Category Archives: Traveling Tips

RV Travel with Our Cat Dean

 

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.  ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know.’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.” – Lewis Carroll

A year and a half ago we hit the road for full time RV living.  The decision to bring our cat, Dean was an easy one.  He is a very short very furry part of the family that we cannot live without.  Before take off we hoped he would adjust to living in a moving vehicle easily.  We weren’t sure what his process would be or if it was a terrible mistake to put him through it.  I am happy to say that after a short adjustment period he seems comfortable with the travel and with calling the RV home.  Here’s a few tips and thoughts for those considering bringing their feline friend on their RV adventure:

 

Microchipping

Before hitting the road we made sure Dean was updated with all of his shots and we got him microchipped.  The chances of losing him were greater on the road then in our apartment and we planned on taking him outside so that was  a necessary step.  We also got him a collar and a tag with his name and our phone number.

Let your kitty ride where he/she is comfortable

When we first got the RV we worried about Dean getting under the pedals or on the dash and being dangerously distracting while we were driving.  We thought keeping him in a cat bag while we were moving would keep him stable, comfortable, and far from the pedals.  Flash forward to our first drive, I placed Dean on the floor behind me inside the bag.  Seconds later I turned around to see him  outside of the bag, happily lying on his back and rolling around.  He had broken out of the cat bag and in doing so completely destroyed the zipper.  After that we decided to just let him decide where he is most comfortable existing while we are moving.  The result was Kameron driving 1000’s of miles with a cat on his lap.  That seems to be where Dean feels safest.  Allowing him to be free around the rig allows him to use his litter box when he needs it, get water, stretch his legs, have a bite to eat, and whatever else he feels like doing.

Top entry litter box and a no spill water bowl

Some saving graces for us have been our top entry litter box and our no spill water bowl.  A year and a half on the road and our water bowl has never spilled.  The top entry box prevents what I would otherwise imagine to be a big mess and as a plus it’s hilarious to watch him use it.  He’ll often put his bottom half in the box and hold himself halfway out of the box while doing his business.  He adjusted to the top entry box immediately.

Leash Training

If you want to enhance both yours and your kitty’s adventure life together you may want to consider leash training.  We take Dean out all the time.  He can hang out by the campfire or wander around places like White Sands, or as he likes to call it, The Giant Litter Box .  Dean manages to get out of a harness so we often clip his leash to his collar but are looking into more secure harnesses as we would prefer to use one of those.  Leash training is a process but we’ve come a long way.  At first, as soon as we put the leash on him he would lie flat and not move.  Now if I pick up the leash he knows what’s happening and offers his neck to me to clip it on.  Dean went from being terrified of the outside world to begging constantly to be outside.  He loved living in Yellowstone National Park and walking around the campground with us, chasing after squirrels and birds.  He seems to listen best when the RV isn’t in view or nearby.  Maybe because he feels more cautious so he tends to heel at our feet and walk along with us instead of trying to lead the way.  As a tip we always have cat treats on us in case he decides to hide under the RV or he refuses to come back inside.  Our kitty cannot resist Greenies so they have been an essential tool in our leash training.

Some other things you  may want to consider when RV’ing with a kitty is whether or not to trim their nails.  We didn’t trim Dean’s nails in Yellowstone because if he did get out, we wanted him to be able to defend himself against anything he might encounter.  Now that we are in Tucson we are trimming them again.

He seems to get pent up now and then in the rig so having some toys for him to play with is a must.  His .99cent mice and his ‘ball in the track’ toy are things he can’t live without.  Additionally he has a tunnel and a feather stick.  Gives him some exercise in a somewhat confined space.

To us Dean is like our son.  He’s our crazy little friend.  He’s our entertainment.  He’s our company on lonely days.  He’s a little monster but we love him.  I am so happy he is part of our adventure.  Next step is to plan a hike and take him camping! Stay tuned!

Harvest Hosts: Kramer Vineyards

 

 

 

 

Harvest Hosts is a program for RV’ers which allows them to stay overnight at a vineyard, brewery, or farm for free as long as you purchase a product and/or volunteer to do some work.  We stayed at our first vineyard last week in Oregon and we loved it.

LL2A0258.2 (1 of 1)

 

Kramer Vineyards is on a beautiful property.  Lush and green with rolling hills and mountain views.  From the moment we arrived the staff was incredibly nice and accommodating.  We booked our stay somewhat last minute, arrived rather late, and they made sure someone would be around after hours to set us up.  Harvest Hosts is generally only for one night stays but Kramer Vineyards was kind enough to let us stay for two nights.

 

We purchased two of the same bottles of wine during our stay at the vineyard.   We loved the Muller-Thurgau so much after the first bottle that we didn’t want to change it up for our second.  It was a deliciously sweet white wine and I’m still craving it days later.  We’re thinking about going back on our way down the coast and buying a case because we loved it so much.

