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Dog Road Trip Essentials: Your Ultimate Dog Travel Checklist 🚙

Is your dog your copilot? Then welcome to the pack! Recent travel trends show that more and more dog lovers are traveling with their furry friends by their sides. But what do you pack for the dog-friendly trip? Whether it’s a an overnight escape, a weekend getaway, or a road trip to the beach or mountains, you’re going to need to pack all the dog road trip essentials. Plus, you’ll need to pack some fun things for your fur baby, too.

In addition to packing travel essentials, sometimes we pack a “doggy busy bag” filled with our Goldendoodle’s favorite things.

We just returned from a short jaunt with our red Goldendoodle who’s our sidekick and co-pilot on every adventure. I was surprised at the amount of stuff we toted along. When we got home, I took inventory so that we’d have a packing list for future adventures.

If you’re getting ready to head out for a dog-friendly road trip, please use our list to help you pack all the dog travel essentials you’ll need. Our dog travel checklist is organized by category for easier packing. Btw…if you’re searching for dog-friendly places to go, check out our article on things to do in Amelia Island with your dog. And if small-town charm in the midwest is up your dog-friendly alley, then don’t miss our article on dog-friendly Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Packing for a dog-friendly road trip, vacation, or getaway

Before we dive into details on what to bring on your dog-friendly vacay, let’s unpack a few statistics on dog-friendly travel in the U.S. If you’re thinking about traveling with your pet, you’re definitely not alone!

  • According to a survey from Rover.com, 38% of dog parents have chosen driving trips so that they can bring their pet along on vacation.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, 37% of dog parents have chosen to skip a trip altogether rather than leave their beloved pooch behind.

If a getaway with your pup is in your future, here’s our ultimate list of what to bring along with you for your dear dog so that traveling is as much a joy for them as it is for you. Plus, at the end of this article, we’ve included an easy printable to keep handy for future trips. Or, simply bookmark this page, so you have it handy for every adventure with your dog.

Dog road trip essentials: A list of everything you’ll need when traveling with your dog

Food, water, and mealtime accessories

Of course, packing food and water for your furry besties is on the list. But don’t forget all the accessories to go along with it.

  • Food – I like to measure out enough dog food for the entire trip plus at least another few days worth of food as a precaution.
  • Food and water bowls – For travel, collapsible bowls are easy to store and less bulky.
  • Dog treats – A high-value, high-reward treat comes in handy when you’re in situations where you need your dog’s attention. For example, if you’re going to a dog-friendly restaurant, you may want to reward your dog for sitting patiently under the table while you’re ordering.
  • Water and refillable water bottle – Your dog requires plenty of fresh water daily. But how much? According to AVMA, your dog will drink about an ounce of water for each pound. A 30-pound dog will need 30 ounces of fresh water in a day.
  • Measuring cup – Remember to bring along a measuring cup or other method for measuring out your dog’s food.
  • Peanut butter – Yes, I really do pack peanut butter (and I make sure it’s xylitol-free). When we’re out of our regular routine, sometimes my Goldendoodle just needs a little special treat.

For the car

Next up, what do you need for the road? For both the drive and the final destination, it’s important to bring a travel crate or carrier. Plus, you may need a blanket for extra comfort and other accessories for the road trip.

  • Pet car restraint
  • Travel crate
  • Towel or wipes for muddy paws
  • Vet-approved medications or tips for handling carsickness

For bedtime

  • Dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste – Yes, I really do brush my dog’s teeth daily. It doesn’t take long and I learned the hard way why it’s so important. If you’re curious, you can learn how to brush your dog’s teeth, too, with my step-by-step guide.
  • Dog’s favorite blanket or dog bed

For safety and comfort

As much as we all hope that travel is perfect, if something unexpected does come up, you’re going to want to have all your bases covered and have information at your fingertips. Taking just a few minutes to make sure you have important phone numbers and vaccination records handy, can help if the unexpected happens. Plus, there are items you can bring for your dog’s comfort, too. Here’s the list:

