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How to Prep & Pack for a Dog Road Trip

A dog on a road trip with his owner

Are you revving up for a road trip with your dog or dogs? There are a few things every dog owner should know before heading out on a road trip. Whether it’s your first car trip with your dog or you’re simply going further than you have in the past, our tips for success are guaranteed to help make your next adventure the best it can be. So, get in gear, and get ready to discover what to pack, how to plan, and what to do to keep your dog safe as you set out on your road trip.

Let Your Dog Go for a Test Drive

Before you commit to hours in the car with your dog, it’s important to confirm that your dog is up for a longer road trip. Some of the considerations you will want to take into account include whether or not your dog gets motion sickness and if they can comfortably and safely ride in your vehicle. Taking a few longer drives with your dog can help you troubleshoot some of the most common problems dog owners face when traveling with their dogs.

Dog Motion Sickness

Many dogs experience motion sickness while riding in cars. Even dogs that have experience on shorter rides may experience some symptoms of sickness on longer trips. In fact, some dogs even develop motion sickness as they grow older–while puppies often grow out of the condition. Before leaving for a long road trip, take your dog on a drive that is about an hour long and includes a variety of conditions and watch for the common symptoms of motion sickness.

How to Pack for a Road Trip with Your Dog

A woman carefully fastening a seat belt around her dog

Packing for your dog’s road trip is easy as long as you plan ahead and pack early. What should every dog owner bring for their best friend on a road trip?

  • Enough food for the entire trip, plus a few days’ worth of extra food
  • Treats
  • Poop bags
  • A food and water bowl
  • Your dog’s bed and some blankets that smell like home
  • A container of water for in the car
  • A leash
  • Towels in case you run into rain
  • Any medications your dog needs
  • Some of your dog’s favourite toys
  • Your dog’s first aid kit if you have one
  • Your dog’s crate

Tips for a Successful Road Trip with Your Dog

Beyond packing and preparing your dog for a road trip, there are some other things you will want to do before and during the road trip to keep your dog happy and comfortable.

Book a dog-friendly accommodation

Whether you’re staying in a hotel or a short-term rental, verify that they are dog-friendly accommodation before setting out. Keep in mind that many places have additional fees for dogs.

You also want to verify if the accommodation has restrictions or specifications that would affect your booking. Many places have weight restrictions and a limit on how many dogs can stay. 

Walk and exercise your dog well the night before and the morning of the trip

Long stints on the road can lead to pent-up energy. Taking a proactive approach by taking your dog for a long walk the day before you leave and a walk the morning of can help your dog rest more soundly in the car.

Plan for frequent stops and water breaks

While we can often go hours on end without breaks from the car, many dogs cannot. If your dog is restless or an active dog, plan on stopping every two hours to let them stretch their legs. 

Hydration is always important for dogs. Road trips are no exception. Offer your dog water at every stop. 

Map out emergency vets on your route

While we never want emergencies to arise, we do want to be prepared in case one occurs. Before you leave, always check to see where vets are along your route and note what their hours are. While we hope you won’t need to contact one, it helps to know who to call and where they’re located just in case.

Prep your car for comfort and safety

You are legally required to make sure your dog is comfortable, safe and secure during transport. If your dog tends to move about the car a lot, you will want to prepare a crate to keep them from creating a dangerous situation. If your car cannot accommodate a crate, you may want to purchase a seat belt or net to secure your dog in the backseat. These measures don’t just prevent accidents, they protect your dog. Most accidents from dogs are caused by the driver being distracted or losing control. A crate or restraint can also protect your dog should an accident occur.

Be sure your dog will be comfortable and cozy throughout the ride. Bring along their bed, some blankets, and any other items that will help them settle in and even sleep on the ride.

Bone Voyage! Enjoy Your Doggie Road Trip!


A dog enjoying a car trip

Bringing your dog along on your road trip can amplify the fun. However, for the best experience, you will want to prep and pack with intention. Remember to bring along anything your dog will want and need in their day-to-day life, and always be sure your accommodations are dog-friendly.

For owners whose dogs don’t love the car, consider letting them have a staycation, instead. This will give you peace of mind and keep your dog happy in their own home.