Road Trip Tips for Safe and Stress-Free Travels With Your Dog

Road Trip Tips for Safe and Stress-Free Travels With Your Dog

During the current COVID-19 pandemic it is important to take care of your mental and physical well being. It’s healthy for you and your dog to spend time outdoors while physical distancing, as long as you are feeling well and can remain at least 6 feet away from other people. So planing a little getaway with your family and your pets will likely alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling, while giving your dog some fun and exercise. Make sure to avoid crowded areas like dog parks and busy trails though. Quiet neighborhoods and less- popular destinations can give you an excellent opportunity to get outside to a long walk with your dog.  

Before you hit the road, there are a few important ways to prepare so that you and your pooch enjoy a stress-free, accident-free, and memorable gallivant across the country! 

Road Trip Tips When Traveling With Your Pooch

The health of your dog is super important while traveling- especially when you’re on the road, in a foreign environment. New surroundings can be both exciting and intimidating for your pup, so it’s best to make sure they’re in the best shape before you hit the open road.

Traveling with your dogs (or dog) is not as complicated as you may think. It’s simply about doing your homework beforehand, preparation, and the establishment of ground rules. Check these top tips for more… 

1. Schedule in a Vet Checkup 

First thing’s first, make sure your dog visits the vet before your road trip commences. You’ll need to get confirmation that they’re in good health and can withstand a long trip in a confined space i.e. your car. Make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date and stock up on any medications they’re taking. Don’t forget to discuss fleas, ticks, and any other health concerns you should be aware of while traveling. 

It’s also super important to ask about possible allergic reactions and how to counter them should this situation arise. After your vet checkup, ask for a vaccination certificate and a copy of their medical records and don’t forget to pack it! 

2. Make Sure Your Pet is Microchipped 

There’s always a chance your dog’s collar could fall off or slip off along your travels. That’s why microchipping your pooch provides an extra level of security and peace-of-mind should they wander off in a foreign environment. 

3. Pick Your Mode of Transport

Once your pet has received the all-clear by your vet, it’s time to decide on how you’ll be traveling. If you plan on taking your own car, you’ll need to prepare it adequately for the comfort and safety of your pet. Otherwise, you could also consider a pet-friendly adventure van or rent a camper with a little more space for larger dogs. 

Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to use a car safety harness or secured carrier to protect your pet from accidents. It also keeps them from bolting out of the car or an open window in unfamiliar surroundings. 

4. Plan Out Your Road Trip Route 

Planning out your road trip route is wise so that you can schedule in much-needed breaks for both you and your dog. It’s also part of the fun and allows you to plan out certain sites you want to cross off your must-see list. Planning your route is also important so that you can choose the best pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and activities along the way. You can also make note of veterinarians, pet stores and daycare facilities in certain areas if and when you’re in need.  

5. Choose Pet-Friendly Accommodations

It doesn’t matter how you plan to travel- whether it’s camping or staying in hotels, it’s always important to reserve your accommodation beforehand. This is especially important when traveling with a pet, as pet-friendly spots could be a little few-and-far-between in certain regions.

Remember that campgrounds are always busier on weekends and holidays. Some hotels only offer a limited number of dog-friendly rooms on their property. Some of the best websites to help you plan your accommodation include BringFido and

6. Pack Well For Your Pet

It may seem like a good idea to pack everything (plus the kitchen sink) for your canine companion, but often, it’s just not necessary. You need to leave room for your stuff, too! Start off with a pet travel bag or organizer. This way you’re limited to that amount of space alone. 

Some pet necessities may include: 

  • Their pet food and a few travel treats -always pack enough of a trusted brand of pet food plus a little extra 
  • All necessary pet medications, vitamins, and supplements 
  • Portable food and water bowls that pack away without being too bulky or messy – consider anti-spill water bowls which are ideal for the car
  • A specific pouch for treats – this sets your pet up for success as you train them to adapt to new environments
  • A few rolls of paper towel and carpet cleaner for muddy paws and accidents
  • An old towel in case of rain or dips in the ocean
  • The bed your pet usually sleeps in (if possible) so that they’re comfortable in a familiar sleep spot at night
  • Doggy waste bags to pick up after your pooch
  • A doggy first aid kit and insect repellent 
  • An extra leash (ideally no longer than 6-feet) and a longer one (15-20 feet) if you plan on bringing your dog along your hikes 

At the end of the day, what’s most important is to pack all the things they need to be comfortable so that your travels are as stress-free as possible. 

Dog traveling in car

7. Do a Few Test Drives Before a Long Road Trip 

If your dog has never been in the car before, it’s incredibly important to ”break them in” so that they become accustomed to being in a car. You’ll need to see how your dog reacts to traveling in a car with few short drives before your long road trip. Dogs also suffer from motion sickness, and some do not react well to confined spaces. For more on how to prepare your pooch for riding in the car, check out this information by the ASPCA. 

8. Provide Some Form of Entertainment

A good way to keep overly excited or unruly behavior at bay while you’re in the car is with a distraction. Provide your dog with some form of entertainment in the form of a stuffed toy, chewy toy, or food puzzle. You can’t exactly expect your dog to appreciate your taste in music or not get bored along the way. This is why a chewy toy or dog-safe bone is enough to keep them busy between each stop along the way. 

9. Remember to Enjoy the Ride 

If you feel stressed out or worried throughout your road trip, your dog will pick up on this energy. This, in turn, can rub off on them too. Once you hit the road, try to relax and enjoy the time with your pet along the way. It’s the perfect time to slow down, put your seat back, and sniff the roses along the way. Sticking to a schedule that’s too tight or too rushed will feel more like work than an enjoyable road trip your loved ones and favorite furry friend. 

10. Plan Feeding Times Carefully 

It’s never a wise idea to feed your dog a main meal, then immediately hop in the car! Make sure to plan all main meals at least 3-4 hours before your next long drive. They should only drink a normal amount of water too- nothing in excess. The last thing you need is a gassy passenger who is uncomfortable along the way. 

11. Plan Your Stops Well 

If your dog is young and relatively new to road trips, then you’ll need to plan a road trip break every hour or so. Make sure your pooch gets out of the car and is walked on a leash for at least 10-minutes to stretch their legs or relieve themselves. If your dog is a little older, than can generally push through 3-4 hour stretches at a time. Never stop on the side of the road, always make sure it’s a safe and confined area. 

12. Plan for Car Sickness

Yes, dogs get car sick too! If you know that your pooch is prone to nausea when riding in the car, speak to your vet beforehand about medications for car sickness. It’s also important to be fully aware of the signs of car sickness. Some of these include gagging and drooling, which are obvious. Other signs include sickness or nausea after sleeping or facing backward in their seats.  

13. Keep Your Dog Secure Within the Vehicle

As mentioned, it’s important that your dog is kept safe and secure as you drive. This gives you peace-of-mind while you travel and your dog a set of ground rules. Keep your dog in place with a pet seatbelt, or a small kennel for petite canines. According to research, a dog that weighs roughly 60 pounds can be procjectiled into a 2,700-pound object in an accident.