updated on May 9th, 2019
We’re dog people. And we’re travel people. Put those together and share the best of both worlds! We’ve learned a few things on the road with our pup. In the last year, our dog, Ellie, a boxer mix, has come on multiple road trips and we’ve loved every minute. We think she has too, but her command of the English language is awful, so she can’t tell us.
Before you start planning your trip, think about your pup. Some dogs (luckily, not many) hate riding in a car. If this is your dog, you might want to reconsider a road trip. We’re lucky and our dog loves to ride in the car.
Planning ahead is important when you’re bringing your furry friend. We’ve had luck with Bring Fido in finding pet-friendly locations, although Booking.com also has a great search feature to look for pet friendly hotels.
Preparing for your road trip with a dog
Before heading off on your great adventure, it’s time to pack. Here’s a quick list of things we’ve found important:
- Bring plenty of food, especially if your dog has a special diet.
- Collapsible bowls for both food and water.
- Old towel- it’s amazing how dirty a dog can get when exploring new places
- Extra special treats- in case your dog needs a little bribery or extra encouragement. These are our dog’s favorite.
- Vaccination records- in case of an emergency requiring you to board your dog in a nearby kennel, or needing to visit a vet.
- Dog poop bags– make sure you have some extras, because throwing off your dog’s routine can mean extra bathroom trips, leading to using them all up before you even reach your destination… don’t ask us how we know.
Hitting the road with your dog
Now to the actual road trip with your dog. If your dog has free reign of the car, you can purchase a dog hammock (we use the Kurgo Dog Hammock) to protect your seats. Or, you could invest in a dog seat belt for added safety. The Center for Pet Safety has actually crash testedthese harnesses, and we appreciate knowing our dog is safely buckled in.
Knowing your dog’s typical habits is essential as well. When does your dog normally eat, drink, and need the bathroom? Plan on your road trip taking a little longer to give your puppy frequent breaks. We stopped often, finding public rest stops to be the best options due to their big grassy areas.
Picking a pet-friendly hotel
Want to stay in a hotel? Use the handy internet to find yourself the best dog-friendly accommodations near your destination. As we said before, BringFido has a huge list of pet policies, especially for hotel chains, which we love. You can also filter a hotel search on Booking.com to find pet-friendly hotels.
The first time we road tripped with our dog, we found a hotel last minute. The only room remaining was a two-queen-bed option. Our spoiled puppy actually loved this, as she had her own bed! Consider camping, as well, because campgrounds tend to be much more dog-friendly than hotels. Be prepared to pay a pet deposit, and don’t forget bowls for food and water. If your dog gets anxious in new surroundings, bring a favorite toy, blanket, or even some calm down treats. Ellie was able to relax after a long walk introducing her to the area, and giving her a chance to sniff her new surroundings.
What to do with your dog on a vacation
Now that you’re in your destination, what do you do? Don’t leave your dog trapped in a hotel room! If you absolutely must leave your dog behind (we hope this doesn’t happen unless an emergency arises), find a local kennel where they can be supervised. We successfully took our dog into San Francisco, a massive city, and still had fun! Use the web to find pet friendly locations such as beaches and parks. We were even successful enough to find restaurants that allowed dogs. One great place in Santa Cruz, Pono Hawaiian Grill, offered a “dog menu.” They brought Ellie a bowl of beef and she was over the moon. Make sure you pack your camera, as the memories we have watching our dog see the ocean for the first time were priceless.
Finally-it’s sad we have to say this- don’t be an asshole pet owner. During our travels we have encountered the worst of the worst. Pet friendly hotels with poop-covered lawns, pets being left alone and becoming destructive in their rooms, dogs barking all night and keeping neighbors awake, poop left on beaches and in parks. You are their human. You are expected to clean up after your dog, and if you don’t, we all lose privileges at these beautiful destinations. Don’t leave your dog alone in the hotel room. Keep your pet fed, watered, bathroomed, and with their people. And finally, if you find a really cool location where your dog was welcome, let folks know about it! Reviews online help others find these places (and the proprietors gain business) so they can enjoy them.