Traveling in a Van With a Dog

Coco and I are on this epic van journey that I do about once a year. Currently we are in California, but we are about to head back to the east coast shortly. There is a lot of stuff on the #VanLife movement these days, but not a ton on dogs.

Disclaimer: my dog is amazing. She will jump up and kiss you, and jump all over you, but she is relatively regular when it comes to going to the restroom, is vocal she needs to be and holds her business like no one else.

Here are some tips and tricks that we have found that are successful for us as we live together in a pretty small space.


This is the most important tip. Coco (my dog), requires a fair bit of entertainment and exercise each day. There is no other way around it. If you don’t exercise her, she won’t eat, she won’t be happy. Need to get her moving.

Playing with other dogs is the best form of exercise for Coco, but safari walks where she can stop and smell things are also great. She also enjoys a flirt poll which is like a giant cat toy. Getting her tired makes her a better dog both in the van and when I bring into places.

Noticed how I used the term “safari” walk. This isn’t the same as walking for distance. If you get your dog to move for distance and just train distance, you have to keep on adding more and more distance to keep draining her energy and her stamina gets better. Safari walks require you to cover less distance, but they allow for time to for the dog to smell. These smells trigger all sorts of thoughts and questions, and these questions tire out the dog (at least this is how it was explained to me).


We have a routine that we try to keep. This allows Coco to know when are good times to go the bathroom and when she might be out of luck. I make sure she gets out every couple of hours during the day if we are driving. If we are stopped I will try to get her to walk every couple of hours. Giving her opportunities to go the bathroom means she doesn’t go to the bathroom in the van.

Door Mat

I have towel or door mat right by the stair in the van. When Coco goes into the van, her paws have to step on the mat and we get some of the dirt and moisture off the feet. Wetness is the enemy in dark van. The goal is try to keep things and dogs dry.

Place Poop Bags Everywhere

I went on a trip without packing poop bags. I had to use things like a Starbucks pastry bag and anything else I could find. I went to Walmart when they opened the next day and bought a big pack. These are things you will run out of, so I have a ton and keep on replacing them when they run out.

Watching the water intake

I stop refilling the water bowl earlier in the day when we are spending much of it in the Van. This means I don’t need to take her out to pee in the middle of the night. She has been able to hold it better than me.

Toys and treats

Coco loves to chew on hard things. The problem is that these hard things either break up and end up all over the bed or get sharp edges and end up pilling and roughing my comforter. This year we kept the hard chews to places that weren’t in the bed. Soft and squeaky toys stay on the bed for her to play with.

Morning Showers

Because the dog owns the bed, I tend to try to shower in the morning. I don’t worry as much about the bed staying super clean and just focus on getting my morning shower to stay clean.


This is only my second extended trip with the dog in the van. We do about one a year. This means I still have ton to learn, but we are both pretty happy and survived this adventure.

California Beer

I’m in California for a quick minute. Despite there being a 6+ level earthquake here yesterday, I didn’t feel anything. It’s funny, but having lived here for 12+ years of my life, the most powerful earthquake I felt was in Newport, RI.

One of the things I feel about being back in California, the beer is different. There is such a thing as New England IPA, but that isn’t really the difference. Beer just feels different out here. We have some specific breweries like Seirra Nevada, Firestone Walker, 21st Ammendment, Anchor, Lagunitas, Russian River, Modern Times, Fort Point, and Anderson Valley just to name a few. But beyond just the breweries is the availability of the beer. You can get it anywhere. Convience store, Grocery Store, Package Store, you name it. Some bars even let you buy beer to go.

And when you get to the store, you end up trying to have to pick between many different choices. So, here is some of the beer I’m looking to find while I’m out here this year, and maybe bring some back to the other coast.

Modern Times Dark Beers

Modern Times brewery make some of my favorite dark stouts. They also do some sours and IPAs, but I’m going for the coffee beer. It’s worth finding them. While I have seen some of their beer on the east coast (last time was at the Mooring in Newport), it is hard to find and they don’t always have the dark stuff you can get here. Modern Times also does their own coffee so their coffee stouts are particularly great.

