Van Life Laundry: Washing Clothes in a Campervan

Van Life Laundry: Washing Clothes in a Campervan

When you are a road trip or if you live in your van full-time then your clothes are going to get dirty quickly and you will need to do laundry. Inside such a small space with limited electricity it’s very unlikely that you will be able to fit any kind of washing machine. This means you have to go out of your way to do laundry. If you are an apartment dweller then you are no stranger to doing laundry outside of your home and this won’t present a new challenge to you. However you might have been lucky in adulthood and always had quick access to a washer and dryer, if this is the case then I hope these suggestions make the transition to van life much easier when your laundry bag is full and stinking up your van. Below are all my van life laundry tips to make your nomad transition much easier!

 

Where to do your laundry on a road trip

The first question you may ask yourself when your clothes get dirty in your campervan, is where am I going to wash my clothes? Lucky for you there are plenty of options when it comes time to do laundry in van life. Below are my top suggestions for where to do laundry on a road trip whether it’s a short or permanent one!

Do your laundry at a Laundromat.

 

Doing your laundry at a laundromat is the most sensible option of the following. Most places, even very small towns have at least one laundromat. They are typically open early and close late most days of the week. A quick search into google maps and you will typically find a laundromat just a few miles from you.

At a laundromat you will need your own laundry detergent and quarters for the machines. I have seen prices range from $2.50 a load to $6.00 depending on the size of the machine and the city you are in. The dryer typically costs $0.25 per 5 minutes and a load takes about 30 minutes to dry. If you don’t have cash or laundry soap on you sometimes, laundromats have ATM machines, change machines for your cash, and will have single-serve soap and dryer sheets. To avoid those heavy ATM fees and overpriced soaps I recommend you go prepared.

 

Rent out an Airbnb to do Laundry

 

Kristen of Where the road forks and I were talking and she made a great point during our conversation that often doing laundry the costs are typically around $10 by the time you get it all done. Sometimes even more if you want to wash all of your blankets, clothing, and seat cushions. If you are going to be spending $10-$20 you night as well look to see how much a single room in an AirBnB will cost. I’ve seen rooms priced around $25 if you are willing to be hosted by an Airbnb instead of having the entire place to yourself. This is especially handy if it is cold or rainy out and you/ your dogs could use a break from the van.

 

Do Laundry at a Friend’s House

 

When Shawn and I find ourselves in an area where we have old friends we often take them up on their offer to use their facilities. This includes a shower, laundry, and maybe even sneaking some dishes up there. It’s a great opportunity to let someone help you. I think it is so easy to be self-sufficient and not want to bother people but it’s also nice to let people help.

Some rules for staying with friends: Never outstay your welcome. I don’t recommend staying for more than a few days and ALWAYS ask before using their facilities. To make it easier we will often still stay in our van but hang out with them in their house during the day. This can allow for both of you to feel independent!

 

Wash your laundry in the sink

 

If you are in a pinch, then you can always wash your clothes in the sink! I still have a few nice items that I don’t feel comfortable washing at a laundromat. Although the washers are typically in good shape, I don’t want to spend $2.50 on one tiny load of delicate items. Instead I clean out our sink and fill it up as minimally as possible and hand wash what I can’t wash in a machine.

 

Use a Portable Washing Machine in Your Campervan

If none of these options appeal to you, you technically could have a washing machine inside of your campervan. There are many options when it comes to portable washing machines including some that serve as both a bag and a washer. Others are larger and electric, needing a larger van that has shore power. I have listed the top portable washing machines in this article.


How to find a good laundromat on a Roadtrip

  • Google. Google is a traveler’s best friend. I typically type “laundromat” into google maps and check out what is nearby. Next, I look at the reviews and pictures to ensure that it feels like a safe, nice laundromat that doesn’t overcharge for doing laundry.
  • Yelp. If there are no Google reviews I will also check out Yelp. One of my favorite things to lookout for is a laundromat with a bar in it! Honestly I’ve only seen it once in Greensboro but it’s such a smart idea, someone else has to be doing it!
  • Ask the locals. If you are hanging out in an area for a bit, ask the locals! They know the best spots for just about everything and that includes laundromats.
  • Van life apps. IOverlander, RVAllstays, and the Vanlife app all include laundromats in their apps.

The best way to store dirty laundry in a campervan

Storing your dirty laundry is an important part of keeping your van clean and stink-free. You want a laundry bag that won’t take up too much space but that also keeps your clothes from stinking up the entire van. There are a few ways to go about this, one is with a mesh bag that aerates your clothing and keeps them from getting so stinky and moldy. However, if you have stinky clothes in there that means you will smell it! Which is why we typically keep our clothes behind the driver seat hanging on the back of the headrest in a SEALED bag. NOTHING is getting through that thing. I do not want to smell our dirty clothes until it is time to throw them in the washer.

 

The Top Portable Washing Machines for Van life Laundry

Although it’s unlikely that you would have a portable washing machine in your van it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact if you are in a bus or RV it might be more fiscally responsible to have a portable machine that you can use instead of spending money every time you need to wash your clothes.

There are a few types of portable washing machines going into two main categories: Electric and Non-Electric. If you are in a camper that has shore power you might be able to get an electric washer enabling clean clothes that come out dryer than a non-electrical washer. If you do not have access to a large amount of electricity but still have the space and want the convenience of a portable washer then you still have quite a few options for washing your clothes.

 

Top Non-Electrical Portable Washing Machines for Van life Laundry

 

 

 

 

Hand Power Clothes Washing Wand

I probably shouldn’t be so amazed by such a simple design but here I am wondering if I need a clothes washing wand. This wand is super simple and you only need it and a bucket to do your laundry. You could easily use your clean trash can with this wand to wash laundry and you’d be good to go!

Pros: Affordable, easy to store, and lightweight.

Cons: The wand is plastic and there were a few reviewers complaining that it snapped in half after about 8 months. Also quite the work out but that doesn’t really have to be a bad thing does it?

Scrubba Bag Wash

The scrubba dub is such a cool item and I have ALWAYS wanted one. Why I haven’t bought one yet is beyond me. This item can not only serve as a laundry bag but you can then use it as a make-shift washing machine when you are ready to wash those dirty clothes! This portable washing machine is a great item to have when you know you will be out in the wilderness for quite some time and still want to be able to wash your favorite items. When you only have 2 pairs of yoga pants and two sports bras, things can get stinky in no time!

