27 Dog Road Trip Tips and Travel Hacks

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Have you been dreading embarking on a road trip with your dog? We completely understand.

Road tripping with a dog takes a lot of planning and forethought. And yet, the joy it gives to your furry champions is unmatchable.

We have a few clever dog road trip tips and travel hacks curated for you in this article. They are sure to help save both of you some of the discomfort and challenges that unfold on a long car ride. Keep reading to find out more.

dog perched on a car window, ready to give you some "dog road trip tips"

How do I take my dog on a road trip? Tips and travel hacks

Before setting out on a trip with your dog, you’ll need to collect all the important documents, make the necessary appointments, and get your dog accustomed to sitting in a car. And that’s just for starters.

Let’s have a look at some of the best road trip hacks for dog owners. They will ensure both you and your dog have a good and memorable time on the road to your final destination.

Planning and preparation: Important documents you’ll need

No matter whether we’re going on an epic road trip or a weekend getaway, we all want a hassle-free trip. There are dozens of things to prepare before traveling, and that goes for a dog as well.

1. So be sure to carry all the valid documentation that proves you keep your pet healthy. Ask your veterinarian for copies of vaccine and health records, medication prescriptions, and healthcare certificates.

2. Before you book a hotel room, call and ask about their animal policy.

How to get your dog used to riding in a car

3. Some dogs love car rides, while others don’t. To get your pup used to car travel, try taking him for short rides around town first and gradually increasing the distance. Start with a few miles and see how it goes.

4. If your dog tends to get carsick, give him a window seat. Dogs love being able to look outside, and feeling the wind in their face.

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Dog road trip supplies

Different dogs have different requirements. You must make a list of all the important dog supplies, food items, and other essential items you may need on the trip. (A local pet store can help with that.)

Here’s a checklist of supplies that every dog requires:

5. Remember the toilet accessories ― disposable dog poop bags, towels, and dog diapers.

6. Pack a pet pram or dog sling ― you’ll need safety gear in case you decide to get out of your car and roam around.

7. Keep a leash and harness/collar handy ― for potty breaks

8. Food and water gear is essential ― a travel water bowl and spill-proof food bowl will keep messes to a minimum.

9. Bring a few toys or treats that they don’t usually get.

10. Bring a familiar blanket in case your pet needs security or it gets cold.

dog in a suitcase

Food and treats

11. Bring your dog’s regular food and other treats that they are used to.

12. You can also surprise him with a favorite treat as a reward for good behavior during the journey.

13. If you do not have the time or money to purchase exclusive doggie snacks and food items, there are plenty of human foods that dogs can eat that both of you can share.

woman feeding a dog road trip tips

Use a pet ramp

14. Dogs love to go for rides. Most will happily get into any vehicle going anywhere. But puppies, seniors, and dogs who have health issues, pain in the joints, or injuries can benefit a lot from a pet ramp.

Pets are at the risk of falling off and injuring themselves while hopping into and out of a car. With a pet ramp installed, your travel buddy can easily get into and out of a vehicle without assistance.

road trip with dog with pet ramp

Keep a first aid kit

15. Keeping a first-aid kit handy can protect you from the perils of a sick dog. Yes, there are first aid kits just for dogs! Some of the important first aid kits essentials include:

  • cotton balls for the application of medicines and cleaning up of wounds
  • bandages and adhesive tapes for injuries
  • a pill box of all the vital medicines, and
  • antiseptic wipes.

16. Traveling in a car for long hours can make anyone motion sick, including your pup. Motion sickness is as common among dogs as it is among humans. If he seems a little queasy, open the window for some fresh air, or sit him in front of the air conditioner vent.

dog in a car

Keep your pet entertained and calm

It is very common for dogs to get stressed and anxious while traveling from comfort to a new, unknown location.

17. Help Fido get familiar with the car’s interior before setting out. When dogs are comfortable with the peculiar smell of their vehicle, it is more likely to help keep them relaxed, calm and composed throughout the ride.

18. Bring along some favorite toys. Kongs, tennis balls, and chew toys can all keep dogs occupied for hours.

road trip with a dog 

Finding dog-friendly destinations

Taking trips with your dog is a great way to see the country. And there are plenty of dog-friendly destinations to choose from.

