RV pet accessories

Traveling with Pets: The Ultimate Guide for RV and Van Life

Hello fellow travelers! If you, like me, can’t imagine hitting the open road without your furry (or feathery, or scaly) friends by your side, you’re in the right place. As a seasoned van-lifer with two dogs and a cat, I’ve learned a thing or two about making RV and van life work with pets. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Understanding Your Pet’s Needs

Before you even start the engine, you need to consider your pet’s unique needs and behaviors. Some pets take to travel like ducks to water, while others might need some convincing. Try taking your pets on short trips first to acclimate them to the moving vehicle. You can gradually increase the distance over time. If your pet has particular needs or behavioral quirks, make sure you think about how you’ll manage them on the road.

Creating a Pet-Friendly Environment in Your RV/Van

Ensuring your vehicle is comfortable and safe for your pet is paramount. This means creating a secure space for them during travel and at rest. Pet-proofing your RV or van can involve securing cabinets, covering sharp edges, and ensuring that there are no escape routes for curious pets. Investing in a quality pet bed or carrier can give your pet a designated, safe space to call their own.

Managing Pet Food and Hydration on the Road

Just as you need fuel for your travels, so do your pets. Storing pet food efficiently and safely in your RV or van can be tricky, especially for long trips. I recommend using airtight storage containers to keep food fresh and prevent spills. As for hydration, always ensure your pet has access to fresh water. It’s also important to note that pets can get dehydrated during long trips, so regular water breaks are essential.

Exercise and Entertainment for Pets

When it comes to RV and van life, regular exercise and mental stimulation are key for pets. Make sure to take regular stops at pet-friendly spots where your furry friends can stretch their legs and play. For our feline friends who prefer the great indoors, investing in interactive toys can keep them stimulated even on long travel days.

Healthcare for Pets on the Road

Keeping up with your pet’s healthcare while traveling is a must. Before you hit the road, ensure all vaccinations are up to date and have a plan in place for any medication your pet may need. Knowing where vet services are along your route can also be a lifesaver in case of emergencies.

Rules and Regulations: Pets in Campgrounds and Public Spaces

Rules can vary greatly from one campground or public space to another. Always check ahead to understand their pet policies. Remember, a key part of RV and van life with pets is respect for others. Keeping pets leashed where required, picking up after them, and ensuring they’re not disturbing others are all important.

Traveling with Different Types of Pets

While I travel with a dog, I know some of you have birds, reptiles, or other types of pets. Each animal has different needs and considerations. For example, traveling with a dog might mean regular stops for walks, while birds might need a secure and comfortable cage and a quiet environment.

Pet Training for Travel

Before setting out on your RV or van life journey with your pet, it’s crucial to invest some time in travel-specific training. This will not only ensure your pet’s safety but will also enhance the enjoyment of your trip.

  • Leash and Recall Training: If you’re travelling with a dog, ensure they’re well-trained on a leash and have good recall abilities. You never know when these skills will come in handy in a new environment.
  • Familiarization with Vehicle: Gradually introduce your pet to your RV or van. Start with short periods in the parked vehicle, then do short drives, and gradually increase the distance.
  • Crate Training: Crate training can provide a safe and comfortable space for your pet during travel times. Ensure the crate is secured and that your pet is comfortable and accepts the crate as a positive place.
  • Commands and Cues: Teach your pet commands such as ‘leave it’, ‘stay’, and ‘quiet’. These can be particularly useful when encountering wildlife or other distractions on your travels.

Dealing with Pet Anxiety and Motion Sickness

Travel can be stressful for pets. Some might experience anxiety or motion sickness during the initial phases of your journey. But with some careful strategies, you can help them adjust and enjoy the journey.

  • Consult a Vet: If your pet is prone to travel anxiety or motion sickness, consult your vet before setting off. They might recommend medications or other treatments to help ease your pet’s discomfort.
  • Create a Comforting Environment: Bring your pet’s favorite toys, blankets, or bed to create a familiar and comforting environment inside the RV or van.
  • Frequent Breaks: Make sure to take frequent breaks during long drives to allow your pet to stretch, relieve themselves, and take a break from the motion of the vehicle.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to help your pet associate travel with positive experiences. Treats, praise, and affection can go a long way in alleviating their anxiety.

Traveling with pets in an RV or van can be a wonderful experience, filled with memorable moments and bonding opportunities. It just requires a bit of planning and preparation to ensure that everyone enjoys the journey.


Traveling with pets in your RV or van can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Yes, it does come with challenges, but with the right preparation, you’ll find the journey just as fulfilling for your pets as it is for you. From understanding their unique needs, to creating a pet-friendly environment, and ensuring their health needs are met, each step will bring you closer to an unforgettable adventure with your furry friends.

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Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your stories, tips, and questions about traveling with pets in the comments below. And if you’ve found this guide helpful, don’t forget to subscribe for more pet-friendly travel content. The journey is always better when we share it together!

Frequently Asked Questions

Finally, let’s address some common queries about managing pet travel in RV and van life.

  1. Can all pets adapt to life on the road? Most pets can adapt to life on the road with time and proper preparation. However, each pet is unique, so it’s important to take things at your pet’s pace and monitor their behavior closely.
  2. How do I handle my pet’s waste when boondocking? Portable pet waste disposal systems are available, which are eco-friendly and easy to use. Always adhere to leave-no-trace principles and dispose of pet waste responsibly.
  3. What if my pet gets sick on the road? Have a plan in place before you hit the road. Know the location of vets and emergency animal hospitals along your route. Also, telemedicine for pets is increasingly popular and can be a great resource while traveling.

Remember, RV and van life with pets can be a bit of a wild ride, but with patience, preparation, and a whole lot of love, the rewards are immeasurable. Here’s to happy trails and wagging tails (or content purrs, or chirpy tweets) on your next adventure!

Remember, the open road is waiting, and there’s room for everyone – even our furry friends. Happy travels!