Tips For Camping With a Dog

Take your dog on that amazing adventure

Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or an easygoing car camper, you can take your dog along with you on your adventures. He’ll love the trails, the wildlife and the lakes. But before you embark on that amazing trip, prepare your dog and his belongings with these simple safety tips.

Additional Resources:


Is my pet ready for an outdoor excursion?

How do I check for injuries on my dog?

How do I check for ticks on my pet?

Heatstroke in my dog: what do I need to know?


How do I find dog-friendly campsites and important regulations?

What are the potential camping-related dangers?

What are some other great outdoor adventures for me and my pup?


What packing checklist should I follow?

What should I put in my dog’s first aid kit?

Is a collar or harness best for my dog during our camping trip?


Camping is probably the most awesome thing you can do with your pooch. You can get away from it all, while spending some special bonding time with your buddy. Your dog loves all the smells of the outdoors, including that warm campfire at the end of the day. You’ll both pass out tired and happy in your tent.

Public Land Dispersed Camping

Resources for your ‘boondocking’ pleasure…


Bureau of Land Management

Pick the state you want, click the appropriate field office and get a map. Once you have an idea of approximately where you want to go, contact the appropriate field office (FO) and ask for the Recreation Specialist (Rec specialist). It’s their job to provide info to the public (most offices have a Rec Specialist, but not all). Ask them about ‘dispersed camping’ locations (they may not be familiar with the term ‘boondocking’). Rec Specialists are usually more than happy to help.

If you want to dig further, go to the individual FO Resource Management Plan (RMP). You can usually find it on their website. They will define the dispersed camping regulations and areas that may be closed to dispersed camping.


US Forest Service

The US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, produces “Motor Vehicle Use Maps” for its National Forests, and clearly marks on them where you can do dispersed camping.

Search for “Motor Vehicle Use Maps”, then follow the links underneath.
You can view the maps online or get them free from Ranger stations. Maps are listed according to States.


Some other links, below:

Boondockers Welcome

Free Campgrounds



See You Down the Road!

Planning Your Next Camping Trip

It almost goes without saying, exploring America with my family is the best thing about trailering.  Spending quality time together.  Getting out there and discovering something new, interesting, beautiful.

1. Determine budget.

Before anything else, I gotta know how much we can spend.  Gas will typically be at least 1/2 the budget- depending on how far you’re going.  One of our trips out west, covering over 4,300 miles with gas between $3.50 – $4.10/gallon YMMV, budget worked out to be:

  • $2,050 fuel
  • $380 campgrounds
  • $250 parts/service
  • $120 souvenirs

Food is not included, since that’s part of the regular household budget.  Boondocking overnight stays is a great way to reduce the campground expense.  (I can’t justify paying a full days rent for a slot you’re only using to sleep in- for about 5 hours, and probably won’t even use their hookups).  BING satellite views can give you a great overview of space availability.  Casino’s make great urban boondocking locations.

Mega-malls make great boondock locations.  Plenty of space, usually easy on/off from freeway.
Mega-malls make great boondock locations. Plenty of space, usually easy on/off from freeway.

GasBuddy : Great website for minimizing your fuel costs.  Haven’t tried the app, yet.

2. Council meeting on destination

One of the only instances in our family when the children actually have a vote in the decision making process.  Of course, they’ve learned suggestions like “moon” and “Aruba” are forfeit, since only destinations that can be reached with the Airstream are entertained.

3. Maps and websites.

This is where BING (because it’s not google) maps, DNR,, and all the other state reservation websites come in.

Michigan State Park Reservations

Reserve America : Many of the other State Parks use this system

4. How far can I get?

Great tool for estimating your waypoints.  With our current rig (2500 Suburban, Hensley, 2008 Airstream), I’ve been known to go just under 700 miles in a single day, before I’m too fatigued to safely continue.  A typical travel day is closer to 500 miles, if we’re not taking the back roads.

How Far Can I Get

5. Contingency Plans

If you’re traveling with a family, you know last minute changes are likely; and the probability of plan change increases by a factor inverse to the age of the youngest.

I usually have two plans at the ready. One’s a modification on our final destination, and the other is in the event of complete cancellation– which has only happened once.  We had a Cape Cod trip planned, when the transaxle actuator, module and motor died (about 8 miles into the trip, thanks be to God).  I ended up popping a tent in the backyard, starting a campfire, lighting the grill, and camping out with smores and ghost stories.

You can find other useful links in the sidebar.

Thanks for visiting.

See you down the road.