We’ve traveled with our dog, Riley, all over the country, with and without our Airstream. He’s an adventure dog through and through. Although he looks like a dainty little dude on the outside, he’s got the heart of a lion. He’s down for anything and afraid of nothing. Biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, you name it. He’s been as far north as Niagara Falls and all the way down to Key West – and everywhere in between. He’s been a city dog under the bright lights of New York City and a country dog in the Midwest under the Milky Way. He’s swam in the ocean and climbed the Rocky Mountains. There’s no mistaking that Riley loves Airstream life. He squeals with delight when we return after each adventure to his familiar aluminum home. There’s no strange sights and smells in Airbnb’s or hotels to make him uneasy. He has all of his comforts and familiarity in his home on wheels. After all of these years and miles logged, we’ve figured out some tricks and found some great products along the way to make traveling with a dog easier.
We don’t often leave Riley alone in the Airstream. But he also can’t go with everywhere. When we do leave him, we’ve used this great app called Dog Monitor. It’s $5 and you have to buy it for each device but once you do that there aren’t any other costs associated with it except for any cell data you use. For simplicity, we each have the app on our cellphones. The only catch is the phone you choose for the dog monitor must have a good solid data signal. We always have a signal where we travel as we work from the road and everywhere we go must be a place we can access the internet.
This is an example of what you see on the person station. Even if the person station loses a signal, it will still recover. Same as with the dog monitor. We’ve never had an issue with it – works great every time! To monitor the temperature, we have a small digital thermometer we leave in view of the camera. When we are out, I just remember to check in with the monitor every 15-30 minutes to take a look at the temperature. If you have your volume up on your phone, you can hear what your dog is doing. Riley likes to make us feel extra awful for leaving him by howling periodically. If we are in a quiet place, I’ll put the phone on silent and then it will vibrate to indicate a noise.
If it’s hot out, we leave the AC running. It was hard to remember that leaving him in an insulated trailer wasn’t the same as leaving him alone in a car. It would take quite some time for the trailer to heat up if something happened to our AC. For that reason, we never go farther than a 15 minute drive from the trailer so we’d have plenty of time to get back if we noticed the temperature creeping up. I also like to keep the shades drawn so he doesn’t get spooked by the sight of a passerby. It also keeps the sun from pouring in and heating the trailer up.
On the road, Riley rides in a booster bucket seat (pictured below) in the backseat. The seat is easy to put in and take out and simply attaches with a seat belt. It sits up high enough to allow him to safely put his paws out the window and take in the sights and the smells. The seat is also large enough for him to comfortably spread out and take a nap. We don’t attach his harness to the seat – instead we use a heavy duty sherpa lined seat belt we got long ago at PetSmart.
Riley has always been on a very strict, healthy diet. Our first couple of months of Airstream living, I found it very difficult to continue to feed his frozen raw diet from Darwin’s Pet. We had limited freezer space and when we moved the trailer, the freezer obviously wouldn’t keep the food frozen. Plus we no longer had a dishwasher to turbo blast his food bowls clean and I hated the thought of hand-washing bloody dog dishes (it was the rawest of the raw in dog food!) in our sink with everything else. We switched to a dehydrated all-organic diet from Dogs for the Earth. Although dehydrated and minimally processed, Dogs for the Earth food is heated enough to kill off any dangerous pathogens found in raw meat so I don’t have to worry about contaminating our own dishes. The food bags are also small and easy to stow away in our tiny space. Another bonus is there is zero dog food smell. When you’re in a tiny space, you smell everything so smelly dog food is something we definitely don’t want in here. It’s easy to feed and all you have to do is add water. They also make equally healthy treats we keep along with us when we go on hikes. Riley is a super fan of this food for sure. And so are we. No mess, no smell and ORGANIC!
Another thing that’s a life saver are collapsible dog bowls. I clip these on our hiking packs and always leave one in our car and one in my purse. They’re perfect for feeding when we are on long trips and for busting out water on hikes.
Riley goes with on most of our adventures. He’s game for anything and there really isn’t anything he doesn’t like doing with us. He’s even been on a longboard! We’ve tried a lot of gear over the years and below are our favorites.
Now that Riley is older, he tires out on hikes sooner than he used to. We stick him in his K9 Sport Sack (pictured above) when he starts crawling our legs wanting to be carried. We also use it in parks where dogs aren’t allowed and have had no issues so far. It seems to be very comfortable for him. If your dog has bad knees, I wouldn’t recommend it. My mom’s senior poodle has knee issues and the bag isn’t comfortable for her. My two minor cons with the bag are: I wish the straps were more comfortable and it had a couple of exterior pockets. To solve the strap issue, I added these strap pads. They have come out with a newer version of the bag since I bought this one that includes pockets. It can be found here. Also, for size reference, Riley is 10 pounds and is using a size small bag.
Riley is a HUGE fan of bike riding. I could never find a safe option for him so I built him a caged basket that rode on the rear of my bike on the storage rack. It was small and Riley had to sit just right in it but he squealed with delight every time I got the bike out. He loved it. I finally found a better, safer option where I could keep my eye on him. It’s called the Buddy Rider (pictured above) and it simply attaches to the post of the bike underneath the seat. It’s made for dogs up to 25 pounds. Riley is 10 pounds and uses the option seat insert to keep him feeling secure. You sort of straddle the seat as you ride. It was a teensy bit cumbersome at first but muscle memory kicks in and you eventually stop grazing it with your legs. It’s worth it to me because bike riding is one of Riley’s favorite things!
When the temperature is on the higher side, I put Riley in a cooling vest (pictured above). You simply dunk it in cold water, wring it out and put it on your dog. It makes a huge difference in the amount of panting. I used this more when he was younger but still pull it out now and then when the temperature creeps up and he needs to get out and exercise. For reference, he took a 12″ length coat.
Another thing we have is a good life vest for when he’s out on the water with us. Above is Riley a few years back paddleboarding with us in Key West. We used this Outward Hound vest for years until switching to this more streamlined Outward Hound neoprene vest. It seems to be more breathable and less cumbersome than his older vest. He takes a size small.
I don’t like the ingredients in traditional flea and tick medication so I give him a natural form of protection. I can’t attest to it’s performance as he’s never had flea issues. I don’t know if it’s due to his diet or what but I can’t even remember the last time I saw a flea or any signs of fleas on him. And I preen him all the time like a momma bird. 😉 Also, when we are outside for any length of time I spray Riley (and ourselves) with this pet safe bug spray (pictured above) to ward off mosquitoes. It’s potent but by the end of the day the smell usually wears off almost completely.
It’s also been handy to have a blanket along that’s just for Riley. He uses it in the truck and it’s also nice to be able to throw it down on the ground or on picnic tables for him at campgrounds. I especially love Mexican blankets – they’re solid, don’t snag easily and the deep colors keep it looking nice between washes. These large Del Mex blankets (pictured above) are the best! Plus they look cute too.
There ya have it! If you have any questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment below! Happy to help! Curious about Riley’s history? Click here.