5 Tips for Camping with Dogs

Pop-Up Camping

Camping is the perfect dog-friendly vacation. Most times that my husband and I camp we bring our three dogs with us – two weiner dog mixes and a German Shepherd – and each time we feel like we figure out something new that makes us and them more comfortable. It’s nice to be able to go on a trip and bring them with us, especially since they are like our children. I love having extra little tricks to make the trips easier and alleviate any stress that might be associated with travelling with dogs, even all three of them.

1. A Secure Safe Space

Tip number one is giving your pup a secure and safe space. Most campsites require that dogs be placed on a leash, but unfortunately not everyone follows the rules. This can make for not only a stressful environment for your dog but also a dangerous one. Your dog could run away, come in contact with other peoples’ pets unexpectedly or get into things that could get them into trouble. When we camp, we prefer to have a large pen that the dogs can sit and hang out in. This pen not only keeps them in, but also keeps out the seemingly inevitable wandering stranger dog that may or may not be friendly. Other less secure but still viable options would be some kind of rope or leash tethered to a tree or a heavy table, or keeping them with you on a leash. We find the pen to be the best option because it gives us less to worry about and also keeps them as safe and secure as possible. We purchased two pens similar to the one pictured below and we use them to wrap around the front of our pop-up camper and awning legs to make sure the pen won’t fall over. This also gives the dogs the ability to get inside of the camper if they want. You can find these pens at your local pet stores or online. We found that our local feed store was the cheapest option. I firmly believe that dogs are happiest when they feel safe and these pens do just that.

Go Pet Club Foldable Exercise Pen for Dogs

2. Doggie Distractions

Dog pens are a great way to keep your pup comfortable, but it can also get a bit boring if the dogs are locked up in there for a while. There are so many sights and sounds outside of the pen to be explored, but if we were constantly exploring at a dog’s pace there wouldn’t be much time for other camping activities. This is where doggie distractions come in. Chew toys, greenies and dog blankets are always at the top of my camping packing list to keep our doggies entertained when we want to do something entertaining for ourselves. We love to bring them greenies for their teeth (and our dogs love them too!). The blankets are always nice for the dogs since it makes them feel a bit more at home in their unfamiliar space. If your dog has a favorite toy, bring it along to provide comfort and entertainment!

3. Keeping Calm

Sometimes camping can be stressful. Unfortunately, there can be loud noises in other campsites, dogs off leash that roam into your site or just general happenings that can stress your dog out. Heck, sometimes the car ride alone can make a dog feel less than stellar. We always like to bring a supply of calming treats just in case. More recently it seems that there is a wide variety of calming treats to choose from whether they are CBD, chamomile, lavender or something stronger. We prefer the more holistic approach versus medicinal but sometimes even the herbal remedies aren’t enough for some dogs. Of course, be sure to check with your vet about what options might work best for your pup. They’re not always needed, but it’s definitely a nice thing to have on hand in case you do.

4. Accidents Happen

Just like with anything, accidents can always happen. Someone can get stung by a bee, step on a sharp rock, or just get hurt in general. Our dogs seem to be of a very allergic sort (sniffing all the dirt can give them coughing bouts) and they have a love of chasing and eating bees (which I really wish I could break them of!). In these scary moments, it’s always nice to have something on hand to help ease the pain, or the itch, or the worry. Our number one medicine that we bring on camping trips is Benadryl which is safe for dogs in the right dosages (again, talk to your vet before giving your dog something they haven’t experienced). Our numbers two item that we bring is hot spot spray. This is because the swimming and the dirt in our German shepherd’s long hair can sometimes cause discomfort and it’s always best to catch hot spots as soon as possible – not only to heal the spot but to alleviate the itch and discomfort. It’s also important to have your basic first aid on hand for your pups – antiseptic for any possible wounds, as well as bandages. Of course if something that happens that is beyond basic first aid, it’s best to see your vet.

5. Lots and Lots of Love

I’m sure this goes without saying, but your dog(s) will be so happy that you brought them camping. They get to be with you! And I’m pretty sure that’s all the matters to pups. Make sure not to neglect them on your trip and leave them alone for long periods of time while you’re off doing other camping things. They’re in a strange place and it’s scary for most dogs to be in new places without their families (especially if you only have one dog). If you have activities planned that might keep you away from them all day, consider leaving them at home, or if you have other people coming with you, you could ask them to keep your dogs company (if they’re not involved in said activities). Overall, dogs just want to be by your side at all times and there’s really no point in bringing them if you’re just going to ditch them at camp. Of course there are times when you might need to leave them for an hour or two. Make sure to leave plenty of water, shade, and a few of the doggie distractions mentioned earlier. It also might help to give some of those calming treats before you have to head out to try and ensure your dog is as comfortable as possible.

We love bringing our dogs camping and I’m pretty sure they love it too! It’s always a great experience to have them with us in the great outdoors and these little tips make the experience even more enjoyable. I hope you find these tips helpful and that you’ll consider bringing your furry best bud on your next camping trip!

