Living on the Road with Dogs : Read Tips from Dog Owners Living the Vanlife

May 8, 2022
Living on the Road with Dogs

Tips from Dog Owners Living the Vanlife

by Anouk, Simpler Ways

As a dog mom to 2-year-old Cy living on the road, I might be biased... but in my opinion, whether you already live the Vanlife or are thinking about it, including a four-legged companion to your upcoming adventures will make your journey all-the-more enjoyable. Furthermore, for the solo travelers out there, having a pet on board also adds a level of companionship and protection. 

Having a dog on board as your copilot makes this lifestyle more fun and exciting for us humans, but it's arguably the ultimate environment for dogs: they get to spend lots of time outside exploring and adventuring with you... If you don't believe me, you should see Cy's constantly excited face, which is a testament to what I'm advancing here!

Road life with a pup is such a wonderful and rewarding experience and it is totally doable, as long as you prepare for it. Your canine companion will have some specific needs and having the right gear will make such a big difference for you and for them. We asked a few dog owners living on the road to share their tips, and compiled a list of products we know will make a difference.

Cover photo: Chris and Chief (@chrisjrod). Photograph by @meaganelawler.

Tiffany's tips

"2 big dogs in one small space is both rewarding and challenging! We're together almost 24/7, so balancing our activities to get all the energy out daily, ample down time, and activities I do without them are all essential. Also, lots and lots of towels to clean dirty dogs!"

Tiffany, dog mom to Rugger & Busco
Follow her adventures @tiffanylaneneptune

Cleaning Cloth: Cotton Chenille

 

Marley's Monsters - Natural cleaning Cloth: Cotton Chenille
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Photo by Rory Savatgy @savatgy

 

 

Dog beds & seat covers

Having a comfortable spot for your dog to lay on is clutch in the van, especially during long drives. Kurgo's Loft Wander Bed is a great option because it has a water-resistant top and a waterproof bottom, so you can use it inside or outside the van. The best part is that it rolls up and it can be machine washed! For those rainy days, we also recommend the Wanderer Bench Seat cover or the Cargo cape, which will protect your home-on-wheels from those muddy paws.

Kurgo - Loft Wander Bed

Kurgo - Loft Wander Bed
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Kurgo - Wanderer Bench Seat Cover

Kurgo - Wanderer Bench Seat Cover
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Kurgo - Cargo Cape

Kurgo - Cargo Cape
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Photo courtesy Kurgo

Bowls & water

Having a designated water bowl is important to keep your pup hydrated but can also be inconvenient when you are moving and want to avoid spills. Kurgo's Splash-free Water Bowl is the perfect water bowl with its tapered lip and high sides, it provides water spills and stays flat when you drive. 

We're also big fans of collapsible or foldable water bowls when you bring your companion on a hike or exploring around town! This Squishy dog bowl is stellar for that, and we also love the Collaps-a-bowl — both are lightweight and easy to carry, and wont take any space in your backpack!

Last but not last, we like the ingenuity of this small accessory that simply screws onto most plastic bottles to create a quick convenient shower to clean off your dog after being outside. A smart way to recycle your used bottle!

Kurgo - Collaps-a-bowl

Equinox - Buddy's Travel Bowl
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Kurgo - Mud Dog Shower

Kurgo - Mud Dog Shower
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Kurgo - Collaps-a-bowl

Kurgo - Collaps-a-bowl
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Guyot Designs - Squishy Dog Bowl

Guyot Designs - Squishy Dog Bowl
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Photo courtesy Kurgo

 

 

Whitney's tips

"I’d say my tip for van life with a dog is to get creative with the places you visit. A lot of people are drawn to visiting National Parks, I understand the allure as they are always scenic and stunning places - but most of them don’t allow dogs on any trails or areas outside of paved parking lots. There are a ton of Wilderness and National Forest destinations that are just as beautiful as National Parks, some even border the parks. I would recommend doing your research and making sure your dog will enjoy where you’re going just as much as you. Find places that they can hike in and enjoy as well!"