Pros: Pretty inexpensive and super easy to use!

Cons: Getting clothes dry will be quite the manual job and wouldn’t be ideal for jeans/heavy items that soak up water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lavario Portable Clothes Washer

This portable non-electric washer is a great option for van lifers who want to do their laundry inside the van. The Lavorio only uses 10 gallons of water, 5 to wash and 5 to rinse and cleans your clothes in 20 minutes.

Pros: Non-electric and only 31″ H x 19″W

Cons: According to reviews it doesn’t get the clothes super dry so you would have to wring them out a bit before hang drying.

 

 

Hand Crank Counter Top Washer

Although this washer seems very industrial, it’s a small non-electrical option that could work for vanlife if you have the space. It fits on a counter top and can store in your “garage” once finished.

Pros: Quick 2-5 minute wash and rinse, easy to use, smaller wash option.

Cons: You have to hand wring your clothing

Top Electrical Portable Washing Machines for Van Life Laundry

 

Super Deal Portable Washing Machine and Spin Dryer

If you are going to be at campsite often with shore power then you might consider purchasing an electric portable washer that can get your clothes really clean and dry.

Pros: This will get your clothes both clean and dry without having to do any of the work.

Cons: It takes a bit of power so you would need to be hooked up to shore power or have a massive solar set up.

 

COSTWAY Washing Machine

 

The Costway portable washing machine is a great option for those in a smaller RV or bus as it is compact enough to fit into a small closet or under the bed and it’s only 10 pounds so it won’t add a ton of weight. It is a washer and spin dryer which means you likely won’t have to wring out your clothes before hang drying them. It’s a great option coming in around $80. With over 400 reviews on Amazon with 4.0 stars, it’s definitely a solid choice.

How to Dispose of Your Dirty Laundry Grey Water

 

If you are going to use a portable washer for doing laundry on the road then you should use Leave no Trace principles for disposing of your water. You also need to use a biodegradable soap like Dr. Bonners. Here is what the Leave No Trace website has to say about properly disposing of grey water:

“It’s always a good idea to check local regulations or ask campground staff how to dispose of your grey water. In some campgrounds, it’s recommended to dispose of grey water in a dedicated utility sink. Other campgrounds have grey water disposal units specifically for this waste. As a last resort, consider disposing of strained grey water in a flush toilet if allowed. If these facilities aren’t available, carry your grey water at least 200 feet away from camp and water, and scatter it widely.

Click here to read the full guide from LNT on disposing of grey water.


The top items that make vanlife laundry easier

Doing laundry in a van is a bit different. You need to think about where you will store everything and how it will all ride inside the van. Before vanlife we didn’t worry about whether our detergent would spill or where we would hang our clothes that we line dry – there were a ton of places inside our apartment for that.

Things such as Tide Pods and clothes lines that don’t take up much space make all the difference when doing laundry in a van.


Doing laundry when you live in a campervan doesn’t have to be difficult! I hope these van life laundry tips will help keep your van smelling fresh and your clothes nice and clean! Let me know in the comments which method is your favorite for doing laundry on the road!

Other Posts You Might Enjoy: 

👉🏼 Van Life in Seattle 

👉🏼Van Life with Dogs

👉🏼 How We Make Money on The Road

 

vanlife laundry
vanlife laundry
vanlife laundry
The Ultimate Guide to Vanlife in Seattle

The Ultimate Guide to Vanlife in Seattle

After a year on the road, Shawn and I finally made it back to Seattle in 2019, a place we called home for 5 years before moving to North Carolina. Seattle has so many great things going for it including great food, tons of outdoor activities, and plenty of fun breweries to check out. On top of all this, it is super van life friendly. Currently living in your vehicle is legal in Seattle and therefore you don’t have to worry about getting a knock on your door at 2 am as long as you are parked legally. Being back in Seattle AND living in a van was MUCH more enjoyable than I imagined it would be especially for a busy city. I highly recommend giving it a visit whether you are in a van, RV, car or you arrived by plane! Check out this guide giving you all the details for van life in Seattle!


 

The Best Hotels in Seattle, Washington

 

In case you are more inclined to stay at a hotel when you are visiting a big city instead of sleeping in your vehicle, I’ve listed a few hotels in downtown Seattle that I personally would stay at if we needed a hotel break! The great thing about these hotels is they are all downtown and a quick walk or uber ride to wherever you want to visit in Seattle!

If you are staying in a hotel and have a large van or RV you will need to consider where you will park. Most of the hotels have garage parking and it is usually under 9 foot to enter. Best bet is to call the hotel and see if they have any recommendations 😉.

Hotel Andra

The Maxwell Hotel

The Edgewater

 


 

 

Top Places to Overnight Park in Seattle

 

The great thing about Seattle is that it is legal to live in your car. That means, as long as you are legally parked then you know you shouldn’t get a knock on your window. That being said, you do need to be aware of where you are parking. Seattle has many areas that are for residents only (you would need a sticker) or say no overnight parking. However, we didn’t find this to be the case in many locations and never got knocked on. As always be smart where you park, clean up after yourself and remember you are in a city, you might have to stealth a little!

Warning: Seattle is a big city, there are tons of people that live in their vans, cars, RVs full-time in Seattle. Some of these people are fantastic people, others are not so much, often on hard drugs. Just watch out for yourself and stay safe!

 

  • Overnight Parking in the Ballard Neighborhood. Ballard is our home neighborhood and so we knew it quite well. Although spots can be hard to find at certain times of the day, for the most part, you can find level parking in Ballard. You can find parking South of Market street closer to the breweries but I personally would stay away from that area as it is known as a more sketchy area at night. If you can try parking closer to Golden Gardens (try the street parking not the actual lot).
  • Overnight Parking in the Greenlake neighborhood. Greenlake is another area that we loved to hang in during the day. We would put up a hammock and relax while we worked by the lake. Then when the dogs got restless we took them around the lake for a work break! It was so perfect in the summertime and I highly recommend checking it out. As for parking, you cannot park in the Greenlake parking lots. So check out the side streets and look for areas that allow unlimited parking after 6 pm.