Weekend Camping Menu For Two

Pop-Up Camping

This weekend was absolutely perfect! The hubby and I packed up our three dogs and our pop-up camper and headed out of town for a quick Friday night through Sunday afternoon trip. We went to one of our favorite places, called Collins Lake. It’s one of our favorites for a few reasons – one, it’s relatively close being only an hour or so away, two, we’ve been going for several years so we are familiar with the campground layout and where our favorite fishing/swimming spots are, and three, we are always able to get lakefront campsites. Lakefront camping is awesome because you have less neighbors and you’re right next to the water when it’s time to go swimming or fishing. Also, being able to sit with a cup of coffee right outside the camper and see the sun rising over the water in the mornings is divine. These short trips are the perfect getaway that don’t take too much planning or effort while still making it so we can come home refreshed and ready to start the week (well, sort of).

Menus for weekend camping trips can be tricky. A couple years ago I would always make the mistake of bringing way too much food usually meaning much of it went to waste. More recently I’ve figured out a pretty perfect combination of items to bring so that there is plenty to eat without any waste. This camping menu is for two adults, who eat a mostly vegan/vegetarian diet. You could sub out the meat-substitute items for meat items if you prefer, but if haven’t tried vegan hot dogs or burgers yet I highly recommend checking them out. This menu utilizes things like hamburger buns for breakfast, so make sure you don’t skimp on the quality of the bread. We like to buy the artisan rolls and use them for burgers and then use them for toast the next morning with avocado. The only thing we had left at the end of our trip was hot dog buns and hummus, which we ended up not even opening, so all in all I’d say this menu was a success.

Weekend Camping Menu for Two (meals below)

1 package of Beyond Meat burgers (includes 2 patties)

1 package of Lightlife Jumbo Smart Dogs (includes 5 links)

1 package of artesan hamburger buns (includes 6 buns)

1 package of hot dog buns (includes 8 buns)

1 package of brown rice cakes

Peanut butter

Jelly

2 ears of corn

1 summer squash

1 can of vegetarian baked beans

3 avocados

1 tomato

1 melon or melon platter

Condiments

Vegan butter

Salt and Pepper

Meals

Dinner 1 (Friday night):

  • Smart Dogs + condiments
  • Squash skewers
  • Baked beans (store leftovers for Saturday’s dinner)

Breakfast for both days:

  • Toast hamburger buns, top with avocado and salt and pepper
  • Melon

Lunches for both days:

  • Rice cakes topped with peanut butter and jelly

Dinner 2 (Saturday night):

  • Beyond burgers with avocado + condiments
  • Corn on the cob with vegan butter
  • Baked beans

Buying a Pop-Up Camper: What to look for

Pop-Up Camping

My husband and I love to camp. There’s something so relaxing and freeing about getting out into the wilderness for even just a night, and living in California affords us so many options for places to go. The past few years, we haven’t gone camping as much as we have wanted to. We take a week long trip in May every year, but other than that we haven’t been able to make it out much. Between buying a new house, issues with the camper we were using previously and other scheduled trips we just didn’t have time to get out into the wilderness. This year though, we decided we wanted to try and get out more. What better way to do that than to have a camper trailer that was accessible to us at all times and ready to go at a moments notice. So we started shopping. We learned alot about what we needed and wanted throughout the process. Firstly, we knew that we needed something that we could fit into our garage since we don’t have RV parking at our house. We didn’t want the extra expense of storage and we didn’t like the idea of having to go somewhere else to pick it up before we were able to head out. This basically made it next to impossible to buy anything but a pop-up camper trailer, also known as fold out camper trailers or tent trailers. This realization didn’t bother us one bit. Once we knew what we could fit, we started thinking about all the other things we needed to consider and look for when shopping for our pop up. So, I thought I would use our experience to create a new section on my blog – Pop-Up Camping. This post will outline what to look for, and future posts will tell you about our adventures in pop-up camping including trips, set up and tear down, organizational tips, makeover stories and more. I hope you enjoy! Now let’s get into the things you should look for when buying a pop-up camper.

Budget

This first consideration may seem like a no-brainer, but the first thing you need to think about before even looking at pop-ups is your budget. Sure, it can be super fun to look at dealerships and websites and dream about your new pop-up, but if you’re limited on price it’s better to know before you start drooling over what you can’t afford. When we bought our camper, we knew we wanted to stay around $2,000. Once looking online we figured this gave us enough money to get something nice but older and hopefully something that didn’t need any mechanical work and only minor cosmetic work if any. We wanted something functional and mechanically sound so that we could take it camping as soon as possible. If you have more to spend, consider looking at options below your budget that will give you money leftover for supplies if you need them. We had to look for a few weeks to find something that fit our needs and our budget, but once we found what we were looking for, it was totally worth the search and the wait. Keep in mind that pricing may vary depending on your area. Many campers I saw in other states were quite a bit cheaper than in California for whatever reason. I even saw some that were under $1,000 in certain states. This may be because of the wage limits or cost of living, but just wanted to throw that in there since $2,000 may seem like alot more to people who live in other more reasonably priced areas.

