Today, I’m sharing my best tips and packing list ideas to make a long road trip with your dog easy and comfortable for both of you.
My husband and I are planning on doing a bit of traveling with our dog this year. This is nothing new.
Our dog, Vincent, traveled everywhere we did for the first three years of his life. He’s pretty adaptable when it comes to road tripping.
To prepare for some summer adventures, I’ve been taking him on some drives around town. He loves it and unlike some dogs who get nervous, or even sick, on car rides, Vincent loves them.
He prefers to sit in the passenger seat and look out the window until he gets bored and then he’ll move into the back seat and play with a toy that I’ve packed for the trip or take a nap.
When it comes to passing time in the car, he knows how to handle himself but if traveling with your dog is new to you, you’ll want to follow a few of my tips.
12 Tips to make a Long Road Trip with your Dog Easy
- Visit a vet before your trip so your dog has a clean bill of health. Ask your vet for a copy of their vaccination records if you don’t have one, which will be needed if you plan to kennel your dog at all during your trip.
- If your dog is not used to traveling, you can get them used to it by slowly introducing them to the vehicle. First, allow them to get in the car while it’s parked. Later, you can start the car and drive around the block. As your dog gets used to being in the car, you can increase your trips across town and on short day trips before finally taking a long road trip with your dog. If you’ve spent some time practicing and your dog does not adjust to riding in the vehicle well, it may be best to make other arrangements for your pet.
- Make sure your dog is well exercised before entering the vehicle. They’ll be more apt to settle down and relax if they don’t have a ton of energy.
- Pack your own supply of water- either bottled or fill jugs of water for your pet to make sure they don’t have any tummy issues at your destination.
- Don’t feed your dog right before you set off on your road trip and don’t feed them on the way. Give them small treats and plenty of water so they stay hydrated, but eating can give them a tummy ache.
- Keep your vehicle well ventilated, especially if your dog is in their crate. Turn up the cool air or air conditioner and point the vents towards your dog.
- Make frequent stops to exercise your dog, give them water and allow them a chance to use the restroom.
- Don’t leave your dog in the car unattended, especially during the summer when temperatures inside the vehicle can soar in a matter of minutes. If you must leave your dog, make sure they are accompanied by a member of the family, so you can leave the vehicle running or safely roll the windows down.
- Make sure you travel with a current photo of your dog. This will be especially handy if the unthinkable happens and your dog gets away from you and you need to find them. You may also consider a temporary travel collar and Pet ID with your name, cell phone number and the number of your destination in case your pet gets lost. If your pet has a microchip, make sure all of your information is accurate.
- Do your research before leaving home. Create a list of veterinarian hospitals within 30-60 minutes of your final destination.
- Make sure you pack all of your dogs essentials- food, water, supplements, toys and their bed or favorite blanket. Just like us, they like to have their favorite things nearby which can help the travel process to go smoothly.
- Traveling with your pet does take a bit more advance planning. You’ll want to book your accommodations in advance for the duration of your trip and confirm that they are pet-friendly and inquire if they charge a fee for pets.
What to Pack when Traveling with your Dog
- Vaccination Records
- A portable food & water dish
- His favorite blanket and/or bed
- Plenty of water
- Dog Poo bags
- Calming Tablets, just in case I need them
- A first-aid kit (especially something to remove ticks)
- An old towel to cover the seat or to clean up muddy feet
- Pet Wipes for grooming between baths
- Pet Restraints or a crate for the car
And of course, you don’t want to leave home without their collar, tags, and leash.
In addition to packing a familiar toy from home, I normally buy a new toy for my dog before each road trip.
What tips do you have that make traveling with your dog less stressful?
Wednesday 4th of January 2023
We drive from Texas to New York a few times a year. We always bring our two dogs with us. To make life easy, we follow a few rules. 1. We take frequent potty breaks. 2. We fold down the back seat and put a giant water proof seat cover over it. Next a flat crate bed on half the seat and a pet cooling mat next to it. It’s the best of both worlds. 3. We use a bowl that is extremely hard to tip over (no spill water bowl on Amazon) 4. We stay at pet friendly hotels, usually Home2 by Hilton. The majority of them that we’ve stayed at are really clean. The hotel chain is really pet friendly and gives away cute doggy goody bags. 5. We drive a max of 4-5 hours a day. 6. We feed them on their normal schedule and then give them frozen kongs for the car ride. I mix some of their dog kibble with a carrot, some crushed treats with a bit of water. I then freeze the kongs over night. Most hotel rooms have refrigerators and freezers, the dogs love the kongs and it keeps them content. 7. We expect accidents and always bring paper towels, general pet friendly household cleaner & an old towel or two. 8. Finally, if we’re stuck in traffic and the dogs get antsy, we play woodland nature sounds. It calms them down and puts them to sleep. It works surprisingly well! Each dog is different, what I’ve listed here works consistently well for us. We’re leaving New York in a few days, this will be our 18th time driving back with the dogs. Fingers crossed! :)
Tuesday 24th of January 2023
Those are all great tips, Kerri! Thanks so much for sharing. Our granddog loves Kongs but I've never thought of freezing them. I'll try that.
Wednesday 8th of December 2021
Thank you so much! We are planning our first long road trip with our dog and this really helped. He loves the car but we have never travelled this far before. Really appreciated all the tips!
Saturday 11th of December 2021
I'm glad you found the tips helpful, Kaeli! Safe travels!
Monday 15th of June 2020
My dogs are no longer alive, but they were when we started spending winters in Arizona. They travelled with us on our several day road trip from Canada. These are good trips. If you are crossing a border with dogs, make sure you have their papers and find out what you can and cannot bring across in terms of their food and treats. The U.S. has strict regulations of what dog food can be brought into the country and how it must be packaged (fresh, unopened bags).
Thursday 26th of September 2019
Thanks for the tips on travelling with your dog. I am thinking about going on a road trip with my dog soon. I think it would also be smart to find the nearest emergency pet hospital along my path in case something happens.
Thursday 26th of September 2019
That's a great idea!