pet parenting

When Dog is Your Copilot

Make the most of road trips with man’s best friend


I've been traveling with my mom on road trips since I was a pup. In fact, the only time I don't tag along is when it doesn't involve the road. Whether driving cross-country or escaping to a small town, a road trip with your dog is a fun way to experience new places and see new things together, but it's not for the unprepared. I recently wrapped up an epic road trip with my mom. Some of the adventures were unplanned, but because we were prepared, we felt like there wasn't anything we couldn't handle.

The key to road-tripping with your pooch is to have a plan, pack appropriately and be flexible. Here are some pointers to make your memories sweet and not undone by wonky things that go wrong.

Talk to the Vet

Call your vet to confirm that your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date. You'll want to ensure Benji is healthy, not only for fun's sake, but because scrambling to find a vet you've never met in a strange town is stressful.

Book a Place to Stay

When traveling with your dog, I recommend booking directly with the hotel over the phone, rather than with an online package deal company. Communicating one-on-one lets you ask specific questions and understand the hotel's pet policy.

Pack with a Purpose

Pack your dog's food along with a bowl, a leash and collar with identification tags, poop bags, first-aid supplies and necessary medication. Toss a few toys and/or a fave blanket in the car so Fideaux can feel at home on the road.

Prepare Your Vehicle

You get a licensed mechanic to get your car ready for the trip, so why not be sure it's also pet-ready before hitting the road? Coming home together safely is the end goal of any trip, so make sure there are ways to secure your pet when the vehicle is moving. Carriers or harnesses will prevent Old Yeller from leaping unexpectedly to the front seat while you're driving, avoiding injury to you and him. 

Less is More When It Comes to Fun

It's tempting to jam-pack your itinerary with pet-friendly stops you'll find along the way, but remember to leave time to stop and sniff the roses-literally. To your darling Bruiser, nothing's more important than fully sniffing that tree! Rushing to the next tree before he's finished with the first frustrates him. Take time to really enjoy experiences instead of just checking them off the list. 

Be Considerate

When you travel with your pet, you're an ambassador for all pet travelers—so make a good impression! Abide by the rules of the places you visit, especially keeping Balto on-leash—and always clean up after him.

Roll with It

When things go a little sideways—as they can do—you can let it ruin your day, or you can see it as a new adventure. Dogs are great teachers, since we're never attached to the outcome. If you can embrace that mindset, you'll see every detour as an opportunity to have a great time.

With a little planning and creativity, you and Lassie and/or Toto can hit the trail with road warrior confidence. And, most important, make memories with your best friend to last a lifetime.

Happy Trails!

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