Don’t forget to check out IOverlander and Campendium for more great spots in Seattle as well as Spot Angels for a cumulative guide to parking in Seattle!

Laws and parking areas are constantly changing. If you see an error on this page please let me know! 

 


 

 

Top Places to Shower in Seattle, Washington

 

 

 

  • Planet Fitness locations in Seattle– There are two Planet Fitness locations in the Seattle city limits but they do have limited hours. Neither is in the best area of town so I recommend going during daylight hours and get in-get out.
  • 24 Hour Fitness location in Seattle– Lucky for you there is a 24-hour Fitness in Seattle that you can use to shower if you are a member.
  • Public Showers at Seattle Pools– Seattle has neighborhood pools that have public showers you can utilize. There are four locations that offer FREE showers and the remaining have drop-in fees associated with them. To view the available pools/showers in your area check out their resource center. NOTE: I have NOT been to any of these locations and cannot attest to their cleanliness or safety.

Our Favorite Sights in Seattle

When we came back to Seattle in August we knew this was our chance to visit all our favorite old spots and to see new ones. There are so many great things to do. in Seattle and every time we venture out, we find a new sight to see! Van life in Seattle would not be complete if you did not see some of the best sights in the city!

 

  • The Fremont Troll– A top place we always took visiting friends and families was the Fremont Troll. The Troll was build in 1989 and has been a classic icon seen in many movies. It’s a quick stop you won’t regret!
  • The Ballard Locks – Nearby Fremont, is the Ballard Locks a part of Lake Washington Fishing Canal where boats come from the Puget Sound into the Fremont Canal and Lake Washington. You are able to witness the boats moving from one body of water to another as well as see the famous Salmon moving up the ladder from saltwater to freshwater! It’s all free to enter and a great spot to have a picnic!
  • Golden Gardens – A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without heading a bit further down from the Locks to the Golden Gardens beach. It’s a beautiful spot to witness the sun go down on the Olympic mountain range.
  • Kerry Park– A famous park known for its gorgeous views of the Seattle skyline as well as Mount Rainier on clear days is a must-see for first-time visitors to Seattle.
  • West Seattle– Another great spot to take in all that the Seattle skyline has to offer is one of the waterside parks in West Seattle. You can hear the waves crash against the sidewall and if you’re lucky you can listen to the sea otters nearby.

The Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle

Being in a bigger city like Seattle you know that there will be so many more options for vegans than in most other places. When we lived in Seattle we were not plant-based so coming back was a new experience as a vegan! Most places have at least one or two vegan options or are willing to accommodate your diet. Below are my favorite vegan-friendly restaurants in Seattle that I recommend you try out!

 

Wayward Cafe Vegan Food

The Wayward Cafe is a top Seattle Vegan restaurant being recognized with many awards. The restaurant is all plant-based which means you get to have ANYTHING ON THE MENU. My favorite kind of place. I personally would try the fried chicken and waffles but from the pictures, it seems you cannot go wrong!

 


No Bones Cafe Vegan Food

 
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The No Bones Beach Club opened up in the neighborhood of Ballard in 2014, it is another all plant-based menu with more Northwest centric items. It has a fun tropical vibe with fruity cocktails and a variation of items on their menu. We shared the nachos with jackfruit which easily filled both of us. Next time I would check out the crab cakes!

 

 

Serious Pie

 
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Serious Pie was one of the last places we tried before leaving Seattle in 2017. It is owned by Famous chef Tom Douglas and is so popular for a reason. If you haven’t had Seattle Pizza then you are missing out on some of the best pizza in the country. it is wood-fired and they offer so many different types of pizza that you can walk away knowing you had a pizza you could not have had elsewhere.

 

 

Jai Thai Vegan Options

 
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Asian food is all over Seattle and it’s some of the best I’ve ever had. Thai food is no exception. My favorite Thai food is called Jai Thai and lives in the Fremont neighborhood. I always got the basil fried rice with tofu and vegetables. Simply ask for no egg and no fish sauce and you’ll be good to go! They also offer plenty of other options available on the menu.

The Best Coffee Shops for Working in Seattle, Washington

 

You can’t have Seattle without coffee, it simply doesn’t work. There are so many coffee shops in the city of Seattle that I myself didn’t get to visit. However, if you are trying to find a good place to get some work done while your pup gets to join you then check out my list of the best coffee shops in Seattle. As with most of my guide, these spots are also dog-friendly!

 

Bauhaus Coffee shop

 

 
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In the neighborhood of Ballard, Bauhaus was always my favorite coffee shop. It is a large coffee shop with some of my favorite coffee (lighthouse made in Fremont) with a very relaxed but quiet vibe. There is. a TON of seating with great wifi and often several other remote workers nearby getting work done alongside you!

 

Ballard Coffee Works

 
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Another great choice right nearby Bauhaus is Ballard Coffee works. They have a more eccentric vibe and offer comfy armchairs and couches where you and your pouch can hang out while sipping on a cup of joe or even some beer from their tap! They had great wifi and an open space that is great for getting work done!

The Wick

 
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The Wick, a coffee shop in Queen Anne not only serves coffee but is a motorcycle shop and serves beer! There is plenty of outdoor space to hang out with your pup and get some work done.

 

The Best Breweries in Seattle

 

A lot of vanlifers I know LOVE going to breweries. You get to try local beers, you can get remote work done AND chances are they allow dogs in! In Seattle for the most part breweries are naturally dog-friendly. in fact, Seattle, in general, is super dog-friendly. We even have restaurants that let you bring your pup inside! There are a few however that serve food or simply ban dogs for their own reasons, so, I am only putting the best breweries in Seattle that I have been to personally and that allow you to bring your dogs.

To top it all off a lot of breweries have food trucks right outside of them! To find out which food truck will be at your brewery of choice check out Seattle Food Truck.

Stoup Brewing

 
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The Stoup Brewery in Ballard is a great location right off of 14th avenue that allows you to enjoy your beer beside your best pup. It is a pretty popular brewery that can get crowded on a weekend or holiday. They have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating plus they usually have a food truck so you can eat too! They usually allow dogs although on a busy day they might ask you to bring your dog outside.

