How to RV Travel with a Dog

We recently got a question on our Facebook page asking how we travel with a dog. They had noticed that most campgrounds post you cannot leave a dog unattended, which limits some of the things they can do in an area. It’s true that having Samantha puts some restrictions on what we can see & do. Many of the indoor attractions are not dog friendly and even some of the outdoor attractions do not allow pets. National Parks are restrictive as to where dogs can go, and restaurants can be touch & go if they allow dogs on their patios.

See Samantha on a road trip
See Samantha on a road trip

When we first made the decision to get on the road with Samantha, we decided that we’d make an effort to include her in everything we did. That was a big change for us, normally if we were going somewhere that posed a question we would leave her home. Once on the road we started calling everywhere, and reading websites pretty closely to determine if dogs were welcomed or allowed. This does mean modifying our plans quite a bit when we travel compared to when we are stationary in a house or apartment. Here’s some modifications we make:

Sammie at a restaurant with a patio
Sammie at a restaurant with a patio

Eating Out

We love eating out when we travel. We truly think it’s a requirement to try local venues and dishes and we make it a point to eat out at least a few times a week. What we tend to gravitate towards when traveling with Samantha is road side shacks, food carts, or sit down restaurants that are dog friendly with a patio. If there isn’t a restaurant that caters to dogs, we order take out & find a nearby park to eat our meal. Not only do we get to nosh on some out of reach food this way, but we also get to explore a smaller local park we might have passed by.

Culture

While we aren’t museum hounds, we do like walking through galleries and exploring works of art. That gets hard to do with a dog, Samantha is well behaved but not welcome in most museums! We have attended outdoor festivals in the past that are dog friendly, and instead of seeking out indoor art sculptures, we try to explore outdoors ones instead. A perfect example is when we went to Tucson and saw the rattler bridge and visited a historic mission. Or in Memphis when we visited the Ornamental Metal Museum. Perfect chance to walk around, view some culture & take our pup!

Samantha & Keith at the Metal Museum in Memphis.
Samantha & Keith at the Metal Museum in Memphis.

Scenic Drives

We love road trips. Luckily, Samantha also loves road trips & is a perfect traveling companion. It only makes sense that we tend to take on a lot of driving when we travel. This is one of the big reasons we went with a Class A & a toad, versus a 5th wheel or not having any car at all. The sights we have seen picking a point on a map & driving to it has been incredible. If Samantha could talk, she would probably agree! Of course there are plenty of smaller parks and scenic overviews to walk through and sniff to keep Samantha interested.

Samantha taking a break in Savannah
Samantha taking a break in Savannah

Walk around Town

We have done random walks in so many cities, I’ve lost count. We pick a spot to park & walk neighborhoods, downtown or historic districts. We especially love  seeing a non touristy part of a city. In Houston, we spent some time along the greenbelt & we were treated to great city views along with art sculptures. In Galveston, we spent hours walking the neighborhoods. We enjoyed Fresno this way too. It’s a neat way to see a slice of normal life in areas that maybe aren’t touted as ‘attractions’.

We pay attention to the signs!
We pay attention to the signs!

Dog Friendly Attractions

There aren’t too many of these. Of course, if it’s advertised that dogs are welcome that piques our interest. Some obvious examples, are dog and car friendly beaches and walking historic trails. Some things that you might not think of right away are wine tastings(depending on the winery & state) and air museums.  We went to Pima and it was fabulous that Samantha was allowed both inside & outside the buildings.

Sammie at Pima!
Sammie at Pima!