  • Collar with ID tags
  • Comfort Zone vest or Thundershirt – Strange noises, fireworks, and thunderstorms can cause your dog to feel uneasy or stressed. A compression vest that “swaddles” can help calm your furry bestie.
  • Vet’s phone number
  • Phone number for ASPCA poison control or the Pet Poison Control hotline. (A fee for consultation may apply.)
  • A pre-check of emergency vets available at your final destination. A quick Google search can give you an idea of veterinary services that are available at your vacation spot.
  • Vaccination records – Is your dog up to date on vaccinations and shots? Keeping vital information about your dog’s health on your phone, can save you from trying to track this down on the fly.
  • Meds – Is your dog on any medications? Make sure you have an adequate supply for the trip.
  • Microchip – If your dog isn’t microchipped, putting this on your list of things to do before you leave will give you some peace of mind. Also, if your dog is microchipped, make sure the information is current.
  • Dog first aid kit – It’s easy to toss a travel-size first aid kit in your car, backpack, or purse. Also, you may want to download a pet first aid app on your phone.
  • Soft muzzle – Even the very sweetest dog may act out if in pain or traumatized. A soft cloth muzzle will protect your dog.
  • Extra leash – As organized as we try to be, there’s usually that point in the vacation where someone says, “Where’s the leash?” It’s just easier to have a couple of leashes on hand for times when one gets lost or misplaced.

Bonus travel tip! 🔦

Pack a flashlight (or use the one on your cell phone) to check the floors, under the beds, and every other nook and cranny for things that someone else may have dropped on the floor. This is especially important if you’re staying at a dog-friendly hotel, cabin, or condo where other people have stayed prior to you. I get down all on fours and inspect every crevice, especially for medications, foods like raisins (which are harmful to dogs), gum (many contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs), and any objects that, if swallowed, could mean a trip to the vet emergency room.

Grooming

  • Brush and comb – Grooming essentials are more critical for long-haired dogs or dogs with curly hair such as Goldendoodles. Matting never takes a vacation! I’ve found what I think is the best brush for Goldendoodle grooming and toss it in the bag along with a steel-toothed comb.
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner – This may not be a must-have. But if you’re traveling to a beach, lake, or any destination where your dog is going to get wet, a paw rinse or a full-blown bath may be part of the adventure.
Good fun often means all the floof gets filthy. Packing the shampoo is essential for the wet-n-wild adventures.

For potty breaks

  • Poop bags – Picking up your dog’s poo is cool. And polite. And may be required by law at your travel destination.
  • Poop bag pouches – If you’re doing a lot of walking or taking adventures, it’s handy to have a pouch to hold the poop bags. Otherwise, I just stuff a few in my pocket.

Dog road trip essentials: Don’t forget the extras

Your dog will love you for making the final destination a home away from home. Special accessories and some comforts of home will help your doggo adjust quickly. Plus, depending on your final destination, you may need to pack some specific accessories. Here are some ideas:

  • Favorite snuggly toy – A little comfort from home can help your doggy feel secure and happy. If your dog has a favorite toy or blankie, remember to bring it along.
  • Chew toy – I like to include a chew toy in our “doggy busy bag” for times when I need a happy distraction for my dog.
  • Life vest with handle – For trips near the water, remember to pack a life vest. The ones with the handle are great for extra security because you can pick up or grab your dog quickly if need be.
  • Doggie tote bag or “busy bag” – Once you get to your destination, it’s handy to have a tote bag, day pack, or “busy bag” to carry along with you while site seeing, going to the beach, or going to a dog-friendly restaurant.

Printable dog road trip and travel checklist

Checklist of items to bring on a dog road trip, infographic

For fun and memory-making

Finally, all pet-friendly adventures are special, so why not add some fun touches that make the moment together with your dog even more memorable? Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Make a play list of calming music for the chill times and a play list of adventure-themed music for active times.
  • Remember to bring a dog adventure bandana or cute accessory for all the photo ops.
  • Make sure there’s space on your cell phone for all the pictures you’ll be taking!

Are you going to be traveling with your dog?

What dog road trip essentials or travel accessories will you take with you? We’d love to hear. Please comment below.

Adult red Goldendoodle's face looking friendly, photo
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