Reubens Brewing

Right around the corner, you will find Reubens Brewing, another Ballard brewery that allows dogs. It’s a great space with indoor and outdoor seating. You could relax or get work done on your laptop.

Lagunitas Brewing

 
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Lagunitas has my favorite beer in Ballard and they have an outdoor space with games and music. Often they will have a live band inside their large indoor space or you can head outside to see which food truck is there for the day. They also have peanuts for free, which might be why I love it there so much. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are going to work but rather it’s a great spot to relax and have a great beer! Dogs are allowed inside and outside from what I have experienced!

Cloud Burst Brewery

 
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The Cloud Burst Brewery is downtown closer to Bell town but is worth the trek. With tasty IPA’s and flavorful Ale’s, it is one not to miss. The brewery is small but funky and gives that Seattle vibe that most breweries are lacking. Since it is small I recommend avoiding it on weekends where there are soccer, football, or baseball games. When we went there was a large line and you had to wait for seating.

The Barking Dog Alehouse

 
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The Barking Dog Alehouse is where I had my first sip of Unita Rise and Pine Beer. I feel in love and it’s been my favorite beer since. They offer food, beer, cocktails, AND allow dogs. It’s closer to 70th street in Ballard area but if you want to hit up a quintessential local Seattle joint, I’d check it out.

Norms Eatery and Alehouse

 
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Norm’s was the first experience Shawn and I had where we could take our dogs in to eat. It’s a full restaurant and bar that allows pups to dine with you. They have great food, not limited to just bar food and they also usually have a decent selection of beer. Every time we visit Seattle we find ourselves there, it feels like home to us, everyone is friendly and the dog can join. You can’t beat that.

 


The best off-leash dog parks in Seattle and Washington

 

There are so many off-leash and on-leash parks in Seattle to choose from as the city is such a dog-friendly location with some restaurants even allowing dogs INSIDE. These parks are not all inside Seattle but are in the general area and places that I would recommend so that your dog can get some off-leash time!

 

Magnuson Off-Leash Dog Park

 

Magnuson off-leash dog-park is the best dog park in Seattle in my opinion. You get 8.6 acres of land to let your dog run free on and it is the only place that dogs can swim off-leash! There is a small section at the bottom of the park, about a half of a mile into the park where your dog can get some swim time in. No worries if you don’t want your dog to get wet this time, the lake is sectioned off by a gate. When we lived in Seattle we took the dogs here whenever we could to get a break from the summer heat!

 

Magnuson off-leash dog park hours: 4 AM to 11:30 PM

 

 

Double Bluff Dog Park

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Magnuson off-leash dog-park is the best dog park in Seattle in my opinion. You get 8.6 acres of land to let your dog run free on and it is the only place that dogs can swim off-leash! There is a small section at the bottom of the park, about a half of a mile into the park where your dog can get some swim time in. No worries if you don’t want your dog to get wet this time, the lake is sectioned off by a gate. When we lived in Seattle we took the dogs here whenever we could to get a break from the summer heat!

 

Magnuson off-leash dog park hours: 4 AM to 11:30 PM

 

 

Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park

 
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Marymoor off-leash dog park feels more like a large trail area compared to a regular dog park. There are parts of the park where you can’t see the fences or the parking lot. It also has the Five river running through the middle of it where dogs can swim. It feels more like a fun trail hike than a dog park and it’s a great escape from the city! You do have to pay to park which is $1.00.

 

Marymoor off-leash dog park hours 8 AM to 8 PM

 

Edmonds Off-leash dog beach

 
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Edmonds is just north of Seattle and offers an off-leash dog beach right on the Puget Sound. The views are incredible and the water is ice cold. It is a nice beach where the dogs can enjoy the water and you can enjoy the Puget Sound views.

 

Edmonds off-leash dog park hours 6 AM to 9 PM

 

Double Bluff Dog-Park

 

 
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There was nothing better than seeing our boxer sprint up and down the beaches of Double Bluff Dog-park. Double Bluff is on Whidbey Island, which takes about an hour to get to from Seattle and requires a ferry ride unless you want to go the long way which takes two hours. For us, during those long winter months, it was completely worth it to let the dogs go crazy. Double Bluff is a 2-mile long beach that allows dogs off-leash year-round. My recommendation is to take the ferry, head to the beach and then make your way over to Deceptions Pass, a Washington viewpoint you don’t want to miss.

Double Bluff Dog Park Hours 6 AM to 10 PM


The Best Hikes near Seattle, Washington

 

 

The best part of Seattle, isn’t the food, the beer, or the views, to me, the best part of Seattle is how active you can be inside the city. There are so many incredible hikes inside the city that will keep you outdoors. It isn’t hard to get outside when everything is so green, lush, and welcoming!  As with most of my guide, these hikes are dog-friendly!

 

 

Hiking at Discovery Park

Discovery Park is probably my favorite hike inside of Seattle. It was the first hike we went on when we arrived in Seattle in 2012 and we got to experience the beauty of the Northwest for the first time. Discovery Park is an old Military Fort and still has the original housing there. It became so popular that many of the houses were updated and sold! Oh to live full-time at the park! There are several entrances to get to the main trail at discovery but we always preferred the side entrance as you get to see the base houses at the top of the park with an incredible view. The downside of the trail at Discovery Park is there are a TON of stairs. It takes you from the top of the park all the way down to the beach and then eventually you have to head back up. It’s only two miles roundtrip and a perfect one to two-hour adventure to get your blood pumping! Dogs are allowed but only on-leash. There are many runners on the trail and I recommend following the leash rule.

 

Walking the Burke Gilman

The Burke Gilman trail runs from Golden Gardens Beach all the way to Mathews Beach in Wedgewood. It is a mostly paved trail that will take you through several parts of the city. You get wooded areas and many city areas. It follows the Fremont Canal and offers gorgeous views of the Fremont Bridge and takes you right past the Ballard Locks which I would definitely check out if you have the time.

 

 

Walking Greenlake

 
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Greenlake is a 3.2-mile loop around the lake in the neighborhood of Greenlake. It is a beautiful park with tons of restaurants, activities, and people. If you want to get some exercise but don’t feel like getting out into nature I would check it out for sure. If you are lucky you might see an eagle if you keep your eyes up!

