Dog Travel Tips - How to Vacay With Your Pet

Traveling with dogs is becoming very popular. As a pet parent, I love taking my canine with me whenever I can. However, you do need to be prepared for any trips you take with your dog (or any other pet), and plan well in advance to make sure everything goes smoothly.

I made a list of dog travel tips for those who also want to vacay with their dogs more often.

As pet parents, we can completely eliminate the worry and stress of leaving ours dogs behind when we go on vacations. No need to lock our dogs behind gates, or setup the home for monitoring the dog.

Simply take your furry family member with you on the trip instead, and use some of these dog travel tips to ensure everybody's safety.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not really as difficult to take your dog traveling as you might think. Pets are going along on vacations more and more often today, and the places that pet owners visit are more accommodating of dogs and cats than they used to before.

There's not only an increase in dog friendly hotels, but also many other travel destinations are becoming much more pet friendly.

Dog Travel Tips: How to Vacay With Your Pet

dog vacation in a hotel

Pet-friendly hotels and motels

Let's start with the most important part of the dog travel tips first. Finding a pet-friendly accommodation to stay in when you travel on vacation with your dog and make reservations before leaving home is vital.

RELATED: 18 Best USA Hotels that Allow Dogs

There are many pet-friendly hotels and motels that are happy to welcome furry family members. Some of them have a limit on how many pets can be kept in a room, weight limits on pets and charge an additional fee for pets and some do not. In the above linked article, we've listed some of the best dog hotels with their requirements, prices and URLs.

To take a few examples, the LaQuinta Hotels, Motel 6 and Red Roof Inns are just a few of the better-known hotel chains that are happy to accommodate people who are going on vacation with their dogs.

Additionally, if you are staying with family or friends while on vacation, don't forget to make sure it is okay with them if you bring your pet along. I've been in a situation when one of my friends brought a cat with them when staying with me on their vacation, and nobody told me in advance. Needless to say, my dog and the cat didn't not agree with each other.

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Quick advice and dog travel tips

Here's a short list of short advice, dog travel tips, lifehacks and must-do’s to make going on vacation with your dog safer and easier. Maybe these ideas for safe dog travel will evoke some better thoughts on what you need to do to prepare for a vacation with a dog. If you have any of these, share them with other dog owners in the comments below.

1. Test your dog. Take your dog for a few long rides in the car a month or so before going on vacation to make sure he will travel well. The ride should last at least an hour or two. Don't forget to make sure your dog is secure in the car, and maybe consider getting dog booster seat for extra protection. Here's a good article on why this is necessary.

2. Check your dog. Talk to your veterinarian before taking your dog on a vacation if he suffers from motion sickness or anxiety. This often happens when flying with a dog, especially if the dog is kept in the cargo section of the plane. Fortunately, these nasty dog travel side effects can often be resolved with proper dog medication and dog supplements.

3. Calm your dog. Add some calming essences to your dog’s vacation travel kit if he experiences anxiety. Lavender works well, according to some veterinarians. A Thundershirt for dogs can also help keep your pet that suffers from anxiety more calm on long trips. We've talked about this dog calming product in our best dog vests lists, how and why it works.

4. Hydrate your dog. This is an obvious one, but still begs for a reminder. Pack plenty of water for your dog and keep him well-hydrated while traveling on vacation. Water from home that he is used to drinking is best, but not necessary. If you're going to vacation for a longer period of time – especially when going by car – then making sure your dog's crate is perfect for car would be a good idea. This article on dog travel crates for longer trips will give you a better idea of what's out there.

5. Feed your dog. Bring a bag or cans of your dog’s usual food along so you won’t have look for it after you get to your vacation destination. Switching your dog’s food while going on vacation could cause digestive troubles that might make travel unpleasant, or your dog will simply refuse to eat that food. Here are a few additional tips for traveling with dogs on this subject.

6. ID your dog. Another one of the important dog travel tips is to make sure your pet has an identification tag on his collar with up-to-date contact information just in case he gets lost when you take your dog on vacation. Consider getting a pet microchip before you travel with your dog. Even though this has become a standard, many pet parents still refuse to get an ID tag or chip their pets. We've talked about the importance of ID tags for dogs' safety before.

7. Empathize with your dog. Stop every two to three hours when traveling with your dog by automobile. Take the dog out to relieve himself, stretch his legs and get a drink of water before continuing your trip. You can even supply your dog with his own dog crate water-bottle, making sure that he can reach it whenever he needs to, and thus relieving you from having to constantly check on your dog. There are quite a few cool dog supplies for traveling that you can get in addition, too.

8. Clean up after your dog. Take six to eight plastic grocery sacks along to clean up after your dog finishes his rest-stop business. The bags also come in handy if he has an “oops” in the car. Alternatively, if you can afford it, buy proper dog poop bags to make your own life easier when dealing with your dog's feces. Just please, please don't leave this dog waste whenever your dog goes; it's horrible for the environment and for dog owners themselves, and here's why.

