Last Updated on November 5, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Since 67% of households own a pet, learning how to travel with pets in an RV is a must for many families.
More and more people are being drawn to the idea of traveling in an RV and even living in them, whether part-time or full-time. Why wouldn’t they? Traveling or living in an RV gives many the freedom to spend more time adventuring and spending more precious time with their family members.
One thing with traveling in an RV that concerns many is the factor of how their pets would fit into this equation. Leaving them to wonder how to travel with a pet in an RV. Luckily it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it sounds. Here are some common concerns of how to travel with a pet in an RV answered from people that have done it.
Ally, her fiancé, and their standard Australian Shepherd, Milo, have been living full-time in an RV for almost a year now. They’ve loved full-time RVing with Milo so much, they even recently adopted another Australian Shepherd named Bandit who’s only eight weeks old.
Ally and her fiancé’s RV journey began in March of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. Ally was a college junior who just got kicked out of university housing and didn’t want to completely move home with her parents. So, she did the next best thing, bought an RV, and put it on her parent’s land in Oklahoma. Her and Milo began RVing full-time, and shortly after her boyfriend (now fiancé) moved in and they began the journey together.
“I’ll admit, it’s not always easy being so close with your fiancé and 50lb dog, but I love the life it’s afforded us. We spend more quality time together, more adventures with Milo, and we have financial freedom to save for our future” says, Ally.
Through this journey Ally has learned a thing or two about how to travel with a pet in an RV after doing so for over a year. She has encountered almost any challenge one can when learning how to travel with a pet in an RV and received a few questions from others about it along the way. Here are some of her top tips about learning how to travel with a pet in an RV.
Is It Safe to Leave My Pet Alone in an RV?
Yes, it can be completely safe to leave your pet alone in the RV for a few hours while you go out exploring, but certain precautions and considerations should be taken before doing so. This is to help ensure your pet’s safety while they’re alone. As well as the safety of your RV and being considerate of your neighbors at the campground.
Training Your Pet to Be Alone in an RV
When Ally and her fiancé decided to go full-time, they had to train Milo to being used to the RV and being there alone. “Milo tends to have terrible separation anxiety since I work from home, and he’s used to being with me all of the time,” says, Ally. Ally compared training Milo to being alone in the trailer to any other aspect of training your pet.
Ally said, “what worked for us was introducing Milo to short intervals of being alone – with us nearby to monitor him. We’d discipline him for barking when needed and rewarded him for being good and quiet. He quickly learned that when he’s alone to just lay on the couch and watch TV until we return.”
Something that Ally also recommends is to have an Alexa device or something similar that way you can easily check in on your pet to see how they’re doing and to have the ability to talk to them when needed.
She said, “We have our Alexa setup where we can see him – and he can see us as well – and we can talk to him and that helps soothe him in the five minutes right after we leave him. It also allows for us to check on him and make sure he is doing fine throughout the time we’re away from him.”
Making Sure They Can’t Get into Anything
Just like your house, your pet likes to explore things while your away in your RV. The difference? The RV is tighter quarters, with limited storage – meaning things you’d rather not have your pet get ahold of get left out accidentally. This can range from food, cleaning supplies, important documents, etc. Ally quickly learned that everything is accessible to a pet in an RV.
It was a learning curve for Ally and her fiancé because it’s normal to move items onto the counters and tables without fear of your pet reaching it. “In an apartment and house, you build the habit of putting the things you don’t want your pet to reach on the counters and tables, but that doesn’t apply in an RV where everything is accessible because of seating and such.”
The best way Ally learned to combat Milo reaching the stuff he shouldn’t, was by essentially creating a routine before they leave him alone. “When you live in an RV you develop all of these routines, and so we just make it a point to take 15 minutes to ensure nothing is in his reach that we don’t want him to get a hold of.”
Making Sure You Can Monitor the Conditions in Your RV
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RV’s can warm up quickly in the heat and become bitterly cold in the winter. Ally lives in Oklahoma which has drastic changing weather and humidity. “In Oklahoma, our summers consist of 115-degree heat indexes because of the high humidity, and bitterly cold winters with wind chills below zero. Our weather alone makes it fun learning how to travel with a pet in an RV.”
“I highly recommend getting a camera with a sensor that monitors the temperature and humidity levels in your RV. That way you can see it in real-time and know if you need to rush back or not” says, Ally. Because of how quickly RV’s can heat up or cool down, it’s important to prepare for your cooling/heating system to fail when you have your pets inside.
When leaving your pets alone, make sure that your air system is running constantly, or is bumped down to a temp that ensures it easily kicks on. Make sure your air vents are open with fans on in the event your air system fails. If you have a newer one with sensors that closes these vents when raining, make sure to disable them before leaving your dog alone. Also make sure they have access to plenty of water.
Along with that Ally recommends, parking your RV under a shaded area or awning if available. As well as blacking out your windows with heat-reflective sheets to help keep the heat out. The shade combined with the sheets will help keep your RV cool longer if your air system fails and will help your AC unit not work as hard.
What Do I Do When I Want to Go Somewhere My Pet Can’t Go?
