If you’ve ever spent any time on the travel side of Instagram or TikTok, then you’ve definitely seen at least one or two posts about #vanlife cross your feed. Many of these posts give viewers a peek into the lives of those who have decided to forego living in a traditional home and have, instead, embraced a nomadic lifestyle.
They’ve converted vans and other vehicles into tiny yet fully-functional residences by adding amenities like sleeping spaces, running water, cooking facilities, toilets, showers, and even their own Wi-Fi. Living out of these vehicles allows their owners to pursue their true passion: traveling whenever and wherever they choose.
For a lot of people, though, #vanlife isn’t just about seeing more of the world. It’s a great way to save money, for one. Paying upfront for a van and outfitting it with the essentials means never having to pay rent again, and having ownership over one’s home, as small as it might be.
Another big reason why #vanlife has taken off is because it allows people to live a more minimalist lifestyle. They consume less, cut back on the clutter, discover what’s really important, and maybe even lessen their impact on the environment in the process.
Despite all of these advantages, though, some are still hesitant about leaning fully into the #vanlife revolution. This includes pet parents, who may have concerns about how to keep their fur babies safe and happy in a space that is significantly more confined than your standard-size house. The good news is that it’s completely possible if you know what you’re doing.
By considering your pets’ needs and making a few thoughtful adjustments while converting your vehicle of choice, you can also live your best #vanlife with your furry best friend. Here’s how:
Put Their Food and Water Bowls in Recessed Areas
When it comes to living in a van or anywhere with limited space, you’ll want to keep the floors clear. Having your pet’s food and water bowls underfoot will have you constantly walking around, if not stumbling over them. You also don’t want to be stuck cleaning up after spills every other hour.
The best solution for this is to keep these implements in a recessed area. This can be a hollow space under a bench or countertop, or even a drawer specifically for keeping them out of your way. You can also look into collapsible travel cups for your dogs while you’re shopping for dog accessories for traveling. Cups like these can be collapsed into a flat disk after use and are great for when space is particularly tight.
Use the Available Space Creatively
All pets need a safe space to retreat to whenever they feel overwhelmed or anxious. Giving them this space can be challenging when you don’t have as much of it to work with, though.
In vans or vehicles where there may not be much room to spare, pet parents will have to get crafty. Consider creating safe places where your pet can relax and de-stress underneath furniture. The space under a table, bed, or desk should suffice. You can take your pet’s bed, toys, and other comfort items there. For households that have more than one pet, make sure that every pet gets to have their own space. Animals can be very territorial, and you’ll better keep the peace this way.
One of the consequences of keeping a pet in a confined space for too long is that they will inevitably accumulate a lot of excess energy. Failure to manage this properly may lead your fur baby to exhibit problematic behaviors.
You can stay a step ahead of the situation by making sure that your pets get enough physical activity every day. Even a short walk around the block can help a lot. It’s also a good idea to walk your pet or play with them before packing your van up and driving to your next destination. Expending as much of their energy as possible can ensure a calmer and smoother drive.
Keep Things Tidy
Living in such close quarters with a pet means that, before long, the entire van will start smelling strongly of them unless you nip the issue in the bud.
It’s important to commit to cleaning up after your pets every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You’ll want to vacuum fur off of every surface as well as address accidents, stains, and spills as soon as they happen. Additionally, you should regularly wash any fabrics and materials that they use often, as these tend to retain their scent the most.
With just a bit of planning and preparation, anyone can experience the best of what #vanlife has to offer. Pet parents need not worry! Your fur babies are adaptable creatures and likely won’t require more care, even if you choose to live less-than-traditionally.