A Guide to Plan A Stress-Free Dog-Friendly Road Trip

There are some affiliate links below, but they are all products I highly recommend. For more info, view my disclosure here.

Planning a fun, enjoyable road trip for you and your dog is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time, research, and planning. To make it easier for you, we have put together this all-encompassing guide on how to plan the perfect dog friendly road trip.

This guide will cover everything from picking where to stay with your dog all the way to what you might want to pack in your car with your fur baby.

Our Dog-Friendly Road Trip Experiences

Ginger was our perfect road trip girl. We would head out any weekend we had available and head to Savannah, the Florida Keys, or Sanibel lsland for a quick getaway.

When Roxy and Rico joined our family in Puerto Rico, we didn’t really get the opportunity to take them on road trips. I mean, it would take just over 2 hours to get from one end of the island to the other, and we lived pretty central, so that barely counted as a road trip!

Once we all moved to Alaska, however, it was an entirely different story! With everything so spread out and so much to explore, we were packing up the babies and heading out whenever we could.

Our longest road trip was the 21-hour journey to the end of the road in Denali National Park. In ONE DAY. It was intense, but we all made it and had an enjoyable, if exhausting, adventure! Read on for all my tips to have a stress-free road trip with a dog!

What Should I Consider Before Leaving on A Road Trip With My Dog?

If you’re planning to take your dog on a road trip, here are some tips to make your road trip as pleasant and safe as possible. It is a good idea to microchip your dog and make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.

Keep proof of vaccinations handy in case you visit a dog park or dog day care that requires up-to-date vaccines. I like to have my vet email the records to me, and I keep the email in a quickly-accessed email folder just in case.

It’s also a good idea to consult your veterinarian and to stock up on necessary medication before heading out. With Roxy on thyroid medication, we make sure to have enough for the entire trip plus an extra two weeks, just in case.

If you’ve moved since you got your dog, make sure their contact information on their dog tag is up-to-date in case they manage to get away from you.

You should also make sure your contact information is updated with the microchip company. If your dog does go missing, whoever finds your pup will be able to contact you and return them to safety. Here are some additional tips for lost dogs!

It is important to plan your accommodations and a loose schedule of places to visit ahead of time. Some trails and national parks do not allow pets. You can still be flexible, but do your research and choose places that are dog-friendly before you leave.

When traveling long distances, it is also important to make pit stops along the way. Plan for breaks when traveling with your dog. In addition, it is important to ensure that your pet stays safe inside the car at all times.

How to Pick a Dog-Friendly Hotel

The first thing you need to do is research the best hotels that are pet-friendly so that you can avoid any potential pitfalls or problems ahead of time. It’s important to find a hotel that is dog-friendly so that your dog has a welcoming place to join you on your adventures.

Some hotels offer a restricted or limited number of pet-friendly rooms or a certain type of room that allows pets. These rooms typically have a pet fee and sometimes require a non-refundable deposit.

A hotel can let you know if they accept pets on their website, over the phone, or over email. Don’t forget to ask about restrictions, such as breed restrictions or weight limits. They can let you know if pets are allowed in the room alone, or if they must come with you at all times when leaving the hotel. You’ll also want to confirm any fees to avoid unpleasant surprises!

While you’ll want to make sure your dog is comfortable with the environment, you can’t forget that your dog needs time to adjust to the travel and may not react well to being left alone in a strange environment. If your dog is stressed, it makes the rest of the trip stressful for you.

I know Rico is my velcro-boy, so we don’t leave him alone in the hotel. Picking pet-friendly eateries or having picnics in the park is a much better option than leaving a stressed dog alone in an unfamiliar place. Plus, if they bark, not only will your dog be miserable, so will your neighbors, plus the hotel may charge you an extra fee!

What to Pack For A Dog-Friendly Road Trip

Many dogs love being with their owners allllll the time, so why not plan to bring them with you on the open road for a fun trip? Wondering what to bring on a dog road trip? If you’re going on a road trip with your pup, don’t forget these must-haves for traveling with a dog. Here’s the dog travel checklist you need!

Food and Water, Of Course!

The first thing to pack is a travel water bowl and food bowl, so they have fresh water and food when they need it. It’s essential to keep your pet well-hydrated on a road trip.

It’s best to pack plenty of food for your dog and snacks for the entire journey. You want to make sure to pack enough for the entire trip, so you aren’t scrambling to find a bag of your dog’s food while on the road.

Rico is an impressively picky eater for a former street dog, so we like bringing Beneful Prepared Meals with us. They’re easy to keep in the car, and one of the few things he will happily eat when he’s anxious or stressed.

Kong Stuffing Ideas

Bring Fun Dog Toys on Your Road Trip

Next up are toys that are safe for the car, like plush toys. And don’t forget about treats! Your dog will love it if they get a few extra snacks during their travel. A filled KONG is perfect for keeping them busy and working their brain while you’re busy driving.

Rico Dog Jacket

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

You should also check out the weather forecast in each location so that you have an idea of what type of gear your pup will need for their comfort level. With the weather in Alaska being so volatile, we would keep a set of dog jackets in the car for the babies just in case a sudden weather change made it snow at higher elevations. Now that we’re in Colorado, they have a permanent place in our car travel kit.

If it’s going to be extremely hot at any point of your trip, consider packing dog booties to protect their paws from hot pavement when heading on potty breaks.

OUR PICK

Kurgo Loft Dog Jacket

Reversible dog vest is perfect to keep your dog cozy during chilly fall months & cold winter months when out on walks, hikes, & runs. 

Have a Safe Car Ride with Travel Kennels or Seatbelts

When traveling with your dog, safety should be your number one priority. Using a pet travel crate or a pet car seat will keep your dog safe. We travel with Roxy & Rico in their pet travel crates. It gives them a cozy place to relax, and Rico’s less worried during the drive. We put their cozy beds inside and they hop right in and settle!

If your dog isn’t a fan of travel kennels, you can instead get them a dog seat belt. It clips to their harness and connects to the seatbelt, and keeps your dog safe in case there’s a car accident.

Bring Your Dog’s Leash & Harness

Keeping your dog leashed is mandatory in many areas, so you want to be prepared for that no matter how well your dog does off-leash. Harnesses are always a better idea than clipping a leash to your dog’s collar, which can slip off, or cause damage to their trachea or thyroid gland.

Carry a Dog First-Aid Kit

Bringing a doggy first aid kit is vital to a safe trip. You never know when your dog will step on a sand spur or cactus, so having tweezers readily available is so helpful. You’ll also want it to contain bandages for cuts just in case. You can also discuss bringing Dramamine with your vet so you’re prepared in case your dog experiences some car sickness while on the road.

Before leaving on your road trip, make sure your dog has a healthy meal and plenty of water. Just before leaving, take them out for a nice, long walk so they can potty and burn off some extra energy before settling in for the ride. Taking a long walk together will tire your dog and make the journey more enjoyable for both of you.

Plan to stop at rest areas with open grassy areas to allow your pet to get fresh air, exercise, and go potty.

What To Do During a Road Trip With Your Dog

The road trip will be a lot more fun when everyone is happy. A dog-friendly road trip can be an incredible way to explore a new city. GoPetFriendly.com is a great resource to find pet-friendly hotels, eateries, and activities you can safely bring your dog to.

These tips will keep you and your dog both happy and stress-free during a great, dog-friendly road trip!