ROAD TRIP WITH THE DOG!  Sounds simple right?  It is!  Well, it can be with some smart planning.

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My dogs, Icy and Phoebe love road trips!

Over the river and through the woods.. and barreling down the Interstate.. to Grandmother’s house we go!

Should You Take a Road Trip With The Dog?

For a successful road trip with your dog, first decide whether you should bring your dog with you on a road trip at all. A very lengthy car trip isn’t for every canine.  If your dog hates the car or has a tendency to puke, pee, or poop in the car it may not be a good idea to take her on the road.  Find out beforehand if your dog gets car sick.  A road trip with a dog that's car sick is no fun!   

If she isn’t used to car rides, spend some time acclimating her to the car.  Use treats to create a positive association with the car.  Take a few weeks to accomplish this, starting off with the car still parked in the driveway.  Gradually work up time spent next to the car, and then time spent in the car from 5 minutes to about 40 minutes.   

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Stopping at the Arkansas Welcome Center along Interstate 40

Plan Ahead For A Successful Road Trip With Your Dog

If you decide a road trip is a great vacation with the dog, a critical part of road trip planning is to make sure she stays safe and calm during the trip and ensure you have everything you need.  

On our first long road trip with Icy and Phoebe I packed everything but the kitchen sink into the car!  I was so stressed out about finding dog friendly places to stay along the way that I was a ball of nerves, which in turn made the dogs anxious.  I have since gotten into the groove, finding dog friendly lodgings in advance and culling down the stuff I need to bring.   Here are some tips that make for a smooth road trip with dogs.

** Consider what the environment will be like for your dog at your destination.  Make sure she'll be welcome, not merely tolerated.  There should be an adequate place for your dog to sleep, eat, potty, go for walks or run around in a yard or dog park.  Are other pets living there or visiting as well?  If it's a trip to visit family, you don’t want Fido to eat your Mom’s parakeet, that’ll put a damper on things for sure!

** I always visit AAA, either in person or online for up to date maps, TripTiks and travel books.  I use the AAA PetBook, which is a Godsend.  It lists, by state, dog friendly lodgings, recreational areas & parks, dog parks, emergency veterinary care, travel and safety tips. AAA has the best coverage across the US and Canada but it doesn’t include every type of lodging, mostly those that are “AAA approved” hotels and campgrounds.  I love getting the AAA discount on hotels, usually 10%!  AAA also has lots of information and resources about pet travel online.

Other good resources are GoPetFriendly and BringFido.

Finding Pet Friendly Hotels and Other Places

** We travel across the country a few times a year with our dogs.  I map out and time our route using AAA trip tiks and Google maps.  That way I can book all the dog friendly lodgings we’ll need in advance.  This alleviates the stress of trying to find a dog friendly place as we roll into each city.   I’ve had great experience with Red Roof Inn, La Quinta, Comfort Inn, and my favorite, Hyatt Place hotels which are all very dog friendly.  

** Many places charge a pet fee per night or per stay, and sometimes per dog. Some only allow one dog, some allow only small dogs, and some charge a cleaning fee.  Sadly, some hotels have dog breed restrictions. Some won’t allow you to leave a dog unattended in the room at all.  Make sure you know all the fees, restrictions and policies before booking.  I have found places that don’t charge a pet fee at all, places that charge up to $150 per night per dog, and everything in between so do your homework!

I used to lug the dogs beds and blankets around until I realized they love to just lay on the rug in the hotel room!

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My dogs relaxing in one of our favorite pet friendly hotels, the Hyatt Place  

** Make sure your dog is up to date with any required vaccinations, especially Rabies.  I bring my dogs’ Rabies certificates and proof of other vaccinations along when we travel.  You never know when you might need to bathe or board your dog, or put her in doggie daycamp, both of which often require both Rabies and Bordetella vaccinations. 

** We stop every 2 to 4 hours for water and potty breaks and to stretch everyone’s legs.  Some rest stops have a Pet Area where you can walk your dog around for awhile, which is really nice.


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Icy enjoyed a cool dip in the water on one of our trips to gorgeous Sedona, Arizona

** I look online for Starbucks, Crackerbarrel, Panera Bread or Paradise Bakery Café locations to get a break from all the fast food along the way.  Starbucks, Panera, and Paradise Bakery Cafe are usually dog friendly on the patio.  It’s a nice break for all of us, weather permitting.  The rest of the way it’s usually quick stops at Chipoltle, Wendy’s or McDonalds.

** Check out the AAA Pet Travel,,, and for recommended dog friendly activities and destinations in the area you’re traveling to.  You’ll also find lodging reviews from other travelers and helpful travel tips and information on these sites.

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Phoebe is so comfy in her hotel bed, she won't get up!

Pack the Essentials for Yourself and Your Pet

** Pack extra dog waste bags, making sure you’ll have enough for the round trip.  Bring a towel and some paper towels so dirty or wet paws don’t soil your car.  Better yet, get a pet car seat cover. I got a fabulous 4Knines car seat cover  and it's the Best thing we could have done for doggie car messes! I love it.

Doggie wipes are a great idea in case you need to do a quickie dog bath or clean-up pet messes.   Once in New Mexico, we walked our dogs in the hotel’s grassy potty area.  I don’t know what was in that grass, but both dogs rolled in it and came out stinking worse than a skunk!   We bathed them in the hotel tub, but they still stunk.  We used the wipes a few times the next day until we found a PetSmart off the Interstate, where they got scrubbed up thoroughly.  We were SO grateful, I never gave a groomer such a big tip!

** Pack a cooler with plenty of water for both you & your dog in case you don’t want to drink the available water at places along your route - some water can be questionable.  