19. Before setting out, check to see if the destination you’re planning to visit is pet friendly. Some parks, such as Lake Tahoe National Park in California and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, have specific areas that are off-limits to pets. But most national parks welcome well-behaved dogs on their hiking trails and campgrounds.

20. If your dog isn’t accustomed to long hikes on trails, it’s worth taking him for a few training walks around your neighborhood before you set out.

21. It’s always a good idea to carry water for both you and your pet, so bring along his bowl and a few bottles of water. Don’t forget some snacks, too!

Save these dog road trip hacks for later!

Pin this to your favorite Pinterest travel board.

Dog looking out a car window. Text overlay says "best tips for a fun road trip with your dog"

How to keep your dog safe on a road trip

22. First and foremost, it goes without saying that you should never leave a dog in a hot car. If you have to make a quick stop, get your dog out of the car and give him plenty of water.

23. Your dog needs to be able to pant and cool down, so don’t use a muzzle unless absolutely necessary. If you do use one, it should be for a very short period of time.

24. To keep your furry friend safe, either (a) buckle him into a safety harness in the back seat or (b) keep him in a sturdy crate or carrier that won’t slide around.

25. If you want your dog to wear a safety harness on the road trip, make sure you have one in the right size before leaving home.

26. If you let your dog roam free in the car, you can put a gate up between the front and back seats to keep him from being thrown around in case of an accident.

27. If you plan to take your dog off leash, look for rest stops with a dog park. Fido will appreciate frequent stops so he can stretch his legs, get some fresh air, and go to the bathroom.

ⓘ TIP: Love’s Travel Stops has begun adding dog parks to every one of its highway gas station locations.

Pros and cons of road tripping with a dog

Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog’s face, it gets mad at you? but when you take it in a car, it sticks its head out the window!

There are both advantages and drawbacks to driving with a dog in a car. If you have a trip planned, keep a note of the following pros and cons to make the most out of your trip.

Pros

  • Dogs are great company. They will keep you awake, entertained, and in good spirits through their positive demeanor and exuberance.
  • You won’t have to worry about your pet being left alone. Instead of calling back every hour to check on him, you can have an exciting outing together.
  • You will enjoy pleasant social situations and interactions with people you meet along the way because of your dog. Especially at local dog parks
  • It will give you the opportunity to bond with your four-legged friend, understand his likes and dislikes, and build a strong connection with him.
dog sticking his face out of a car window

Cons

  • Some dogs can get nervous and eventually fall sick after traveling in a car for long hours at a stretch. If your dog isn’t used to traveling too often, it can be quite stressful.
  • If you are off for an overnight trip, you will need additional luggage for the dog essentials. This will require extra car space.
  • In some areas, it can be hard to find pet friendly accommodations.
dog in car harness

Conclusion

You don’t have to fret going down the road with your dog. By following our simple travel tips, there is very little possibility of experiencing hiccups while roving around the world.

Stick to the hacks mentioned above, click plenty of pictures, and we’re sure you’ll both have a paw-some time!

Frequently asked questions

Are road trips bad for dogs?

The answer depends on a variety of factors, such as the age and health of the dog, the length and type of road trip, and the dog’s temperament. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior because some dogs love road trips and others can get carsick. If your furry friend seems uncomfortable, pull over and take a break.

How often should you stop on a road trip with a dog?

It’s best to take breaks every two hours when traveling with dogs. This will allow them to relieve themselves and get some exercise.

How long of a road trip can a dog handle?

Dogs can generally handle road trips of up to about 10 hours, but it depends on the dog’s age, size, and personality. Younger dogs or those who are more active will be able to handle longer trips, while older or more sedentary dogs might need shorter trips or potty breaks more often.

Where can I find a list of pet friendly hotels?

You can find a list of dog friendly hotels on BringFido.com and PetsWelcome.com. You can also call the hotel directly and ask if they allow pets.

Are dogs allowed in national parks?

Yes, dogs are allowed in national parks as long as they are on a leash. Pets are not allowed in certain areas of the park, such as in buildings or on trails. Regulations can vary, so be sure to check the park’s regulations before you go.

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to around 60 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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