How to Road Trip with Your Dog – Top 4 Tips

With the Coronavirus Pandemic putting a halt to most travel plans, many of us are looking for creative ways to change our scenery. For me, taking road trips with my two dogs has been a way for to safely explore. At the age of 13, Caesar and Zeus are veteran road warriors and our trips together are a great way to break up a monotonous routine. It is also nice to share new experiences together like trying the local cuisine, visiting state parks, amazing sunsets, -friends and family. Those unique moments feel healthy and freeing.

The dogs are able to meet new people, experience new environments and learn from the surroundings. When we return from our trips, I feel recharged and both dogs are more confident and social.

I’ve put together a few of my favorite tips for taking relaxing road trips with dogs. Hope they help on your next adventure.


Take Trial Car Trips                   

Dogs (and people) often thrive off of a daily routine and road trips are an interruption to scheduled life. The more you plan ahead, the more successful your trip can be.

If your pet is not used to taking trips in the car, use the weeks ahead and try mini excursions. For our drives, I map out short scenic routes around 60 miles with a couple of attractions to visit along the way. Trial rides will provide a glimpse of how your pet will react in the car. Are they be comfortable, scared, nervous, excited, bored, or sick?

Speaking of sick. Humans are not the only ones that get car sick. Dog car sickness is real and a moving car, plus stuffy air can lead to nausea and vomiting. During the road trips, keep in mind air pressure by lowering your car windows a couple of inches to keep the car well ventilated and air pressure balanced. Fresh air can help reduce the chances of your pet experiencing nausea or discomfort.

If your dog is still anxious or fearful, hemp CBD treats are the perfect calming and stress-reducing treat option for the road.

Being aware of your pet’s behavior in a long car ride will allow you to prepare and not be shocked by surprises. The goal is to have a happy, calm, and relaxed pet.


Include Dog-Friendly Pit Stops           

Now that you’re sure your dog can handle a road trip–it’s time to start planning. I know you are set on arriving at the destination but when traveling with a companion animal it is important to plan stops as well as the destination. Planning and incorporating parks, additional bathroom and stretching breaks can be a welcome change for both humans and dogs. There are many rest areas that have large pet-friendly spaces, with designated places to hydrate, run, and relax. You’ll also want to make sure to find dog-friendly housing ahead of time. Pet-friendly hotels have become increasingly popular but they usually have rules about the weight and number of animals in a room. Calling ahead and visiting destination websites will ensure your pets are welcomed at the different spots you want to visit. Nothing is worse than showing up at a park or tourist attraction and then finding out there are strict rules and regulations or that animals aren’t even allowed.

Luckily there are other people who have already thought about all of this and developed apps like Bring Fido (list of parks, beaches, hotels, restaurants, etc that welcome dogs) and Dog Park Finder Plus (find dog park anywhere) to help you navigate traveling with pets.


Pack for Success (and less stress!)

When it comes to traveling with dogs, packing the essentials a few days before will help alleviate stressors later on. And depending on the length of the trip, you may want to put all dog items in a travel bag or separate suitcase.

Here is a handy check-off list of items you don’t want to forget:

  • Dog food and food toppers. (Pro-tip: when my dogs are stressed in a new environment they don’t eat. Food toppers or a little coconut oil mixed into food gets them eating again.)  
  • Water and food bowls
  • Vaccination record & medications (make sure you’ll have enough)
  • Updated tags with your latest address and contact information
  • Blankets and car safety seats (Pro-tip: create a cozy-homelike section in the car for your dog)
  • Crate or Kennel
  • Clothing suitable for the planned and unexpected weather
  • Harness, leash, collar (Pro-tip: try one with led lights or reflective gear for camping or nighttime walks)
  • Towels and cleaning supplies                                                
  • Hygiene tools like toothbrush, shampoo, etc..
  • First-Aid Kit with the essentials to address paw cuts, fleas, ticks, etc..

And don’t forget the most important T’s: Toys and Treats. As you most likely already know, dogs also get bored so it may be a good time to invest in a toy or to pack the frisbee and balls to play catch.



Enjoy the Road                              

You’ve prepared, planned, and packed, so now you’re ready to relax and enjoy the open road. For myself and the dogs, this means visiting our favorite picnic places, regional parks, canyons, historical landmarks, catching a glimpse of the sea, and spending time with extended family, -together. Along the way, we often find new areas to explore and appreciate. With both yourself and the pets taken care of, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the new adventures and memories. Visit our IG @emishawellnes and keep us posted on the adventures you choose! 

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