 

Madrona Park

 
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When Shawn and I lived in Seattle, we had a bad habit of staying in our own part of town. It’s easy to do in a big city where traffic and parking can deter you from exploring other parts of the city. When we came back in our van for the first time we wanted to knock that habit hard. So we decided to check out the area of Madrona and Leschi. Leschi is known for its boat dock and beautiful homes. Although it isn’t exactly a hike or a long walk, I recommend starting near Daniel’s Broiler in Leschi and start walking. The boats are almost mesmerizing and the area is very calm and peaceful. It had us wanting to buy a boat and live there!

The Best Hikes Outside Seattle

 

Another great thing about Seattle is the vast amount of mountains only an hour away! You can drive less than an hour and find some incredible dog-friendly hikes with beautiful views!

 

 

Rattlesnake Ledge

 
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Less than an hour east of Seattle is my favorite hike of all time. Rattlesnake Ledge is a 2.5 mile RT trail that takes you to the top of the Snoqualmie mountains with a breathtaking view that is well worth the hike up.

 

 

Bridal Veil Falls

 
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A more difficult hike in the Northern Cascades, Bridal Veil Falls will challenge those who like me aren’t exactly expert hikers. It’s completely doable though, you just need to go slow. Your reward at the end of the hike will have you high on adrenaline. It is dog-friendly but dogs must remain on a leash.

 

 

Middle Fork Trails

 
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Middle Fork is a beautiful romp through the woods right alongside a river. It is classic northwest with ferns and evergreens all around you. It’s a great option if you want an easy to navigate trail that doesn’t require a ton of exertion on your part as it doesn’t really go up in elevation. There are no crazy views but you won’t find yourself cursing my name mid-way up the summit either. Bring a lunch and hang out by the water while enjoying the forest. The hike is dog-friendly but they are supposed to remain on a leash.

In my opinion, Van life in Seattle is about as good as it can get when experiencing a city as a traveler. Tons of great parking, sights to take in, and so much good food to eat. Have you experienced Van life in Seattle? If so what was one of your favorite things to do?
vanlife in Seattle
Tips for Traveling Full-Time as a Vanlife Couple

Tips for Traveling Full-Time as a Vanlife Couple

Are you considering trying out Vanlife and want your partner to join you? Living in 60sq ft alone is a daunting enough task but adding another human being into that tiny space adds an entirely new element. On one hand, you will experience more beautiful moments and be closer to this person than anyone on earth. You have the opportunity to see another side of yourselves and the world alongside this person. It’s absolutely wonderful and will bring you closer than ever. On the other hand, when living in a van, chances are you eat together, sleep together, work together, drive together, and probably poop together,  ALWAYS together. It can be a bit much and it’s important to be mindful of how you are caring for yourself and your relationship. That being said if you are still ALL IN or maybe you’re already living in your van and looking for some help I have listed my top tips for traveling full-time as a van life couple (not to be confused with the perfect Instagram vanlife couple you may see).

How to live in a tiny space as a vanlife couple

Vanlife couple

 

Traveling around going from city to city seems like quite the dream, and it truly can be. However, you are still living your day to day life it just looks different now. This means you still need to do basic chores that you did in your “normal” life before living in a van.

  • Split up your household chores. Just like in a house, you have chores. Try and split these chores up. Communicate who is going to get what done and work together. Without this, chaos can quickly ensue. If someone leaves a dish, just wash it. If the trash is full, take it out.
  • Don’t keep score. As noted above it’s a tiny space, if you let things pile up because it isn’t your turn the van can quickly turn into a disaster area and you will find yourself bickering due to the vibe in the van.
  • Understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Unless you are super lucky chances are one of you is the clean freak and one is more laissez-faire about life. For us, it’s a little of both. Shawn loves to have things organized and in their place, I love a clean kitchen. It is easy to forget what he values and only care that he left a pot in the sink and miss that I’ve got clothes all over the bed. It’s a tiny space meant for both of you, be mindful!
  • Consider testing out Vanlife for a week. This is something I wish Shawn and I would have made the time and reserved the money to do. You can rent out a campervan just like ours or one that will be similar to your van for a weekend, week, or as long as you want. It’s a great opportunity to see how you function together and what kind of things will be beneficial to have in your new van build. The right set up can go a long way in keeping you both happy. Outdoorsy is a great Van and RV rental company that functions similar to Airbnb but for vans and I recommend using them if you want to try out vanlife before you jump in.


rent an rv

How to find alone time as a vanlife couple

Vanlife woman

The number one issue that comes up when living with your partner and traveling full-time in a van is finding the time to be alone. When you are stationary in a house or apartment, chances are you work in separate locations. This means you have 8-10 hours completely apart, 4-5 days a week. On top of this, you might have girls or guys night out or even decide to go out by yourself occasionally.

So when living in a van full-time I recommend FINDING the time to be alone. You might have to ask or tell your partner that you are going to do X activity alone. Something Shawn and I often do is try to do our computer work alone. He might stay in the van and I go into the library or vice versa. Another great option is to go to the movies together but watch different movies. Whatever it is that you do, you need to make time to be alone.

A tip a friend told me was to find pleasure in the small moments alone. Even if it’s those few moments in the morning when your partner is asleep and you can journal and be with your thoughts. Find these moments and treasure them.

How to spend quality time together while on the road

Since traveling full-time means you are likely always together then you need to be intentional about your time. It’s easy to get sucked into the motions and not realize you aren’t paying attention to your partner.

A few ways to spend quality time together as a vanlife couple:

  • Cook your meals together. Often it’s easy to let one person cook the meal since the space is so small. Something Shawn and I try to do is no matter who is cooking (most likely Shawn) the other person can’t be on their phone. That way you are still hanging out and are enjoying the moment together. If possible it’s also great to try and cook alongside them by cleaning up or chopping up items. Some of our favorite memories are cooking together in the van just listening to music and enjoying the moment.
  • Eat Dinner together with no phones. This has always been one of my favorite rules when eating dinner. Not only do you enjoy your meal but you enjoy your company too.
  • Meditate or Journal Together. These items are typically done alone but sometimes doing things alone, but together is a great way to bond. It’s very intentional and personal which makes you feel that much closer to your significant other.

