6 Tips for Road Tripping With Dogs

You all may have noticed that we never leave the dog behind while traveling near or far. Yes, in 3 years not once have we set sail or trail without him -though to be perfectly clear he doesn’t like boats at all. It may be a challenge to comprehend why we would opt to travel with a dog who isn’t exactly mild or even well-mannered in a vehicle, it’s not that he doesn’t like the ride, although were not exactly sure what it is, perhaps excitement. However, when we rescued him he was quite the handful and we couldn’t expect anyone else to take on the responsibility of handling him for an extended time. And while at first it was out of necessity we now can’t imagine traveling without him. Almost three years of road tripping with Styx has taught me some of the ins and outs of traveling with a canine companion. Some lessons were hard learned so in hopes to spare one or some of you from travel troubles with a canine- below are a few things I’ve picked up along the way..

Road Tripping with Dogs. ©Victoria Lise

Be Prepared For Extra Pit Stops

Depending on your dog and the distance this will vary but it’s important to consider the extra time it may take having to allow for your pup to sniff around and stretch his legs. You also have to take care of yourself and your business and neither you or canine want to feel rushed.

Pack A Dog Bag And Keep It Accessible

Dogs have their needs too! Things like poo bags, food, treats, medicine if necessary, food bowls, leash, harness, maybe a toy for comfort, you know your dog best but there are a few essentials. I recommend investing in a functional travel bowl or two. We have had several rip after minimum use and found the backpacking bowls are not best for road travel as they end up seeping water which is not ideal. We have two that work great, one from a local store and another from Thrive Market which you can find here. I keep Styx’s bowl at my feet alleviating the need to find it in the backseat. There have been circumstances where we’ve been on the road and he’s needed to eat dinner, if possible we pull off, if not I keep his food where it can be easily accessed and prepared. Having enough water for all travelers is the cornerstone to any adventure so make room to bring along and fill bulk water containers.

If your dog is anything like Styx you’ll want to attach leash to harness or collar before opening the car door. Out of excitement and urgency Styx jumps out eager to explore the still life outside the confines of the car and rest stops are not the place for a loose dog. Microchips, collars and tags with current, up to date information are a must especially in the event that your dog were to become loose or lost.

Pet Friendly Hotels. Dogs Welcome.

Reserve And Research Your Destination

Not all hotels or campgrounds are pet friendly and the ones that are usually have a fixed number of pet friendly accommodations making it crucial to inquire before arriving. It is also important to consider your particular pet. For instance, Styx wouldn’t do well at a campground with a lot of activity. He would be easily overstimulated and could potentially become a nuisance to neighboring campers making uncrowded, public lands a better option for us. Likewise, many hotels have policies that state consequences if pets cause a disturbance to fellow guests.

Hotels that do accept pets often limit the number of pets per room, some restrict certain breeds of dog, some only permit small dogs or dogs up to a certain weight. You don’t want to arrive to check-in only to find your dog doesn’t meet the hotels regulations. If you’re not exactly looking to take Fido along on every single outing like to a fine dining establishment you must find a hotel that ‘ok’s’ dogs left unattended in the room or you will have to resort to pet friendly restaurants which do exist at large might I add! This is something we’ve run into a couple of times as many hotels don’t make it clear that pets can’t be left unattended until arrival (which is why it’s important to call and ask beforehand) but both times hotel staff allowed it with the exception of us having to return immediately should Styx have caused a ruckus. It’s also important to add the extra costs that can incur as most hotels charge a per day pet fee as well as a pet deposit. If you’re looking to cut costs you’ll most likely want to find a slice of heaven on public land and park it but that’s not to say there aren’t affordable options with modern conveniences it just takes a bit of leg work to find them.

Bring Along Vet Records

You may not need them at all but in the case the hotel wants to see up to date vaccination records or you end up needing to make an unplanned vet visit it’s best to have the papers on hand or on a phone file for easy access. It’s also good to chat with your vet about where you’re going and see what they may recommend. If you are border crossing you will need your vet to provide signed paperwork and depending on where you go your pet may be required to have been vaccinated within the last 6 months whether or not they are currently due in your state. Save yourself and your pet unnecessary stress by being in the know it won’t stop unfortunate or unavoidable incidents from happening but it can help you not only stay calm should something go of course but also aid you in proceeding productively vs frantically.

Styx at the Santa Cruz, CA dog beach. Dogs at play.

Find Pet Friendly Activities Near Your Destinations

This is a small token of wisdom that has become key to a fun trip for all and while it seems obvious it’s not always a possibility. When we drive back east to visit family in my home state of Delaware we drive interstate the entirety of the trip leaving very little option or room to prioritize and utilize this tip so a strip of grass has to do and is actually quite luxurious after hours in a vehicle. This trip tip is best applied when vacationing or leisurely road tripping, regardless of circumstance the pets needs must always be prioritized but when needs and fun merge together- look out!

Traveling to California we always locate a dog beach within walking distance, this changed up vacationing for us as it gave all three of us more freedom to relax and enjoy. Though there has been an instance where we stayed at a beachfront hotel that did cater to dogs but all dogs had to be leashed making it less than ideal for us or our super high energy dog. After hours at the beach though he becomes a cloud 9 k9 yet at the same time unceasingly ready for more! Do a quick search before booking to pinpoint a dog park, a dog beach, or a nearby place for a long walk that way you eliminate spending precious time trying to locate a suitable place to take your pet. Once you’re there take time to chat with locals about their favorite pet friendly spots to frolic.

Be Patient and Flexible

New places can be frightening for pets and multiple transitions can be exhausting or even irritating.  Listening to them is critical and even changing plans to suit their better interests may prove necessary. That’s all part of traveling as a team, as a pack, as a family. You adapt to whatever the given situation, no matter the time, no man or dog left behind. Dogs just like people cannot be left in cars in extreme heat or cold. During our desert trips (or anywhere with extreme climate) one of us always, always stays in the car with Styx while running the A/C or we use that time if appropriate to walk him.

Traveling with a dog is a great experience, it adds to the adventure, and leads you to explore a place differently than you would without a fur friend. In many ways it invites intimacy with the landscape and the locals lesser known by visitors who are often drawn toward trendy spots.

Road tripping with a canine companion, Styx.

Have you travelled with a pet? What was your experience and/or preference? If you feel I’ve missed anything or have something to add please, please share below!

Also, if you’re interested in locations that have been a pet friendly, person friendly score let me know and I will happily compose a list to share! 

Thank you for joining me here and until next time,

Happy Trails♥

Let’s connect! Instagram | Contact


  1. love this! so much nicer to travel if you can bring the pup along!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awh thanks so much! It definitely has been in our case especially and it is super fun! X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Debi walls

    O my I love my grandson did you notice he has an orb above his head in the first photo it must be bear bear happy Easter my kids love you oodles 🐥🐇🐾🕊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I did see that! Xoxo 😘


  3. Great tips! Styx is so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! He is such a beautiful creature!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These are so great. My dogs get so dried out on car trips. I’d like to find a better way to leave water out for them. Gotta have them with me 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay I’m so glad you think so! Thank you! Yes same with Styx he needs so much water but he knocks it over if we leave it sit out. I agree can’t be without the pups! I’m sure your girls are great road trippers!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.