In 2019, the United States Census Bureau estimated around 96,000 households reported living in a van, recreational vehicle, or boat. And this number has only grown, with van life earning a huge boost in popularity during the Covid pandemic.
There are a lot of reasons why van life appeals to younger folks. It offers freedom and flexibility, while also keeping costs low. It helps keep life simple, and leaves room for connecting with nature and going on adventures.
But one thing van life doesn’t offer is space. Living in a van with multiple people or pets can get challenging. But it’s not impossible!
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about living the van life with pets.
Most vans aren’t designed with dogs in mind. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make some adjustments.
You’re guaranteed to spend some long stints in the van, so you’ve got to make sure there’s some open room for your dog to walk around during the day. Think about traveling with dogs in regular cars: they still need some space to stand up and move around.
With such tight quarters in a van, it’s recommended that you give your dog a dedicated sleeping area. Install a crate with a bed. While this might take up some extra space, it’s worth the hassle.
Try to insulate the crate against outside noises. Remember, dogs are more sensitive to loud noises than we are!
How easy it is to convert your van into something user-friendly depends on the size of the dog and the size of the van. When you’ve got extra space, the main challenge is reconfiguring the layout.
But if you’ve got a smaller van, things get tricky. Even trickier if you’ve got a big dog. At that point, it might be easier to consider upgrading to a bigger van.
Check out some of the best Class C RV’s for some ideas.
Exercise and Play
Dogs need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If you don’t give them this, it can lead to poor health and behavioral problems. Both of these are a lot more difficult to deal with while living in a van.
If you’re using your van to explore, make sure you’re getting your dog out there with you. Take them for hikes or runs on the beach whenever you can.
Even when you’re parked in less scenic locations, it’s important to get your dog out for walks. This way they can still stretch their muscles, burn off some energy, and get some mental stimulation.
Another way to keep up your dog’s mental stimulation is through toys. Make sure you’ve got a collection of toys that are puzzles for your dogs to solve. This way, even if you’re unable to let them run around a lot that day, they can still get some of their energy out.
Dogs are smaller than we are, so they’re more sensitive to temperature changes. Make sure your van has adequate heating and cooling systems.
This is especially important if you ever have to leave your dog in the van. You might have a meeting or need to go to the store. Even though vans are much bigger, they create the same problem as cars: they get dangerously hot when left unattended.
Food and Water
Many people try to stock up on dog food and buy it in bulk, but this is rarely possible for van living. When traveling with pets, it’s best to buy smaller bags of food more regularly, so that you don’t have to worry about those large storage needs.
Dog food has a pretty strong smell, so it’s important to keep it in an airtight container. This container needs to be easily accessible so you can feed your dog when needed.
Fresh water should be available whenever you’re not driving. Always put a bowl down in the same spot so your dog knows where to look for it. If you’re driving for long periods, make sure you take breaks so your dog can have water and do its business.
Your dog shouldn’t be roaming while the van is moving. This is because the movement poses a safety risk, and in the unfortunate case that you’re in an accident, it drastically increases your dog’s chance of injury.
Make sure your dog’s crate has a sturdy handle. If you want to let your dog out of the crate during transit, give them a harness that is connected to something in case of accidents.
Finding Vet Care
It’s vital that you keep your pets in good health while traveling. Whenever you reach a new city, look up a local veterinarian so you know who to contact if you have an emergency.
Make sure you’re still taking your dogs for their annual check-ups, and keep any vet and vaccination records in the van with you. Stay up to date on vaccinations and practice good flea and tick prevention.
Van Life With Pets
Don’t let van life separate you from your fur children! With the right preparation, pets can live a comfortable life in a van with you.
Make sure your van is set up with pets in mind. This includes sleeping places, food and water storage, temperature control, and safety mechanisms. Make sure you’re giving them enough exercise and entertainment. Finally, make sure you’ve got the information for local veterinarians, in case you need it.
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