RVING WITH DOGS! 8 CAMPGROUNDS WITH AWESOME PUPPY PARKS

RV travel is absolutely perfect for those, like us, that have a beloved family dog. We have plenty of space for “Maggie the Camping Dog” in our RV and we can bring along all of her special toys and treats. We don’t have to worry about finding accommodations for her because she is welcome at campgrounds across the country.  We have never been to a campground that does not allow pets, and I don’t think that one exists. In fact, most campgrounds go out of their way to make sure that pets feel welcome. Most of these campgrounds offer dog parks so your pup can stretch his or her legs off-leash after a long day on the road. Some elite campgrounds even offer extravagant dog parks with ample room to roam, exercise and agility stations, and even washrooms and dog sitting services.

 

These 8 great campgrounds all have epic dog parks of varying shapes and sizes. Each one welcomes dogs and treats them like pampered guests. When you pull into one of these spots your pup will be wagging his or her tail as soon as they jump out of your truck or RV–and they will probably end up loving you more than they ever have. If that is even possible!

 

Lake George RV Park (Lake George, New York)

“Charlie’s Bark Park” at Lake George RV Park is not any old campground dog park–it is a gorgeous and lovingly maintained facility with a 2-acre off-leash recreation area and a beautiful pavilion. Your pup will love the dog spray fountain and the pet treat vending area. More ambitious dogs may decide to enter an agility contest and show off their athleticism and competitive skill. Humans will love the comfortable seating and shaded walking trails–and all of the other amenities that this world-class RV resort has on tap for its guests.

Photo courtesy of Lake George RV Park

 

Normandy Farms Campground (Foxboro, Massachusetts)

The Freedom Trail Park at Normandy Farms campground is huge and shaded. This 1.5-acre dog park has agility equipment, a dog wash, and a drinking fountain. If you have a smaller pup they will also love the separate fenced-in area for dogs that weigh under 30 pounds. Normandy Farms also offers reasonably priced kennelling services at “Canine Coops” for those that want to head to Boston or Cape Cod for a day trip. Resort camping doesn’t get much better than this–for people and their pups!

Photo courtesy of Normandy Farms Campground

 

Massey’s Landing (Millsboro, Delaware)

Massey’s Landing is an on-trend RV Resort near Rehoboth Beach, Delaware that you and your pup will both love. The doggy park here is large and it is situated right on the campground’s bay beach, so your pup can play in the sand or get wet if he or she wants to.  After a long day of playing in the water, you can stop in the camp store for some doggie treats and camp store ice cream before settling in around the campfire for the night.

 

Fancy Gap / Blue Ridge Parkway KOA (Fancy Gap, Virginia)

The Fancy Gap KOA has a nice off-leash dog park, but it earns inclusion in this prestigious list because of its unique dog-friendly RV sites with fenced in areas behind your rig’s parking spot. These sites would be large without the shady, fenced-in dog area–but when you include that extra real estate they are absolutely huge! Your pup will also stay cool on the hottest days. These special sites are deeply wooded and the campground is elevated on the side of a mountain where the temps stay about 10 degrees cooler than in the towns below.

 

4 Paws Kingdom Campground & Dog Retreat (Rutherfordton, North Carolina)

4 Paws Kingdom is one of the most unique campgrounds in the country. The location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains is lovely and it is the only “dog dedicated” campground in the United States. The campground is built from the ground up exclusively for dogs and their adults! Your pup will love the off-leash dog parks, agility park, and fully-fenced swimming pond. Some sites even have fenced-in yards so your dog can relax off-leash right next to your RV.

Photo courtesy of 4 Paws Kingdom Campground

 

The Campground at James Island County Park (Charleston, South Carolina)

The dog park at James Island County Park is not located directly at the campground, but it’s well worth packing up your pooch and driving over there. It is absolutely gigantic and it is also located directly on the water for pups that love to swim. The waterfront section gets pretty crowded after the workday has ended when locals come to socialize, so go earlier in the day if you want some space to yourself. If the waterfront area gets too packed for your pooch, don’t worry. There is plenty of other room for them to roam in this dog park.