 

On our last day the staff was busy bottling sparkling wine which we learned was quite a process.  Sparkling wine is much more involved then bottling regular wine although I had no idea how much work went into either.  Kim explained the process to us and let us hang out to watch the staff at work.

 

We loved our first Harvest Host experience and we are thankful to Kramer Vineyards for putting us up for two nights.  This program gives young travelers on a budget the opportunity to not only stay somewhere with beautiful views but to learn something while you’re there.  And of course I never mind drinking some wine.

For more  information on the Harvest Host program visit www.harvesthosts.com

 

5 Quick Tips For Traveling on the Cheap

        

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  Arenal Backpackers Resort in Costa Rica

 

1)  Don’t be afraid to stay in a hostel

They aren’t all like in the movie.  I do suggest researching them before you book.  Hostels tend to be much cheaper then hotels.  The dorms range around $10-$15 if you don’t mind sharing a space with others you may not know.  You could also get private rooms for as little as $30-$60 a person.

There is no age limit to stay in a hostel so don’t worry about being too old.  There was a whole family from Australia, father mother and kids, staying at my hostel in Barcelona.  Just check out reviews as some hostels are known to be party spots while others are more quiet.  Reviews are super important when picking where to stay.  I don’t stay anywhere that doesn’t have them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Casa Moabi in Costa Rica 

 

2)  Get flight alerts and research prices to find a deal

Don’t buy right away.  Wait and see what the average price is and if you can find something lower.  I price flights on a daily basis so that I can recognize a good deal.

Consider low and high season.  Most places have a low and high season.  Tickets as well as activities tend to be cheaper during the low season.  Consider the weather etc during low season and whether or not you would mind traveling then for the cheaper ticket.  Traveling during the low season can also offer flexibility.  Things won’t book up as quickly as  high season so you will have more leeway as far as how far in advance you will have to book lodging and activities.

Flight websites I use:

Cheapoair Hipmunk, and Skiplagged

If you are going somewhere like Europe keep in mind there are airlines like:

Easyjet and Ryanair

that can transport you very inexpensively around Europe.  Or you could also do the Eurail pass option.  That being said whether you fly into Paris, London, or Berlin might not matter so book the one that will cost you the least amount.  Then take a European airline flight or a train to your other destinations.  As a tip London is usually but not always the cheapest place to fly to if you are coming from NYC.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3)  Food costs can creep up

If you don’t mind a little sacrifice consider staying in hostels that also have kitchens where you can cook your own food.  On our recent trip we bought some essentials like bread, peanut butter, jelly, and pasta so that we wouldn’t have to eat out every meal.  If you do this you can eat out sometimes, but not having to eat every meal out will help stretch your food budget farther.

A lot of hostels also have meal deals.  Whether it be free breakfast and coffee or group dinners for a low price check out what your hostel offers before you book.  One place that we stayed in Costa Rica offered a huge breakfast with juice and coffee for only $5 a day.  We did this every morning we stayed there and it helped to sustain us for a good portion of the day.

If you do eat out seek local spots.  As a New Yorker I see people everyday eating a super expensive meal at some Times Square tourist trap when they could be eating a much cheaper and more delicious meal at a cute restaurant downtown.  I fell for a tourist trap in Madrid once and vowed to never do it again.  Don’t be afraid to ask a local where he would eat lunch or go a few blocks off the main strip to explore and try to find your own local spot.

4)  Public Transport

Although a lot of places offer travelers private shuttle services that are enticing they are often a lot more expensive then a public bus and basically the same accommodations.  Try to familiarize yourself with the public transport system of where you are going and do your best to take the train, subway, or public bus instead of cabs and shuttles.  It will save you a ton of money and you’ll feel more like a local.

Don’t be afraid to walk.  If it’s a safe place and not too late at night I never mind walking to wherever I need to be.  One of my favorite parts of our Costa Rica trip was walking back to our hostel from the La Fortuna Waterfall.  It was an over two hour walk but it took us where the locals live and off the tourist trek.  I’m really glad we did it because otherwise I don’t feel like we would have gotten an honest feel for the area.  Just getting lost can inspire some of the most fun on a trip.  No GPS necessary.

5)  Don’t jump to pay for tours

When you travel there will probably be tours and activities that you want to take and experience.  And you should!  There will be some that are expensive and whose costs you can’t avoid.  But there will be others where  guides are not necessary and you can save money by just going on your own.  Going on certain tours and hikes with guides can make something that would have cost $20 into something that costs $60 or even $80.  Ask around to other people in your hostel that have visited the places you want to go and see if they went via guided tour or if they went alone.  Do some research to see what is most beneficial to you.  When we travel we do some guided tours and venture off on our own for others.  A lot of places have hiking trails and things that don’t cost anything that wind up being really fun.  The only place we saw monkeys hanging on the beach in Costa Rica was during one of our treks through a hiking trail.   That being said the first time we had monkeys on our head was during a guided tour, so sometimes the guided tours are worth it.  Mixing it up can allow you to do more.

 

All photos in this post taken by Kameron and I!