How to Plan an Epic Road Trip with your Dog
HOW TO PLAN AN EPIC ROAD TRIP WITH YOUR DOG
If you’ve been following me for a hot minute, you know that one of my life’s greatest joys is my rescue dog, Lila.
Meet Lila - a feisty Chihuahua + Dachshund mix (otherwise known as a Chiweenie or my personal favourite, the Mexican Hotdog). We rescued her almost 4 years ago (#AdoptDontShop). Prior to her arrival at the Yeo-Liffreing residence, she was bounced from home to home, found stray, and we suspect, had puppies at one point! She has epilepsy, but a HUGE heart. We’re uncertain of her age but I’d like to think she’s still a puppy… really, I’m sure she’s anywhere from 5-8? She’s a little rough around the edges when you first meet her, but we’re working on it and there’s still a long way to go, but let me tell you - she’s much better than she was when we first got her. Also… try to hurt me, and she’ll go Cujo on you. Don’t underestimate her 11 lb frame.
But enough about the love of my life, you want to plan an epic road trip with your furry companion. Here are some tips that will prepare you for the road ahead!
KNOW YOUR PET’S STATS!
Small, 11 lbs
Active and loves going for long walks and runs
Hates the water
Hates strangers especially if they get too close
Can be picky with food
Has a sensitive stomach
Loves snacks and responds well to the word
More fight than flight
Will put her paws up on my chest if she needs something
Great in the car
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Because every dog has a very specific personality and it is VITAL to know your dog’s kinks and quirks before planning a road trip. Having this information will come in handy when on the road. For example, Lila has a sensitive stomach. Whenever she puts her paws up on my chest, it means she either needs us to pull over and let her poop, or she’s going to throw up.
GOT IT? NOW LET’S GET PLANNING!
The first thing you want to plan is how many days you’ll be road tripping for, where you’ll be going, which season will it be, do you need accommodations, and what attractions do you want to see?
PREPARE FOR YOUR JOURNEY
Knowing how many days will set you up for success when prepping your dog’s travel bag. Unfortunately, our furry friends can’t help much when it comes to packing, so you need to do it for them! Here are your must-have items when packing for your dog -
Food - portion this out in meal sizes, or bring a little measuring cup. I recommend using Stasher bags or reusable containers. I use both - Stasher bags for the bulk, and a reusable container that will serve as Lila’s food bowl on the road.
Snacks - Don’t forget this especially if your dog’s food motivated. Don’t go crazy with this, but pack a few into a Stasher bag or container.
A collapsible water bowl - for water on and off the road
A reusable water bottle with water (duh)
All medications and supplements
Wet wipe or a towel
Reusable ice bags - if your dog eats fresh or frozen meals
Dog bed (optional)
Toy(s) [also optional]
Leash/harness/collar - A MUST!
DECIDE HOW MUCH TIME YOU’LL BE SPENDING IN THE CAR
Once you’re all packed up and ready to go, be sure to take frequent breaks for your fur baby to get out and STRETCH! Lila just curls up on my lap when we travel and falls asleep. I recommend taking a break between 2-4 hours, but again, you NEED to know what your dog is like. Lila doesn’t mind so much and we always give her a walk before heading out on the road. Use your best judgment!
PICKING OUT YOUR DESTINATION
If you’re traveling with your dog, more likely than not you’ll be wanting to spend more time outdoors and not at museums where your furry friends can’t join you. While National Parks seem like great destinations for you and your dog, a lot of them actually have very strict rules! The general rule of thumb is: KEEP YOUR DOGS ON THEIR LEADS AT ALL TIMES AND STICK TO THE DESIGNATED PATH. I can’t stress this enough. Many parks have protected wildlife and plants and you don’t want your dog messing that up! And this goes without saying but because I’ve had my fair share of stepping in dog doodoo… ALWAYS PICK UP AFTER YOUR POOCH! Don’t be that person.
Some National Parks have very strict rules. Take Joshua Tree National Park for instance - while dogs are allowed in the park, they have to be on their leads at all time. They also cannot be more than 100 ft from a road, picnic area, or campground. Oh yeah, and no dogs on the trails at any point.
MORAL OF THE STORY
Always do your research no matter where you’re going. The outdoors may seem like the perfect place to travel to with your pooch, but be sure to look up the rules and restrictions!
BOOKING PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS
Now that you’ve decided where you’ll be heading, it’s time to book your accommodations! My suggestion? AirBnbs are the way to go! On AirBnb, you can filter your search results to show PET-FRIENDLY ONLY apartments/rooms down to the specific dates . This makes searching so much easier. The best part? Most of them don’t charge an additional pet fee. And if you opt to book through AirBnb, Use my LINK and you’ll get $40 off your first booking and $15 to go towards an AirBnb experience!
Most hotels aren’t very pet-friendly. If you insist on booking a hotel, keep in mind that they almost always have an pet fee! It doesn’t matter if your dog is an ESA (emotional support animal). They also only have a few rooms that are pet-friendly, so make sure to call ahead of time. Additionally, staying in a hotel might drive your little pooch stir-crazy, since each room is so closely located to the next.
Pro-tip: La Quinta’s are always pet-friendly so I’d start my search there!
WHY SEASONS MATTER
Alright… this one’s a little bit tricky and really depends on where you’re planning to travel. Yosemite National Park in the spring still sees a lot of snow, so if you’re dog is sensitive to the cold, pack some boots and a sweater. But mostly… spring time is also tick season, which is a huge pain! If you’re traveling during tick season, be aware of where your dog sets foot. You don’t want him/her to get into any bushes or places where you’re likely to find ticks.
NO MATTER WHAT, TRAVELING WITH YOUR DOG IS AN EXPERIENCE THAT’LL MAKE LIFETIME MEMORIES
I’m not going to lie, traveling with a pet is not easy. There’s a whole other living creature you need to plan and pack for, and there are more restrictions than traveling with a human child. But don’t let that deter you. Traveling with your dog is an amazing experience that creates so many memories. Your dog’s life is short, so go out, let them smell all the smells the world has to offer, and enjoy!
Need a little help? Here’s a PET PACKING LIST I’ve created that you can download for free HERE!
ABOUT LA VIE DE CLARE
La Vie de Clare is a travel blog for the 20-something year old dreamer. Clare writes about travel tips, destination guides, and stories about life around the world. She also shares her journey from 9-5 to digital nomad.