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Campervan holidays with dogs: our top tips

Campervan holiday with dogs

It’s hard to know what to do with your dog when you go on holiday. Do you feel guilty leaving them at kennels? Is paying for a pet sitter out of the question? Or can you not bear the thought of being without them?

With many hotels and holiday-lets having a strict no-dog policy, a campervan trip is the perfect solution for a holiday with your beloved best friend. And you’ll be spoilt for choice with Campsited’s huge range of dog-friendly campsites. Not only will you save money by taking them with you, you’ll make your trip even more memorable. Your dog will love the new smells, sights and experiences of an open-air holiday, not to mention the quality time spent with their best friend. And having them there will encourage you to get outside and get exploring.

Travelling with dogs doesn’t have to be stressful. With our survival guide, you’ll know exactly what to bring and how to keep your hound safe and sound while on the road.

So without further ado, here is everything you need to know to go on a campervan holiday with your furry friend.

Pet passports

First thing’s first, if you are travelling abroad, your furry friend will need some documentation.

This usually comes in the form of a pet passport or animal health certificate – depending on where you are coming from or heading to. But there are  a number of other requirements when travelling abroad with a dog. Notably, most EU countries require a microchip and some also require tapeworm treatment.

Make sure you check the rules of the country you are heading to well ahead of time, to avoid any stress. Generally there will be an official government information source; and your vet’s office may also be a good source of information.

Dog safety tips for campervans

Keeping dogs safe while driving

Dog traveling in a car

Whether you’re driving in the UK or the EU, keeping your dog safe while on the move is vital.

According to Rule 57 of The Highway Code, you must “make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.

This can best be achieved with a seat belt harness, pet carrier, van dog cage or dog guard.

Other EU countries have variations of this rule, but the main message is that it’s always best to be on the safe side by keeping your dog restrained while driving.

Keeping dogs cool in hot weather

It’s a well-known fact that you should never leave a dog in a hot car, and the same goes for campervans, RVs and motorhomes. Summer campervan trips can be hot, hot, hot and you’ll need to take extra precautions to keep your pet cool. While driving, open the windows to create lots of airflow. If you’re on a long journey, make sure you take a break every two hours to give your dog fresh air, lots of water and a chance to stretch their legs.

If you have to leave your dog in the van for a very short period of time, avoid parking in direct sunlight, keep vents and windows open, close blinds or curtains, and make sure they have easy access to water. If in doubt, don’t leave them – it’s not worth the risk.

When you’re out and about, try to find lots of shade and cool swimming spots. Avoid walking dogs on hot pavements to protect their paws. You can check the pavement with your bare feet; if it’s too hot to stand on for 5 seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog.

Keeping your campervan clean

Having your dog with you on muddy trails, sandy beaches or swimming in lakes is magical… until you get back to base with a dirty dog that wants to climb all over the campervan. Bring along a collapsible bucket or, better yet, a travel shower, and the dog’s own set of towels, and make sure they get a good rinse and towel dry before re-entering the campervan.

dog running in mud

Opting for a hardstanding pitch over grass can help prevent muddy paws in your living space when it’s wet.

Dog hair can be a bit of a nightmare in a small space and dogs may shed more hair in warmer climates. So bring their brush to brush them outside and pack a small broom or dustpan and brush and give your van a sweep daily. Old towels and blankets are a must for protecting your interiors and can be shaken off outside.

If you’re taking a puppy camping and they haven’t quite cracked the toilet training – or may get travel sick – keep paper towels, old newspapers, a neutralising spray and disinfectant spray in the van at all times.

Dog accessories for travel

When you’re packing for your next campervan holiday, don’t forget to pack some essentials for your furry friend:

  • Dog poo bags
  • Collar, harness and leads, with a tag with your contact number while on holiday
  • Dog toys
  • Travel water and food bowls
  • Familiar food and treats
  • Collapsible bucket or travel shower
  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog brush
  • Old towels and blankets
  • Their favourite bedding with a familiar scent
  • Seat belt harness, pet carrier, van dog cage or dog guard
  • Cleaning items: paper towels, old newspapers, neutralising spray, disinfectant spray
  • Any medication they are taking (or that may be required in the area you are travelling to)
  • A first aid kit, including antiseptic solution, flea treatment, tick remover and bandages.

dog playing on the beach

Camping with dogs

Getting good sleep can make or break your trip, so make sure your dog has somewhere to sleep without keeping you awake. For some people, the dog belongs in or on their bed. For others, that’s a big no-no. Depending on the amount of space in your campervan, RV or motorhome, you have a few options for dog beds.

If you’re in a small camper, it might be worth using a dog cage or pet carrier for safe driving that doubles up as a campervan dog bed overnight. You can also set up a sleeping area on the front seats of the van to keep your dog separated from you. If you are in a larger RV or motorhome, then you can bring your normal dog bed from home.

Sticking to routine

The key to a smooth camping trip with pets in tow is routine. Try to walk and feed your dog at the same time as you would at home. Sticking to routine can help to keep your dog more relaxed and settled.

Some of our amazing dog-friendly campsites

Camping Fontaine Du Roc, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Built on a beautiful three-hectare site, this campsite offers panoramic views of the Château Biron. Pitches feature electricity and both sunny and shady spots. The campsite offers two swimming pools and a pétanque court (a local game famous in the region), as well as a small shop with daily deliveries of fresh bread and milk.

Au Valbonheur (Camping le Plan d’Eau), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Located next to the Ecrins National Park, the campsite is on the edge of a lake with its private beach. Near Oisans and Vercors, campers will have the choice between a sunny area at the lake, or in the shade of trees. The closeby river La Bonne is renowned for kayaking, rafting and hydrospeed and swimming in white water.

camping pet friendly Plage du dramont

Camping Plage du Dramont, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France

Enjoy long strolls along the Estérel’s exceptional coast, dotted with sandy coves or pebble beaches, with red rock (porphyry) and boulders for climbers to enjoy. Campers love the luscious green countryside here, where they can enjoy a natural, shaded setting by the sea.

Campervan holidays with a dog

Campervan holidays with a four-legged friend can be truly magical. Sharing experiences in nature, exploring new places and developing an even closer bond with your family and pets is what open-air holidays are all about.

Now you know what to pack, where to go and how to keep your pet safe on the journey. We hope this survival guide means that no good dog gets left behind.

Have you any other tips for taking the dog on a campervan holiday you could share with us? Let us know on social media. And share a pic of your pup in your van 🙂

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