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10 Tips for Enjoying Van Life with Pets

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

As any pet owner will tell you, life isn’t complete without our furry (or feathery, or scaly) friends. While space might be at a premium in your camper van, that hasn’t stopped many a van lifer from bringing their pets along.

If you’re smart about how you do it, you might be surprised at exactly how easy and comfortable van life with your pets can be! Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or perhaps prefer something more exotic, here are our top 10 tips for vanning with your non-human family.

1. Set your van up to keep your pets comfy

There are a number of simple things that you can do to ensure your pet is happy and comfortable in your van:

  • Establish a devoted storage area that you can keep all your pet’s stuff in

  • Leave a towel hanging near the door to clean and dry them after outdoor fun

  • Get a vent fan, reflective window coverings and maybe even a cooling towel to beat the heat.

2. Give them their own bed

While it might make you feel warm and fuzzy to sleep with your pet at your feet, the confines of a campervan make it less cute than it might sound. You deserve your own space, as do they, so invest in a pet bed.

3. Trade the city for wide open spaces

While van life is more about the wilderness than the metropolis, there’ll be times when you need to make a pit stop in civilization. When those times come, choose the city limits over downtown, so that your pet can properly stretch their legs.

4. Choose moderate climates

We humans are great at regulating heat, sweating in the summer and rugging up in the winter. Dogs aren’t so great. In heat they rely on panting, and in cold they rely on their fur. That being the case, choose moderate climates over extreme ones when you’re planning your trip.

5. Avoid leaving pets in the van wherever possible

Between the potential for heat stress and smashed windows by concerned strangers, you should avoid leaving your pets alone in your van. This can be tricky for a solo traveler who needs to quickly shop or get gas, so in these cases make sure you leave windows open, and consider hanging a sign that lets people know you’re not a monster!

6. Build trust through training

Life on the road is so much easier when you trust your pets. Dog owners should make sure their pooches know some basic commands like sit, stay and come, as these can be lifesavers in busy parks and campgrounds. Try to get comfortable with your dog off the leash too.

7. Beware national parks

You might imagine a national park is the perfect place to take your pet, but you’d often be wrong. Most national parks have strict rules regarding pets, often banning them altogether. Always check the rules before you go.

8. Regular cleaning keeps things fresh

Keeping pets in such a small space might not make for the freshest campervan experience. But the size of your van can actually work in your favor, as it makes it easy to clean! A regular scrub will make the world of difference.

9. Carry your vaccination and vet records

If your pet falls ill on the road, a vet’s job is made so much easier if they have access to medical history. Keep your pet’s vaccination record handy too, as many campgrounds require proof on entry.

10. Stick to an eating schedule with easy-to-find food

Apart from you, your pet’s greatest comfort on the road will come from a consistent schedule. Serve up meals like clockwork, and try to choose a big brand pet food that you can find anywhere, as constantly changing food can cause tummy troubles.

Ready for a life on the road with your four-legged friend? Our expert team at Drifter Vans are ready to make it happen. Get in touch today!

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