Unlike vacation holiday air travelers, Recreation Vehicle owners are not limited to two pieces of luggage. They can conveniently take along just about anything they want on their trips — including their pets.
According to recreation vehicle industry numbers, more than half of RV owners — about 4.8 million — travel with at least one pet companion and, in fact, many take to the highway with two or more pet partners.
Full-time RVers Amy and Rob Burkert are doing just that. For almost four years the Burkerts have crisscrossed North America, covering more than 50,000 miles in their 2010 24-foot Winnebago View Class C motorhome. The two 40-somethng CPAs sold their Philadelphia house in 2009 to travel the country with Ty, their 9-year-old Shar-pei, and Buster, a 6-year-old German Shepherd.
Technology has allowed them to explore America’s backroads while continuing their consulting business and running the award-winning pet travel website Go Pet Friendly (GoPetFriendly.com). The site is an encyclopedia of travel advice and pet-friendly destination guides.
“It makes planning a trip with furry loved ones easy,” said Amy Burkert, “and vacationing with your entire `pack’ exciting and fun.”
The holiday season is no exception. “This is a fantastic time of the year,” said Burkert, “and with a bit of planning, taking your pets along for the family gatherings makes the experience even more enjoyable.”
Tips for RV Trips with Pets
1. Your pet’s safety is the first priority. Start by making sure your four-legged friends are secured when traveling down the highway. “Whether you decide to use a crate or carrier that has been fastened in place, or a safety harness that connects to the seat belts in your sofa or dinette, buckling your pet up in your RV is just as important as clicking your own seatbelt,” advised Burkert.
2. The hustle and bustle of travel can be exhausting for everyone. “Be sure your pets have a peaceful place where they can go to relax and get away from it all,” said Burkert.
3. Feed and exercise your pets on their normal schedule. This alone can help reduce their anxiety. “Set an alarm to remind you of the moment your pets are expecting you to feed them,” said Burkert. “Use their daily walks as an opportunity to get a little one-on-one time.”
4. Vacation travels revolve around eating, drinking and merry making. “Spoiling our pets with food is a big temptation. A lot of the traditional fare, however, such as chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, grapes and alcohol, can be toxic for your dog. Simply eating foods he is not used to can lead to gastrointestinal distress,” said Burkert.
5. Because you may be with people who are not used to having a pet around, it’s important to take a few precautions. “Dogs and cats can slip out an open door in a flash, so be sure that your pets’ ID tags are up-to-date with a phone number where you can be reached while you’re traveling,” said Burkert. “Also, in the event of an illness or injury, it’s helpful to have your pets’ medical records with you. Rather than lugging around a large file, take a paper copy of their current vaccination records and scan the rest of the information to an easy-to-pack USB drive.”
It has been reported that somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of pet parents plan to buy holiday gifts for their much loved pooch or kitty. Most will spend around $45, according to AP-Petside.com polls over the past five years. Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com recommends road-tested products to keep your pet safe and comfortable.
1. iCalm Dog (iCalmDog.com): Over-excitement, anxiety and stress are common emotions around the holidays, even with pets. The iCalm Dog is a portable, rechargeable music player that fits in the palm of your hand. “Pre-loaded with four hours of music composed and arranged specifically to reduce canine anxiety, this is a must have for any pet parent who wants to help their dog relax anywhere,” said Burkert.
2. Freedom No-Pull Dog Harness (2houndsdesign.com): “There is nothing that wears on a dog owner more than having their pooch constantly pulling at the end of the leash,” said Burkert. “Freedom No-Pull Harness fixes that problem in a snap. A martingale-type loop on the back of the harness quickly dissuades dogs from pulling, making the walk more enjoyable for everyone.”
3. Loft Dog Bed Duvet (Kurgostore.com): “Here’s the thing about dog beds in an RV,” said Burkert, “they get a lot of use and start to look worn way too soon. But, they’re expensive to replace. The perfect solution is the washable Loft Duvet Cover that zips around your dog’s old, stained bed and makes it look great again.”
4. Bella Treat Canister (LovingPetsProducts.com): “Even the most particular pet parents will be pleased to display this stylish stainless steel treat canister on their RV’s kitchen counter,” said Burkert. “Put a little Velcro on the bottom and it will even stay put in the RV while on the road.”