Want To Take Your Pooch on a #VanLife Adventure? Here's How To Make It Happen

·5 min read
dog on a van life adventure in the back of a van looking out at the sunset over a beach
dog on a van life adventure in the back of a van looking out at the sunset over a beach

Courtesy of Sarah Jayne Photography

After the year we've had, it's no wonder so many folks are itching to hit the open road and leave the real world behind, at least for a little while. For many, that equates to "have van, will travel," and taking their accommodations on the road with them—including their furry traveling companions.

RELATED: Hiking With Your Dog? Here's A Checklist of Everything You Need

Loading up a camper van and pointing west (or east, north, or south) with your canine co-pilot can be a lot of fun—if you're both ready. With the summer behind us and cooler fall temperatures ahead, here are some of our top tips for taking your dog along on a camper van adventure and ensure you'll both stay comfortable along the way. Now, you don't have to go full #vanlife to enjoy this type of adventure, either. Even if you're not ready to pack it all up and hit the open road indefinitely, it's still possible to experience the thrill of the open road without purchasing one of your own.

Plan Ahead Before Hitting the Road

Before you head out on your great adventure, make sure your destination (and any stops along the way) are dog-friendly.

If you're planning to stop at a campground, check regulations and guidelines so that you can be sure you're both playing by the rules. Make sure you're aware of any leash requirements, barking ordinances, or size restrictions so you can ensure the best possible experience for you and your dog.

A pre-trip vet appointment isn't a bad idea, either. Make sure your pup's vaccinations and flea and tick prevention are current to prevent any sicknesses while on the road. Don't forget to check your pup's microchip registration to your most current contact information.

If you find yourself at a KOA campground, take advantage of KampK9, a dog-friendly, fenced area that gives your pup a place to run and play off the leash. For something closer to your camper van home, KOA campgrounds are now adding Paw Pens to sites: private, fenced areas that allow dogs to be off-leash right at RV sites, which camper vans can reserve.

husky puppy on a van life adventure in the back of the vehicle standing on a mattress
husky puppy on a van life adventure in the back of the vehicle standing on a mattress

Courtesy of Sarah Jayne Photography

Packing Checklist for Your Pup

Staying comfortable on the road likely means bringing some comforts of home along for the ride. After all, it's your dog's vacation, too!

RELATED: Everything You Need to Go Camping With Your Pup

Dog-Friendly Camper Van Rental Companies

Want to get on the road but don't have a camper van of your own? Don't worry! There are several rental companies that are dog-friendly and ready to welcome you and your pup. (Just be prepared to pay a little extra; most rental companies will charge an additional pet fee.) Many of the rentable vans come outfitted with kitchens and stocked with all the camping essentials so you and your crew can have the true van life experience without having to pack up all your gear from home.

Walden Campervans

If your road trip takes you and your best friend to the Northeast, consider renting from Walden Campervans, just 12 miles north of Boston. The new, fully outfitted camper van rental company has a vehicle specially designed with dogs in mind: Mardy, named after Margaret Murie, an American naturalist and conservationist who always traveled with her dog.

The "bring your dog" add-on package ($100) includes many items that will make you both a little more comfortable on the road, including a double-door dog crate that fits medium and large breeds up to 70 pounds; a non-slip, ultra-waterproof pet pad; compostable doggie bags; dog first aid kit; and leash/zip line anchors.

Walden's Campfire Pup add-on package ($45) spoils your canine companion with a camp mat, two stainless steel dog bowls; and a storage container for refrigerated dog diets. The Off-Grid Adventure Dog add-on package ($55) adds a large doggie sleeping bag and toy surprise to the Campfire Pup package.

Escape Campervans

Escape Campervans, with 13 locations in the U.S. and Canada (and one in New Zealand!), lets dogs travel in their camper vans for an extra $150 fee, and up to two pets are allowed. Just take care not to book during their off months—pets are not allowed during the months of July, August, and September.

Campervan North America

With four drop off and pickup locations in the Western U.S. (Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, and Bozeman, Mont.), when you rent with Campervan North America you can travel anywhere in the U.S. and into Canada, and your dog is always welcome! Depending on which van style you rent, the pet fee is an additional $45 or $90.


And if your plans take you to California, check out Texino in L.A., which rents Mercedes Sprinters and invites dogs along for the adventure—just keep in mind you'll pay an additional $50 cleaning fee per pet.

Cruise America

Select from one of Cruise America's 125 rental centers in the U.S. and Canada—including Alaska—and bring your dog along for the ride! Though not a camper van per se, Cruise America's Truck Camper is attached to an F-150 truck for easy driving (more of the traditional RV style). If you do bring your pet along for the ride, you'll need to agree to cleaning up after your pet and return the unit in the same condition you received it or be expected to pay a cleaning fee up to $250.

Now, who's ready to go on a campervan adventure?