Fort Point Kolsch and Westfalia

Fort Point is another great local brewery. They are based up in San Fran and make some beers taht I’m a pretty big fan of. The Kolsch (AKA KSA) is pretty consistent and tasty. I’m a fan. My favorite is the Westfalia. I started drinking it because I had a pass through van named beer, but honestly, the Red Ale is just tasty.

Two Pitchers Pop Top and Radler

Two Pitchers is my favorite. I’ve saved the best for last. They are based out of Oakland and somewhat hard ot find. Their beer is not particularly alcoholic, so I’m not sure it gets as much fan fair as it might otherwise. They have a great Radler which is found pretty easily. It’s a fruity light beer that tastes sweet and citrusy. The other beer that they do is called Pop Top. I also got into this beer because of the reference to a van in the beer name, but the beer is a wheat ale with pomegranite lemonade and is sweet, citrus and tasty. Huge fan and worth looking out for.

Stowe, VT : A quick Visit

Just returned from a quick trip to Stowe, VT to visit a friend up there. It’s probably been about 5 or so years since I’ve really been up to the state, but I used to spend a bunch of time up there as a kid. My parents would drive us up to ski in Killington, VT. Before the journey, I couldn’t be sure if I’ve ever visited Stowe.

Long story short, as I did the drive up, there were landmarks that I remembered, like the Ben and Jerry’s building. So, I’ve been there before, but probably not when I have been able to drive.

Places Visited and Reviewable:

While I didn’t have a ton of time there (I was only there like 36 hours or so), I did visit a bunch of places for food and shopping.

Ranch Camp

The first thing Forest took me to was a place called Ranch Camp for lunch. This place is awesome. I got the Local salad and it was just great. While I think they are more known for their burrito’s this salad was on point. They also had some beer from Anderson Valley (from California), which is one of my favorite breweries.

5 / 5 Stars! Would recommend.

Woodland Baking & Coffee

Wasn’t overly impressed with the espresso machine from first glance, not a brand that I recognized. This led me to choose a cold brew, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. They use Carrier Coffee which apparently is relatively local.

The real win was the molasses buckwheat sugar cookie which was spectacular. I would definitely go back here again for more coffee and pastries.

4 / 5 Starts because I’m still somewhat on the fence about the quality of the coffee.

Black Cap Coffee + Beer

Super huge line for this place in the morning. Didn’t recognize their machine brand or the coffee. Also got a cold brew and chocolate croissant. The line was out the door to get the coffee and I probably waited 30 minutes for coffee that was just okay. Its location is great, it’s right in front of the big Stowe Church. I don’t know if I would return.

2.5 / 5 Stars

Stowe Sandwich Company

Got very high reviews on Yelp and I would confirm. Tasty place. I wanted one of the signature options, but they were sold out so I settled for the Thanksgiving meal. It was epic. Very tasty and the perfect amount of each. The one downside is that their hours were posted to 4 pm, but they closed early at 3:30 pm. Luckily we were there at 3:25 pm. Of note, the meal was pretty darn expensive. Two sandwiches, drinks, chips, and coleslaw for 41 dollars.

5 / 5 Stars, will return for more sandwiches.

Salon Salon Photo Spot

Woke up early on the one morning in Stowe and went here for photos. Was pretty and because it was sunrise and a little past peak leaf-peeping season, it was pretty empty. It was also cloudy, but I wasn’t terribly upset with the photos I ended up with here.

5 / 5 Stars, will return.

To Catch Next Time

Tiny House Hosted By AJ

This cute Tiny home is available on Airbnb and the view is amazing. You have your own private view of the water. Need to rent it for a night.

Sunset Rock

Another photo location to check out! Upset I missed it, but honestly, both days I was up there were super cloudy and rainy.

