Vanlife with Pets: Over 20 Camper Hacks for Van Life with a Dog or Other Pets

White dog with two women on the bed of a camper van

Vanlife with Pets: Over 20 Camper Hacks for Van Life with a Dog or Other Pets

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

11 April 2023

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Discover over 20 hints and hacks for living your best van life with a dog or pet of any kind. This is paws-down the ultimate guide to pet-friendly van life!

Vanlife is an amazing way to explore the world, and it’s even better when you can bring your furry companion along for the ride. But, van life with a dog or with a pet of any kind requires a bit more preparation and planning than traveling alone.

We’ve got you covered with over 20 tips and tricks taking you from choosing a camper van pet, to picking the best camper van for your pet, and tips about living your best van life with a dog, or any other pet, in your camper van.

We’re going to look at:

  • The Best Kinds of Pets for Van Life
  • What to look for when choosing a pet-friendly camper
  • The Best Types of Campers for Living Van Life with a Pet
  • Tips and Tricks for Traveling with your Pet


The Best Kinds of Pets for Van Life

When it comes to choosing a pet for vanlife, there are a few im-paw-tant things to keep in mind. Your pet has got to be comfortable in a small space and able to handle long periods of travel. Taking that into account, some of the best kinds of pets for vanlife include:

🐶 Dogs

Van life with a dog is one of the most popular choices for those who want to travel with a furry companion. Dogs are highly social animals that enjoy being with their owners and love to explore new environments.

The benefits of having a dog while living the van life are numerous. Van life with a dog offers the promise of companionship, security, and endless entertainment on your journey. Paws down set on living your best van life with a dog? Bound on over to this guide: Best Dogs for Van Life.

🐱 Cats

While cats may not be as common as dogs for vanlife, they can still make great pets for traveling. They’re independent and don’t require as much exercise as dogs, making them a good choice for those who prefer a more laid-back lifestyle. Many vanlifers have coached their cats to be comfortable with leash walks, and it’s so cute to see!

🦜 Birds

Birds are another option for vanlife, especially if you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t require a lot of space. They’re easy to care for and can be trained to travel with you.

🐇 Other Pets

If van life with a dog, bird or cat isn’t for you, other pets that can be good for vanlife include rabbits, guinea pigs, and even reptiles. However, it’s important to do your research and make sure you can provide a safe and comfortable environment for your pet in your camper van.

Van life with a dog - Australian cattledog by campervan with lady sat on chair

Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Your Pet

Living van life with a dog or traveling with a pet of any kind can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also present some unique challenges. Whether you’re embarking on a long-term vanlife adventure or just taking a weekend trip with your furry friend or feathered pal, it’s important to be prepared and take steps to ensure their comfort and safety.

Let’s look at some tips and tricks for traveling with your pet that will help make the experience more enjoyable for both you, and your animal companion. From choosing the right vehicle to packing essential items, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in!

🔖 Make sure your pet is carrying ID

Even if your pet is microchipped, it’s always a good idea to have an ID tag on their collar with your name, phone number, and address. In the event that your pet gets lost, it will make it much easier for someone to contact you and reunite you with you both. Of course this is harder for some pets, but for dogs and cats, this is essential.

💧 Bring plenty of food and water

Just like humans, pets need to stay hydrated and well-fed. Make sure to bring plenty of food and water for your pet, and don’t forget to pack their food and water bowls.

🎾 Keep your pet entertained

Depending on the length of your trip, your pet may get bored or anxious. Bring along their favorite toys, and consider giving them interactive toys that will keep them entertained for longer periods of time.

💩 Plan for bathroom breaks

If you’re doing van life with a dog, you’ll need to plan for regular bathroom breaks. Scope out pet-friendly rest stops and parks along your route, and make sure to bring poop bags and a leash.

🐕‍🦺 Research pet-friendly attractions

If you’re planning on visiting attractions along your trip, make sure they’re pet-friendly. National parks, beaches, and hiking trails often have restrictions on pets, so do your research beforehand.

🪲 Use flea and tick prevention

Fleas and ticks are common in outdoor environments, so make sure your pet is up-to-date on their flea and tick prevention medication. It’s also a good idea to check your pet for fleas and ticks regularly.

🥵 Consider the temperature

Depending on the time of year and your destination, the temperature inside your van can get quite hot or cold. Make sure to pack appropriate gear, such as a cooling pad or a heated bed, especially if living van life with a dog.

🚐 Choose the right van

If you’re planning on living in your van full-time with your pet, it’s important to choose the right van. Look for a van that has enough space for both you and your pet to comfortably live in, as well as good ventilation and temperature control. Some popular van options for vanlife with pets include the Mercedes Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter, and Ram Promaster.

🐰 Pick the right pet

Not all pets are cut out for vanlife. If you are thinking of living van life with a dog – or any pet – consider your pet’s personality and energy level before embarking on a vanlife adventure. Some pets that do well in vans include small dogs, cats, rabbits, and even birds. However, high-energy or anxious pets may not be well-suited for vanlife.

Dog on bed in mercedes camper van with lady looking at the sea

Photo credit: Nova Conversions

What to Look For when Choosing a Pet-friendly Camper

Not all camper vans are created equal, and some are more pet-friendly than others. There are all kinds of things to consider when choosing a camper van for van life with a dog or pet of any kind. And these factors might be a bit different to the ones we discuss in this popular article: Which Vans Are Best for Vanlife?

How so? Well, the types of vans might be the same, but when living van life with a dog or pet, other factors become more important. When choosing a camper for yourself and your pet, it’s important to look for some key features to ensure that you find the best roving home for all of you. Here are some things to think about and ask when buying a camper van:

How much space do you need?

It’s important to choose a camper that offers enough space for both you and your pet to move around and just hang out comfortably. Consider the size of your pet and the amount of gear you’ll need to bring along on your roadtrips.

Does the camper have adequate ventilation?

Proper ventilation is crucial to keep your pet comfortable and healthy while on the road. Look for campers with windows, vents, or even air conditioning to keep the air flowing.

Not only does ventilation help with temperature control, but proper ventilation is important for both you and your pet’s comfort and health while living van life.

A good ventilation system will help circulate fresh air throughout the camper and prevent the buildup of moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew. It’s especially important if you have a pet with respiratory issues or allergies, as poor air quality can exacerbate their symptoms.

Is the flooring pet-friendly?

Pets can be tough on flooring, so look for campers with durable, easy-to-clean floors. Carpeting can be difficult to keep clean and may trap pet hair and odors.


Are there secure tie-down points for your pet’s crate or carrier?

Keeping your pet safe and secure while on the road is essential, so look for campers with built-in tie-down points or secure spots where you can attach your pet’s crate or carrier.

You may not need this if you have enough space for a kennel – having enough space to build a kennel can be a game changer when living van life with a dog or pet of any kind.

We all like to feel like we have our own space, and not only will a kennel or cage area provide a safe and cozy space for your furry companion to relax, but it can also help keep your camper van clean and organized.

A kennel can be used to keep your pet contained while you are driving, prevent them from wandering off when you’re parked, and provide a designated potty area. It can also be a place where your pet can sleep comfortably, without being disturbed by external noise or movement.

Overall, van life with a dog can be much easier and more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend, when you have your own space!

Can your pet easily get in and out of the camper?

Depending on your pet’s size and mobility, you may need to check if they are okay getting in and out of the camper. Can your pet handle the steps okay? Can you lift them? Perhaps look for campers with low steps or ramps to make it easier for your pet to come and go, and also keep in mind any pet gate you might need to fit.

Is there an outdoor shower facility?

An outdoor shower can be incredibly useful for van life with a dog. After a day of exploring, your hound is likely to be dirty and covered in mud, sand, or dirt. Instead of tracking all that dirt into your van, you can use the outdoor shower to rinse off your dog before they climb inside.

Let’s face it, we want to prevent any unpleasant stinks from building up – which happens more easily in a small space!

Also, if you plan to spend a lot of time in hot weather, an outdoor shower can be a game-changer for when it comes to cooling your dog down quickly.

Is there enough storage space for pet food, toys, and other supplies?

This includes food, water bowls, litter, toys, leashes, and any medications they may need. Without enough storage space, your van can quickly become cluttered and disorganized, just making van life that little bit more stressful. It never ceases to amaze us how much kit is required for van life with a dog!

By considering these questions before you buy a camper, you’ll be better equipped to choose a camper that will work well for both you and your pet during your van life adventures.

🚐💨 The Best Types of Campers for Living Van Life with a Dog or Pet

Taking into account that space is a key factor when choosing a camper van, these are some of the best types of vans for living vanlife with a pet:

Grey mercedes camper with side door open
Image courtesy of Tommy Camper Vans

Mercedes Sprinter Camper Vans

Mercedes Sprinter camper vans are popular among vanlifers for their spacious interiors, great gas mileage, and reliability. These vans have enough space for a medium-sized dog and are often customized with features like foldable dog beds and built-in food and water dishes. Check out the latest Mercedes Sprinter camper vans for sale.

Silver VW pop-top camper in forest

Volkswagen Camper Vans

Volkswagen camper vans are iconic and beloved by vanlifers all over the world. These vans are known for their compact size and excellent fuel efficiency, making them perfect for traveling with a small pet. Many Volkswagen camper vans also come equipped with built-in kennels or dog beds. Check out the latest Volkswagen camper vans for sale.

Ram Promaster camper in white with mountain backdrop

Ram Promaster Camper Vans

Ram Promaster camper vans are gaining popularity among vanlifers for their affordable price and versatile design. These vans have a lot of space and are often customized with features like dog beds and food and water dishes. Check out the latest Ram Promaster camper vans for sale.

White Ford E359=0 camper van in desert scenery

Other Vans

Other popular vans for vanlife with a pet include Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Nissan, and Toyota. Each of these brands offers different sizes and styles of vans, so it’s important to do your research and find the best fit for you and your pet.

📚 Key Takeaways

Traveling in a camper with a pet can be an super-cool experience, but it requires some preparation and careful planning. Here are the key takeaways to help you live your best van life with a pet:

  • The best pets for van life will be pets that fit your lifestyle and are comfortable with traveling and new environments.
  • Be mindful about the size of your camper and whether it has enough space for you and your pet(s).
  • Look for a camper that has pet-friendly pros, such as easy-to-clean floors, good ventilation, and a safe area for your pet to sleep and travel.
  • Before hitting the road, make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and always carry a copy of their medical records with you.
  • Pack plenty of food, water, and toys for your pet, as well as a first aid kit and any medication they may need.
  • If you are living vanlife with a dog, be sure to train your dog to obey basic commands and be comfortable on a leash, and always clean up after them when you’re outside.
  • Finally, be prepared for unexpected situations and have a plan in case of an emergency.

By following these tips and tricks, you and your furry friend can enjoy all the adventures that van life has to offer!

🤓 Read next: Best Dogs for Van Life

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