How To Pack For a Road Trip (Dog Edition)

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.

Charles de Gaulle

Packing for a dog or cat on vacation can be stressful, so it is important to review the following steps prior to departure. You will need adequate dog and pet travel bags in your vehicle as well as a comfort mat and dog carrier, should one of your pets require additional safety precautions while traveling. In addition, you should take time to educate yourself about dog and dog-friendly auto insurance policies before starting out on any trip. This way, if an accident occurs on the highway, you have peace of mind knowing that your dog or furry friend is protected against traffic accidents.

What Goes Where?

The first step in ensuring that your pet has a safe ride is making sure their carriers meet the requirements set by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Most dog carriers should have adequate room for your dog to turn around. However, a dog carrier that does not meet the requirements may cause more anxiety than safety on the road. A dog carrier that is too small could be considered animal abuse. It's just not nice and your dog deserves better!

At least one dog travel bag should be made available in case your pet needs an immediate bathroom break while in transit. Make sure that all dog-safe snacks are stocked up before starting out on any trip, so no hungry tails begin wagging or whining behind closed car doors!

Tips For Road Trips With Doggos

Prepare a dog or pet travel bag for your dog before leaving the house. Get familiar with dog care supplies, if you are traveling with other pets. This way, everyone can be comfortable on the road. Pet travel bags that attach to dog carriers and dog harnesses go a long way in ensuring your dog is safe on any road trip.

Keep the dog and cat treats on hand for rewards, dog or pet food dishes on standby to replenish dog bowls when empty, a pet camera handy if you want pictures of your dog or dog sitting in their carrier (take pictures through the cage, not up close), and spare leashes to attach to dog crates are all things that should be included in dog travel bags.

I like to have a mini backpack with all of CeCe's snacks. Reward snacks and rawhides work best. You don't want to bring snacks that can stain or worse yet stink up your ride.


Have at least one dog leash attached to your dog carrier so it can easily be removed from the vehicle once your furry friend is out of his cage. I keep a leash attached to CeCe's backpack. Her leash has a poop bag holder and a hand sanitizer holder. Everything is there and I don't have to fumble around looking for any of these things. It's a one-stop-shop.

Find out if there will be any breed-specific dog parks near where you are traveling.

Know dog-friendly dog parks and dog beaches! Your dog will enjoy meeting other dogs while you are on vacation, and dog-friendly hotels make the trip a lot easier for pet owners.  If this information is not available prior to departure, call ahead and ask about nearby dog parks before arriving at the hotel location or vacation destination.

Dog-Friendly Hotels

Dog-Friendly Hotels in California

Dog Friendly Hotels in the United States

Dog Friendly Hotels Worldwide

CeCe at Lake Chabot Park, Castro Valley, California

Dog Parks

Dog Parks in California

Dog Parks in the United States

Dog Parks Worldwide

If you're ever in San Diego. This one is my favorite:


Prep your dog's comfort space properly by giving them plenty of food.

Be sure to dog-proof your car and dog travel supplies before leaving on a road trip, so an accident or dog escape does not occur while you are driving. Feed them! Give them water! Take them for a walk! Your puppers might poop themselves out which makes your drive easier. CeCe usually gets a TikiDog meal, some water, and a brisk walk. She's much more relaxed by the time she gets into her dog bed.

Puppy pads are a lifesaver! They can be used on dog beds, dog crates, dog airplane pet travel bags, and car seats to help make clean-up easier. A good pet odor eliminator is good to have on hand. You just never know with the furbabies.

Make sure your dog is comfortable in his cage or bed by bringing along plenty of toys, and blankets during long car rides.

Your dog will feel more secure and less anxious about being in a cage or in their bed for hours on end. Keep the pet crate door open unless the dog is inside so they can stretch their legs outside of the cage whenever needed.   

CeCe is an 11lbs ChiPin. She does well in bed and there is no need for a crate. I've tried a crate/carrier before without any success. Now the carrier just sits in the closet. I should have brought the dog to the pet store to try it out before buying. The key thing is to know what your dog likes. If you know your dog isn't going to be cool being in the carrier, don't stress them out. I find that CeCe likes to have a buddy in the backseat. My brother-in-law now expects to have a little dog wander onto his lap sometime during the trip. Luckily, he has no dog allergies.

If you don't have a dog bed or blanket, a big pillow, and a fluffy towel will work in a pinch.

Keep dog first aid kits in your car.

Be sure dog first aid kits are up to date and include dog medications as needed for those injured or sick pets. Be sure dog first aid kits are easily accessible during dog travel.

It’s time to pack your bags and hit the road. But what about Fido, Fifi, or Fufu? There are more things you need to consider when packing for a pet than just making sure they have enough food, water, bowls, toys, and treats on hand. The keywords are SAFE and COMFORT. I hope I have at least given you a few things to think about. Have fun and safe travels!


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