How to Travel with Dog or Cat in Motorhome

rv and motorhome pet-friendly travel tips

Pet-friendly tips for RV and motorhome owners on how to travel safe with your furry, four-legged family members

An RV, class B motorhome or campervan is essentially your home on the road, and what better way to feel completely at home than having your favorite animal companion along for the ride? Dogs and cats can be great travel buddies depending on their individual personalities and the precautions you take beforehand to acclimate them to the vehicle.

Continue reading for some advice…

Traveling With Dogs

Dogs are generally thought of as good travelers, and this seems to be confirmed by the amount of people driving around with dogs with heads hanging out the window. However, not all dogs immediately take to traveling in a moving vehicle. If you’ve never taken your dog in your car before, you will definitely want to practice before your trip.

The first thing to do is find out if your dog is prone to motion sickness. If you plan on traveling a lot, it’s also important to make sure your dog is updated on all his or her vaccinations.

Once you’ve determined your pup’s ability to handle a moving vehicle, it’s time to introduce him to the RV or motorhome while it’s parked. Let them explore the entire vehicle and get comfortable.

When you start driving the vehicle, do so slowly and consider keeping them on a leash and closeby to minimize frightened reactions. Some dogs feel more comfortable on a leash when in a strange place. Start with a few short trips around town to get your dog used to how the vehicle feels when it’s moving.

Bonus tip: To help your dog feel more comfortable in the van or RV, bring object that they’re familiar with, such as the dog bed, a few favorite toys, and some treats to reward him or her for staying calm.

When start traveling with your dog, it’s important to stop about every three hours to give them a chance to relieve themselves and run around for a bit. This is a good time for you to stretch too. Also, try to keep the vehicle at a consistent temperature for your pet’s comfort.

Traveling With Cats

Cats often have a harder time acclimating to RV and camper van life simply because they’re not always as social as dogs can be suspicious of new surroundings. Successfully taking your cat on a road trip where they feel safe and comfortable greatly depends on your cat’s personality.

As with a dog, it’s important to take your cat into the vehicle before you start driving and let them explore. Cats typically prefer to have a safe hiding space. Consider setting up their bed in a cozy corner, or put the cat carrier in the vehicle with the door open so that they can run into it if frightened. A cardboard box might also do the trick. It’s a good idea to have more than one safe hiding space for your cat.

After your cat appears comfortable when the vehicle is parked, start taking short trips around town to get them accustomed to the movement and noise of the engine and road. As with a dog, it’s important to bring familiar items that the cat likes and is familiar with, such as their bed or favorite blanket, feeding dishes, toys, treats and catnip.

Also, try to place their litter box in a quiet location. You might consider getting a covered litter box to add privacy and cut down on mess.

If your cat has claws, it’s important to keep windows and doors closed if you have screens. If you don’t have screens, keep windows and doors closes at all times. Spooked cats move quickly, and they can easily slip out and get lost if you’re not paying attention. You might consider buying a leash and harness for your cat for extra safety and so you can take it outside without fear of it running away.

Packing For Your Pet

You definitely want to pack the right gear for your pet, just as you would for yourself and your kids. Bring plenty of your pet’s usual food. Most dogs and cats don’t like having their food switched all of a sudden, and this can add to their stress during a trip. If you don’t think you’ll be able to find their preferred food on your route, ensure that you’ve packed an adequate supply.

Also, bring any medications that your dog or cat takes as well as grooming supplies. Some pets, especially cats, may shed more when stressed.

Even if your pet is well-trained, you never know when they might make a mess. Bring pet stain cleaner and plenty of paper towels. For dogs, you may need to pick up after them at campgrounds and RV parks, so be sure to bring extra plastic bags and a scooper for this purpose. For your cat, make sure you have enough litter to keep their box clean and odor-free. RVs and motorhomes are a small spaces, so litter box odor tends to be more of a problem than in homes.

Safety First

Safety is one of the top considerations when bringing your pet on a road trip. Consider having your pet microchipped before taking them on a long trip, just in case you two get separated. At the very least, make sure to have ID tags on them at all times. The ID tags should have your phone number on them.

Bring vet health records and proof of vaccinations as these might be necessary at certain campgrounds and parks.

For both cats and dogs, a leash is often necessary. Some camping areas may have rules that dogs need to be leashed at all times. For cats, a leash can help ensure that they don’t make an escape when you least expect it.

When the vehicle is moving, remember that it’s like any other car and your pet can get hurt in the event of an accident. For larger dogs, you might try to get them used to being buckled up on a seat. For cats and smaller dogs, consider securing them in a carrier while the vehicle is in motion. It’s never a good idea to hold pets on your lap as they can negatively affect your driving skills and be seriously injured in an accident

With enough careful planning and patience, most pets can get used to the environment of an RV or motorhome.