If pets are a person’s best friend and nature is the world’s most exciting playground, it makes an awful lot of sense to combine the two into the ultimate best buddies adventure. If you and your furry friend are inseparable, we bet you’ve dreamed about taking them along on your outdoor expedition. You’ll be pleased to know that’s totally within your reach if you do the right preparation!
In fact, according to studies by Hepper, more than 60% of people worldwide take their animals on holiday with them yearly. Here are a few useful tips and tricks the Camp Master team has learned across the years travelling South Africa with our pets:
Check if the campsite is pet-friendly first.
Fur-st thing’s first, call ahead and make sure your four-legged bestie is actually allowed in your planned campsite. No matter how well-behaved or perfect you think your pet is, there might be other reasons they aren’t welcome on the property. These could include animals already owned by the property caretakers or owners, a delicate local biome that is sensitive to disruptions, or hazards that might be dangerous to your favourite little guy. Don’t just assume it’s all good for the good boy – there is a whole myriad of reasons a spot might not be pet friendly. Be polite and ask or plan a new destination!
Prep your four-legged family member for the trip.
New area = new bugs you need to protect your animal companion from! The best way to do that is by visiting your vet well in advance (we’re talking months ahead) and finding out what sort of preparations you need to undertake to make to ensure your furry friend is protected from fleas, ticks and other regional critters.
Especially in South Africa, you need to be on the lookout for ticks, as they carry biliary, which can be pretty serious if not caught in time or treated properly. Even if you have medicated your pet ahead of time, make sure you keep an eye on them during and after the trip for any changes in behaviour or visible irritation, and get straight to your vet if you suspect something. If you’re travelling far distances and your animal gets nervous in transit, speak to your vet about calming solutions to get them to relax en route. Better safe (and chilled out) than sorry!
Prepare your packing ahead of time.
Bring enough food, water, and any necessary medication. Especially if you’re in a remote location, the likelihood that you’ll be able to find your pet’s specific brand of food or medication is minimal. Your pet is experiencing the big wide world for the first time. Too much change could be stressful on them. You should also bring a leash, collar (with ID info) and a sturdy carrier or crate if they’re a runner! The more you add familiarity to a strange place, the more likely you are to have a relaxed, enjoyable experience with your favourite little buddy outside of your home.
Respect other adventurers.
Keep your pet quiet and under control, clean up after them – AND be respectful of other campers who may not be comfortable around pets. We know, when you look at your pet, you see nothing but a harmless, sweet, perfect angel. We feel the same about ours, too. Unfortunately, not everyone has had a totally positive experience with animals, and as such, seeing or interacting with them at close quarters may cause significant stress or anxiety to people who weren’t expecting to see pets in their holiday space.
You’re also not aware of who might be dealing with pet allergies, and it’s not fair of you to inflict a weekend of non-stop sneezing on an unsuspecting adventurer in another party. Keep your pet in your designated space and watch carefully to call them away if necessary when they do interact with other campers. If your pet doesn’t come when called, letting them run free isn’t fair to the people sharing your space.
Watch the weather.
If it’s hot outside, make sure your little buddy has plenty of water and a shaded place to rest. If it’s chilly, bring blankets or a pet coat to keep them warm. Though you may think your pet is pretty temperature-proof because they’re (probably) covered in a layer of fur, they’ve actually developed a coat to cope best with the conditions of your home.
Your four-legged friend can’t ask for a blanket, a jersey, or to go for a swim, so it’s up to you to keep a close eye on their body language and behaviour to ensure they don’t overheat or catch a significant chill. If you check the weather ahead of time and it seems worrying, it’s a good idea to leave your pet at home until you can take them on trips in more intermediate weather to get them used to regulating temperature effectively in places that are different to home. Your pets will thank you for being a little extra careful.
Do your research.
If your doggie is a digger, are there snakes in the area that might be dangerous for him? If your cat panics around strange noises, how busy is the campsite you’ve chosen to stay in and what is the usual noise level like? Are there parasites or indigenous animals in the area that might be dangerous for smaller pets, like baboons or large eagles?
These just a few of the considerations you need to bear in mind before you head down for tie away with your pets. You need to research the area, the facility, your pet and other considerations carefully to prepare adequately. The last thing you want is a nasty surprise that’s left you unprepared for what’s coming. You’ve got this, just put in the work first.
Have some tail-wagging fun!
The whole reason you wanted to take your furry friend camping in the first place is to have a whole bunch of fun with them. If you’ve prepared properly, this whole exercise should be a breeze and you shouldn’t worry about how it might turn out. Plan hikes, games and activities in the outdoors to share with your pet, and start looking forward to an unforgettable experience alongside the little beings you love the most.
Some of our favourite memories outdoors as the Camp Master team have been adventuring alongside our animals, and we’re beyond excited to see your adventure pics with your buds. Make sure to tag us in your happy snaps using the @campmastersa handle on Instagram!
Don’t forget to grab some specialised gear
We’ve got some items in the Camp Master range – which you can grab at a Game, Makro or Builders’ Warehouse near you – that make camping with your pets even easier. These must-haves take the hassle out of accommodating pets, so you can enjoy the quality time that really matters.
We suggest taking a look at:
– Adventure wagons: To tow your toys (or even your pet) in the long treks.
– A small folding shovel: For, y’know…
– A dry bag: To keep moisture out of pellet food.
– A utility box: To keep all your furry friend’s stuff stashed in one convenient spot.
– An enamel bowl: For on-the-go water stops.
– A fold-up mattress: For a comfy portable pet bed.