Size

Size matters when it comes to pop-up campers – especially if you have parking restrictions, a large number of people to sleep, or a smaller vehicle for towing. For us, the sleeping capacity was not as important as our ability to fit the trailer in our garage while also still affording us space to reach our washer and dryer and fit my hubbies motorcycle. However, we did want to make sure that there was enough sleeping room for us, our three dogs, and an extra bed for friends and family when necessary. We have a larger SUV so weight was not something that was a huge factor, but if you have a smaller 6 cylinder vehicle or similar it’s important to also factor in how much your vehicle can tow. Camping World’s website has a great feature that will help you determine what you can tow based on the make and model of your vehicle. Check that out here. Another important consideration is parking space. Measure out where your trailer is going to live and make sure that whatever trailer you purchase will fit into that space. We found that the most important dimension to check was the trailer length, since most pop-up camper trailers are right around 7-8 feet wide. Sleeping capacity could also be something that you may need to consider. If you have children or often take people with you on your camping trips it’s important to make sure everyone has somewhere to sleep. Most pop-up camper trailers feature full size (or comparable) beds that pop out on either side and one dinette that folds into a bed. Sometimes there are other seating areas (like in our new trailer) that also fold down into beds. The dinettes are sometimes smaller twin beds, but I have also seen pop-up camper dinettes that fold down into full-size beds as well. Overall, you want to make sure that you have enough space to fit everybody comfortably – pups included!

Amenities

Amenities are things I would consider to be wants more than needs from a camper. For example, one of my amenities that I knew I wanted in our new trailer was that the stove would move from the inside of the trailer to the outside for outdoor cooking. Now, this wasn’t necessarily a make it or break it feature (since I could always purchase a small outdoor camping stove as well), but it was something that I looked for when looking at trailers. Other amenities to think about would be things like, do you want your trailer to have a refrigerator? Does it need to have a toilet or shower? Do the amenities run on propane or electricity or only full hook-ups? All of these items will make a difference in your experience camping if they are things that you are either used to having or want to have on your trips. For us, we knew we wanted a refrigerator but also knew we didn’t want a toilet or a shower in our camper. We typically stay in places that have full plumbing and showers available and so we didn’t want the unnecessary hassle of having a black water tank on board our trailer. Plus, the idea of having a tank of waste kind of grosses me out. We figured that by eliminating the need for this amenity we could also lengthen the life of our trailer by having one less item that may require ongoing (and stinky) maintenance. One of the last amenities we thought alot about was the amount of storage available in the camper. Since we had been using another camper trailer, we already have a stock pile of camping supplies that we knew needed to fit in our new trailer unless we were willing to downsize. In thinking about it, we realized we could probably part ways with some of our supplies since we don’t use them and that we could simplify our needs to fit into the storage area available without sacrificing what we need. Each family’s needs may be different depending on the type of camping they do and what’s important to them during trips. I find it best to make a mental list of what those amenities are either before or while shopping for your new camper trailer.

Condition

Once you’ve decided all of your restrictions and desires you can start the fun part – looking for your new pop-up trailer! There are many things to look for and many questions to ask the seller when shopping for a new pop-up trailer. First, check all of the canvas and make sure there are no tears, rips or holes. The canvas can be one of the most expensive things to replace on a camper so it’s important to make sure that the one you’re buying is worth the money you’re paying. If there are tears in the canvas and you don’t mind spending another couple grand to replace it be sure to factor that into your offer price. Keep in mind that smaller tears can be patched, but I haven’t done this myself and so cannot attest to the level of complication or the skill needed to do that. Ask the seller where the unit has been stored, if they are the first, second or third owner (or whatever!), and ask them how long the trailer has gone unused. This question is important because I’ve actually heard that the worst thing you can do for a camper or rv of any kind is to let it sit unused. Have them walk you through all of the amenities to ensure that everything works. Plug in the electrical, check the pilot lights and overall have the seller show you that everything works. You’re not being a dick – you can trust people all day long, but it’s important to protect yourself especially in the case of the seller not knowing that something may not be functioning as it should. Also be sure to check the structural integrity of the trailer. Check for dry rot in the subfloor, any possible leaks or sagging in the top, and make sure that the lift system for setting the camper up is functional. When we bought our trailer, the seller even walked us through taking the entire trailer down so that he could show us that everything was in working order. A pop-up camper is an investment, and it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure everything is in working order before purchasing, otherwise you’ll just be stuck with something you won’t be able to enjoy as you should. A great resource can be found on ThePopUpPrincess.com where they have a three page PDF document of questions you can ask your seller before purchasing.

I think that’s pretty much everything you need to look for when purchasing a used pop-up camper. Stay tuned for more posts about camping with a pop-up trailer such as camping adventures, how-to posts and makeover process posts. Let me know in the comments below if you like to camp with a pop-up trailer and if you have any suggestions on fun posts for the future!

Until next time,

MelissaRose