Keeping Tabs on Chewy: GPS Pet Trackers for RV Travel

Well, friends, it’s happened to the best of us. You’re puttering around your campsite, taking in the beautiful scenery, when you realize ol’ Chewy has wandered off. He’s probably just sniffing around the woods or making new friends, but you can’t help worrying as the minutes tick by. What if he gets lost? Before you know it, your relaxing camping trip has turned into an anxiety-ridden search party operation.

I learned this lesson the hard way on a trip through the Badlands last year. My loyal collie, Chewy, decided to chase after a jackrabbit, and the next thing I knew, he was nowhere to be seen! I must have hiked five miles calling his name before he came sauntering back around dusk, happy as could be but leaving us frazzled wrecks. After that little adventure, I started looking into GPS pet trackers. Now I don’t have to worry when Chewy goes on one of his unannounced walkabouts.

How Pet Trackers Provide Peace of Mind

Pet trackers use GPS and cellular signals to pinpoint your pet’s location and allow you to view it on your smartphone or computer. Some even have virtual fences that alert you if your pet wanders outside a designated area. Others have activity monitoring that notifies you if your pet runs off or starts moving faster than usual.

I tried out the Whistle GO Explore when we got home from the Badlands. It’s a small, rugged gadget that attaches to Chewy’s collar. Through the app, I can see exactly where he is at any time and set up safe zones around our campsite. If Chewy goes walkabout now, I get an immediate alert on my phone. No more fruitless hours of searching!

Pet trackers give you peace of mind that you can always find your companion if they get lost on a hike or manage to slip out of your RV. For adventurous pets, they’re a must-have for RVers. You can relax knowing your furry friend isn’t far even when they’re out of sight.

Key Features to Look For

There are a few key features to look for when choosing a pet tracker:

  • Real-time GPS tracking: The best trackers update your pet’s location every 2-5 minutes so you know exactly where they are. Avoid trackers that only update when your pet is moving.
  • Virtual fences and custom geofences: Create a safe zone around your campsite so you’re alerted if your pet wanders too far. High-end models let you draw custom geofences on a map.
  • Extended cellular coverage: Make sure the tracker works nationwide on the AT&T or Verizon network. Avoid GPS-only models that lose signal in remote areas.
  • Activity monitoring: Trackers that monitor your pet’s movement and activity levels can alert you if they run off or start moving too fast. Helpful if your pet likes to wander.
  • Long battery life: Look for 1-2 weeks of battery life to limit recharging on long trips. Solar charging capabilities are ideal for RVing.
  • Rugged, waterproof design: Choose a sturdy tracker that can withstand the rigors of the outdoors and your pet’s adventures. Waterproofing is a must if your pet likes to swim.

Based on my research and hands-on testing, here are my top 3 recommendations for pet trackers to use when RVing:

1. Whistle GO Explore

This is the tracker I use with Chewy. It offers reliable GPS tracking, virtual fences, and excellent battery life. I like that it has an app packed with useful features and health metrics for your pet. The solar charging case is perfect for RVing.

Key features:

  • Real-time location updates every 2-5 minutes
  • 20 days of battery life, solar charging case
  • Activity monitoring and return-to-home alerts
  • Rugged, waterproof design

2. Tractive GPS Dog Collar

For the budget-minded, the Tractive GPS tracker packs a ton of features at an affordable price. It has virtual fences, fitness monitoring, and works on the reliable AT&T network. Just beware – battery life is only 2-3 days.

Key features:

  • Virtual fences with escape alerts
  • Location updates every 2-3 minutes
  • Activity and health monitoring
  • Affordable price point

3. Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker

Findster uses long-range radio signals rather than cellular networks for tracking. While range is limited to about 3 miles, it works anywhere without paying monthly fees. Geofencing, activity monitoring, and rechargeable batteries make this a compelling choice.

Key features:

  • No cellular plan required
  • Battery lasts 1-2 months
  • Geofencing alerts if pet wanders
  • Tracks activity levels
  • 100% waterproof

What to Look for By Pet

Every furry friend is different, so it pays to think about your pet’s size, breed, and temperament when choosing a tracker.

For big dogs that roam: Go with a rugged, waterproof tracker like Whistle GO Explore. The fitness tracking helps monitor their activity levels.

For small dogs and cats: A lightweight tracker like Tractive fits easily on a collar or harness. Focus on battery life since small pets can hide in tight spaces.

For anxious pets prone to bolting: Features like virtual fences and activity monitoring can alert you if they run off suddenly. Escape alerts provide peace of mind.

For elderly or laidback pets: Basic real-time location tracking is all you need for pets who prefer lounging around your site. Save money with a simpler tracker.