9. Don't lock your dog. This is the most important one of all these dog travel tips: never, ever leave your dog alone in the car. It doesn't matter if you roll the windows up; it's still cruel, especially if it is hot outside. Try your best to get your Fido out of the car, and take him with you. This is why it's very important to plan your plan well in advance, and plan well, whether you're traveling with your dog by car, train, or by plane.

I've also found a few good articles here on Top Dog Tips with dog travel tips and other advice on how to go on vacation with your dog, and make sure you all are safe and having fun:

happy dog safely traveling in a car

A healthy dog is a happier traveler

Begin your dog vacation plans by making an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for vaccinations and a check-up a week or two before going on vacation with your pooch. Talk to the veterinarian about where you are going while you and your dog are on vacation.

Some diseases are more prevalent in certain vacation destination areas than others, and this applies to both humans and animals. Your dog may need a booster shot to bring his disease resistance up to snuff or may need a vaccination that he hasn’t had yet.

RELATED: 7 Vet Recommended Supplements for Dogs

Be sure to put your dog’s most recent rabies tag on his collar before taking him on vacation with you. Take a fecal sample to the veterinarian’s office with you so your dog can be checked for worms even if he hasn’t had a problem with them recently.

Vacation travel can be stressful for dogs which may make a mild worm infestation worse. Make sure your pet is worm-free before taking your dog with you on the trip for his sake as well as other pet travelers' who may use the same rest stop while traveling on vacation.

The safer, more secure way to go on vacation with dogs

dog travel in a car in a dog crate

There's an investment that you can make when traveling with your dog, which will make your own and your dog's life much easier. I've traveled with my pets before where they simply sat in the back of the van, and this rarely goes perfectly.

So here's the best one of these dog travel tips: get a dog crate or dog carrier for your canine to travel in when you take him with you on vacation regardless of your chosen mode of transportation. Dogs are significantly safer in their dog crates or carriers, and many pets feel more calm and secure in them.

On top of that, securing your dog in a crate while traveling will decrease the danger for humans within the car, too. We talked about the reasons why on this article.

A few useful articles and lists for dog owners to look through on how to use dog crates, carries or slings when traveling with pets, and why we should do so:

Okay, moving further along.

When travelling with a dog by air, make sure your dog's crate or carrier is approved for that type of travel. Airlines, for example, have very strict policies on animal crates. Do some homework on the crate or carrier before buying one. Alternatively, take a look at the below post on airline-approved dog crates if you want some good suggestions.

RELATED: Airline Approved Dog Crates and Carriers

On top of that, The Center for Pet Safety has tested many popular pet carriers and dog crates to determine how well they hold up during an accident. Here are a few assessments from them, but take them with a grain of salt, too:

  • Pet Ego Jet Set Forma Frame Carriers and Sleepypods have been accident tested and approved. They are great for taking small dogs with you on vacation.
  • Petmate Sky Kennel is an airline approved crate that comes in sizes ranging from small to giant. They are good for travelling on vacation with dogs of all sizes.

A few quick dog travel tips for this section. The dog crate or dog carrier, whichever you choose, should be large enough for the dog to turn around easily and stretch out while laying down. Let your pet have a blanket that he is used to sleeping on and one of his favorite dog toys. They will make him feel more at home when you travel with your dog on vacation.

Check out these news articles about dog supplies for traveling with pets:

Dog travel tips - vacation with dogs

What about public transportation with dogs?

Dogs in secure dog crates can travel on airplanes when you take them with you on vacation without any issues most of the time. However, they may not be able to fly when the weather is very cold or hot. There can also be other reasons why an airline may refuse to take your canine on a plane.

The best way to make sure you won't have any issues with taking a pet on the plane is to call the airlines well ahead of time to find out their policies and requirements. The same dog travel tips should apply to any other services you'll be using: call them up, or email them in advance to make sure there are no problems with taking your dog with you.

When it comes to other public transportation and dogs, unfortunately, canines are not allowed to travel on vacation with their owners on Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses, to use just a few examples. At least it is the case at the time of me writing this. Your pets may be able to travel with you on a vacation cruise, though. Just double-check ahead of time.

Before you leave on a trip with your dog

Take some time to let your dog burn off excess energy right before you leave for your vacation. A long walk, a game of fetch or a romp at the local dog park should wear him out. Travelling with your dog will be much more peaceful if he is able to rest comfortably during the trip.

Ensuring your dog is in a top shape condition, and doesn't have any psychological problems while traveling wouldn't be such a bad idea either. Do several “test” trips to learn more about how your dog behaves, consult with a veterinarian, other pet owners who travel often, and read up more advice on dog travel tips online. Happy travels!

Resources and further reading
Reannan has enjoyed the companionship of dogs her whole life. She bred, raised and showed cocker spaniels for a while but has owned a variety of different types of dogs, ranging from bulldogs to mutts. She worked in the private sector for 30 years. Now she devotes her time to writing and sharing knowledge about dog ownership and care.