You wake up in the morning in an unfamiliar place and your best friend—your dog—is right there by your side, licking your face. As you venture out to go exploring, you get nervous when you think you’re lost. You look down and your pal is looking up at you, tail wagging. Everything's better with a dog, and traveling is no different. There are some details to consider when traveling with a canine companion, though. Here’s how to plan a dog-friendly trip you’ll both love.
Why Travel With Your Dog?
There are all sorts of reasons why you may want to bring your dog along on your next trip:
- Dogs make great photo subjects, and a photo of a landmark or beautiful vista is even better with your adorable pup in it.
- A lot of dogs love water, making a beach vacation an excellent choice.
- If you’re traveling solo, you don’t have to worry about getting lonely as the days go by.
- You may feel safer and more protected having your dog at your side.
Dogs can also be good for your mental health, and emotional support animals (ESAs) can give owners with certain mental health struggles some peace of mind.
How to Travel With Your Dog
Traveling with a canine companion is much different than traveling alone or with other people. There are several things you should keep in mind and research when planning a trip with your dog. Here are a few:
Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations
Dog-friendly accommodations aren't always easy to come by, so you’ll want to do your research ahead of time. Pet-friendly hotels do exist, but there may be limited availability, especially if they only have a few rooms that allow pets. If you’re going camping or RV-ing, you can almost certainly bring your dog, but you may still want to double-check campsite rules. Typically, though, most campsites will allow dogs.
Some accommodations may allow service dogs only. While ESAs are therapeutic, they are not service dogs and don’t have specific training, such as how to offer guidance for the blind or certain types of medical assistance. That’s why they’re not usually allowed in public places like restaurants or stores. While some hotels will allow ESAs even if they don’t allow other domestic pets, there’s no law that says you’re guaranteed to bring your ESA anywhere you want.
There are benefits to finding accommodations that are pet-friendly beyond simply having a place to stay. There may be pet-specific features, like a dog park or water bowls with fresh water outside. The hotel may also provide dog beds, blankets, and even dog sitting so you can go out for the evening.
Map Out Other Dog-Friendly Stops and Services
In addition to finding places where both you and your pet are welcomed for the night, consider other pet-friendly stops along the way. If you’ll be taking public transportation, you’ll have to make sure that the plane, train, or bus you’ll be on allows pets. If you’ll be driving, you’ll want to stop at the rest stops that allow pets—otherwise, your pup will have to stay in the car. Also, mark down the pet stores and vets you’ll be passing along the way. If you run out of dog food or if your pet starts feeling sick, you’ll know exactly where to go.
When traveling with your dog, you’ll want to stick as close to his normal routine as possible. If you take him to the dog park every morning, then you’ll want to make sure there’s a dog-friendly park close to where you’ll be staying. If he’s an indoor dog and doesn’t love being outside too much, you’ll want to ensure there’s a dog sitter nearby who can watch him while you’re out exploring.
Safety Tips for Traveling With Your Dog
Road trips are undeniably fun, and having man’s (or woman’s) best friend along for the ride makes it all the more enjoyable and much less lonely. You have to make sure your pet receives the care he deserves, though, even when you’re under travel stress.
Keep the following safety tips in mind when traveling with your dog—his health and happiness may depend on them:
- Make sure your car is large enough. If you have a big dog and a tiny car, that’s not the best combination for a long drive. Consider renting an SUV instead.
- Buckle him in! They make seat belts and harnesses for dogs that will keep them safe even if you stop short or get in an accident. Plus, any type of loose object (your dog included) can become dangerous if it flies forward when you hit something or hard brake.
- Pack plenty of food and water. Bring more than you expect to go through so that you have backups.
- Ensure your dog gets enough time to exercise and play. If you’re taking a road trip, you’ll want to stop along the way so you can both get out and stretch your legs. If you’re taking a long flight, consider getting a connecting flight so you have time in between to let your dog run and move around.
- Never leave your dog in a hot vehicle for any amount of time. Cracking the window isn’t enough to prevent heatstroke.
Even if you’re an expert for caring for your dog when you’re home, taking care of him while traveling comes with its own set of considerations and problems to solve. Preparing as much as possible before you head out will keep you both safe and excited for the experience ahead.
It’s best to travel with your dog if he does well in new situations and around strangers. A dog that has problems adjusting may be stressed during your trip, which will be difficult for both of you to cope with. You can always go on a short trip ahead of time to see how he handles it—and if it works out, there’s almost nothing better than traveling with such a cute and loving companion.