The RV – Leaving Her

We do our best to not leave Samantha alone in the RV. One, it’s not fair to her to stick her in a small place for too long, and it’s also not fair to our neighbors if she becomes upset.  Before we leave her, we evaluate the surroundings to determine if it’s going to work out. Kids playing the next site over? Probably not a good idea. Dog outside next door that will ‘taunt’ her? We scrap the plans. Storm coming through? We’ll stay with her. The times that we do decide to leave her, we do the following

  • We exercise her well, both normally and especially the day before or of.
  • We limit our time away to 2 -3 hours.
  • We make sure to leave an overhead fan running to block out most noises, and close all blinds & windows so she doesn’t see anything to bark at. (She will only bark if you are on our site or touching the RV & well, you shouldn’t be on our site or touching the RV – this means you too squirrels!)
  • If we have neighbors & they are out, we notify them that we are leaving & offer our number.
  • We have our contact information on our door. If she is disturbing anyone we want to know so we can return immediately, and if there is an emergency we want to be notified. We haven’t had an issue yet with someone misusing our information.

We haven’t had a problem with this method so far. We’ve found that the neighbors appreciate the heads up, and we’ve heard no complaints. And, yes, we have even followed up with people to make sure she was quiet. We also only take advantage of this arrangement a few times a month. We are comfortable with knowing that 95% of the time, she’s a really good dog.

Samantha at Sea Rim in Texas
Samantha at Sea Rim in Texas

Boarding

This wasn’t on our radar the first 6 months we traveled across country – mostly because after only a month & 1/2 on the road, Samantha had bilateral hip surgery. She’s recovered quite nicely from it, and while we finish our work notice, goes to InBark for doggy daycare. The downside to this for our dog, is she doesn’t self regulate & we don’t want any irreparable damage done. InBark has been excellent as they listen to our concerns and moderate her time with other dogs well. We may utilize daycare facilities on the road to perhaps have time for a long hike, but it will depend on many factors.

If it says no dogs, we don't go in, even if Sammie really wants to!
If it says no dogs, we don’t go in, even if Sammie really wants to!

 

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8 thoughts on “How to RV Travel with a Dog”

  1. Ahhh…that brings back so many memories. I so wish you both and Sammie could have met Tasha. They would have been great friends.

    We’ve done the same when we had to leave her in the rv. One thing you didn’t mention that you may want to do, if you don’t already, is bring the campground map with you. I still do this today with the kitties inside the rig. It has all the info on it to contact the campground, I label what site we are in, what our coach looks like, NY plates, and put on their that we have 4 cats inside. That way if we are ever in a car accident or anything tragic, emergency people will know that their are pets to be taken care of.
    Brenda recently posted..Coming Soon…The New TOUR

  2. How refreshing to see someone else who doesn’t forget the canine family member! You’re so right… it’s just not fair to leave us alone in the coach for a long time. We miss our people to much for that. And we do love to go everywhere with Mom and Pop. Thanks for sharing your love with Samantha.

  3. It sounds like you are “city people” and enjoy the sights and features of large cities. That probably makes it easier in a way to take a dog with you. The problem comes when you want to go to the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, the Space Needle, lighthouses and many hiking trails out in the forests and deserts. There are so many places that you cannot take a dog and you miss out on being able to see them. We had dogs our entire lives and the last one was very special to us. We decided not to have a dog when we went fulltiming and have really appreciated the freedom that it give us to go anywhere and be gone as long as we want.

    1. Actually, we are both ‘city’ and ‘country’ people. Samantha has been to many non-city venues such as White Sands, battlefields, and countless state/county park trails – as well Samantha is an excellent geocacher! We’ve visited several lighthouse in Washington, Yosemite, and many fabulous small towns & out of the way places. While we know the day will come when we no longer have furry kids, we’re happy with our choice of taking Samantha on our journey with us, and don’t feel like we’re missing out.

  4. Awww didn’t know you traveled with Samantha, she is gorgeous! We too have always traveled with our best friend, first Jerry and now Wyatt Ray, both 80 lb. GSDs. We’ve never felt like we were missing out, it’s totally worth it.

    P.S. Our Wyatt says he wants to meet Sammie!
    Rene & Jim recently posted..Thirteen Days

    1. We sure do! It’s part of a big reason we RV over other types of traveling right now. We also travel with our cranky old cat Jasmine. :) I agree it’s totally worth it! Tell Wyatt we are in the Black Hills of South Dakota for a month – come meet Sam! ;)

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