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Packing List For A Long-Term Road Trip With A Dog

When heading out on a long term road trip, it’s important to pack the right things for your dog. We’ve pulled together a great list of road trip essentials for any pet. This travel packing list includes everything you need to keep your dog happy and healthy when living in a camper.

Packing for long term travel with a dog

Preface: Note that our vandwelling style is similar to a cross-country RV trip. We live in the cities for a day or two then spend the majority of our time in dispersed campsites. Stealth living in a city full-time and working during the day has additional challenges and wouldn’t be conducive to a happy dog with just these prep tips.

Preparing Your Dog For Van Life

Travel Practice

Get your dog used to car travel if they aren’t already. We started ours on short journeys to the dog park using the same loading routine each time. After she understood how to behave we followed up with several longer drives to camping trips in which she was rewarded with outdoor play. Bonus: we learned the hard way, if you don’t want a mess, don’t feed the dog just before a long drive!

Take A Trip To The Vet

Before you go, don’t forget to get your dog caught up on the shots! Depending on where you plan to travel, specific medications may be necessary like heart worm and tick prevention. Be sure to make multiple copies of vet paperwork to bring along with you on your journey.

We like to keep digital copies of our dog’s paperwork stored in our phones as well. If you plan to board your dog while you are out and about, many places will require proof of vaccinations.

Camper Van Alterations

Keep dog hair off seat covers

Vinyl Seat Covers

Consider purchasing vinyl seat covers instead of cloth. We have found that dog hair sticks to vinyl significantly less than the cloth seat covers we were using at first. Vinyl covers are also easier to wipe off.

Use a vent fan to keep your dog cool during the trip

Vent Fan

By far, the most important dog-friendly feature we had built into our van was a vent fan. Our fan runs off solar power and significantly decreases the inside temperature of the van when we keep the windows cracked and the fan running.

Accessories To Pack For Your Dog

Storing water and food in a van

Food and Water Storage

When bringing a dog along, we doubled our water capacity and got some airtight food containers to store a 40lb bag of dog food. Waterbricks are great for this as they are portable, durable, and made in the USA. The company also makes food bricks that are stackable as well.

Traveling with a dog leash

Long and Short Leash

We like to keep two different size leashes with us when traveling. Our short leash is perfect for hikes and the long leash is used more in areas like parks or campsite. We tie the long leash to either our van or a stake in the ground while we’re relaxing.

Adventure dog playing with a toy


Usually we carry one toy at a time as more than that creates a slobbery mess. If your dog likes tennis balls, the Chuckit! is amazing as you can have a fetch session without getting your hands dirty (which is harder to clean up when out in the woods).

Bring dog treats along on a road trip


When you’re on the road for a long period of time, you’ll run into a lot of people who want to pet your dog. We’ve found keeping treats around is the perfect solution to helping your dog adjust to the new people and keep everyone happy.

Brushing dog fur to keep out of car

Fur Brush

A fur brush is important to keep with you when you travel. Regularly brushing your dog will greatly reduce the amount of hair in your car during a road trip which will make your journey that much more pleasant.

Glow in the dark dog collar

LED Dog Collar

Nighttime sanity includes knowing that the rustling bushes behind you is just an exploring hound and not a bear. We love having an LED dog collar on our pet so it’s easier to find her at night.

Dog eating food on a camping trip

Food & Water Bowls

Dog bowls are a necessity weather traveling or not. The collapsible style bowl works great for road trips because it takes up less space and is easier to carry around during hikes.

Sunshades keep the vehicle cool

Window Sunshade

Sunshades greatly reduce the “greenhouse effect” in the camper van and lengthens the amount of time we can leave the pup unattended. Reflective sunshades block radiant heat and keep the van significantly cooler.

Pack dog bags when traveling on a road trip

Dog Bags

Dog bags are cheap and essential to (pretending to) behave in public. Every trail or walk you go on is going to require you to curb your pet. It’s always a good idea to keep extra bags around because you’ll never know when you need them.

Drying off a dog

Old Blankets & Towels

Cold weather is easier to adjust for than hot. Have a bunch of blankets on hand that you can pile on your little hound should the weather turn south. Extra blankets are also going to be important for drying off your dog if it decides to go swimming.

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