beautiful small dog sitting at marina in San Diego

Dog Travel Tips and What to Bring Along on Your Next Pet-Friendly Vacation

I’m a big fan of traveling with my dog and know first hand that a few dog travel tips can help you make it a great experience.  In my opinion, it’s all in the planning and making sure you do your research ahead of time. You will have a much more successful and fun trip if you know in advance what activities you can participate in together, and what your dog will do if there are things you want to do, but that does not pet friendly.

Doggie daycare at your Travel Destination

An important dog travel tip to remember is that most hotels do not want your dog to be left in the room alone if you are not there. This is for your dog’s safety as well as the cleaning staff, not to mention to help reduce the risk of any damage to the room while you are away.

Think about alternatives to leaving your dog alone if the day doesn’t include something he can do with you. First of all, staying in the car is not an option, even if the weather is cool. There are too many things that can go wrong and it’s simply not safe and should not be considered an option.

Another dog travel tip to consider is a day or afternoon at doggie daycare.  Research the area and see what is available that you are comfortable with.  Remember that many daycare facilities require a short test visit to make sure your dog plays well with others. Plan for this visit on your trip and make sure you’ve called ahead of time to learn their policies and see if they have room for your dog.

What to Take with You

You probably have your own checklist (or at least a mental checklist) of things to include in your own suitcase.  Have one for your dog too. Bringing the right items with you on your trip can help reduce stress.

Dog Travel Tips List:  things to pack along
  • Sturdy carrier – A good carrier is helpful even when you are going on a road trip.
  • Carrier ID – Make sure that you have an ID tag on the carrier with your dog’s name and your phone number. This dog travel tip is very helpful in the case of an emergency.  You might also want to include your vet’s name and number on the ID tag and list any medications that your dog is currently on.  In the case of an auto accident, it is also helpful to have the name and number of someone who is not traveling with you, who could care for your dog in an emergency situation.  If the tag does not have enough room, clearly mark “in case of emergency, see back of the card” and write the info on the backside.
  • Current vaccine records
  • Health certificate, if it is required at your destination (these must be issued within 10 days of departure).
  • Food/water dishes – Soft-sided or pop-up dishes are great for travel.
  • Food – Be sure to pack enough for the whole trip. I always pack enough for two days extra. If you feed a raw diet, think about what you want to use as an alternative. Consider dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food.
  • Treats – these can be very helpful when you are trying to encourage good behavior in a new environment.
  • Medications/Vitamins– If your dog is currently taking any medication or supplements, be sure to bring them along.
  • Chew toy or bone – Something to keep your dog busy and distracted can be very helpful.
  • Harness or Collar with ID tag – Make sure it has your cell phone number on it. You can also create a temporary ID, in addition to the permanent one, by looping some masking tape around the collar with the hotel name and phone number on it.
  • Leash + 1.  It’s always a good idea to bring an extra leash.  You never know when you might need it.
  • Favorite toy or ball – Bring a few!  Consider bringing one that already has the squeaker pulled out.  Your hotel neighbors will appreciate it.
  • Favorite blanket –  Don’t wash it before you leave home. The familiar smell will help your dog feel more secure and comfortable.
  • Bachs Rescue Remedy or homemade lavender mist  – This dog travel tip helps calm your dog in the car, the plane or the hotel room. Fill an 8-ounce mister bottle with water. Add 20-30 drops of essential lavender oil. Shake well before misting.
  • Cooling jacket and or mat – Especially helpful if you are going to the beach or any hot location where your dog is going to be exposed to the elements. Remember that even with a cooling jacket/mat, never leave your dog in a hot car. Even in the shade with the window cracked open, a car can heat up to 160 degrees in just a few minutes, potentially causing your pet heatstroke, brain damage and even death.
  • Doggie Life jacket – If your trip involves boating, be sure to pack your dog’s own life jacket.
  • Travel seatbelt – A harness attached to your car’s seatbelt is essential for doggie safety. If you are traveling by air, make sure you take one to use in the rental car. If you are taking a road trip, consider a special seat for your dog that allows him to see out of the window. The Lookout Car Seat is great for small dogs and works well with a VestHarness.
  • Dog Toothbrush/toothpaste – Even on vacation, your dog’s teeth should be brushed daily.
  • Housebreaking/training pads – Helpful for hotel rooms that your dog is not familiar with. Just in case…
  • Flea/Tick comb
  • Flea/Tick herbal remedy
  • Grooming Brush
  • Poop bags – you can never pack too many.  This is an important dog travel tip – when you take your dog out to potty, the chance you’ll only need one bag is slim. Have three on you at all times. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Dog First aid kit
  • Day bag to carry essential items on an outing.
  • Music to calm your dog in the car.
  • Clear and up-to-date photo of your dog  – This is a very important dog travel tip.  If your dog gets lost, you will want to have quick access to a current photo to create flyers and show people. Hopefully you won’t need this, but it’s always best to be prepared.  You might even want to go the extra step and make flyers in advance with your cell phone number on it.  You don’t want to waste time going to the copy store in an emergency situation.
  • List of a few doggie daycare facilities and vets where you are visiting. It’s helpful to have planned in advance should the occasion arise that you need it.
  • List of pet-friendly establishments at your destination. You don’t want to want to wait until you get to your destination to search your phone app for places you might want to visit. Know ahead of time where you want to go that are pet friendly.

It’s great that you are planning a trip with your dog!  Have fun together and get out there and explore.  If you are planning a trip in an RV, check out these tips from Your RV Lifestyle. Whatever mode of travel you are planning, the memories you create will be ones you cherish forever.

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