…. or in this case more TINY van traveling with MY dog. Ha. There is a big difference. When I first started thinking about making this trip happen much of the thought pattern was put into making Baron happy. Honestly if he could just sit by the window all morning at home, go for his afternoon hike, eat dinner, have a nap, attempt to stop me from working by staring at me while holding a cute toy in his mouth and then going to bed every single day on repeat, he would.
He has had really bad anxiety since he was a puppy and new places are just not his thing, so I was a bit worried how exploring in our van would be for him. I knew I wanted to travel more and much of the decision to go the route of van life traveling was not only to keep the costs lower so we could travel longer, but to keep that 1 element constant for him … the van! At least in the van he could feel safe and although it was different scenery outside daily, he would be able to handle it better. I hoped through our travels he would learn that new things can be fun and not always scary. Never too old for something new right? Now to find dog friendly places for us to explore.
Every morning I’ve been trying to find the perfect place for Baron to burn off a ton of energy really quick so that the day is a little more relaxed and if we happen to drive for a little while he doesn’t really mind. The worst thing would be if he started to hate being in the van, so I made sure he always had his morning of fun.
I had no big worry traveling the National Parks in Canada, since it is very dog friendly and only certain trails dogs are not allowed to be on for wildlife migrating reasons. Otherwise they are good to go as long as they are on a leash for the most part. However, crossing over to the US is the exact opposite. When it comes to dogs in the US National Parks it is assumed the other way and dogs are not allowed on most of the hiking trails. They are allowed in the parks themselves, but must remain in areas where cars are allowed to drive, so basically walk down the road is your option for a great view, unless it says otherwise. Sounds fun!
This wasn’t going to stop me though and I have been spending some time researching places that he’d be allowed to go so we can still see everything we wanted. It isn’t the easiest and going onto the National Parks pages to see which trails he’d be allowed to hike is like finding a needle in a haystack searching through each parks specific page to hunt for that 1 line that says, “No dogs allowed!”. I did find quite a few, but it was frustrating to hunt down. Now this is not to say I only plan to travel in the National Parks, but there are some pretty amazing sights I want to see in many of them. As much as flying the seat of your pants is a fun way to traveling if you are traveling with a dog and don’t really do any planning and just wing it, you might end up taking your dog for a hike in a parking lot. A little bit of planning avoids that and you can find some pretty amazing things to do.
Suddenly while doing some morning research I got lucky! I found an app! There is an app for everything right?! This app you need to have if you are traveling with your dog. It’s call “Bring Fido” and what a lifesaver this is going to be. You basically type in where you are and it shows all the dog friendly, parks, hiking trails and beaches. It happened to just find me one of the only fenced in off leash dog parks that we were going to be driving right past in Cranbrook, BC, Canada before we make our way down to the US. Perfect! At this point I have already found so many options along the route we are hoping to take that I just stopped doing as much pre-planning and knew when would have no problem finding all those dog friendly places to explore. At this point I am lucky that Baron is now a little older and his energy level is more at level 5 vs 1800 (which I used to call his superhero mode) when he was younger, but if you happen to have one of those dogs I hope this app helps.
So far our hikes have kept him happy and content and now having this app as a second tool for finding those places and it even has dog friendly restaurants when I’m not really feeling up for cooking on the road is going to be a bonus. Just because you're living and traveling out of a van doesn't mean you have to live like you're on the ultimate outdoor camping adventure, least not for us. Who said ordering take out pizza and sitting in the van eating it wasn't a thing, or better yet being able to enjoy dinner outdoors on patio and have Baron join me.
Much of the reason I hadn't been able to travel as much as I used to was because I had Baron and I am sure there are many of you out there with dogs too finding themselves in the same situation. At no point was I going to put him in a kennel while I went off to Europe for 2 months and I couldn't just leave him with my mom and say goodbye for a period of time. Even though he’d be fine I honestly didn't want to do any of that. I love him to bits and he's been my rock for the past 8 years. He has come willingly to my studio with me every single day while I built up my business and I avoided traveling for a long time because I knew with his anxiety he'd simply just stress out and couldn't enjoy it. Being able to create our own vanlife story is exactly that, it is our story. I truly hope I offer just a little bit of inspiration for you to make your own story too and don't have to leave your dog behind.
I plan to start a little section on the blog to show any of the amazing dog friendly stops you just have to add to your list of travels that we’ve found. As you can imagine travelling with a dog can have it’s challenges, but travelling and sleeping in a van that is 32 sq/ft with a 100 pound dog is a little bit more fun and making sure they are happy is a big priority too. I’m crossing my fingers we have good luck finding tons of places to stop along the way, because I wouldn’t have any other co-pilot on this trip!
Let's get serious for a moment folks traveling with their 4 legged friends, especially in north Cali! While Baron was in the Redwoods, through our many days hiking he sadly pick up a tick and it tested positive for Lyme!