How to resolve conflict as a vanlife couple

Fighting when living in a tiny space with literally nowhere else to go other than outside can make for some real blow-ups. You are in 60sq ft and chances are you have one living area. You can sit in the cab or you can hang out in your bed/couch. When you are angry you can’t just walk away or ignore when something is bothering you. Living on the road means you have to face your conflicts head-on and with care.

  • Let your partner know when they upset you. Pre-vanlife Shawn and I were still figuring out how to communicate. We would fight and then typically just let it go. There wasn’t a ton of talking it out or really getting to the bottom of it. That’s pretty easy to do when you can go to work and by the end of the day you just want to relax. In a van, those issues compound so quickly and being in a tense situation like that in a small space leads to huge fights.
  • Listen when your partner gives you feedback. Just as you need to actually communicate to your partner that they did something to hurt you, you have to let them do the same. Take the information in and realize that whether you agree, this is how THEY Feel. It’s their reality and it’s up to you both to work on how to change that.
  • Take notice when your tone isn’t kind. Remember that it’s not always what you say but how you say it.

How to Spend More Time Outside of the van

Vanlife couple

If you are like me and lean into the introverted side then a tiny home on wheels with a cozy bed is your childhood dream. It’s so easy to stay inside the van, curl up and watch the world go by. Before you know it though, you might find yourself going a little stir crazy and this can translate into a snipping at your partner for no reason.

Some easy and enjoyable ways to get out of the van for a few hours:

  • Find a park or library to get your work done. We designed our van so we could work inside of it. So it can be easy to stay cooped up in it all day long when we have computer work to be done. Instead, try finding a public library or park to work in for the day.
  • Go out to eat or have a picnic. I know van life pictures show couples on mountains and beaches every day but that’s simply not the reality. When you can splurge try to go out to eat or have a coffee or drink for happy hour. Even a few hours outside the van can make a huge difference in your sanity.
  • Have a personal hobby or passion. It’s so important to have something going on in your life that is all your own. Whether it’s a book your reading, side project or hobby, having these passions allows you to keep a sense of independence and allows you both time apart but together at the same time!

How to build out a van with your partner

Vanlife build

Honestly, the ins and outs of building out your campervan with your partner is an exhaustive list that needs to be its own post. For now, I will leave you with a few tips for building a tiny home with your significant other and NOT killing each other or breaking up.

  • Be patient with one another. When building out a campervan, whether with experience or not it is easy to get frustrated. Remember that you both come to the table with different skills and you are both learning as you go.
    Use the pause button. This is actually something we learned from HIMYM. If you start to fight aimlessly or if one person is being harsh without realizing it say “pause”. Take a break or ask them to reframe what and how they are saying something. This IS NOT an opportunity to get back at them or start a fight, it’s a chance to avoid a fight or stop one in its tracks.
  • Communicate. Truly I think this is a blanket statement that covers all of this entire post but it’s a good one to remember. Tell your partner what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Tell them if they are doing something wrong or if you don’t understand what to do. You are building this together and once you see it as a group project that you can enjoy the happier the van conversion process will be.
  • Go on walks or hikes. I think this is something a lot of vanlifers are already doing but it’s a great reminder. No matter where you are, try to go on daily hikes or walks.

Traveling full-time with your partner means you get to go on the ultimate road trip with your best friend. You get to explore an alternative lifestyle and experience an entirely new side of yourself with your best friend. You are going to have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Personally I can’t recommend it enough.

When you are feeling low make sure to look at these quick tips and I have faith you and your partner in crime will be just fine.

Top Tips for Vanlife Couples:

  • Communicate
  • Be patient
  • Always have food
  • Get outside of the van
  • Spend QUALITY time together
  • Find alone time
  • Split up chores
  • Don’t keep score
  • Have fun!

Are you traveling full-time with your partner? What are your top tips for surviving life on the road with your significant other? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these popular posts:

👉🏼 Tips for Vanlife with Dogs

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👉🏼 Top Campervan Cooking Options

Vanlife with a Dog: The Essentials for living in a van with a pet

Vanlife with a Dog: The Essentials for living in a van with a pet

Vanlife has its own challenges. When you live in your van with a dog it can be even more challenging. Worrying about leaving your dog in the car when you go grocery shopping, how to keep them from chewing everything up, and overall making sure they are happy are main concerns when your pet lives with you in the van. Below are some of my favorite items that I believe help make vanlife with a dog much easier.

 

Vanlife Chew Toys: Antlers

 

vanlife with a dog

The saving grace at the end of every night for Shawn and I are a chew toy for our puppy Jax. His favorite item that he can’t actually destroy is deer antlers. These can become fairly pricey when you buy them from a pet store so we opted to buy a pack for around $25. They contain 6 and are usually 3-5inches long. We have had our pack of 6 for 6 months now and still have 3 left. They are great for keeping him entertained when we are relaxing at night and Jax still has energy left to spare.

 

The best toy your puppy can’t chew up: West Paw Dog Bone

vanlife with a dog

If you have had a rowdy puppy before then you know that all the toys claiming to be “tough” and “last longer” are usually full of it. Most toys we have gotten our puppy have lasted us at most a few days. Jax takes one look and becomes OCD about finding the squeaker or getting to the center of a ball. The only toy we have found that will actually last when he wants to chew on it is a West Paw Hurley. It’s not the most flashy toy and frankly, it looks a little obscene to me BUT it’s lasted us months now. It’s another great option for a toy we don’t want to have to monitor our dog playing with.

 

How to wear out your dog: West Paw Frisbee

Live in a van with a dog

My partner Shawn loves to play frisbee. I think a requirement on being Shawn’s dog is to be able to play frisbee and it is lucky for Jax that he loves it as equally. After finding how durable the West Paw Hurley was we found just how great the West Paw Zisk was as well. The Zisc is flexible, flies far, easy to toss and can withstand a little chewing.

