Travel With Your Dog: Expert Advice for Stress Free Trips

dachshund dog traveling in airport with suitcase and boarding pass in his mouth

Get the best travel tips for you and your dog! Here’s everything you need to know for a fun and safe adventure.

Are you ready to turn your next vacation into an epic adventure with your furry best friend by your side? Traveling with your dog to new destinations can create unforgettable memories

However, it also presents a unique set of challenges.  Organizations like the American Kennel Club and ASPCA emphasize the need for some special planning to ensure your travels are both enjoyable and safe for both you and your dog.

Whether you’re planning to hit the road or flying cross-country, these expert tips will ensure that your travel experience is as smooth as possible so that you and your pup have the time of your lives

Pre-Travel Preparation

Health Checks

Planning a trip with a canine companion requires a bit more preparation. Before you hit the road or take to the skies, a visit to the vet is crucial

Ensure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and check if any specific precautions are recommended for your destination. Keep a copy on hand when you’re out and about with your pet. A health certificate is often required for air travel and is good practice for interstate travel as well. 

Make sure to ask your vet for advice on how to help calm a nervous traveler. And if your dog gets particularly anxious with a change in their routine, your vet may be able to suggest a suitable medication to help keep your fur-baby calm. 

Packing Essentials

Packing for a dog is much like packing for a young child. When you’re preparing your fellow travelers’s doggie-bag, you’re gearing up to meet their physical, emotional, and practical needs. Just like kids, dogs require plenty of entertainment and comfort to keep them happy and calm while on the move. 

Here are some essentials to pack for your pup:

  • Food and treats that your dog normally eats
  • Water & bowl for easy drinking during breaks
  • A collar and leash/ harness
  • Plenty of waste bags
  • Any medications or supplements that they regularly take
  • A few favorite toys or special blankets that smell like home

Travel Identification

Updating your dog’s tags and microchip information is vital in case you get separated. Unfamiliar environments can be stressful for your dog, and they don’t always understand their boundaries. This can be a prime opportunity to bolt out of excitement or sneak away to explore.

It’s also a good idea to get a temporary travel tag with your vacation contact information. And make sure you have a current photo of your pet in case you get separated. 

Training Tips

A refresher on basic commands like “stay” and “come” can make a world of difference in managing your dog in new environments. Before a big trip, spend a few weeks reinforcing these commands to ensure they’re second nature.

Choosing the Right Mode of Transportation

Car Travel

Traveling by car is often the easiest way to share vacation adventures with your pet. Ensure your dog is safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or with a dog seat belt

Make sure your car is well ventilated, too, to keep air circulating. This can help to alleviate any car sickness. And never leave your fur-baby unattended in your car, especially during extremely hot or cold weather. 

For longer drives, plan stops every 2-3 hours to allow your dog to stretch, relieve themselves, and drink water. If you notice your dog is restless or unusually vocal, it may not be a sign of distress, just a signal for more frequent breaks to feel comfortable.

Flying with Dogs

Flying requires more preparation, as airline policies vary significantly. Always check with your airline well in advance about their pet policies. 

Some allow dogs in the cabin if the crate fits under the seat, while others require pets to travel as checked baggage. (And don’t forget to place a Live Animal label on your crate with your contact information.  Either way, familiarizing your pet with their crate before the journey is key to reducing stress.

Learn more about “Flying and Traveling With Your Dog”

Public Transportation

If you’re using public transportation like buses or subways, check the pet policies ahead of time. Some systems allow pets only during off-peak hours or require them to be in a carrier.

Also double check the pet policies for transportation providers like Uber, Lyft, and any destination shuttles you may need to use. Each one may have different guidelines you will need to consider while planning your adventures. 

Accommodation: Finding Pet-Friendly Stays

Hotels and Motels

Many hotels welcome pets, but their policies can vary widely. Look for hotels that offer specific pet amenities like welcome treats, a dog bed, or even a concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants and parks. Always confirm directly with the hotel to avoid any surprises.

Keep in mind to dog-proof your room as soon as you settle in. And don’t forget that even the best behaved dogs can get anxious and destructive if they are left uncrated in a hotel room alone. 

Airbnb and Rentals

When booking through platforms like Airbnb, filter your search to include pet-friendly listings. Always message the host to confirm their pet policies and any additional fees or deposits required.

Camping and Outdoors

If your travel plans include camping, ensure the site allows dogs. Keep your pet on a leash unless in a designated off-leash area, and always follow the principle of “Leave No Trace” to protect wildlife and the environment.

For more information, read our blog “10 Best Rules of Camping with Your Dog”

Keeping Your Dog Happy and Engaged

Exercise and Play

Maintaining an exercise routine can help your dog adjust to new environments. If you’re used to morning jogs together, do so at the beach, a nearby trail, or local park.

This can help your fur-baby burn off energy and settle in more easily. But also be careful not to overdo physical exertion, too. If you’re exhausted from your outdoor adventures, chances are your pet is, too. 

Stress Management

Travel can be stressful for pets. To help ease this, bring along an item from home to comfort your dog, like a favorite blanket or toy. Providing plenty of reassurances throughout the journey can make a positive difference.

Also, try to remain calm yourself in situations where you feel overwhelmed such as traffic or long lines. Your dog can sense your anxiety and act out unexpectedly. 

Try to keep your dog’s eating, exercising, and sleeping schedule as consistent as possible. This familiarity can help them feel secure and reduce anxiety.

Navigating New Destinations

Exploring Together

Always keep your dog on a leash when exploring new places, even if they are well-behaved at home. New sights and smells can be tempting, leading even the most obedient dog to stray.

And avoid letting strangers approach or pet your dog without asking. New environments plus crowds of people can overwhelm your pet and cause uncharacteristic aggression. 

Dining and Activities

Research dog-friendly activities in advance. Many places now offer dog-friendly options at restaurants, parks, and even shopping centers. These can make your travel experience more enjoyable for both you and your pet.

You might be able to meet-up with other people traveling with their pets. This can be a great source of socializing as well as information about dog-friendly options.

Emergency Preparedness

Know where the local veterinary hospitals are in case of an emergency and add them to your contact list on your phone. Apps like VetFinder can be invaluable in a pinch.

Read more about summer travel with your dog


Traveling with your dog can enrich your travel experience immensely, offering shared adventures and memories that last a lifetime. With the right preparation, you can lessen the stresses and ensure that your journey is enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. So get packed up, adventure awaits!


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In the meantime, please enjoy a virtual tour of Dog Day Getaway!