The 5 Surprising Benefits of Van Camping with Your Dog

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Your dog is one of the team. Good things happen when you build your adventure around them. Here are five reasons to bring your dog along for the ride.

1. Dog Psychology

You know when your dog is happy or sad. You know when it’s excited or anxious. You know that your dog is a fully functioning mammal with an emotional world, just like you and me. People who don’t have a dog don’t always get this, but to you, your dog is an equal. I feel the same way.

There's growing evidence that dog ownership is great for human health, but it's great for dogs too.

Van camping with your dog is the perfect way to give them new outdoor spaces to explore. If it’s exciting for you, then it will be exciting for your dog. Like humans, dogs are creatures of movement and adaptability. How often does your dog refuse to walk out the door?

When you're van camping, everything is new and exciting. Fresh sights, sounds, and smells will give your dog a mental boost. The stimulation of travel is not just for humans.

“Novelty is attractive to everyone, no matter how many feet they have.”

2. Avoiding Tourists

Nobody likes to feel like a tourist. One of the great things about renting a camper van is that you can get off the tourist trail. When you're camping with your dog, you have to avoid those crowded, overpriced places because they’re not normally dog friendly.

That’s great.

It’s so easy to get sucked into seeing the biggest castle, the highest peak or the most popular beach. Often, the lesser known options are more atmospheric.

Travelling with a dog is like having a passport away from the mainstream and into a more personal experience.

When we were van camping in Bavaria, we knew that we couldn’t enter the big tourist attractions with Mada. We searched a bit harder for outdoor places and other dog-friendly venues. It was always worth it.

Van camping with your dog helps you to avoid tourists

We often drove past crowds en-route and felt pretty smug to be on our own adventure, exploring the places that normal tourists don’t.

“If you avoid places that aren’t dog friendly, then you meet dog friendly people…”

Once we went to a museum, but felt guilty about leaving Mada asleep in the van. She’s 14, and we want to make the most of every moment.

After that, she always came with us, and we never felt guilty about leaving. It’s worth remembering that if you avoid places that aren’t dog friendly, then you meet dog friendly people. That’s always a good thing!

3. Meeting Locals & Other Campers

You know it, and every dog owner knows it. Travelling alone is great, but travelling with your dog is like holding a big furry sign that says, “I’m a dog person just like you, feel free to talk to me!”.

Owning a dog gives you instant access to the Dog Tribe. You’re allowed to smile, say hello and talk at length to complete strangers simply because your dog is the sociable type and you both love dogs. Actually, that’s a pretty big thing to have in common.

Add the Dog Factor to the ultra-friendly world of camping in general, and you have to work quite hard to be on your own.

Van campers are also a tribe, and it’s part of the social routine to admire each other’s vans, ask about their features, and get tips on the best places to see.

If you’ve ever been backpacking and stayed in a hostel, then you know what I’m talking about. Van camping is like backpacking on wheels; birds of a feather flock together

Dogs and people meet during van camping

But this isn’t just about you, is it?

As pack animals, dogs are social creatures. They also benefit from play and exchanging greetings with other members of their species. When your dog meets other dogs, it’s fulfilling a basic need for social stimulation.

(The Animal Humane Society has some good information on socializing your dog and why it’s great.)

These small moments of connection with others can also lead to new adventures. Local dog lovers are absolutely the best people to ask about local sites and recommendations. Unlike Google, they already think like you because they have a dog.

I’ve never met a dog walker who wasn’t happy to offer friendly advice.

4. Exploring Nature

Your dog needs to walk and run. So do you, probably.

Dogs don’t just help you avoid the crowds, they help to define the camper van experience by placing you closer to nature. Whether you’re thinking about your day’s activities or your final destination, a dog in the van makes you enjoy time outside.

In cities, this means exploring local parks and green spaces. However, one of the best things about van camping is that you have free access to the country’s most beautiful places.

Your dog loves exploring as much you do

Some of my best camping experiences began on the park4night app. It’s a great way to find legal, safe and secluded camping spots in the middle of nature.

Tip - Look for the tree symbol

Be careful to take note of signs and local guidelines on letting your dog off the leash. In some areas like national parks, there will be rules in place to protect livestock or wild animals from disturbance.

5. Saving Money

Bringing your dog van camping can also save you quite a bit of money. Yes, you miss the entry fees for those tourist traps, but you also save in other areas.

There’s no need to book your dog into a boarding kennel or to go out of your way to drop them off and collect them. With the growth of Europe’s long-distance rail network, you don’t even need to fly anymore. Austria’s Nitejet trains connect most of Central Europe.

They’re modern, dog friendly and fun. You can all sleep on board for the same price as a flight. Without worrying about carbon or feeling like you’ve left a good friend at home.

At Freeway Camper, we’re trying to make it easier to bring your dog along for the ride.

Do you have questions or ideas about how to give your dog the best van camping experience possible?

We’re all ears.

We love four legged campers. Check out our special dog package here.

Published on 27.06.2022

Written by Nath Portlock

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