If you are thinking of taking your dog in a camper van, here are a few tips for living in a campervan and travelling with a dog. We have done many a holiday with our golden retriever puppy, he makes the best travel companion and comes everywhere with us. We love our VW campervan, and are a family of five and a dog in a VWT5 that love nothing more than to explore the UK and beyond! Here is everything that we have learned about vanlife with a dog, including our favourite dog travel accessories that you must not leave home without.
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VANLIFE WITH A DOG – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO PACK
When we first bought our golden retriever puppy home, I knew that he would be a huge part of all of our campervan holidays. We are a family of five in a T5, add to the mix a large puppy….. we always knew that space would to be tight. But with careful packing, clever campervan storage ideas, and a little bit of patience and perseverance, I knew that we would be quite okay road tripping with a dog and three young kids!
Don’t get me wrong…. there has been many a time I have forgotten something for our dog, or we have lost said item, or the puppy destroyed the said item. One trip it was a water bowl, next it was a dog towel, and on another holiday the dog lead broke on the first day of our holiday thanks to a friendly St Bernard saying hello! There are a few items that we would not leave for a campervan road trip without, and we always pack these items for day trips and our holidays too.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR DOG ON A ROAD TRIP?
We always seem to pack too much for our beloved Golden Retriever Wilf, but we have got better over time (and with a bit more experience!) and in all honesty, dogs make the best road trip companions don’t they? They really don’t need a lot of things to keep them happy!
Over the last couple of years I have also searched the internet for pet travel accessories that store well in our T5 campervan …. our tiny home on wheels that really doesn’t have a lot of space for well….. stuff, let alone three kids, two adults and a male golden retriever!
DOG BOWL AND WATER BOWL
Collapsible dog bowls are a great space saver when travelling with a dog and are a great travel dog bowl. I use the metal head rest hooks and then hang the collapsible food and water bowls so that they are easy to locate in the campervan and always at hand when you need them.
You can also purchase a dual chamber water and food container which is really great when you are out and about or if you are travelling by ferry!
A leak proof water dispenser is great for outdoor walking, hiking and travel as they pack well and can be pre filled.
DOG COLLAR AND NAME TAG
A dog collar and name tag is essential for your travels. A dog tag is cheap but can help to ensure your pet is reunited should they go wandering off during your travels. We have taken Wilf to many dog friendly beaches and there has been many a time he has raced off and left us in search of new furry friends who are also enjoying the beach life. A top tip if you are staying in one location or a holiday home, is to get the name tag engraved that includes the address of the holiday accommodation. We stayed at Pen Hendre a gorgeous holiday home in North Wales, and they had all the dog travel essentials ready and waiting for when you arrived, and this included a dog tag with the address on – genius!
Please remember it is a legal requirement for all dogs in England and Wales to be micro chipped too!
We currently use a Ruff Wear dog collar and it has been great.
DOG LEAD AND DOG LEASH
We have tried so many leads over the last year. Our golden retriever is now over 38kg and very strong. We have tried extendable leads, short leads and training leads. Our favourite by far are the training leads that you can shorten or lengthen if needed. This is our favourite so far that has really lasted.
The good thing about the training leads is the extra connection points that we use if we need a dog stake at the campsite.
FIRST AID KIT FOR DOGS
I will be honest, I never really thought about this until very recently. We were out on a walk and Wilf was enjoying running through a stream, until he cut his pad very badly. A local walker who had a first aid kit for dogs in the car, helped me to bandage his foot until we got to the emergency vets.
Now I always carry a first aid kit with a few essentials in as you really never know when you might need it.
DOG CRATE OR DOG HARNESS OR HAMMOCK FOR TRAVEL
There are a number of products out on the market that are perfect to ensure car safety for dogs. We use a metal dog crate. I know that it is bulky but it works for our golden retriever and gives him enough space too. There are also soft dog crates that are available. Dog seat belts and dog car hammocks are another alternative to consider. it really is down to preference and layouts of your car, campervan, motorhome or RV!
A FEW EXTRAS TO REMEMBER TO PACK WHEN TRAVELLING WITH A DOG
- Dog food
- Poo bags
- Dog towel
- Dog toys
- Dog mat/ dog bed
- Dog treats/ antler bone
- Cooling mat
- Paper work ( Dog insurance, vaccination records, pet passport)
- Dog brush
- Dog stake
- Extra dog collar and dog lead
I get a lot of emails and messages over on Instagram about vanlife with a dog and general questions about finding dog friendly places to visit in a campervan.
DOG FRIENDLY CAMPSITES AND PLACES TO VISIT
If Wilf is not welcome, then quite simply we don’t visit. We always look for dog friendly places to stay and dog friendly days out that allow Wilf to join us. We plan our vanlife travel around our children and our dog. We avoid hot places in peak summer time, we look for dog friendly beaches where our dog can run off his lead. When we want to eat out, we research and look for places to eat that our dog friendly. We have been amazed at how many wonderful cafes, restaurants and bars that welcome dogs.
LEAVING A DOG IN A VAN
We never leave Wilf in the van. ever. We plan our days out around Wilf and he comes everywhere with us. If we go out in the paddleboard or on the kayaks we take it in turns, or he comes with us.
tAKING A ROAD TRIP WITH A DOG
Wilf is a really good traveller. We have travelled on some really long road trips and added ferry travel into the mix too. We make sure he has somewhere comfortable to travel, we take a crate with us for safety, and we take regular breaks to give him some regular exercise, drinks and toilet stops. This is no different to travelling with kids and makes for a much happier and calmer road trip in the campervan.
So there you go… everything you need to know, including our ultimate packing list for vanlife with a dog!