Vanlife with a dog is a lot of fun! I am convinced I wouldn’t nearly have as much fun without Nova on this journey. She adds to my happiness every day by inspiring me to find the joy in everything and exploring the outdoors.
However, there are definitely some tradeoffs that come with living in a tiny vehicle with a dog; moist and dirt being the most important one for sure! Whether you are in the mountains, the beach or the snow; you are in for a whole lot of water and dirt! Over the years I have learned how important moist control is and that your setup can make the difference between enjoying vanlife with your fourlegged friend or going stir crazy. So if you are considering to bring your pet along on your nomadic lifestyle, learn from my mistakes and let me pave the way for you! These few hacks have made vanlife with my dog Nova so much more comfortable. So let’s get to it! Vanlife with a dog essentials; moist and dirt control edition!
Nova has A LOT of hair and even though I love that about her, I also hate it sometimes. Because her coat has the ability to absorb so much water and mud that it would drive me absolutely crazy. It would be impossible to keep anything dry/clean and at some point there would even grow mold and moss in my car because of the moisture. True story.
Nova has her own bed in the van. However, I really wanted to make sure that the matrass wouldn’t get destroyed by the moisture and dirt within two weeks. So I needed something I could easily clean and dry off. I found a waterproof bed sheet and it has been a true game changer! This is BY FAR the most important hack when it comes to moist and dirt control! I bought this from a store that specializes in products for the elderly and hospitals. It is a 100% water- and dirtproof sheet that you can order in any size you like. It is very soft and you can just wipe the water and dirt right off. It also stays quite cool in the summer so that has turned out to be a nice advantage too. I cannot stretch enough how this improved my level of vanlife comfort from a 5 to an absolute 10.
Vanlife with a dog is all about moist prevention, especially if you have a longhaired dog. So For that purpose I heavily invested in anything that could help me keep Nova (and therefor my van and my socks) as dry as possible. I am usually not one to use dogclothing because well, do I really need to explain? But let me tell you; this raincoat is frikkin’ awesome! Usually when I take Nova out for a hike in the rain she would, obviously, get soaking wet, shake it off in the van and everything would be wet. Including the ceiling. This coat keeps 90% of her body completely dry and therefore reduced the amount of water in the van with 90% too! So if you are planning to take your dog to rainy areas, do yourself a favor and buy your friend a raincoat!
I try to keep out water and mud as much as I can (hence the raincoat) but Nova loves to swim. Especially in the summer, her swimming enables us to go explore in warmer temperatures. But bringing a soaking wet dog into the van at night, again, made vanlife very miserable. But then I discovered dogrobes and this turned out to be a true gamechanger! Her thick coat would stay wet for 8 hours straight but when I put on the robe she is dry within the hour. And, most importantly, the robe absorbs all the moist instead of my bed and my socks! I absolutely love this product and use it a lot!
If you want to dry off your dog with a towel (or dry of your floors) you might want to use polyester towels instead of cotton. Unlike cotton, polyester is quick to dry. I have had wet cotton towels hanging in the van for days and when I switched to polyester that became way easier! Even in colder temperatures, these towels will dry within several hours. And that is everything when you are living on very little square meters.
Even though I try my very best to keep the water on the floor to a minimum, still; my flooring is wet like 70% of the time. There is nothing that’ll ruin your day more then stepping in water with your socks 15 times a day so one of my most important, and cheapest, tips would be to buy yourself a nice pair of slippers! It’ll save your mood I promise!
I have seen people put carpets on their flooring for the same purpose; to keep your feet from getting cold (and wet). However, if you have a dirty dog in your van your beautiful carpets will probably get ruined in about two weeks. And that’s not even the worst thing; because once a carpet gets wet, it takes forever to dry again. For that reason I only have a very small doormat in the van, and it usually wet ór lying outside to dry.
If you would ask me to name one item I cannot live without in the van this would probably be it. Wow, I must really be getting old but it is true. The dustpan has become my very best friend. Nova and I go hiking into the mountains every single day and she will always bring back about 1 liter of sand into the van. But this little tool has made cleaning up so easy and I probably use it several times a day.