 

The best option for puppies that eat too fast: Outward Hound Dog food Bowl

Live in a van with a dog

Most puppies eat too fast. They gobble up their food in an instant and then have the huge adorable puppy belly to show for it. The bad news is, in a van, that is a recipe for trouble. The last thing you want is a dog with an upset belly when you have an hour or two drive ahead of you. The only thing that worked for us is a kibble diverter. It’s a great way to entertain your pup’s mind and keep them from eating too fast. Eventually, Jax got bored of it and we transited him to a regular bowl.

 

The best leash for training your new vanlife puppy: The Not a Leash

live in a van with a dog

We have gone through many dog leashes. In fact, we tend to make our own and those are typically our favorite ones. However, a great option, if you don’t want to DIY a lead rope, is the Ruffwear Knot-a-leash and for older pups a simply harness and leash work great.

 

How to keep your vanlife dogs safe: Webcam

Live in a van with a dog

Although ideally you never have to leave your dogs alone in the van, it does happen. A great option for keeping an eye on your pups when you need to run into the grocery store or make a quick stop somewhere are webcams. I suggest the Tenvis security cam it’s relatively cheap and can be used by android and IOS users.  They do need wifi so you would need to have a hotspot connected to the camera when you are away.

 

How to take old or small dogs hiking: Timbuk2 Mutt Mover

 

Do you have an older dog who can’t go as far on hikes or maybe you have a small dog that loves to be outside but can’t make it on the more skilled trails? We have an older dachshund and as much as he wants to go on the long rocky hikes, he simply shouldn’t be putting that much pressure on his back. We found out about this bag from Erin Ortiz and she was spot on!

So for those long hikes, we bring along our Timbuktu Mutt Mover. It is longer so our dachshund is able to fit sideways in the bag and not put pressure on his vertebrae like many other bags we have seen. Although it could be made a bit more comfortable for the human, our dog loves it (or at least tolerates it) and we are able to hike guilt-free!

 

A vanlife dog sitter: Rover

Ok so technically Rover isn’t an actual item but it is a great tool to have in your arsenal. When you live with your dog in a van there are going to be times when you need to be away for a few hours. Maybe there is a National Park hike that you are dying to take or you are heading to a festival that doesn’t allow dogs. The reasons go on why you might need a few hours or days where your pup can’t be with you. In that case, I recommend Rover. Rover is a dog-sitting and walking platform that allows you to find locals who you can handpick to watch your pup! We have used Rover often when we lived in Seattle and would totally do so again if needed!

Get $20 off your first Rover pet sitting or dog walking booking! 

Although living in a van with a dog can be challenging I hope that these items help your transition. Want to hear more about living in a van with your dog? Check out my post on Tips for Vanlife with Dogs! 

 

 

 

Top Off-Leash Dog Parks in the United States

“When you have a dog, chances are you want them to be with you as much as possible. Finding off-leash dog parks is the best way to let them get some energy and truly feel like a wild dog. As we have traveled across the United States we have found incredible off-leash dogs parks along the way. From hundred acre beaches to forest land more inland we have listed the best dog-parks to visit in the US.

 

Best Off-Leash Dog-Parks in California

 

California is a different state when it comes to dogs. Although they seem to be super dog-friendly surprisingly it is hard to find hikes where you can bring your dog along. The next best thing is to find an off-leash dog-park that you go to instead.

Best off-leash Dog-Parks in San Diego

 

Fiesta Island Off-Leash Dog Park

 

Top off-leash dog park San Diego: woman in field with dog

 

Fiesta Island Dog Beach Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM

 

Are you looking for a sandy dog park that you can let your pup run wild on? Look no further than Fiesta Island. It was voted number 1 in the US and for a very good reason. With about 90 acres of land, and water on 3 sides rest assured your pup will be exhausted by the time you get done. I Highly recommend Fiesta Island Off-Leash Dog Park if you are looking for a nice walk for not only your pup but yourself too. There are 2 different loops to walk the inner loop is just under 1.5 miles and the outer is about 2.5 miles long.


 

Ocean Beach Dog Park

 

Ocean Beach Dog Beach Hours: 4 AM to 2PM

 

Ocean Beach Dog beach

 

Ocean Beach is a great spot on the ocean where you can let your dog run off-leash on the beach. It has epic views and is vanner friendly. There is parking but the lot closes at 2 AM.

 


 

Looking for more information on San Diego? Check out my Van life guide to San Diego! 

 

Coronado Island  Dog Park

 

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Coronado Island Dog Park Hours: 5 AM to 11 PM

 

Coronado Island is another great spot in San Diego to take your dog. The beach is off-leash for dogs on the western part of the beach, marked by signs. They are open from 5 AM to 11 PM giving you plenty of time to get to the beach.

 


 

Best Off-Leash Dog-Park in Berkley

 

César E. Chávez Park

 

César E. Chávez Park Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM

 

Right outside of San Fransisco we found a van haven in Berkley California. Inside of Berkley is a beautiful 90 Acre off-leash dog park right on the water with an incredible view of San Francisco. Our dogs were able to run free and get out any energy they were holding onto. I highly recommend this park as it is a great way for you and your pup to get some exercise!

 


 

Top Dog Parks in North Carolina

 

Best Friend’s Dog Park

 

Address: 480 N Lee St, Rocky Mount, NC

Submission by Julie Thorne from More Than Mainstreet

Best Friend’s Dog Park Hours: 6 AM to 8 PM

 

Best Friend’s Dog Park in Rocky Mount, North Carolina is the best! With nine acres for your four-legged friends to run and play, this is a dog park that can’t be missed. There is something for pups of all shapes and sizes! They have three separate sections: one section for smaller dogs less than 25 pounds, one section for larger dogs over 25 pounds, and an agility section for larger dogs.

But, in my opinion, the best park of Best Friend’s Dog Park is its location. Situated at the intersection of Interstate 95 and Highway 64 in Rocky Mount, if you are traveling in North Carolina this is truly a great option to stop and let your dogs stretch their legs. It’s also less than two miles from the Rocky Mount Mills which is the perfect spot to grab dinner and a drink! If you happen to stay a night or two, check out these fun things to do in Rocky Mount, NC!


 

Top Dog Parks in Washington State

 

Washington State is full of dog-friendly places. From restaurants, breweries, hikes, and huge off-leash dog parks, you will not find yourself in an area where you can’t bring your dog. Here are a small few places that we personally loved to take our dogs whenever we lived in Seattle!

