. Even spending the night with them in the RV before hitting the road is a good idea. Dogs like structure in their lives and you need to create this new structure for them. The more time you can devote to this training, the easier it will be for them to adjust.
Do Some Research
Find some pet friendly parks, hiking trails and rest stops along the way. Especially on your first trip, it is a good idea to plan to stop frequently to allow your pet to stretch their legs and get some exercise.
Find animal hospitals and veterinary clinics along your route as well, just in case of emergencies. A small first aid kit with basic tools and bandages is a must when traveling with dogs.
Location. Location. Location: First, consider your location. There are three main points to examine before traveling to your destination with your pet:
- Make sure the location is pet-friendly and accepts your dog’s breed (pit bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers can be restricted).
- Be aware of the area’s natural predators and poisonous plants that could harm your pet.
- Know the area’s climate. You can’t leave your pet unattended for extended periods of time inside or out, however, you do have the ability to control the indoor temperature in an RV.
Food & Water: Before you depart, you need to understand how your pet handles fast-moving vehicles. Just like humans, pets can get motion sickness. While traveling, make sure to keep pets on the same diet to avoid upset stomachs. Also feed them at the same time every day to maintain consistency. This should go without saying; but be sure to always give your pet plenty of water.
Collars & Leashes: No matter where you are going, keep your pet’s collar on them at all times and bring multiple leashes. Some state and national parks, as well as campgrounds, have specific leash guidelines that might require your pet to be leashed at all times. You also never know how your pet will respond in an unfamiliar environment, and by always having a collar and leash on your pet, you can relax knowing they will remain under your safe supervision.
Special Cat Consideration: If you’re traveling with a cat, make sure it is wearing a collar at all times and buy a special cat leash and harness. However, be extra cautious when taking Fluffy outdoors as she might get overwhelmed and run in an unfamiliar setting. If you’re not sure how your cat will react, it might be best to leave her inside the RV. Alternatively, you can purchase a cat hammock to stick to a window so your cat can lounge and enjoy the view of the birds without ever taking her outside.
Additionally, ensure your pet has identification tags on their harness or collar listing your cell phone number. (Home phone is no good when you are on the road, right?) You may also consider getting your pet microchipped so you can be quickly reunited if your pet goes missing. Don’t forget to register your information in your manufacturer’s database.
Find a private place for kitty litter. The bathroom or shower is a good place and easy to clean excess litter.
Documentation: Before starting your trip, visit your veterinarian for a check up. Verify that health and rabies vaccinations are current and discuss treatments for internal and external parasites like fleas and ticks. Be sure to bring current records on your pet’s vaccinations, medical history, and registration as well as any medication they may be taking. Some campgrounds and parks may require this information before your stay.
In-Motion Safety: If you aren’t sure how your pet handles fast-moving vehicles, talk with your veterinarian about prescribing nausea or anxiety medication. You can also opt for an all-natural pet calmer. Use a crate or pet seat belt for active pets while the RV is moving. Even calm pets should be put in a safe place with blankets and padding. If at first your pet is showing signs of anxiety (pacing, drooling, panting), do not fret; it may take a few miles before they get comfortable in their new environment.
As tempting as it is to keep your best friend in the seat next to you, it is not a good idea unless they are restrained. Keeping your pet safe while driving cannot be more important. Whether you choose a harness, crate or carrier for your pet to travel in, injury from sudden stops or turns can minimized when your pet is confined.
Noise: Abide by the park’s quiet hours to avoid noise violations and fines. For the most part, inappropriate noise stems from bored or nervous animals. Treats and toys add a sense of comfort and familiarity, creating a happy environment for your pet. If you do leave your pet unattended, play music while you are gone or tire them out with plenty of exercise beforehand.
Cleanliness & Sanitation: While you may have access to a bathroom 24/7 (another advantage of RV travel) that’s not the case for your pets. Let dogs go to the bathroom at least three to five times a day – consider it a nice stretch break. Always clean up and dispose of your pet’s waste properly. Parks and campgrounds require it and can potentially fine you for failing to comply, so bring waste disposal bags. For other pets, bring all the proper cleaning and sanitation supplies – you both have to live in there after all.
And lastly, remember half the fun of RV travel is the journey. And you’ll never have to leave your pet home alone during vacation, ever again.
Not sure where to start? Here are some of our favorite RV Parks that welcome pets!Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, AL
Riverside Campground and Cabin, Big Sur, CA
Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, CA
Springs at Borrego RV resort, Borrego Springs, CA
Garden of the Gods RV Resort, Colorado Springs, CO
Disney Camp Wilderness, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Bluewater Key, Key West, FL
Aztec RV Resort, Margate, FL
Beaver Dam Campground, Berwick, ME
Normandy Farms family Camping Resort, Foxboro, MA
Oak Grove Campground/Resort, Holland, MI
Polson Motorcoach and RV resort, Polson, MT
Solstice Motorcoach Resort, Mesqute, NV
Lake George RV Park, Lake George, NY
Four Paws Kingdom, Rutherforton, NC
Evergreen Park RV Resort, Dundee, OH
Gettysburg Campground, Gettysburg, PA
Twin Grove RV Resort & Cottages, Pine Grove, PA
Mill Creek Ranch resort, Mill Creek, TX