Pack extra food for your dog, both ways, so you don’t end up scrambling around looking for pet food along the way.  Don’t forget food & water bowls and any medications your dog takes.  Pack some plastic utensils and napkins as well.   I bring crackers, Jiff to go peanut butter cups, cereal bars, or fruit cups for us and plenty of chew sticks and treats for the dogs.

** A first aid kit is a must!  You never think you’ll need it, but accidents happen.  On the last night of a 5 day trip, we took Icy out for a late night potty break and she somehow cut her paw open.  We used our first aid kit to cleanse the wound, stop the bleeding, apply triple antibiotic ointment and bandage her paw until we could get to a vet the next day.  You can buy a pet first aid kit at most pet stores, or assemble one yourself.  

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Pack a few of your dog's favorite chew toys and snacks to calm nervousness or boredom.  An extra collar and leash is a good idea just in case.  

Using a travel harness or a crate is the safest way to travel with your dog.  I’ll be honest with you though, I don’t crate my dogs. I do try to always use their travel harnesses.  Icy weighs 56 lbs and likes to stretch out on a blanket in the back seat and Phoebe likes to sleep in her dog bed or on a blanket right behind the passenger sear.   If your dog isn’t calm or won’t stay still in the car then you must always use a crate or travel harness.

If you’re travelling with your dog soon, start preparing now so you have a fun, stress free vacation with the dog. Enjoy the time travelling and bonding with your dog!     

Share your favorite travel tip by posting a Comment! We always love hearing from you 💜


M. K. Clinton said...

These are great tips and I will be using them for our trip in a couple of weeks. Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Great travel advice Cathy! I didn't know you road tripped across the country so often! I love AAA and their Pet Book! Super 8 is my favorite pet friendly motel- they have no limit (since I sometimes have 5 traveling pets!) and reasonable fees. I will also settle for Motel 6 but they are very inconsistently managed. Red Roof and LaQuinta's all limit at 2... sad tails for our large traveling family! I am glad MK shares this old post on Twitter- I am about to do the same!

Jasmine | About Pet Rats said...

Fantastic tips! Planning is so important and it's great to know about the AAA books.

Rugby James said...

This was a very thorough list, and well thought out! You gave me some great ideas to make traveling less stressful! Thanks so much for the additional resources I can check out. I'll share this post with my dog training clients!

Talent Hounds said...

Great list. We will need to chat when we get funding for our Backseat Barkers road trip. Planning is so important.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I hope these helpful on your recent road trip!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Yes, we travel constantly with our two dogs. We love Red Roof Inn, they are super pet welcoming!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm so glad you found these helpful! The AAA book is so helpful for planning our trips and to find dog friendly things to do along the road.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm so glad it was helpful! It comes out of our first couple of years traveling with the dogs - we've come a long way, we are like well oiled machine when we travel with the dogs now, LOL!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'd love to hear all about your road trip! Yes, planning is everything - there's nothing worse than driving in the middle of the night without a reservation at a dog friendly hotel!

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

We bet a lot of people don't think of all of these tips, which are very important. Phoebe, you look so cute in the bed!

Anonymous said...

What a great article! You hit so many informative points that I think anyone who reads your article who is planning a road trip with their pups will be so well prepared.

LaylasWoof said...

Fantastic tips, when I go on day trips with Layla I always make sure I have everything plus I put her in a travel bag which expands so she can lie in it comfortably plus it is safer and she just sleeps LOL.

Michelle & The Paw Pack said...

Great post! For many, many years we lived in the city and didn't own a car. We moved out into the country a few years ago now, but my two dogs still aren't super used to car rides. I'd love to take a road trip with them someday, and have been working to get them more used to being in the car.

DawgBlogger said...

For me, the answer is simple--if my dog isn't going, neither am I. I have no desire for any vacation for which I'd have to leave my dog behind. Road trips can be challenging--we typically just went camping which the dogs love.

Beth said...

I love these tips for a dog-friendly road trip! We have AAA, but I didn't realize that AAA had a Petbook! Nelly loves to travel, but Theo and Sophie aren't good travelers.

Tail Wag Wisdom said...

These are great tips for traveling across the country with the fur kids. I didn't realize that AAA has a PetBook. I'll have to look for that next time. I have learned to always check with the hotel by calling directly because individual hotels can change their pet policies without notice. Great information! (And I love the photos of Icy and Phoebe).

Kamira Gayle said...

These are all great tips to make for a safe and fun trip on the road with your dogs. Many of these same tips I used when on a 500 mile road trip with my angel cat Precious. I was 21 and dumb so I neglected to bring a first aid kit however did remember food supplies, water, toys, maps and to take breaks along the drive. Mom handled the lodging arrangements. All went well thank goodness. We had a great time and made some fun memories. Thanks for sharing these useful tips just in time for summer holiday travel!

Robin said...

You nailed it with remembering to consider the accomidations you'll have at your destination! Not everyone wants your pets in their home and it can be hard to find pet-friendly hotels in some places. Many places that take dogs will not take cats. I have traveled with my kitties and they were not too thrilled. I think they had fun at BlogPaws, but the car ride was not their favorite. They sang the song of their people the whole 14 hours.

Nikki said...

These are great tips for traveling with your pups! I've never done any long trips with my dogs because my one has motion sickness, however we have some some shorter tips to go camping! Preparing ahead is definitely is key for traveling with pets. :)

FiveSibesMom said...

I always love your travel tips! Icy and Phoebe were such wonderful travelers! Harley and Gibson loved car rides, and Harley sat in her seat like a human! Now, Wolfie, Bandit, and Chloe were quite animated and not too fond of car rides. Funny how some love it and some don't. You have great tips and suggestions here. I will be sharing!

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