Traveling and camping by RV is about exploring, relaxing, and finding balance. Having a companion along can enhance all of those qualities – including four-legged ones.

It may seem “difficult” to incorporate your pet into your camping and travel plans, but it doesn’t have to be… and you can have a lot of fun with your pet in ways that will strengthen the bond between you.

  1. First, does your pet need to come along? If you’ve never been camping with your pet or you are planning a different type of trip than ones taken before, consider whether it makes sense to bring your pet along. Some trips may not be suitable, such as if you plan to visit a lot of museums – that don’t allow pets – or go on a long kayak ride – and your pet doesn’t know how to be in a boat. If you plan to be away from the RV for the day or you’re interested in doing activities that aren’t exactly pet-friendly, then it might be best to leave your pet at home. However, if your pet is your life and you can’t imagine going on a camping trip without him, then you can easily adjust your itinerary and select campgrounds and activities that are suitable for both of you.
  2. Consider your pet’s needs. For everyone going on the trip with you, you take individual considerations into account. If you have a toddler, you’ll need certain gear and be flexible with travel plans. If you have someone who is gluten-free, you select meals that use gluten-free ingredients. If someone has asthma, you bring the necessary rescue inhaler. If someone is afraid of the dark, you might just buy them a fun lantern to help ward off the monsters. You need to consider your pet’s needs as well – sleeping habits, favorite toys, physical capabilities, medical concerns. This will help you with packing and managing your expectations.
  3. Plan ahead. This will help reduce or avoid chaos, especially since bringing a pet along adds an extra dose of unpredictability. Choose campgrounds and parks and events and activities that are pet-friendly – never assume that they are. You should always confirm so that you don’t find yourself in a situation. Theme parks, resorts, and some landmarks may not be pet-friendly, although nature reserves and national parks and beaches usually are – be sure to check guidelines for those types of places before you go there.
  4. Pack the right gear. You should have your pet’s vaccination record/medical documentation and any medications along on your trip. These are important for your pet’s health and in case you need to visit a veterinarian while on the road and away from home. Pack your pet’s favorite lounging cushion and toys, items that will make him feel more at home. Bring water and food bowls, both stationary and collapsible. A collar with identification is a must (and microchipped is even better), a leash, waste-disposal bags, and a pet-specific first-aid kid that is separate from the human first-aid kit. Store food in an air-tight container, which helps keep critters large and small from wanting to search out a food source.
  5. Travel tips. Before leaving on a trip, exercise your pet. Throw a ball or play with a favorite toy with him. The safest place for a pet during travel is in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. This crate or carrier can be strapped to a seat. It can also be used at the campground when you can’t be with your pet or there is a lot of activity or if you pet needs a break. Crates and carriers can feel like warm, cozy abodes for your pet. Add a favorite blanket or cushion and you’re all set. A pet that wanders around the RV or tow vehicle can be a hazard for the driver. And if the unfortunate happens and there is a crash, a loose pet is more likely to be injured. As with children, breaks are important. Stop every three or four hours to stretch everyone’s legs. If your pet tends to be anxious, you may need to stop more often. Of course, bring along fresh water so that you don’t need to rely on the water at your stops – and you don’t know what could be in it.

By taking your pet’s personality and physical health into account, considering whether it’s appropriate to bring your pet along, planning ahead, packing right, and following some simple travel tips, you can have a less stressful RV camping trip with the added bonus of having your favorite pet along.