Tips for Going on a Road Trip with your Dog

Going on a road trip with your dog doesn’t have to be challenging! Plan ahead and come prepared for your trip to make it easier.

I’ve officially traveled on long road trips with my dog four times and short weekend trips countless times. Each time I travel with him he gets better and better at it (and so do I)! I love having him along on the trip and exploring new places with him.

My dog’s name is Oakley and I adopted him in 2017. He’s truly my furry best friend and love getting to take him along on trips with me. Here are some tips for going on a road trip with your dog.

1. Keep them hydrated – bring a water bottle

Staying hydrated is so important for people and dogs! I keep a water bottle just for Oakley on our drive so that he can have his own supply. I suggest getting one of these doggy water bottles for your dog because it means you don’t need a bowl and you can easily give them a drink without a big mess or wasting any water.

A good way to make sure you are keeping them hydrated is making sure every time you get in or out of the car, you offer them their water bottle. Make sure to give them time to start drinking water and drink as much as they need. Once you’ve reached the destination for the night, put out their water bowl right away and keep it full!

Making a frequent stop while on a road trip with your dog

2. Make frequent stops

Just as people need to stretch their legs, it’s going to be important your dog gets the chance to stretch its legs. Make stops every few hours and take your dog on a short walk to help ease any car sickness and anxiety about being stuck in the car!

This does mean more frequent stops than you might want to make. I definitely recommend stopping at least every two hours so they can stretch, especially if you plan to keep them in their crate during the drive. This could also mean planning on the drive taking longer than you may first estimate.

Staying at a cabin on Airbnb while on a road trip with your dog

3. Always call ahead to hotels or message the host to check on policies

Just because a hotel is pet friendly, does not mean there aren’t a lot of fees associated with staying there. While on a recent road trip to Nashville, hotels would say they had a $100 fee, sometimes that was per night, other times for the whole stay. Some hotels said no fees at all.

Pet policies were difficult to find on a hotel’s website so a call is best. It’s best to be really clear on how much extra it is going to cost you to stay with your pets. At one stop, we stayed at a hotel that would not let you leave dogs alone in the hotel room. It was fine since it was just overnight on our trip and we didn’t have to leave the room, but this could be a deal-breaker on a different type of trip.

Airbnb can be the same way. Be really clear with your host on your pet staying there and any details you may wonder about. You don’t want to get there and have a surprise cleaning or pet fee. I’ve had a host who required you to pay a pet fee outside the app. Message the host ahead of time!

4. Bring along a few of their favorite toys

Just like you bring a few of your favorite pieces of clothing, jewelry, and make-up, bring along a few of their favorite things. Pets will feel more comfortable when things around them feel familiar. Giving them something that they love and are familiar with will help them adjust to a new place faster. When I travel with Oakley, I make sure to bring two of his favorite toys to help.

sleeping at a hotel on a road trip with your dog

5. Bring them their own space to sleep in

My dog normally sleeps on my bed with me and is super cuddly. It doesn’t take much while we’re traveling to make him feel the same way in a new place. However, as a dog, hair and potential mud on his paws, etc make it a little riskier to have him just sleep on the bed. So I bring his blanket he normally sleeps on and lay that across his space. If your dog doesn’t normally sleep with you, bring a dog bed with you to make sure they have their own designated space to sleep.

Here is a great dog bed perfectly compact for travel if you want to get something just for traveling with your pet!

6. Have a cover for your back seat

This is a must-have, especially if your dog is one that sheds a lot. Your car could end up covered in hair. And even worse, if you’re renting a car you may face a fee for extra cleaning because of pet hair. I suggest using one of these covers which will go over the entire back seat. This will keep the hair to a minimum.

If you do end up with dog hair in the backseat, I find that a lint roller actually works better than most vacuums. It also is easier to use than a vacuum with a long hose or cord you have to worry about.

7. Choose some pet-friendly activities on your trip

It can be really tempting to feel like you can leave your dog all day wherever you are staying but remember they are in an unfamiliar place and wondering where you go all day. If your dog likes to be around people or play outdoors, don’t be afraid to plan some activities that they can join! An outdoor restaurant, a brewery, a hike, the possibilities are endless! Make sure you are including your pet in your plans and don’t leave them alone all day and night.

comfortable harness while on a road trip with your dog

8. Make sure they have a comfortable harness

On your trip, it’s likely that your dog will spend more time in its harness. It’s important that they have a comfortable harness that won’t cause any rubbing, tension, or discomfort. I suggest something soft that they can wear in the car and then something different for when you need to take them on short walks or more stability.

9. Help your dog keep calm with calming treats

If your dog is not used to traveling, having calming treats that you give them before a long car ride can be really helpful. Oakley loves these Zesty Paws soft calming treats and I’ll give him a few treats before we do a long drive.

I recommend that you give no more than the recommended amount and start with short car rides to get your dog used to the car. This will also help with their worries about being in the car before the trip.

Embarking on a road trip with your four-legged friend? Stay prepared with these essential tips for a smooth and enjoyable adventure.
Embarking on a road trip with your four-legged friend? Stay prepared with these essential tips for a smooth and enjoyable adventure.
Embarking on a road trip with your four-legged friend? Stay prepared with these essential tips for a smooth and enjoyable adventure.

I hope these tips will help you as you consider planning a road trip with your dog! You’re going to have a great time with your furry friend.


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