 

Best off-leash dog parks near Seattle

 

Dogwood Indoor Dog Park

 

Dogwood Indoor Dog Park Hours: Monday-Friday 4 PM to 10 PM, Saturday 12 PM to 8 PM, CLOSED SUNDAY

Living in Seattle during the winter is not only rough on you but it can be rough on your dogs. There are weeks when the ground is wet and there is a constant drizzle. This always led to our dogs being completely stir crazy and acting out (our boxer Jas loved to swipe things off the counter when she was mad at us 😂). 

This is why I love indoor dog parks, they offer a refuge when Winter is too harsh. Not to mention most of them offer beer to drink while your pup runs around. Dogwood Indoor Dog Park is in the neighborhood of Lake City.

 

Marymoor Dog Park

 

Outside of Seattle in Redmond, Marymoor Park is a 640-acre park that dedicates 40 of it’s acre to the off-leash dog park. There are acres of land to run around on as it runs along a beautiful creek.

Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park Hours: 8 AM to 8 PM

 

Magnuson Dog Park

 

Magnuson Off-Leash Dog Park Hours: 4 AM to 11:30 PM

 

Magnuson Dog Park is a great option for anyone looking for a place for your dog to swim off-leash in Seattle. Located in Sand Point near the neighborhood of Wedgewood, Magnuson sits as the beach to Matthews Lake and is a great option when you need to cool off during the warm Seattle summer months.

 

Double Bluff Off-Leash Dog Beach

 

Double Bluff Off-Leash Dog Beach is my favorite off-leash dog park in Washington. It offers two miles of beach for your dog to run free on. You do need to take a ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island and then drive across the Island. It is more of a trek but completely worth the trip when you get to your dog running like a wild animal across the long beachside.

Tips for Van life with Dogs

Tips for Van life with Dogs

Van Life with dogs is a completely different experience than without. Dogs get you outdoors, keep you moving and they make every day a new adventure! Even in the city, we find ourselves exploring just so the dogs are able to have their fun for the day. Van life with Dogs also has its downsides. You can’t always go wherever you want and it’s imperative that you keep them as your number one consideration anywhere you go.  Either way, there is no feeling like snuggling with your pup BFF and enjoying the view from your van at the end of the day. So if you have a pup or are thinking about getting a dog to join you on the road then check out these top tips for dogs in van life!

 

How to find dog-friendly local places

 

The most important thing you can do to make van life with your dog easier is to bring the pups with you whenever you can! You live in a small space and they deserve to be out with you! Most places that have a patio will allow dogs. Restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries are great places to bring your dog so you can both get some time outside of the van. Usually, I check BringFido (a website dedicated to helping you find dog-friendly activities) or simply give the local business a call!

Having dogs in van life means that you need to think of them wherever you head to or go next. From city life to secluded areas, you need to do your research ahead of time to accommodate your dogs. If you want to check out a restaurant in town or head to the coffee shop then it’s important that you find places that will let you bring your pups with you especially when it’s hot out. For restaurants, activities, and hotels we always use Bring Fido. It’s a great resource for your all-around dog-friendly activities near you. The downside to Bring Fido is there often isn’t enough information on the location and you might find yourself at a coffee shop that only allows dogs on the patio.

To compliment Bring Fido we always check yelp for local city places and often we will simply take the extra step and call the establishment. That way there is no confusion and you don’t waste time.

 

 

How to keep dogs from acting out in a van

 

van life with dogs

If I could only give you one tip for van life with dogs, it would be to make sure they have their exercise. A tired pup doesn’t chew things up, whine, or act out. A tired pup is a happy pup. We try to take our two dogs on a walk every single morning. This way they are starting their day with a long walk outside the van and are usually happy to take a mid-morning nap while we get some computer work done.

 

Tip for Van life with a puppy

 

Tips for vanlife with a puppy

 

Van life with a puppy is an entirely different world than with a mature dog. Puppies require frequent potty time which means longer trips are harder to do, they require more playtime, and you have to watch them AT ALL TIMES. Even leaving them in the van for a few minutes can turn into something getting chewed up or they may have had an accident.

A few things you can do to make the process smoother for your van life puppy is to make sure they have dog toys to keep them entertained. Some of our favorite things are antler bones, kong toys, and plenty of treats.

 

How to find dog-friendly hikes

 

How to find dog-friendly places

 

I personally use all trails to find dog-friendly hikes near me, which allows you to filter the hikes that allow dogs on the trail. Bringing your pup on hikes with you is one of the great joys of owning a pet in a van. You get to spend so much time with them that you probably wouldn’t get to spend if you lived in a house or apartment. You can use AllTrails by hitting the “filter” and searching for dog-friendly hikes in the area. It’s super easy to use and I highly recommend. Don’t forget to add your reviews as this is what keeps the app going!

 

Dog-friendly Apps to use

 

Use Apps to find dog-friendly places and activities. Bring Fido, All Trails, and Yelp help you find the places that are dog-friendly. Be warned that sometimes if a place is “dog-friendly” it may only mean outside on their patio. If you are unsure, it’s best to call ahead.

 

National Parks with Dogs

 

van life with dogs

 

When you are a van lifer or on the road full-time then chances are you want to check some National Parks off your list. This is a completely reasonable thing to want to do, unfortunately, if you have a dog going to National parks can be a little difficult. Most National Parks are not super dog-friendly and can keep you off the really awesome trails. However, the good thing is that most National Parks allow you to bring your dog in through your vehicle and they can be anywhere your car can be. This means paved roads and parking lots plus some campgrounds.

National Parks with dogs resources: 

US National Park Service

Go Pet Friendly 

 

How to Find Local Off-Leash Dog-Parks

 

How to find off leash dog-parks

 

Some of our favorite experiences with the dogs have been at local off-leash dog parks. There are some beautiful hundred-acre off-leash dog parks in several parts of the united states. You can find several great ones by checking out my Van life guides! To find your own, simply use Google and check out the reviews to get an idea of what kind of dog-parks there are in the area. You will find small simple fenced in dog-parks to spacious parks and beaches where your dog will feel completely free.

 

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👉🏼 Van Life Guide to San Diego