I was astounded to read that over half of RV owners, some 61%, bring pets along on their travels. With so many of us RVing with our pets, there are some really incredible resources to help you navigate long-term travel with your pets. While we still have lots to learn about RVing with Jack, Sam, and Ella, here are some helpful travel tips that we’ve picked up thus far:
- Paperwork & Meds: In the event of an emergency or urgent illness, it’s important that you have a copy of the latest records from your vet with you when you travel. With a complete background and medical history, any vet can develop a better treatment plan for your dog. Additionally, if your dog is on any medicine, make sure you have enough to last for the entire trip. It’s also wise to make sure they are current on all of their vaccinations.
- Collars and Chips: Make sure your pups are fitted with collars with your current contact information including a cell phone number since you’ll be away from home. You may also want to consider getting your pets outfitted with chips before you leave on your travels so they are easier to track down in the event you get separated.
- Food: Space on an RV can be limited, but fortunately, our pups are spoiled and eat entirely homemade dog food. That means, if we can find a grocery store for ourselves, we’ve found food for them too. If you’re dogs aren’t on a “real” food diet, several blogs I’ve read recommend making sure that your pups are accustomed to a dog food brand commonly carried in stores throughout the country since it’s unlikely that you have enough storage space to carry their food for the entire trip. Frequently changing a dog’s diet can give them some uncomfortable (and smelly) digestive issues, so consistency is key.
- Bathroom breaks: Active breeds like Ridgebacks really need to get out and stretch their legs quite a bit. We try to stop at least every couple hours, or as frequently as we can find pet-friendly rest stops. Make sure you keep the dogs on a leash, away from other motorists, and out of tall grass where poisonous snakes could be lurking. We came across this great Dog Park Finder app that helps us more easily locate dog friendly parks for pit stops.
- Leaving the Dogs: Just like you would never leave a child locked in a car, never leave dogs alone on the RV during the summer months, even if the AC is on. If the AC for some reason went out, the result could be lethal to your helpless pups. In cooler climates where the dogs would be ok even if the air went out, we do leave them on the RV in their crates so they’ll nap while we’re away. It’s also a good idea to leave windows open for extra ventilation and perhaps even the TV for some comforting background noise.
- Planning: Do your homework ahead of time when researching a campsite. While over half of the RV population travel with their pets, many campsites still don’t allow furry campers. We found a great resource, Go Pet Friendly, that helps us locate dog-friendly campgrounds, restaurants, and other attractions along the way.
- Cleaning: Fortunately, Ridgebacks don’t shed as much as some other breeds, but as with most dogs, we still find plenty of hair to clean up. I highly recommend getting a powerful portable vacuum to do a quick daily clean-up. Before the dogs lounge on the couch, I always make sure its covered in a couple of big dog blankets. They are also confined to the front of the RV only, and know better than to go back to our bedroom or bathroom. Making small daily efforts towards cleanliness prevents the RV from ever getting overwhelmingly dirty or disgusting.
- Bath-time: At home, we only wash the dogs once a month, but since we plan on being a more active family on the road, we will probably give them a bath every 2 or 3 weeks. I’m not okay with washing the dogs on our brand new RV, so we bought a compact, portable dog bath for our travels. With hookups, it’s not difficult to fill the bath and get all three dogs washed quickly and efficiently. We leave them outside in their crates for an hour or so after bath time to dry off and then brush their coats to get off all the excess hair.
Though traveling with pets is certainly additional work, we find that having them along on our trips is well worth the effort. We love our adorable Rhodesians to pieces.