Pets & Kids
Although your pets and kids can be difficult, you love them! You want your kids in particular to experience the diverse culture and landscape of our beautiful planet. Living out of a van is certainly not for every family, but by doing your research and planning ahead, it can be relatively easy.
What to Consider
Our friends @rvlifediaries mentioned that having a routine for their kids is hard to follow on the road. Loud Walmart parking lots, constantly moving and not knowing where you will be sleeping are tough sometimes. When they have a place to stay over a week or longer, they are typically happier. Schooling can be difficult when living the van life as well. Many families will travel while their kids are under the age of 5 or 6, before schooling is required. For some families, this is not possible because their kids are older. Homeschooling and/or online learning programs are going to be the only option.
The van life is an amazing experience for kids to learn and grow. Here are just a few benefits:
• Teaches kids to be minimalistic and less materialistic
• Immerses them in nature, when they would otherwise be watching TV, playing video games, etc.
• Spend more time with family
• Kids will learn to get out of their comfort zone at a young age
• Kids will be able to get more exercise.
• More opportunities to meet new people and experience different cultures
Things to bring
• A highchair that can be attached to anything.
• Child toilet seat – Getting your little ones to go potty isn’t always easy. If they have their own toilet seat to take with them, they will feel much more comfortable.
• The security blanket – Every kid has that special blanket or special stuffed animal. When being surrounded by different people and different areas, they need to feel secure. Kids need to bring these one or two things that give them this sense of security.
• One toy – If they have a favorite toy, it will be nearly impossible to tell them they can’t bring it.
• Nature books and toys – Providing your kid(s) with things that allow them to play and experience nature is a great learning experience. Animal books, insect jars, binoculars, etc. Anything to get them away from the iPad.
• Something to show other kids – Your kids may not get as much interaction with other kids their age when living the van life, so if they have a collectible, an insect jar, or something cool to show other kids, they will be more likely to socialize.
• Hiking backpack with a child holder.
• Stroller – This isn’t necessary because you can just use the backpack with a kid holder, but you may need to give your back a break.
• Something for exercise – A football, soccer ball, or if you have room for something larger, a bike is a great option.
The bottom line: Unless your kid will need something on a daily basis, don’t bring it.
Your pets will likely be anxious at first, so it will be challenging. You can’t let this discourage you because they will eventually adapt to the continuously changing environment – dogs quicker than cats.
Things to Consider
- You need to thoroughly think through every travel decision to make sure it will be suitable for your pet(s).
- Sacrificing space, additional temperature control measures, more mess with fur, dandruff, pee, poop, etc.
- It becomes that much more important to make sure they get out and get enough exercise every day.
- What to do with them while you are at work (unless you work out of your van), what if they get sick, and the main one: do they get car sick?
- They can’t go everywhere in places like National Parks but National Forests, and BLM are very lenient. Those spots are usually quieter than National parks and free most of the time.
- It’s difficult to travel to cold places or really hot places. In the heat, plenty of fans are a must. In hot places, run your errands at night when it’s cooler, so the pets can breathe easy in the van. If you are with another person, have one of you go in so the other can stay with the pets.
- It needs to be easy for them to sit and stand – sitting especially when the van is moving.
- You don’t want to travel too far out in the boonies, because if your pet gets sick, there might not be any vets in the area. Most towns have a vet, but it’s something you should be aware of.
- For cats and dogs, some countries require them to be up to date on their rabies certifications, and possibly other vaccinations.
- With a van having little room for storage, it is more difficult to keep things out of reach such as food and sharp objects.
- Get your pet microchipped so if they get lost, you can find them
- If you have a cat, you will need to clean their litter box often.
- Our friend @travelingtuttles mentioned that although a lot of places tend to have rules about dogs, they’ve NEVER had problems having a cat with them. Even the Border Patrol on their way back into the USA from Mexico told them they didn’t care about cats, just dogs.
Things to Bring
- Toys – even though you have little space for extra things, it will mean the world to them.
- Traveling water bowl that won’t spill easily.
- A cat carrier of some sort is a must when traveling with a cat. Also get a covered cat litter pan.
Our friends @ramblindawgs couldn’t have said it any better:
“There’s some good and bad but remember that they’ll be here to cuddle when you’re down, they’ll keep you warm at night, and give you an excuse get out of the van and explore!”