Vermont Artisan Coffee

Saw this driving up need to stop and check it out. Didn’t get to do it during their hours this trip, but high on my list for the next trip.


Big thanks to KitLender for letting me check out their space and to my friend Forrest for hosting me around the town. His mom cooked amazing meals for us both nights and they were kind of enough to welcome me into their house.

In-N-Out Order

I just got back from a three week long road trip across the country to move the last of my belongings to the east coast. I’m going to try to live bi-coastal, but without all the goods on both coasts.

Our last meal on the left coast before starting the 3000 mile journey back to Rhode Island was at the famous fast food chain In-N-Out. This is chain that until recently was entirely a west coast thing. They’ve slowely been creeping across the country and are as far as Denver as of this year. They are known for their unique fast food style burgers. I once read somewhere, that their burgers are almost 40% fat. They are super thin patties and allow for a bunch of customization.

Because of the unique ways you can customize a burger, everyone has their own special order. I’m no exception. My order is a two by one with whole grilled. This means, two meat patties, one piece of cheese and a slice of onion kept whole and grilled. Sometimes I will even do a protien style version of this meal which means wrap the burger in lettuce instead of a bun.

I’ve tried fries light, fries well, and fries animal style (with grilled cheese, diced carmelized onions, and thousand island dressing), but the standard fries turns out to be good enough for me.

Anyway, hope you get a chance to try In-N-Out if you haven’t. It’s worth the wait in line (though maybe not in Denver, yet).
Image Credit:



The Evergoods MHP 3.5

I love backpacks. I even bought a domain to talk about my backpacks, though it isn’t up and running. For about a year prior to Covid, I had been carrying the same backpack. This was a huge step for me, because I often switch between packs as needed. I was blissfully happy with my Patagonia Black Hole 32L in Hammots Gold (color no longer available). Then a friend of mine convinced me to try a new brand of pack, Evergoods.

It started out with a Evergoods MPL 30L V1. Which is a great pack, but doesn’t have the side water bottle holders which is a requirement for me on a backpack. Fast forward a bit and I’m a huge Evergoods fan. I have a pack from most of their lines, so when the announced the MHP, I resisted for a day or two (don’t really use hip packs that much), but finally bought one, and the TL;DR is: I love it.

I decided on a black pack over the signal blue. While the blue is cool, a hip pack is usually something I’m going to carry while hoping it isn’t noticed. I have a signal blue pack and it is loud and easily seen. Call it fear from living in the Bay Area for too long, but I don’t want things to be noticed and pilfered. There is still a patch location and sometimes I’ll throw on one of my cool patches for unique identity when I need it.

Both compartments are pretty awesome. I’ve only taken the pack out for a couple of adventures at this point, but usually, the back section is where I put my notebook, pen, pocket knife, and phone. The front pouch is where I put in a first aid kit, headlamp and anything else I need.

One downside, even though there is a passthrough pocket upfront, if I put something large, like an R1 through it, it will eat up space in the front pouch and make it harder to fit things in there. Still, this pouch would be good for a thin waterproof layer.

The MHP can be worn in two ways, as the standard hip pack or as shoulder sling. I’ve worn it as both. As a hip pack it is perfect. Functions exactly as expected and I can’t say anything bad about it. One practical thing I’ll say about wearing it as a sling, the arm that makes contact with the pack might have some rubbing. While there is a guard against the buckle, the excess webbing, while tucked up might hit your arm as you swing through it. You can adjust the pack on your back, but if it is at all loose it will be near the bottom. This isn’t a super big deal, but it is definitely noticeable if you are hiking with the pack for a couple of hours.

I’m sure my opinion will continue to evolve as I continue to use the pack (I’ve had it for a couple of weeks), but so far I’m a fan. A friend asked me if it would fit a iPad mini, so I checked and conformed that both the front and back pockets are big enough to hold an iPad mini.

If your interested, head over and pick one up at Evergoods MHP 3.5L.

For additional reviews, I found this pretty helpful: