Our dogs are a part or our family but taking them on a long trip can be scary. There are a lot of things to think about and it can be a difficult decision on whether or not to take your dog with you on your trip.
Will they handle a long car ride?
What’s it like to take a dog on an airplane?
Where can we stay with our dog?
What happens if our dog gets sick?
These are just a couple of the questions that can make it difficult to make a decision about traveling with your dog.
1. Take a short test trip
Don’t head to the other side of the planet on you dog’s first trip. Just like a person, every dog is different when it comes to travel. Some will like it and handle it really well. Others will hate it and have a difficult time when you drive them to your local veterinarian.
If you feel like your dog will do well traveling, take them on a short weekend trip. Go somewhere that you can get home from relatively quickly if your dog really struggles.
2. Pack your dog’s food and medications
Don’t assume you can buy your dog’s food somewhere away from home. The time to test out a new dog food is not during a trip.
Be sure to pack enough food for the entire trip, plus a couple days. This is especially important if you dog has any special dietary needs. Do not risk getting to a destination and not being able to find the right food.
Also, be sure to bring any medications that your dog needs. Have more than enough to cover your stay. Again, you may not be able to get medication or medication refills away from home.
3. Bring the favorites
You may travel with a favorite pillow, or a blanket, or maybe your lucky stuffed animal. Your pet has their favorites too. And they may be even more attached than you are to yours.
Familiarity and comfort is what you want when traveling with your pet. You want them to feel as comfortable as possible and limit anything that can cause anxiety.
4. Make sure your stops are pet friendly
Plan out your stops. If you are driving for a long trip, just like you, your dog is going to need some rest stops. However, not all places you can stop will be pet friendly.
This is where planning out your stops becomes critical for your pet. Find rest areas that have designated dog walk areas or look for gas stations that are near a pet friendly park.
Being cooped up in a vehicle can make us humans feel claustrophobic, your dog is no different. Find a place where they can stretch and get in a quick walk.
5. Make copies of any important dog-related documents
You’ll need health records to prove vaccination and that your dog is healthy if crossing international borders.
Also, it’s good to have your dog’s health information if you have to visit a vet while you’re in another country or if you’re just anywhere far away from home.
6. Get your dog a check up before you go
7. Be sure their collar is secure and has clearly visible tags
Your dog is going to be in very unfamiliar surroundings. Many times the area won’t be familiar to you either. The last thing you want to do is lose your dog while you’re traveling.
With that said, your dog may be anxious. They may be jumpy. You need to make sure their collar is secure and that all the tags on the collar are up-to-date and very easy to read.
8. Sign up for these dog-friendly apps
There are some great apps out there that can help you with your travels and your pets. Here are just a few to consider downloading to your phone before you leave home.
- All Trails – This has the largest collection of trail maps (over 50,000). Browse photos and reviews, and filter your search by dog-friendly trails so you know which hikes to hit with your dog.
- Bring Fido – The Yelp of the dog world. Bring Fido helps you locate nearby hotels, attractions, and restaurants that welcome pets.
- Pet First Aid by American Red Cross – This app helps you locate the nearest emergency animal hospital, and provides step-by-step instructions for common pet emergencies.
- Dog Vacay – if you can’t bring your dog with you to an activity or outing while on vacation bring up this app to find trustworthy and insured dog sitters and walkers in the area.
- Dog Park Finder Plus– find a dog park anywhere you are traveling! It is great to help plan your rest stops.
9. Find a pet-friendly hotel
If you’re leaving home, you’ll obviously need some place to stay with your dog. This can be tricky but there are some good options.
What you need be clear on is if a hotel or rental charges any additional fees for bringing your dog. You’ll want to know those up front. Some charge fees of up to $50 per night. For a week-long stay that’s $350. Yikes!
Here are some hotels that welcome pets:
- Motel 6 – No fees and no weight limits on dogs.
- Red Roof Inn – Most locations allow one dog per guest room for free. Check on the weight limit for pets as most locations are 80 pounds but some are only 40 pounds.
- Best Western – Many of the locations allow up to two dogs and have a weight limit of 80 pounds. Be sure to verify the rate as it can be as much as $30 per night.
- Choice Hotels – There are more than 2500 dog friendly hotels in the Choice Hotels family.
- Double Tree by Hilton – Call ahead to make sure there is a pet-friendly room available. Fees can be as much as $75 per room.
- Extended Stay America, Four Seasons, Hampton Inn, Home2Suites by Hilton, Marriott, The Ritz Carlton and Westin are also good options for dog-friendly hotels.
If you can’t find a hotel in the area you are staying consider a vacation rental home or an airbnb.
10. Buy a pet carrier
Consider having a travel pet carrier or crate. This is not only to keep your dog safe but also offers a spot for your dog to feel comfortable. It’s a space of their own.
Having a pet carrier or crate will also keep your dog from getting into trouble in hotels and rentals or at a friends house.
11. Be respectful of people and places you visit and the people you meet
Not everyone is an animal lover. While we are crazy about our pet, there are those that will want nothing to do with them. You need to be polite and make sure that your pet is not getting into places they shouldn’t and bothering people who do not appreciate them.
Be aware of any posted areas. Dogs are not allowed everywhere. If it’s private property then owners have the right to not allow pets.
12. Know airline pet policies
If you are traveling by plane with your dog, then you need to know the airline’s policies. Some will allow small dogs in the cabin if their carrier fits under your seat. Some will not.
Larger dogs are going to travel in the baggage area. Be sure you are very clear on their procedures.
13. Know rules for pets in other countries
Some countries have very different rules about pets than others. Especially at border crossings. Some will ask for paperwork from your veterinarian, others will ask for proof of rabies vaccination and some will even require a quarantine period and can charge very expensive fees.
14. Find some dog friends
There are dogs pretty much everywhere. See if there are any meetups. You can check local websites and online communities, visit social media, find a dog park, go to a local pet store or just go for a walk near your hotel or rental.
Your dogs want to be social too. And you might just meet a new friend in a fellow dog owner.
15. Pack well for your dog
You already have the food, medication. favorite toys and comfort items. What else might you want to pack? Here are some more ideas.
- Extra Collar
- LED Collar Light
- Collapsible Bowl
- Pet First Aid Kit
- Jacket or Sweater
- Hands-Free Leash
16. Train your dog well
The better trained your dog is, the more confident you will be in taking them on a trip. Even basic commands like “sit” and ‘stay” will make life much easier during your travels.
If your dog is well-trained you may be able to leave them at your hotel or rental for a few hours while you visit local attractions or go out to dinner.
Be sure you work on obedience training prior to the trip. If you need help, seek a professional trainer so your pet is ready for the road.
17. If your not comfortable, find a boarding facility
Listen, no matter how hard you try, your pet may not be built for travel. That’s ok.
I know a lot of people that can’t handle leaving their home town let alone going out of the country. But, if your pet can’t travel that doesn’t mean that you can’t either. Find a local and reputable dog boarding facility like The Dog Nest.
A boarding stay can be a great vacation for your dog and let you get out and see the world. Check out our article, “What to Look for in a Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility”, to learn about how to find a boarding facility.