If you're planning a road trip and you want your dog to come along for the adventure (let's face it, a road trip without dogs is no fun), we've got some expert tips that will make your journey a joy.
Taking a dog on a road trip is a dream many of us have had. You picture yourself on the open road, discovering new places, sleeping under the stars and watching on with delight as your dog experiences new places, people and makes new friends on each new, fun-filled day.
If you're lucky enough to have the time and the resources, our guide might just be the final bit of motivation you need to make the dream a reality. A road trip with dogs? Yes. You CAN do it.
How to plan your dream dog friendly road trip
Make sure your holiday plan accommodates the presence of your pet and if you are flexible on dates, it is advisable to avoid times with peaks of heat or cold.
For the spontaneous trips, make sure that the campsite of your interest allows access to your four-legged friend - though most of these campsites are pet-friendly and some of them also offer additional services such as a private garden, entrance to a restaurant or a pond bathing.
And to make sure salty paws and toes are on the itinerary, look up pet-friendly beaches in the UK. Sandymouth and Perranporth in Cornwall or Babbacombe in Devon are just a few of them.
Narrow down some dog friendly locations to explore
- The New Forest has so much open space to enjoy, your pooch will have the time of their lives in the heart of the south of England. Ancient woodland and beautiful heathland offer plenty of places to explore, while the 140 miles of tracks and footpaths provide some great walking routes. At the end of the day, you can kick back and relax with your pet in one of the many dog-friendly pubs.
- Yorkshire has been drawing visitors for centuries. As well as atmospheric towns, lush dales and brooding moors which meet striking coastline the area is also steeped in history and you can explore abbey ruins, craggy castles and classical gardens mostly with your dog in tow (it’s just worth checking with a venue before you set out).
- Lake-district. Whether you love a long hike through the high fells, a gentle stroll along a lakeshore, or perhaps just a place to settle down and enjoy the view with a cuppa, the Lake District provides ample opportunity for you and your pooch.
- Cornwall is one of the most popular dog-friendly destinations for your pooch friend. Perfect for playing on the multitude of picturesque beaches and green fields
How to find the best dog-friendly campsites
In the UK we are fortunate to have multiple options for our pooches even when it comes to campsites.
Here’s a quick campsite checklist on what to look up for when planning a campervan road trip with your dog.
- Make sure there are no additional charges for pets as they are not taking up much space or using any facilities -- there are many campsites that welcome animals, filter these further by fees.
- Make sure to look out for campsites that have dog washing facilities
- Sites with a dedicated dog area or a park
- Sites with a dog park or a park nearby the campsite
- Sites with dog-friendly pubs nearby would be super ideal for pet owners
Tips on how to prepare your dog for a road trip
The long weekend on the road trend seems to be ideal for your pup too! If it is your first time in a camper, it is necessary to progress gradually from shorter trips to longer ones to avoid any stressful situations for you and your pooch.
Also, make sure you know your dog, if your dogs can't handle car trips, then a campervan trip should be tested on a mini trip to check if a decently sized campervan is any better.
You don't want your dog to struggle the whole trip.
At the beginning of the adventure, it is essential to allow time to explore the space and adapt to the new environment - your dog will eventually find their spot to settle in the vehicle and you will all be set to live comfortably and safely.
During the holiday, maintaining the usual times for their meals, walks and small gestures like keeping their things in the same area will help them feel at home.
Dog friendly road trip: top tips
- Mark a couple of local dog parks on your route -- they are bursting with energy, allow them to blow out some steam and socialize with other furry friends.
- Take multiple short trips before your big adventure with your pet to make sure this is for them too.
- Ensure to make frequent stops for a drink, go for a walk and play. We suggest no more than 2-3h hauls at a time.
- Use positive reinforcement techniques to award good behaviour.
- Train your pooch to follow basic and important commands.
- Create a designated space for your dog, whether it's sealed in a dog booster seat, or a boxed pet carrier in the back. Once you have found the best seating for your dog for the trip, make sure to secure it and other loose elements around it, so it’s properly fastened and safe.
- Check with your vet for car anxiety and sickness remedies and recommendations
Dog packing list
Travelling by campervan already helps to be minimal and to travel light. Pack the essentials, everything you would typically carry when travelling with your pets: food, water, bowls, leashes, toys and make a selection of other relevant items.
A good towel or a mat will be your best bet, to use for quick cleaning and as a bed for travel days.
Although the camper is spacious it still is a shared environment, it will be necessary to bring cleaning products such as wipes, air freshener and dry shampoo to keep both the vehicle and your dog tidy.
A quick packing checklist when travelling with your dog
- Food and water - their favourite treats and bottled water in case they take time to adjust to local water, plus their water bowl
- Toys and chew accessories
- Your pets first-aid kit - all medications and supplements
- A good strong leash and a collar with contact information
- Baby wipes for easy cleaning
- Poop collection bags
- One familiar blanket or their sleeping couch (for smaller dogs)
- Vaccination records
- Dog grooming tools - brush, towel and tweezers in case they get bitten by ticks
Organize your campervan and optimise your space
A road trip adventure also teaches you a thing or two on how to optimise your spaces - containers are great for easily collecting and moving everything you need and storing it under the bed or in the front seats at night fits perfectly.
Finally, using a folder with all the important documents such as vaccination documentation and certificate of registration or pet license will allow you to travel by camper in total safety and without risking penalties.
How to plan for a budget-friendly road trip with your pet
Consider travelling domestic
You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland.
You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland. When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet needs:
- a microchip
- a valid rabies vaccination
- an animal health certificate unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland
- tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta
You need to consider planning and spending on these requirements if you intend to travel beyond the UK with your pet.
Want to experience the dream of a road trip with your dog?
The expert tips in this dog friendly road trip guide are provided by Indie Campers.
Images courtesy of Indie Campers