The view from a rearview mirror of a sweet, white pitbull rescue dog, who looks curiously in the backseat at her owner.
General, Take It

Van’s Best Friend: Tips for Living the Vanlife with a Dog

There are few things we love more than coffee here at Planetary Design, but our dogs have to be on the list. They don’t call ‘em man’s best friend for nothing!

As most of you know, our trusty BruTrek adventurer, Parker, set off last February on a solo trip across the states. After a trip southwest, Parker made his way back toward Montana to make some repairs on the rig — but not before adding a co-pilot, a sweet and affectionate rescue pup named Alley-Oop. They found each other at a farmers market in Denver, and have been travelling together ever since!

With the increasing popularity of mobile living among dog parents, the number of dogs living the vanlife has also been on the rise. And vanlife certainly suits them — as long-term travel companions, pups get to experience new sights, scents and smells everyday, and cozy into a den-like environment with their favorite humans every night. What could be better?

There are certainly some challenges with such a limited amount of room, however, and many of you considering vanlife are probably wondering about the logistics of sharing space with your pooch. Check out these tips and tricks to help connect the dots!

Secure a Dog-Ready Van

Not super breaking news, but important nonetheless: being a responsible dog owner means making special accommodations for your dog. That’s still true, if not more so, when you’re living #vanlife.

Three clear, Airscape (airtight) pet food storage containers by Planetary Design, that keep pet food fresh and avoids spills.

So consider your pooch’s condition in both hot and cold, and add features — like reflective window coverings, vinyl seat covers or vent fans — to your van to make everyone more comfortable!

Some additional important equipment? A quality dog brush to minimize shedding (like the Furminator), and an airtight dog food container to avoid spilling or spoiling (like the Airscape Pet Food Storage Container).

Get to Know Your Pup A Little Better

Understanding your dog’s breed and their individual needs is important, especially when you’re planning to spend so much uninterrupted time with them! Develop trust between you and your pup off-leash, and get used to giving them an appropriate amount of exercise everyday.

Some dogs need additional training to live a comfortable vanlife. Teaching them basic commands can come in handy — for example, getting them to come into the van on command is a great way to communicate with your furry co-pilot and minimize stress for you both.

Download Rover

It’s good practice to find dog-friendly places in a new city — but what happens when you want to visit a spot where pups aren’t permitted? Most vanlifers don’t like leaving their dogs in the vehicle for any amount of time. But, don’t worry, there’s a third option:

Green Rover logo with paw. Rover is a website that provides dog daycare and other services for pet owners.

Rover is an app that gives you access to a large network of potential doggy daycare providers. Potential dogsitters are flexible with your schedule and lifestyle, available in most cities, and they love doggos just as much as you do.

The Thing About National Parks ….

Inexpensive, expansive and downright beautiful in almost all cases, National Parks are popular destinations for travelers looking to experience the best of the United States. Travelers with dogs, however, should know that many National Parks won’t grant their pooch entrance.


Though there are several dog-friendly parks in the country, the better alternative is to utilize the National Forest area surrounding parks — there, you can often find free camping, comparable scenery and lots of room to roam.

Be Prepared for a Vet Visit

Speaking of stress … the vet’s no fun for anyone, but sometimes it has to happen. Your dog’s medical information and vaccination records should be on your list of things to bring along, and should be as easily accessible as your own records.  Animal hospitals are the quickest way to get your dog taken care of in an emergency situation, but otherwise, plan ahead and schedule check-ups in your next destination.

A Big Adventure, A Heartwarming Tail

It’s a little extra work, but having a furry companion for your travels is well worth it in the end. It certainly was for Parker and Alley-Oop!

Keep up with their adventures on Instagram, and feel free to drop us a line with all your vanlife-related (and coffee-related, of course) questions or comments.