So, are there any special things we need to know when we travel with our companions?
Here are some areas to consider:
Vehicle Safety — Slippery roads, driving errors, mechanical problems, road construction, and other driving issues can cause fast stops. Drivers and passengers wear seats belts, and there are car seat systems and seat belts designed for animals, too. Travel crates are another option. We have settled on a seat restraint as the best choice for our animals and we use it whether we are driving in the RV or a car.
Food & Water — We pack our favorite food and munchies for ourselves on the trip, and do the same for our pets. Minimizing stress makes for a more enjoyable trip, and one way to do that is to pack foods that your pet is used to eating. Changing food, or not packing enough, can make for digestive discomfort for your pet, and spoil a vacation. We also bring along our own bottled water. Our pets have digestive sensitivities that we are aware of and take into consideration.
Walks — I don’t know many pets that don’t like to go for a walk or don’t react with incredible excitement when the words “Do you want to go for a walk?” are spoken. However nice a walk might be for you and your pet, it is also a time to be alert. If you are visiting an area where you are not familiar with the plant life, insects and animals, a walk can be an unanticipated danger. (You can find lists of plants that can be toxic to animals at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Web site at www.aspca.org and in my book, Pet E.R. Guide.)
Toys — It is always a good idea to bring along toys for your pet. We bring a few of the toys that we know will be enjoyed in the RV. We leave some toys at home, and that gives us an excuse to buy more as souvenirs.
Sleeping Quarters & Security Blankets — Cozy and comfy is what it is all about. While traveling is enjoyable, it can also be stressful for your pets. Giving them the comfort of home while on the road is a gentle reassurance that our pets appreciate. Having their sleeping quarters, with their beds and favorite stuffed animals, makes traveling a more relaxing experience.
First Aid – While the last thing we want to think about is the need for first aid, it is something that we should acknowledge in our travels. Many of us travel with a first aid kit, but a separate kit for pets is also a great idea. Your veterinarian should be able to guide you on what to include.
If you have an emergency on the road, you may have to find a veterinarian. It happens more often than you might think, and it has happened to us. We discovered that it was no easy task in a strange city to find veterinary facilities that are open when you need them. That’s why I wrote the Pet E. R. Guide, which is a directory of 24-hour and after-hour veterinary clinics and hospitals throughout the U.S.
Evacuations — On vacation in an RV, we generally don’t think about what we would do if faced with evacuation. But if you are in Florida during hurricane season, or in California when a wildfire occurs, you should be aware of what you need to do to keep yourself and your pets safe. Inform yourself about evacuation procedures.
Traveling with our pets is generally uneventful on a day-to-day basis. The daily routines of sleeping, eating, walking, and so forth, continue to take place, just in a variety of locations. But, there certainly are differences too that we need to be aware of. I feel just as long as we plan for the well-being of our pets in our travels, and we do our best to keep them happy, healthy, and safe, we will all enjoy the experience of RVing together.
Melinda Lord is author of the book Pet E.R. Guide (A Directory of 24-Hour and After-Hour Veterinary Facilities in the United States), published by Trailer Life Books. For information about the book, visit her Web site at www.petemergencybook.com. You can order the book by phoning (800) 766-1674. Melinda Lord welcomes your pet stories, pet hints, and comments about the book. Her e-mail address is Melinda@petemergencybook.com.
Nikki is a writer and editor for Do It Yourself RV, RV LIFE, and Camper Report. She is based on the Oregon Coast and has traveled all over the Pacific Northwest.