 

Williams/Exit 167/ Circle Pines KOA (Williams, Arizona)

 Just four miles away from Williams, and an hour away from the Grand Canyon, this KOA makes a great base camp for exploring the region. It also makes a great stop for dog owners whose pups need to stretch their legs after a long day in the truck or motorhome.  There are three dog parks here, so pick the one that is closest to your site or explore them all. The campground is also nice and shady making it bearable on those hot Arizona days.

Photo Courtesy of Williams Exit 167 – Circle Pines KOA

 

Cape Charles/Chesapeake Bay KOA (Cape Charles, Virginia)

This bayfront campground has a perfectly fine dog park, but the real show stopper here is the Sandy Paws Dog Beach–which is located right on the water. This section of the beach is entirely dedicated to pups and their people. Our Maggie loves to splash around here and enjoy the warm water without the restrictions of a leash. Grab some food and drink at the onsite beachfront restaurant and watch your pooch play for hours as the sun melts into the bay. Or bring a SUP and take your pup for a paddle.

Photo courtesy of Cape Charles Chesapeake Bay KOA

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of The RV Atlas podcast and the authors of See You At The Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR NEW RV OWNERS TRAVELING WITH A PET

Pets and RVs just seem to go together for many people. A primary reason for buying and traveling in an RV is so you can take your pets with you. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Go RVing, 68% of RV owners bring a pet with them. Most are dog people 92%, and 14% bring cats along on RV trips. If you are a pet owner new to RVing, or an RVer with a new pet, there are many things to research, learn and consider to help make traveling with your pet a pleasant experience for both of you.

 

Several years ago, we traveled with two dogs who have since passed. Gracie, our West Highland White Terrier lived until she was 17, and Buck our Australian Terrier was 12 years old when he died from cancer. They were completely opposite of each other. One good (Gracie), one bad (guess who). One shy (Gracie), and one rambunctious (guess who). The only thing they had in common was, they both liked to travel in the RV. We learned a few things about traveling with pets the hard way when we first got them.

 

You know your pets better than anybody else, but when you travel in your RV with pets there are some things you should be aware of.  Our furry family members, just like kids, feel calmer when their routine is adhered to as much as possible. With that said, here are some things we learned about traveling in our RV with pets.

 

  1. Take your pet’s favorite bed with you

There is just something familiar with the smells of home. Our dogs always know when their beds are carried out of the house and into the motorhome, some kind of adventure is around the corner.  Having their own beds in the RV makes them more comfortable. Fur Baby Tip: When you are traveling to your destination, stop frequently so your pets can stretch and relieve themselves. We try to stop every few hours, at a minimum.

 

  1. Crate Your Pet While your RV is on the Road

RVs don’t have seat belts for our fur babies. To keep your pet safe when driving down the road, whether you are in a motorhome or a tow vehicle, keep them safely tucked away in a pet carrier with a comfy blanket or two. There are many unforeseen dangers for an unsecured pet.

 

  1. Water and Food

Take the food they are used to and a couple large water jugs of the water your pets are accustomed to from home, so they can drink water they are used to. Water sources can vary from place to place and just like a change in food can upset their digestive system, water variations can too. Fur Baby Tip: If we use all the water from home during our trip, we substitute it with bottled water.

 

  1. Vet Checks

Have your vet check your pet before you hit the road so all vaccines are up to date, and you can inquire about any other health precautions you should take. Did you know your dog can catch canine influenza? Dogs are susceptible to the virus at any given time, but dogs that go to dog parks or are in contact with areas where many dogs gather are at a much higher risk of contracting it. A flu vaccine is advisable when you are traveling. Bring your pet’s records with you to include proof of rabies vaccination and a current health certificate. Make sure you have a current picture of your pet in case they get lost, and having them micro-chipped is a necessary precaution. Fur Baby Tip: Make sure you register the chip number in the National Pet Microchip Registration Database, your veterinarian can assist you.

 

  1. Ask About Pet Policies

When you make campground reservations, always ask if the campground is pet friendly, and what their pet policies are. You can usually find this information online too. Some campgrounds, and/or destinations you travel to have Breed Specific Legislation or BSL laws or insurance guidelines that prohibit dogs they consider as bully breeds. Ask or research the campgrounds you plan to stay at about BSL laws.

