Are you planning to take your dog with you when you travel? Before you start on your to-do list, make sure you ask yourself if traveling is something your dog will enjoy. If your dog isn’t a fan of new places and adventures, he may prefer to stay back with someone to love him in the comfort of his own home. If new adventures aren’t fun for both of you, and if your pet isn’t happy on your trip, neither of you will enjoy the experience.
I’ve gained a lot of experience traveling with my dog Maggie over the years. Here’s what you’ll need to know when your dog is your traveling buddy.
Plan accordingly! I pack a bag of quick, easy-to-grab supplies for road trips such as extra poop bags, an extra leash, a small towel, our vaccination records, and of course, some treats.
You want to include pit stops in your road trip for your pet to stretch their legs, catch a ball, and use a restroom. You never know when these pit stops can turn into fun adventures jumping in puddles or walking in the damp grass, so that towel will be handy.
- Food. Changing your dog’s food on the road could lead to a very upset digestive tract, ruining your plans for the day. I usually pack Maggie’s regular food with me. I take Ziwi Peak food and treats on every trip because they are lightweight, easy to pack, and I know Maggie loves them. If you can’t fit your pet’s food in your limited luggage space, call a few pet shops in your destination city to ensure they have it in stock. Even in the big national chains, it’s amazing how dog food brands can vary by location.
- Treats. Because he’s a good boy. Why else?
- Collapsible bowls. I bring at least two, one for water and one for food. These are great to keep in a bag/purse while sightseeing, too. If your pet becomes thirsty or the weather gets warm, you’re prepared. I’m currently using some that our insurance company sent us, but I’m also a fan of the Ruffwear bowls.
- Poop bags. Do you really want to be late to your hike or sightseeing because you need to run to the pet store? So easy to pack: just throw a few rolls in your backpack, purse, suitcase, or pocket. If you’re doing a road trip, I recommend having a separate roll to keep in the car.
- An extra leash. This may sound odd at first, but I have an extra leash in every suitcase or vehicle. This could come in handy many times over. In the car, when you need to quickly grab a leash for a potty break, or after hiking together and your leash gets wet, or in case one leash gets accidentally packed or left behind in a hotel room. Who hasn’t left something in a hotel room?
- List of vaccinations and microchip info. Print out a hard copy or two, and also take a photo and keep it on your phone. You might need this for a hotel or dog daycare or emergency vet visit (let’s hope it’s not the latter).
- Microchip your pet! If your pet isn’t microchipped, make sure to do so before you leave.
Pack extras! Flights get delayed, traffic happens, and storms disrupt the best-laid plans.
Practice beforehand for any situations your pet may encounter. For example, if you will be using a harness or crate in the car for a road trip, do a few shorter practice runs so it’s something familiar and positive.
Make sure your pet is not only restrained in the car but traveling in a crash-tested harness or crate by the center for pet safety, a 3rd party company that does crash testing for pet safety. Many items are not only unsafe but could cause more harm acting as a slingshot in an accident.
It can also be helpful to review the airport’s pet policies, as well as their pet-relief areas.
If you plan to fly with your dog, be sure and check the rules before takeoff. Book early, as airlines do limit the number of pets on each flight.
- Alaska – $100/each way
- Allegiant – $100/each way
- American – $125/ each way
- American Eagle – $125/ each way
- Delta – $125 N America/ $200 international.
- Frontier – $75/ each way
- Hawaiian – $35 inter-island, $175 leaving HI.
- JetBlue – $100/each way
- Southwest – $95/ each way
- Spirit – Spirit doesn’t transport pets in cargo. $110/each way
- Sun Country – $125/each way
- United – $125/each way
Did you know pets under 20 pounds can travel most Amtrak routes? All Aboard, Pets covers everything you need to know to make pet reservations for train travel.
Understand what ‘pet-friendly’ means to your hotel or rental. Sometimes it means your pet can be left unattended, but many times it means your pet can’t be in the room alone, which could seriously affect your plans if you aren’t prepared.
Luckily, you can find a local dog walker or in-home sitter in your destination city through Rover, should you need to go somewhere without your dog.
- Leave the TV on to give your pup some comforting background noise if you’re away from the room. This can also drown out stress-inducing city or neighboring room noise.
- Always keep the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door so that housekeeping doesn’t scare your critter or allow your pet to bolt while you are out.
- When I make my reservation, I ask for a room away from the elevator. This means there will be less foot traffic outside the door that might cause Maggie to bark or whine. We don’t always get the room we request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask politely.
- Set up a ‘safe space’ in the room, with blankets and a water bowl, and spend a little time getting your pup acclimated to the new space before your first pet-free foray into the city.
- Learn early what pet-friendly really means for your hotel. In some hotels, it means you can leave your pet alone, while other hotels require you to be in the room if your pet is there.
- Book a dog walk or doggy daycare stay if you need to go somewhere without your dog, but can’t leave your dog in the hotel.
Good luck, and happy travels!