There’s nothing we love more than to hit the open road with our pooch Fergus and enjoy an evening of camping, whether in the van or in the tent. If you are wondering if camping is for you, then read on.
First things first, a little about us, we bought a van earlier this year with a plan to convert it into a camper-van. We have been wanting a van for years and we were eventually in the place where we could afford to buy what we wanted. We plan to build the inside to suit our needs, this has already included many trials and errors (despite knowing exactly what we wanted!) with plenty more to come.
For our first big trip we decided on Scotland and the Inner and Outer Hebrides, I had been lusting over pictures of white beaches and turquoise seas that I had seen and known that I needed to go.
We only booked a site for the first night knowing that we were going to be tired after the long drive up, that’s where our plans for the trip started and ended. In work, I have to be super organised and love spreadsheets and planning but, when it comes to holidays I create a wish list of hundreds of places I want to see and things to do and we just go!
For this post, I thought it would be best, to begin with the basics and aim it at those who have never camped before, or those who wish to take their dogs for the first time. This is for both wild camping and camping on sites.
Essentials for camping with a dog
- Collar and ID tags
- Dog first aid kit
- Waterproof / Water-resistant dog bed
- Sleeping bag if its due to be cold
- Microfibre dog towels, at least 2
- Dog coats – For drying or warming up
- Airtight food container, which is big enough for all the food
- Food and water bowls
- Water carrier and/or a water cooler
- Treats in an airtight container
- Chews in an airtight container
- Toys, balls, chews
- Dog ground stake and long line
- Poo bags
- Eco-friendly Air freshener!
How to start camping with Dog’s
Practice and training
Just like anything that you introduce to your dog, it should be done in a gentle way, so pitch your tent in the back garden and get your dog used to it. Have a couple of nights in the garden, it’s important to get them used to the tent /van / new surroundings. If things go wrong it’s not a big deal when its your back garden, if your in the middle of nowhere it’s a bit more difficult.
Protect your dog
Ensure your dog is up to date with all vaccinations and that you have flea and tick protection. Have a well stocked first aid kit, both for humans and dogs.
This may be patronising for me to say, as we have no schedule in life whatsoever however, we have to stick to meal times, your dog knows when it’s food time and its important to stick to them (Labrador owners, you know what I mean!). If you are very active, consider a third meal to up the calorie intake.
Holidays are meant to be relaxing, even if your hiking up a mountain in the day, your dog needs time to relax. A long line and outdoor stake are useful for attaching your dog to keep them close and under control. Even if your dog is fine of the lead normally and has excellent recall a lot of sites require dogs to be on leads at all times.
Make sure your dog has a comfy spot, their own bed and home comforts to allow them to relax. If they need a crate, make sure your tent / van is big enough!
Most importantly – Have fun!
So I’m going to try and answer some questions that I’ve been asked on Instagram about camping and in particular wild camping.
Firstly is it legal? Not technically, wild camping is legal providing you are on foot, bike, or other non-motorised transport. So, therefore ‘wild camping’ in a van isn’t permitted but it is tolerated (at present). If you intend to wild camp either in a tent or a van, you must be mindful of several things;
- Leave the spot as you found it – remove all trace
- Do not leave any litter
- Do not damage crops or disturb livestock
- Do not create any pollution
- Do not block highways or access routes
So many people are camping in Scotland both on sites and wild, however, you do it you will have a lot of fun.
Dog friendly sites – If you plan on staying on sites, make sure they are dog friendly. A lot have walking areas for dogs now and are very accommodating for our fur babies. A selection of sites that we have stayed on are up on the Dog furiendly website.
How to settle a dog into Camping – This one I can’t answer very well as Fergus will settle anywhere. Make sure you take their creature comforts with you, a good bed, blankets, toys, and lots of treats. Take lots of dog towels, camping, especially in Scotland can mean you and you’re dog gets wet. A wet dog in a van or tent is not fun, air fresheners are an essential.
Parking and Driving – Our van is only little compared to a lot of camper-vans and caravans that are available and therefore this makes it incredibly easy to drive almost anywhere and park in normal car parking spaces. For us this is a huge advantage, we are able to use the van as essentially a car when required. For the bigger motorhomes, you may only be able to use certain car parks.
Electricity – We have a hook up on the van so when we are on sites we have access to electricity for things like camera batteries, phones, heater, fridge etc. When we are wild camping obviously we have nowhere to ‘hook up’ too. So we have a solar panel on the roof connected to two leisure batteries, this provides us with enough electricity to power what we need.
Food and Cooking – We have chosen at present to not have an inbuilt hob in the van, this may change in the future but we enjoy the freedom of being able to cook outside or in. We personally prefer to cook outside wherever possible to prevent van smelling for days after food. We have a pull-out awning so can shelter under this in the wet weather, we are massive foodies so I could write a whole post on its own about what we cook. We have an electric fridge/cool box to keep things cool in. We found many dog friendly restaurants and cafes on our trip and these will all be on the Dog Furiendly website.
Washing – I showered every day! Many campsites will allow you (for a small fee) to use their facilities. A lot of towns, have public conveniences and also showers, all were clean and well kept. I think I came across one that I wouldn’t use again.
Toilets – Our van is a VW Transporter and therefore isn’t big enough for a toilet and shower. So be prepared to ‘nature wee’ or to use public conveniences/ sites/pubs/cafes etc.
The best way to enjoy your first camping trip is to relax and have fun.
If you have any comments, questions, suggestions then please send them to me on instagram @fergusthelab_