avatar Andrew Burgess October 20, 2021

How to make campervan travel with your dog more enjoyable for everyone

Get more out of trips with your favorite pets by being prepared and making them comfortable

While owning any pet can limit your holiday choices, dogs are generally more hardy and up for travel. And unlike options like trains, planes, or conventional cars, campervans provide a great way to achieve this. Just imagine the pleasures of new dog walks in the woods, on the beach or even in another country. The possibilities are almost endless – as long as you prepare.

In fact, in most cases, your campervan adventures will probably be just as rewarding for your dog as they are for you. Most dogs love sniffing out new places, so, as long as they travel well, they should quickly associate your campervan with fun and adventure.

If you think your dog might find travelling stressful, try starting with short trips with the smell of a familiar blanket or toy to get them used to it. Generally, you want your dog to associate hopping into the campervan to having fun – so avoid using it to take them to the vet if you can. If that still doesn’t work, then ask your vet if there are any medications that can help calm them.

Though there are some extra preparations you should consider taking your dog away in your campervan is still much easier than you think. Here are a few tips on how to make campervan holidays with dogs as successful as possible.

Remember that in most cases your campervan serves as your home-away-from-home. This should automatically make it a more relaxing way to take your dog on holiday, especially compared to the alternatives of staying in a hotel or rental property. Even if a hotel or rental property says it is dog friendly, and your dog is 99% reliable at home, that 1% chance of having an accident or suddenly chewing some furniture is a possibility. Having your own familiar campervan can help reduce worries about these issues.

As a responsible dog owner, you’ll already understand that they need to be safely restrained for travelling – and that applies to campervan trips as well. You can choose to put your dog in a crate between the front and rear seats or in the ‘boot’, or attach them to the seat belt on the back seats. Just make sure they’re safe and secure as you don’t want them jumping out into an unknown location as soon as you stop and open a door.

Before you go anywhere, make sure your dog’s identification tag is up to date – and perhaps includes your mobile phone number. Some people even get tags made up to use while they’re away with the numbers of where they’re staying. If your dog gets lost, it’s no good someone calling your home number if you’re not there. or your mobile phone if you’re in a remote area with no signal. It’s a good example of where a bit of forward planning could save a huge amount of stress.

Another practical tip is to make sure you take your vet’s details with you (and any pet insurance details). If your dog isn’t well while you’re away, you may prefer to speak to your own vet first for advice, or you may need to pass their details to a local vet. If your dog is a bit prone to getting sick or eating the wrong things, then it can pay to research some local vets at your destination (or ask at the campsite reception), rather than doing it when your dog is poorly and your stress levels are high.

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Make sure you pack all the essentials your dog may need while you’re away. This includes beds or mats to sleep on, separate towels for drying them, any medication, grooming kit, poo bags, treats, leads or harnesses, coats for wet or cold weather, portable water containers and bowls. That might sound like a lot of kit, but if you leave anything behind, you know you’re bound to need it. Oh, and try to take enough food if you can. If you run out, you may find it hard to buy any of the usual food your dog has, which might be a problem if your furry friend is fussy.

Certainly, you should check that all your dog’s vaccinations are up to date for your journey. Since you’re bound to be out-of-doors more than usual, make sure their flea and tick collar is in working order and bring along tablets for worms or ticks. And if you’re going out of the country, make sure your travel or pet insurance covers your dog while you’re not at home.

Taking your pet abroad is straightforward, but as the UK recently left the EU, the regulations may have changed since you last took them abroad. The rules often vary between countries, too, so read the latest advice from the government.

An attractive option for many dog owners when crossing the channel is the Eurotunnel as your dog can stay with you in your car for the 35 minute train journey to or from France. You can take dogs on cross-channel ferries, but it’s not quite so straightforward as you usually have to leave them alone in the car, put them in an onboard kennel or pay for a dog-friendly cabin that may only be available on selected crossings. Eurotunnel says that over three million pets have travelled with it since the year 2000. It has dedicated on-site locations in Folkestone and Calais to check your dog in before travelling.

If you plan to do any sightseeing while at your destination, It’s a good idea to check that they are dog-friendly. For longer trips, plan to stop regularly to give your dog some exercise and toilet opportunities.

Lots of people go touring with their dogs. Most campsites allow dogs, but some don’t, or may only allow one or two per pitch, so check before you book. Every campsite will expect a dog to be on a lead at all times – and well behaved as not all the other campers will be dog lovers.

Leaving a dog alone in your campervan for any length of time can cause problems if, like a car, it gets hot, or if the dog starts barking while you’re out which will quickly start annoying everyone else and cause unnecessary stress. It’s much better to take it with you.

Many campsites have special dog walking or exercise areas. There’s even some that have special places where you can wash your dog. Alternatively, when you order your campervan, choose the option of an outside (cold water) shower so you can rinse your dog yourself before it brings mud or half the beach inside. Seat covers and washable blankets are also sensible items to bring. If you don’t usually travel with a dustpan and brush, you’ll definitely want to pack one when you take your dog with you.

Though it can be quite nice to give your dog some beach time, most beaches will have restrictions. Some beaches may allow dogs all day, others may limit you to off-peak times like after 6 PM. Still other beaches may have concerns about endangered birds. In any case, the hottest parts of any day are probably worth avoiding anyway, as dogs can get heatstroke. Always travel with plenty of water and take some out with you on longer walks. The RSPCA has a comprehensive guide to all the things you need to consider when taking your dog on holiday.

If you don’t already have an awning, you might want to consider getting one for your campervan, especially if you have a bigger breed of dog. An enclosed, drive-away awning that attaches to the side of your vehicle will be best for dog owners. It will create valuable extra living space and somewhere for your dog to relax, sleep, eat, and play – and get some shade from the sun.

Make sure the awning is securely pegged down and your dog is securely on its lead, so the dog can’t escape on an adventure of its own. Leaving the awning open for fresh air and the view is more relaxing when you know the dog can’t wander off.

Sadly, dog theft is an issue these days. That would really spoil your holiday, so take all the usual precautions and keep an eye on your dog at all times. Some people use trackers for their dogs, just in case they run off on a mission to chase another dog or get the scent of something interesting.

After a couple of campervan trips with your dog, you’ll probably have all these tips mastered, and your packing and planning routine should become easier as well. You’ll soon start creating wonderful memories of times together with your dog enjoying the great outdoors.

What’s on your bucket list for unforgettable dog walk locations? Cornwall, Snowdonia, the Lake District or the Highlands of Scotland? The possibilities are almost endless.

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