Whitney, dog mom to Jasper
Follow her adventures @whitwhitehouse

Dog toys

Whether it's when you have to leave your dog in the van for a little bit, or when you're busy working or doing the other things van people do outside of their van,  it is important to keep them happy and stimulated. Having a few fun toys so they can entertain themself will make your life and theirs easier! We love ​​Katie's Bumpers, made with fire hose material which makes them very durable for endless play time.

Another favorite are the Aussie Naturals dog toys - listed below. They're the cutest eco friendly and durable toys. Their signature animal shaped toys are made with natural cotton rope and have crunchy coconut fiber filling inside to provide the most fun effect for your dog.

Aussie Naturals - Ropie Elephant

Pour Over Cone: Silicone
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Katie's Bumpers

Foldable Triangle Pour-Over
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Spiral Dripper by Caffewerks

Aussie Naturals - Flattie Bearoldable Spiral Dripper
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Aussie Naturals - Choy Toy - Whale

Aussie Naturals - Choy Toy - Whale
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Photo courtesy Aussie Naturals

Leashes and Collars

While traveling with a dog you’ll probably end up in wide open spaces where they can roam free, but there are times when it's safer for your pouch to be on a leash! Having a comfortable yet functional leash is a plus.  We fell in love with Bison Design's Survival Dog Lead which is both a lead and collar in one, and will fit easily in your pocket.

We also like the Climbing Rope Reflective leash because it's made out of a sturdy climbing rope, has a comfortable handle and some reflective properties for night safety. Speaking of, when around the campfire or on a night stroll being able to see your dog is key, so you can pair this reflective Padded Collar or the RSG Collar with this Recharge Collar Light, and you’ll always see your doggo in the dark!

Bison Designs™ - Survival Dog Lead

Bison Designs™ - Survival Dog Lead
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Kurgo - RSG Collar

Kurgo - RSG Collar
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Nite Ize - Spotlit® Rechargeable Collar Light - Disc-O Tech™

Nite Ize - Spotlit® Rechargeable Collar Light
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Photo courtesy Nite Ize

 

 

Anouk's tips

"Having Cy in the van is the best decision I’ve ever made! One important factor to keep in mind while traveling is the weather and how hot or cold it is going to be! You might have to adapt and change your plans. When you do leave your dog in the van make sure to park in the shade, cover your windows and crack one open, turn the fan on and have plenty of water. Cooling pads are also a great way to keep your pet cool. If it’s too hot for you to be in the van, it is too hot for your dog! I also like to put a note on the window with my phone number in case someone feels concern about Cy’s safety. "

Anouk, dog mom to Cy
Follow her adventures @frenchyinavan

First Aid

Last but not least having first aid kits dedicated and specifically made for our four-legged friends is primordial. This is a must to keep your companion safe in any situation. The Adventure Dog Series Trail Dog Kit is the perfect assortment for adventure dogs and comes with everything you could need while on the trails, from tools to remove ticks, splinters and thorns to an assortment of bandages. The kit is compact so you can carry it and store it easily.

Adventure® Medical - Adventure Dog Series Trail Dog Kit

Adventure® Medical - Adventure Dog Series Trail Dog Kit
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More products that will make your dog's life (and yours) easier on the road

FOOD STORAGE & PRESERVATION

Shop our selection of air-tight containers to better preserve your dog's food.


Airscape® - Pet, Treat & Food Storage Container

Airscape® - Pet Treat & Food Air-Tight Storage Container
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Airscape® - Air-Tight Bucket Insert

Airscape® - Air-Tight Bucket Insert
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DOG CARE

Your dog deserves the best care, and the planet deserves your care products to be non toxic. Here's a selection of care products from 100% natural origin!


Burt's Bees® - Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

Burt's Bees® - Oatmeal Dog Shampoo
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Burt's Bees® - Paw and Nose Lotion

Burt's Bees® - Paw and Nose Lotion
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THE MUST-HAVES :)

Dog products you can't do without


The Printed Image - Outdoor Bandana

The Printed Image - Outdoor Bandanas (20 design options!)
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Kurgo - Direct Seat Belt Tether

Kurgo - Direct Seat Belt Tether
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USDA Dog Poop Bags

USDA Dog Poop Bags
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Ruffin' It - Pet Hair Roller

Ruffin' It - Pet Hair Roller
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