So, you want to embark on a van-dwelling adventure but not sure whether to bring Fido or not? No problem! I’ve had my tiny life companion sharing the van with me for two years with minimal issues. That being said, there are some things to consider. You probably shouldn’t just throw your dog in the van and head into the great outdoors.
Ventilation for the dog
If you live in a van (or are planning to) then you should already know the importance of ventilation. Now, with a four legged fur friend in the van, this becomes twice as important. It’s more than just investing in a decent fan. You also need to ensure that you have enough power to keep it running pretty much at all times. You can find more about power in The Sprinter Van Power Setup.
The location of the fan is also important. If you have the fan in the front, a window in the back helps a lot with a cross-breeze. Personally, I have a Maxxfan Deluxe by Maxxair in the front and a C.R. Laurence window in the aft left. Together they do a pretty decent job of keeping the van reasonably cool. The extra window brings up another factor though, the sun.
Easy tips to fight the sun
The irony of the situation is that you want to park in the shade to keep your home cool, yet you must park in the sun to harness the power that keeps it cool. It’s a predicament. There are some easy ways to mitigate the heat though. Window screens are easily the most important. I created my own front window screen out of reflectix and bought some fancy insulated ones for the side windows. Worth every penny. You don’t want the window screens to be too much of a pain to put up and down. If you’re leaving the puppers in the car, you will be doing it a lot.
Another easy fix is to park facing away from the sun. Letting the sun broadside your van can easily raise the temp by 10 degrees. You obviously won’t be able to always park directly facing away from the sun. After all, the sun DOES move. However, taking care to ensure the sun doesn’t hit your side window is equally as important. Remember, windows suck at insulating.
Battling the hair
Having a fur covered animal inside an 11×6 metal tube all the time is bound to present some problems. It’s not just the basic sweeping that has to be done a lot, but the in-depth cleaning as well. The corners and all the little hidden spots get covered in hair. If you have ANY form of allergy to dogs that you typically just deal with, then I would not recommend this lifestyle with the doggo.
A duster for the cockpit area and a broom for the living space are essential. Also, be prepared to clean your fan screen a lot more. Keeping the fan screen clean is paramount in extending your fan’s life and optimizing its abilities. I will sweep my van out 2-3 times a day easy, often more, and clean my fan screen every 2 weeks. I think it goes without saying that you should also invest in a hardwood floor. You won’t be doing much vacuuming in a van.
The joy of having a van dog
Yes, you may need to up your power bank a bit and worry about the sun a tad more than the normal van-dweller. But it’s worth it if you ask me. Living the solo van life has its downsides. It can be a bit lonely. The love of a furbaby does wonders to ease that. Not to mention, you are providing that dog with one hell of a life. He/she will have tons of exercise and see you more than a normal dog sees their human. (Check out the vanlife from my dogs perspective). Puppers hate being alone and love their humans. So take a chance, take your dog, and take to the road!