For adventurous water-loving pets: Prioritize waterproofing along with long battery life. Whistle GO is a great pick for swimming and hiking companions.

For pets who hate collars: Pick a tiny tracker like Tile that easily attaches to a collar or harness so it’s less irritating. Just know their short range limits usefulness.

Key Factors That Affect Cost

Pet trackers range in price from $25 to $150+, with monthly fees from $5 to $20 if cellular service is included. Here are some factors that affect the cost:

  • GPS tracking: Cellular-connected GPS trackers cost more than radio frequency trackers with limited range. For RVers, nationwide GPS tracking is recommended.
  • Cellular data plans: Most trackers charge a monthly fee for cellular access ($5-$20/month). Some let you buy a year upfront for discount. Data plans increase the cost but allow nationwide, real-time tracking.
  • Advanced features: Expect to pay more for trackers with an app packed with features like health metrics, fitness tracking, temperature alerts, and detailed activity monitoring.
  • Battery life: Longer battery life means less charging and adds cost. But it’s worth it for RV travel. Solar charging cases help offset the battery expense long-term.
  • Build quality: Rugged, waterproof trackers made for the outdoors are pricier but pay off if your pets are adventurous.

For RV travel, I recommend investing in a good quality tracker with nationwide coverage, long battery life, and useful features. It’s worth the peace of mind for the safety of pets we consider family!

What I’ve Learned From Using a Pet Tracker

Since I started using a GPS tracker with Chewy, it’s given me insights into his wanderings and made me rethink some assumptions. Here are a few interesting things I’ve learned:

  • Chewy’s tiny jaunts around the campsite add up to 2+ miles a day of walking. No wonder he sleeps so much in the RV!
  • He seems to patrol the campsite perimeter each morning, probably “marking” his territory. Chelonia Basin must smell like him by now.
  • Chewy has an uncanny ability to sniff out hikers with treats. When people are nearby, I’ll see him suddenly start booking it up the trail.
  • His longest solo hike clocked in at 4 miles along the river and almost gave me a heart attack! But he came back perfectly happy.
  • On travel days, Chewy naps hard. But at campsites, he’s remarkably active – even in the middle of the night sometimes.
  • He’s scared of mule deer for some reason. Whenever they get near our site, Murdoch comes running back to the RV.
  • When it rains or storms, Chewy doesn’t seem bothered at all. He’ll wander around in a downpour without hesitation.
  • Despite his adventurous streak, Chewy is definitely a homebody. He rarely wanders more than 1/4 mile from our campsite for long.

Answering Common Questions About Pet Trackers

If you’re considering a GPS pet tracker for RV travel, chances are you still have some questions. Here are answers to some common queries:

How accurate is the location tracking? Most cellular trackers are accurate to within several yards thanks to GPS. Radio frequency trackers are less precise with accuracy around 10-30 feet.

Do they work in remote areas? Cellular trackers rely on the AT&T and Verizon networks so they work virtually everywhere with cell service. Radio trackers have limited range so perform best in urban settings.

Can the batteries be replaced? Most rechargeable batteries eventually need replacement. Costs range from $15-$50 and some companies will replace for free. Just make sure to buy a tracker with removable batteries.

Can the tracker fall off or get damaged? Look for rugged, waterproof designs meant for outdoor use. Some even have backup latches or screw tight casings to prevent pets losing them. Plus most have lost tracker recovery features.

Do I need a cellular plan? For RV travel, cellular coverage is recommended for nationwide range. Some radio frequency trackers don’t require a monthly plan but have very limited range.

How long do batteries last? Average battery life is 5-10 days for cellular trackers, 1-2 months for radio trackers. Solar charging cases can dramatically extend life for off-grid adventures.

What about privacy and security? Trackers use cellular networks with encryption to transmit data securely. Share access only with people you trust. Disable tracking features when desired for privacy.

Key Takeaways

Alright, let’s recap the main points to keep in mind about using a GPS pet tracker while RVing:

  • Real-time cellular GPS trackers provide nationwide range and peace of mind if your pet wanders off.
  • Look for essential features like long battery life, virtual fences, activity monitoring, and waterproofing. Skip unnecessary bells and whistles.
  • Choose a tracker suited for your pet based on size, breed, age, and temperament. Not all trackers work the same for every animal.
  • Creative tips like shopping sales, buying used, and gifting can help trackers fit your budget. The safety of your pet is priceless.
  • Getting insights into your pet’s activities and routines from a tracker can be surprising and fun! You’ll learn more about their personality.
  • With a reliable tracker like Whistle GO, you and your furry road trip buddy can relax and enjoy your travels without worrying about them wandering too far.

So don’t wait for your pet to get lost to decide on a tracker. Give yourself peace of mind right from the start of your RV adventures together.

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