 

  1. Local Emergency Information

When we arrive at the campground, one of the first things we do is look up the number of a local vet and/or pet hospital in the area in case of an emergency. This is easily accomplished with a “veterinarian near me” search from your phone or computer. Keep the info handy in case there is an emergency. Fur Baby Tip: This is when a pet portal comes in handy if your veterinarian at home offers this service. A pet portal lets you log in to your local vet, and access all of your pet’s records. Look into it before your trip. You can log in from your phone or a computer, and it makes getting information to an emergency vet much easier.

           

  1. Protective Items

Bring paw booties!  Healerspetcare.com or Ruffwear.com are great options. You want to protect their paws from the hot tarmac, or sand as well as any rugged terrain you might take them on. We also take a raincoat in the correct size for our dogs. You would not believe how yucky a wet pet is in an RV. The raincoat keeps them nice and dry. Fur Baby Tip: I also keep a towel next to the entry door so I can wipe their paws off as they go in.

 

  1. Day Excursions

An RV can get extremely hot or cold inside. Always make sure there is some type of ventilation and/or heat and air. Always have fresh water available for your pet. If your travel plans include day trips or extended travel away from the campsite, please keep this in mind. If we are only going to be away for a short time, we turn on some calming music or we put the TV on a channel that won’t have loud sounds. This helps distract them from outside activity. If you plan to be away from the RV and your pet for an extended period of time, it is advisable to look into a nearby pet boarding facility or doggie daycare for the day. Some campgrounds do offer kennels and boarding services for pets. Another concern is, you never know if the power will go out. There are pet monitoring systems you can purchase, that allow you to monitor the temperature, and offer video and/or audio capabilities. If you go this route, make sure you are close enough to the campground or RV to get back in the event something happens. Fur Baby Tip: If you are just going out for lunch or dinner, call and check; some restaurants with outdoor seating allow your dog to go with you.

 

  1. Pet Etiquette & Tips

Make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules of the campground and any other area you take your pet. If you use a tie-out anchor (never leave your pet unattended). Give your pet plenty of room to move, but be cautious of traffic and obstacles that they can get hung or caught on. Make sure they are always leashed when you walk them or have them outside with you. Campground pet etiquette is a must. Be considerate of other campers where your pet is concerned. Always pick up behind your pet.

  

  1. Creative Pet Containment

Some pet owners get creative with pet containment systems so their pets can enjoy and share time outside with them. It is important they have shade and clean water. Make sure you are always in attendance when your pets are outside with you.

 

I know I said this is my top 10 pet tips, but it is important to share this tip too. Perform a daily health check on your pet. When your pet is away from home, and off their regular schedule, it can affect their health. Watch for any signs that are out of the ordinary. If you prepare before your trip, you should have a wonderful adventure along with your pets!

 

Dawn Polk, along with her husband Mark Polk, started RV Education 101 in 1999. Dawn, Mark and their two elderly rescue dogs Roxie and MoMo enjoy traveling in their RV together finding new adventures. For information on using, enjoying, and maintaining your RV visit RV Education 101. Be sure to check out their RV Online Training Site too!

TIPS FOR OVERCOMING A FEAR OF TOWING

I love helping people get started camping, especially those jumping in alone. Many people write to me expressing a desire to join in all the fun. When I ask what is stopping them, the most common reply I hear is a fear of towing. I understand and want to help put your mind at ease. I have a few steps to overcoming a fear of towing.

 

  1. Do not let other people set limits for you.

Sometimes well-meaning people project their own fears on to us. They are afraid and, rather than break it down to discover what is stopping them, they create an untrue narrative that allows them to stay in their comfort zone. Generally speaking, misery loves company and they want others there too!  Towing is a skill set like driving a car, riding a bike or mastering anything you ever set out to learn. There are do’s and don’ts and tips and tricks that you will learn, practice, and eventually form a muscle memory for. The day will come where it no longer seems like a big deal. It is just what you do. Turn off the nay-sayers and trust your gut.

 

2. Get in the proper headspace.

The first step to overcoming a fear of towing is to get in the right headspace. Towing is something that can feel like skydiving to a beginner. It seems like something extraordinarily courageous thrill-seekers do, not us common folk. In reality, over one million people a year take to the roads in an RV. It is actually a pretty common practice. That should bring any would-be tower comfort. No extraordinary skill set is needed to partake. I remind people all the time that if any exceptional skills were required, U-Haul would not give little trailers to anyone walking in the door in possession of a valid driver’s license.

 

  1. Get started online.

To get started learning about towing head over to YouTube and type in “Learn to Tow a Trailer.”  You will find so many videos and watching a variety of different ones helps you learn the “language” of towing. There are two parts to the process, the hitch set up and the actual towing part. Having knowledge of the components of a towing set up will help you feel confident when you go to purchase your own setup. While watching the YouTube videos you will also begin to learn the principles of towing. How wide to make your turns, when to pivot to get out of a gas station without jumping the curb, and how to back into a campsite. All of this will help you once you are behind the wheel yourself.

 

  1. Rent a U-Haul

When it is time to get behind the wheel and put these lessons to the test, start by renting a small U-Haul trailer and practicing around town during low traffic times. Most U-Haul or trailer rental places have small utility trailers that you can rent for extraordinarily little money. They will help you set it up and you can get the feel close to home and without an expensive RV behind you. Ask a friend to ride along to give you encouragement.

 

  1. Get a towing mentor.

Find a friend who knows how to tow and ask them to let you ride shotgun while they tow. When I took my youngest daughter on a road trip I used the time to explain what I was doing and why. I always scan the road anticipating changes in the traffic flow – merging cars, lane shifts, unexpected slowdowns. I explained why I was changing lanes, speeding up, or slowing down to keep traffic flowing. Before you ever get behind the wheel you need to learn the situational awareness necessary for every responsible driver. You can learn a great deal from someone with a lot of towing miles under their belt.

 

  1. Choose a small RV when starting out.

When you are ready to hit the road, choose an RV that is smaller. Lightweight towables have all the bells and whistles of their bigger counterparts but are easier for newbies to handle. If you want to go larger once you have some experience, you can do so with confidence.

 

  1. Have a reputable RV dealer install your hitch system.

Make sure you purchase your set up from a reputable RV dealership that will make sure your RV and tow vehicle are a good match. They will know what you need and make sure it is professionally installed. They will also teach you how to hitch and unhitch on your own. Having a properly installed set up will bring you peace of mind.

 

  1. Make a video of your hitching and unhitching process.

When they are teaching you, make a video of the steps so that you can review them later. It is also a good idea to write out the steps and create a checklist to follow so you do not forget anything.

 

  1. Start Slow and camp close to home.

When you are getting started, it is best to stick to campgrounds close to home. Travel there at off-peak traffic times and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. RVers are always happy to help others. Also, don’t be afraid to just stick with pull throughs while you are on the learning curve.

 

Tackle towing at your own pace. You only need to make yourself happy and, what we want in the end, is a bunch of happy campers. Towing is something you can master and once you do, the open road calls you to adventure!!

 

Janine Pettit is the founder of GirlCamper.com, the largest multi-media site for female campers in the country, and the Editor-in-Chief of Girl Camper Magazine, a print & digital publication focusing on every aspect of the camping lifestyle.

10 TIPS FOR NEW RV OWNERS

Hitting the open road in an RV and exploring America is on the top of many people’s bucket lists. And why shouldn’t it be? Traveling by RV is an incredibly flexible, and incredibly fun way to see our country’s backroads and byways, and its most magnificent places. RVs can also be used as guest houses, home offices, and basecamps for tailgating and day tripping. When you buy an RV the fun does really start on day one, but so does the learning curve. Anyone can own and operate an RV–but there are a lot of things to learn along the way. Thankfully, Go RVing is here to help you learn those things quickly so you can head out there and start exploring with confidence. Here are ten quick tips for new RV owners that will help you conquer the learning curve and take your seat around the campfire under a sky filled with sparkling stars.

 

  1. Should I Buy a Towable or Motorized RV?

The first decision many prospective owners have to make is whether to buy a towable or motorized RV. Ultimately, it’s a win-win proposition, but there are some things to consider. If you already own a capable pickup truck or SUV, you may want to consider a towable, because you’ve already spent a significant percentage of the money you need to spend to Go RVing. If you have two smaller cars that are not capable of towing an RV, then you might consider buying a motorhome. In a general sense, a truck and a towable RV cost about as much as a motorhome.

Airstream and mountains

 

  1. Try to Choose a Dealer that is Relatively Close to Home

It might be tempting to drive a great distance to find the best deal on a new RV, but there are benefits to buying from a dealer that is closer to home. When it comes time to winterize the RV or bring it in for service it is incredibly valuable to have a relationship with a good dealer that is close to home.

Hummingbird

 

  1. Record Your Dealer Walkthrough on a Smartphone

When you take ownership of your new RV your dealer should provide a thorough walkthrough to teach you how to operate all of its systems. It can be a lot of information to digest at once. Make sure you record each part of the walkthrough in separate segments that are easy to find later for reference. Record separate segments for things like dumping your tanks, operating your auto-leveling system, and winterizing your RV.

RV on lot

 

  1. Are You a State Park Camper or Private Campground Camper? Or Both?

It often takes time for new RV owners to figure out what type of campgrounds they like the most. In the broadest possible sense, there are two types of campgrounds–public and private. Public campgrounds are owned by the state, county, or country, and often offer large sites in beautiful settings with few amenities and limited hookups. Private campgrounds are owned by families or corporations and often offer a wide range of amenities and full hookups. Many RV owners like one or the other, but some love both.

Jayco in woods

 

  1. Reserve a Pull Thru Site for Your First Trip

We all need to learn to back up our RVs as quickly as we can (and it’s really not that hard) but you might want to avoid doing so on your first trip by reserving a pull-thru site. What’s a pull-thru site? It’s a site that is connected by two roads so you can pull in from one road and pull out onto another.  These sites are often not as pretty and private as back-in sites, but they are easier to navigate for a newbie.

Jayco on campground with kids

 

  1. Avoid Driving At Night For Your First Few Trips

For the uninitiated, towing or driving an RV takes some getting used to. It might be wise to avoid driving at night until you get comfortable behind the wheel.  Driving in broad daylight is always a bit easier, and so is navigating a campground and getting situated in your site. Setting up camp in the dark is also more difficult than setting up while the sun is still shining.

Avoid Driving at Night if Possible

 

  1. Divide and Conquer During Set-Up

Setting up and breaking down camp can be a fun part of the process if everybody helps out and completes assigned tasks. Our boys are each given specific jobs when we arrive at the campground and they are expected to complete them before they take off to have fun. They also help pack up at the end of each trip. If everyone pitches in we are often up and running (or kayaking, swimming, or sitting around a campfire) in a snap.

interior of hummingbird

 

  1. Ask for Help At the Campground if You Need It

RV owners are notoriously friendly and helpful people–and many of them are handy too. If you arrive at the campground and need help getting your furnace going or deploying your awning, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you become a crafty veteran you will pay it forward by helping someone else out.

exterior storage

 

  1. Join RV Facebook Groups to Get Help

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of RV-centered Facebook groups that can be incredible resources when it comes to answering technical questions and getting recommendations. We moderate The RV Atlas group and make sure it stays friendly, helpful, and crank free. There are also Facebook groups dedicated to certain types of RV’s and even specific brands and nameplates. These types of groups can be lifesavers when it comes to answering specific questions about your exact make and model.

computer screen with facebook group

 

  1. Have a Sense of Humor and Adventure When Problems Come Up

Stuff happens and problems will occur. When they do, it’s important to maintain your sense of humor, and your sense of adventure. Just remember, the things that go wrong become the stories that you tell friends around the campfire. Overcoming challenges also builds resilience and self-sufficiency–two traits that RV owners are known to have in spades.

pets in truck towing RV

 

If you are just starting out on your journey as an RV owner we wish you luck and all of the joys and blessings of the open road.  Adventure is out there waiting for you and so is the RV of your dreams. We hope you get out there and grab them both.

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of The RV Atlas podcast and the authors of See You At The Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors.

TOP TIPS FOR RVING WITH KIDS

We are so thrilled that your family is starting RVing! We know that there seems like so much to learn just to get started and we are here to help. RVing has changed our life for the better and we bet it will change yours too. Here are the top 5 things we wish we knew before we started RVing with our kids.

 

  1. Give everyone ownership in the trip. When sitting down to plan the trip, try to get the whole family involved. You are not always going to be able to allow everyone to pick where to go, or what to do, but if the kids are involved in the planning, they become invested in the outcome. It also can be a teaching moment. Things could turn out to go wrong, and if everyone is in on the planning, there’s less chance that blame is assigned. Don’t forget to build in some extra time to explore on your jounery. (Tip – We use RV Trip Wizard to help plan our RV trips)

 

 

  1. Choosing the right campground can pay huge dividends. If you have a multi-day trip to your final destination, then where you stay along the way can have a huge impact on the outcome of the trip. We always try to find family-friendly campgrounds (KOA’s and Jellystone). They will have better playgrounds, pools, jumping pillows, and even mini-golf! Some even have mini arcades and ice cream shops. There’s no better way than to have the kids hit the playground to work some energy off after a long travel day. When we pull in and set up the RV, my wife loves to have me take the boys to the playground while she finishes the inside setup and gets dinner ready. Playgrounds add so much more for children to have fun and get out the excess energy. ( TipTravel time – try to keep it under 300 miles per day. If you’re pressed for time, then try to travel when the kids are sleeping or napping. Most importantly, travel safely)

 

 

  1. Find your way. There are many types of RV trips. Some families love to head off to a secluded Mountain spot, beach camping is a fantastic way to enjoy the summer, or even camping at Disney. There’s truly something for everyone. We learned there’s no right or wrong way to go RVing. Choose whatever works best for your family, and don’t forget to give the others a try, we love them all!

 

 

  1. Campgrounds are friendly places. As an African American family, we were very concerned that families of color just don’t RV. To be perfectly honest, we weren’t sure we would be welcomed. We’ll admit, we have been pleasantly surprised. Over the past six years, we have seen a rise in minority camping and younger families RVing. There are minority based RV clubs that can be found online and via social media platforms. Groups like NAARVA, Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, @brownpeopleCamping, and many others. Through all of these groups/clubs, minorities can find other families or campers to meet up with, travel with, or simply share the unique experiences as minority RVers. Our kids have never had a problem finding other kids to play with at campgrounds. Don’t be afraid to be friendly and making new friends!

 

 

  1. Bring a little bit of home along with you. With your family being new to RV travel, you might want to let the kids bring toys, special blankets, pillows, etc. It will give them a taste of home when they are away. We have an 11-year-old that brings his red blanket with him. He often gets carsick (even in a motorhome) when we travel. When he does feel carsick, having his blanket from home is just that little extra special piece of comfort. He also sleeps so much better with the same blanket. As much as he loves traveling in our RV, it feels more like home with his blanket.

 

 

BONUS TIP

Turn mistakes, and mishaps into memories….Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor! If something can go wrong then it will go wrong. It’s murphy’s law. Don’t let it spoil your trip. On our very first RV trip, two days after the test drive and purchase, we had problems with the RV. We were driving from Atlanta to New Jersey to visit family. On the way up, we stopped in North Carolina for a one-night stopover. Our rear AC unit stopped working. Of course, we contacted the dealership and they felt so bad and they hired a mobile RV tech to come and fix the problem. After three hours on our roof, the tech still couldn’t get it to work, so we continued to New Jersey. A few days later as we readied to head back down to Atlanta, our second and final AC unit broke. Keep in mind this was July with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. There was no fixing it that far from home. The best advice the dealership could give us was to try to start driving early in the day and don’t stop. They encouraged us to make the long drive back to Atlanta where they would replace the units, and that’s just what we did! We had a choice to laugh or cry. We chose to laugh and drive the 10 hours back to Atlanta. That trip could have broken our spirits; instead, it has given our family a great story to tell around the campfire. TipLife can give you lemons, and when it does, just grab some water and add some sugar and make lemonade!

 

So there you have it and welcome to the wonderful RV community. We hope to see you at the campground soon……

 

Keith and Tia Sims – Soulful RV Family