When traveling with your pet it’s essential they’re allowed to go where you want to go. At minimum that should be the campground you want to stay at – people try and sneak them in, and this never ends well.
Usually, pets are allowed in most places your RV is – with some campgrounds and national parks being the exception. However, this information is usually available on their websites, and you can always ask them when you make a reservation.
- Where & When to Go
- What to See & Do
If you're ready to hit the road and see some amazing national parks in the US and Canada, then check out this book.
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If It’s The Campground
If you’re forced to stay at a campground that doesn’t accept pets, or if your pet is too large for their guidelines. You can either board your pet at a boarding facility or a vet’s office. If that’s not possible you can always find a pet sitter on Rover.com, it may be hard to do last minute, but it is possible.
“Milo is a 50lb dog, so he’s larger than what campgrounds with weight limits will allow, but luckily we haven’t run into any issues with him at campgrounds. However, it’s something I always heavily check before we reserve a spot.” Ally recommends checking the campground’s website and asking the office when you call just to double-check their pet guidelines.
If you’re forced to stay at a campground that isn’t pet-friendly because of a road delay, location, or emergency. Another option would be to stay at a hotel, motel, or cabin that is pet-friendly. This would allow you to park your trailer at the campground while being able to keep your pet with you too.
Many national parks are pet-friendly with certain guidelines. The biggest one across the board is that many parks won’t allow your pet on hiking trails or in wilderness areas. This is for the safety of the wildlife but also for your pet. Some mandate your pet stay in your vehicle, or no more than 6 feet away from a walking path.
If you come across a park that won’t let your pet join you on your hike or just exploring the park more in-depth. Ally says, “we have friends that have gone to all kinds of national parks, and they never have an issue boarding their pet for the day nearby.” Most national parks if they’re strict with pets, have partnered with a local boarding facility that your pet can spend the day at.
Above, you see our cat, Draco hanging out in the RV window. Since we didn’t have an easy place for him to climb up, this was perfect.
What Do I Do If My Pet Gets Car Sick?
Many pets get car sick, especially if they’re younger or older. Luckily, if they’re younger it tends to be something that they will grow out of. If they’re older or not growing out of it there are some things you can do to help ease their car sickness.
“Milo used to get car sick all of the time, and I thought he was just ultra-sensitive to car rides,” says Ally. Luckily for her, she figured out some ways to help curb Milo from getting car sick so easily. For Milo, Ally makes sure he hasn’t eaten in the hours before loading him up in the car. By ensuring there’s no food on the stomach, it helps limit the chances of feeling sick in the car – similar to that of humans.
If your pet gets anxious easily or is anxious about the car due to experiences with car sickness. A great tip to help deal with anxiety in pets is taking them for a walk. “Milo easily gets anxious and going for a walk helps him burn off some energy helping him better handle his anxiety.”
If that doesn’t work, you can try rolling the windows down a little to help balance the pressure in the car. Make sure your pet is facing forward or towards the side window. You can also make frequent stops to help train them for longer durations. If none of that works, your veterinarian can check to see if it’s suitable to prescribe your pet some medicine to help treat their car sickness.
How Do I Calm My Pet’s Travel Day Anxiety?
If your pet gets anxious about travel day, it usually means they’re either not comfortable with the car, or they’re prone to anxiety normally, and traveling makes it work. Plus, most of the tips for helping your pet with car sickness also helps them with travel day anxiety.
If your pet isn’t a fan of the car for whatever reason, there are a few things you can do.
Ideally, you want to train them as a small puppy or kitten to enjoy car rides. However, sometimes that’s not possible. A great way for them to quickly associate the car with happiness is by doing the treat method. If they load up easily—give them a treat. If they’re remaining calm after a period of time—give them a treat. It’s similar to any other treat training method. It allows them to associate the vehicle with joy because they love their treats.
For Ally and Milo, his vehicle trouble roots in him being anxious as is. “Pets are similar to humans in how we cope with anxiety, that’s why we take Milo for a walk or play with him to burn off energy before we travel with him.”
Ally says this has been the biggest factor in settling his anxiety—which can get worse in the car with traveling to unknown places. “He’s just an anxious dog, so he tends to work himself up before getting the vehicle. We’ve learned the best way to curb that is by burning off excess energy, which lets him ‘refocus’ and remember he loves car rides.”
Up above, you see a vest on our dog, Patton. It helps him feel calmer when he’s nervous. It’s been a lifesaver.
How to Travel with Pets in an RV – Wrapping It Up
Ally had some great tips for how to travel with pets in an RV and we’ve used a lot of these ourselves. Having four kids, a cat and a dog in an RV is definitely a challenge but some of the most awesome memories.
You’re probably wondering about the chicken at the top. Well, that’s Plucky and we saved him from the freezing cold April weather in Tennessee. However, we didn’t keep him because it’s a no-no at almost every campground.
Plucky made his way to a nice farm with our help and made Plucky 2.0 and lots of others. There are some people that do travel with chickens in their RVs but they don’t go to RV parks—but we couldn’t leave Plucky out.