Road Trip With The Dogs!

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

Tips for road trips with pets
Icy and Phoebe love road trips!
Over the river and through the woods.. and barreling down the Interstate.. to Grandmother’s house we go!

Is a Road Trip Right For Your Dog?

For a successful road trip with your dog, first decide whether you should bring your dog with you at all, a lengthy road 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. Road trips with a dog that's car sick is no fun!   

If she isn’t used to car rides, you can 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 and start off in the car while it’s parked in the driveway.  Gradually work up time spent in the car from 5 minutes to about 40 minutes.   Note: This post contains Affiliate Links

Pet travel, travel with dogs
Stopping at the Arkansas Welcome Center along Interstate 40

Plan Ahead For Success On The Road

If you decide a road trip will work for you and your dog, making sure she stays safe and calm during the trip and ensuring you’ll have everything you need is a critical part of road trip planning.  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 bring.   Here are some tips that make for a smooth road trip with the furkids.

** 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?  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 have 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.  It doesn’t include every type of lodging, mostly those that are “AAA approved” hotels and campgrounds.  The book also includes Canadian lodgings.  I love getting the AAA discount on hotels, usually 10%!

Finding Pet Friendly Hotels and Other Places

** We travel across the country a few times a year with Icy and Phoebe.  I map out and time our route using AAA trip tiks and Google driving directions.  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, and Comfort Inn hotels which are very dog friendly and a good value.  

** 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.  Many won’t allow you to leave a dog unattended in the room.  Make sure you know all the fees, restrictions and policies.  I have found places that don’t charge a pet fee at all, like Red Roof Inn,  places that charge up to $150 per night per dog, and everything in between so do your homework!

Icy and Phoebe, relaxing in one of our hotel rooms.  I used to lug their beds and blankets around until I realized they love to just lay on the rug in the hotel room!
Pet friendly hotels

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

** We stop every 2 to 4 hours for 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.

Tips for traveling with dogs
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 Wendy’s or McDonalds.

** Check out,, and l for 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.

Tips for travel with pets
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.  Doggie wipes are a great idea in case you need to do a quickie dry 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 around in it and came out stinking worse than a skunk!   We bathed them in the hotel tub, but they still smelled.  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 somewhere.  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. 

** 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 the vet the next day.  You can buy a pet first aid kit at most pet stores, or assemble one yourself.  

Driving with pets, road trip with dogs, pet travel tips
** 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.   A favorite blanket takes up less room in the car than a large dog bed.  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 and I don’t always use the travel harness.  Icy weighs 50 lbs and likes to stretch out on a blanket in the back seat.  Phoebe likes to sleep in her dog bed, which fits on the floor behind the passenger seat.   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 this season, start preparing now so you and your dog can enjoy the time travelling and bonding!     

Please Share your favorite travel tips by posting a Comment!


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

  2. 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!

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

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

    1. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

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

    1. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.