For the past two years my dog, Machete, and I have had lots of adventures on the road. We have learned so much about planning and preparedness when traveling together. Machete and I hope our experiences will help you to plan your next road adventure.
Before traveling, start by considering some things:
Is it worth the work to prepare for the trip?
- Does the route allow for lots of stops along the way?
- Does your dog have experience riding in a car?
If traveling with your dog is not a go:
- Can your dog be left with a trusted family member or friend?
- Is it in your budget to use a dog boarding service? Check out our Doggy Hotel/Boarding Recipe.
I have had to leave Machete with family members on some occasions. Some trips were just going to be too much work. As much as I want to travel everywhere with Machete, sometimes it’s just not possible due to travel time in the car, accommodations, weather, and cost.
Planning The Route
Planning the route with your dog in mind is very important. Plan a route that allows you to stop frequently. Stops are important for your dog to be able to have breaks from riding in the car. Some truck stops such as Love’s now have small dog parks to allow for dogs to run around and take a much needed break from the car. Many rest stops also have dog exercise areas with poop bags that you can use. You can also download apps such as Rover that allow you to search the area you are traveling on and to for dog parks.
When booking your accommodations search for dog friendly hotels and Airbnb’s. Bring Fido is an app that gives you lots of pet friendly accommodation options. It’s a great app so you can plan your trip according to your budget.
Make reservations ahead of time. It is best to have accommodations ahead of time to ensure you have a place to sleep after a long drive and that the hotel is pet friendly. Booking accommodations for you and your dog will cost extra (approximately $25-50 a night extra for your dog). If you can stay with family or friends along your route, that is a win!
Dog etiquette at hotels is important. Bring your dog’s bed or crate to sleep in. If your dog sleeps in bed with you make sure you bring a bedsheet for your dog to sleep on. Be considerate of other guests and do your best to keep our dog from barking. Take a stain and odor eliminator to help clean up your dog’s messes, if any occur. Crate your dog if you need housekeeping to come into your room but it is best to have housekeeping skip your room during your stay to avoid stranger-stress for your dog. Sometimes dogs can be on high alert in new environments and bark more in a room with a stranger.
You have planned the car route, you have booked your hotel, what will you do with your dog once you arrive at your destination? Are all the activities planned with your dog in mind? If not, does the destination hotel allow you to leave your dog alone in the room? If not, consider finding a local dog sitter for the time you will be out doing activities or in meetings that your dog will not be able to join you in. The app Rover also gives you local dog sitters and walkers in the area that you are traveling to. If you have it in your budget, you can hire help while you explore the city, attend a meeting, or check-out an event.
Packing The Essentials
Don’t forget to pack your dog’s suitcase with their favorite blankets and toys. Some essentials to consider are:
- Food and water bowls
- Leash and an extra leash
- Poop bags and pads
- Dog bed and blankets
- Grooming supplies (shampoo/brush)
- Vaccination card
- Stain and odor eliminator
- Cleaning supplies
- First Aid Kit
- Dog Crate
- Car Seat Belt
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when traveling by car with your dog. Some things to remember while traveling with your dog in a car:
- Your dog needs to be safe on the road put him in a seat belt or a crate for safe traveling,
- Never leave your dog alone in the car,
- Always park in a shady area and leave a cracked window enough for airflow if you’re traveling during summer months,
- Lock your car (i.e. dogs are stolen, it’s a real thing),
- Keep your dog on a leash when in public places; this can keep everyone safe,
- Don’t ignore your dog’s needs to go potty,
- If you need to potty, consider going to a pet retailer or a retailer that allows you to take your dog into the restroom with you, it never hurts to ask before bringing your dog inside.
The first trip may seem like a lot of work, but it does get easier. The adventures are always so much fun and leave you with beautiful memories. Happy road travels with your fur babes!