Pet Travel. Made Easy.

How to Take A Cross Country Trip With Pets

Taking a cross country road trip with pets might sound intimidating. But we’ve zigzagged America several times with Ty and Buster and learned a few lessons along the way.

If you’re planning a long road trip with your pets, these tips will boost your confidence and help ensure your adventure is fun for everyone!

Man and dog walking on a pet friendly trail on a cross country trip

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you!*


Get a Pet Check-up

Before you start planning a cross country trip with pets, it’s a good idea to visit to your vet. Confirm that your dog or cat is healthy enough for the long trip, that all of her vaccinations are current, and stock up on any medications she needs. You should also discuss fleas, ticks, heart worms, or other health concerns that are common where you’ll be traveling.

Honey the golden retriever looks lovingly at her veterinarian, Dr Armao.

Don’t forget to ask about remedies for car sickness, diarrhea, and allergic reactions – just in case! And finally, consider having your pet micro-chipped. It would be a nightmare, but pets can get separated from their people while traveling. A current ID tag and a microchip will give you the best chances of finding your furry travel companion if he should get lost.

After your visit, pack your pet’s vaccination certificate. Then scan the rest of her medical records to a USB drive and take it along on your trip.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips To Keep Pets From Getting Lost

Decide on Your Mode of Transportation

Once your pet has gotten a “thumbs up” from the vet,  you’ll need to decide how you’ll be traveling. Most people take their own car, and if that’s your plan, just make sure it’s ready for the drive. Another option is to a pet friendly adventure van or rent a camper for your trip.

Renting an Adventure Van with Pets

Regardless of how you’ll get from here to there, the most important part of any trip is coming home safely. Use a car safety harness or secured carrier to protect your pets in case of an accident, and keep them from bolting out of the car in unfamiliar territory.

Plan Your Route

Choosing a route for your cross country trip with pets is part of the fun! Our pet friendly trip planner will help you lay out your plan. Then add pet friendly hotels, vacation properties, campgrounds, restaurants, and activities – like dog parks and pet friendly beaches – to your itinerary. You can also find veterinarians, pet supply stores, and pet sitters or daycare facilities, if the need arises.

Cross Country Road Trip Map

READ MORE  What You Should Know About an Emergency Vet (Before You Need One)

Choose Your Accommodations

Whether you’re pitching your tent in pet friendly campgrounds on your way across the States, or staying in pet friendly hotels, consider making reservations in advance. Campgrounds are busy on weekends and holidays, and some hotels only offer a limited number of pet friendly rooms.

Even if you prefer to be spontaneous, making a few reservations at the most popular destinations along your route will provide some peace of mind.


Pack for Your Pets

Deciding what to pack for your pets can be a challenge. You want all the things they need to be comfortable. But there’s a limited amount of space available for all your travel gear!

A bag with all the essentials your dog will need to go on an overnight trip.

Start with a pet travel bag that is easy to organize, and load it up with all your pet’s necessities:

  • Food and Treats. If you’re not certain that you can pick up the brand you feed your pet along the way, pack enough for the entire trip plus a little extra. For canned food, don’t forget the can opener!
  • All of your pets medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.
  • Food and Water Bowls – portable bowls pack easily and are great when you are out & about, and anti-spill water bowls are fantastic in the car (or RV).
  • A compact litter box and litter for your cat.
  • Treat pouch – new places and experiences means constant training, so set your pup up for success and keep the rewards handy!
  • A couple of rolls of paper towels and some carpet cleaner – for muddy paws and other messes.
  • An old towel – in case of rain, or after swimming.
  • Your pet’s bed and a couple of toys – so he’s more comfortable spending the night in unfamiliar locations.
  • Waste bags to pick up after your dog along the way.
  • First aid kit.
  • Pet insect repellent and sunscreen.
  • An extra leash – Many places require your pet be on a leash no longer than six feet. You may also want to consider a long leash (15-20 feet) if you plan to hike with your dog or let him run in an unfenced area.

Hit The Road

Whether you’re planning to visit the most dog friendly national parks, cross the border to Canada, or embark on the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, remember that traveling with your pets is the perfect time to slow down and sniff the roses! Hustling from place to place can make your vacation feel more like work, so underestimate what you can accomplish.

We’ve found that driving about 300 miles per day works well for us. We can stick to Ty and Buster’s exercise and feeding routines and enjoy the sights along the way.

Seeing the Dog Friendly Sites in Sliver City, New Mexico.


Pets are very adaptable, and most are happiest when you’re together! They’re sure to be delighted with your vacation choice. And you’ll cherish all the memories you’ll make together down the road.


Gear Used in This Post:
(Affiliate Links)

Sleepypod Go Bag for Pets

Sleepypod Clickit Car Safety Harness

Alcott Martingale Collar

Paw Print Dog ID Tag

See all the gear we use to make traveling with our pets easier, safer, and more fun!


Accommodations | Destinations | Trip Planner

  • Tina says:

    I’m planning a family road trip with my furbaby from California to Georgia. My furbaby will be arriving to California from a foreign country. Might as well go on a family trip afterward. Any tips on what I would need for the trip? What about vaccination records? I read that different states have different requirements. TIA

  • Anna says:

    Hi There!

    I’m adopting a puppy from (unfortunately) far away and will have to road trip back with her as she’s a bit too big for the airlines. She will not have had her rabies vaccination so I want to make sure she is traveling safely (especially when I need to take her out to use the restroom). Any suggestions on this?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Anna, and congratulations on your new addition! If your pup has received her other vaccinations and you’re just waiting to have her vaccinated for rabies, you should be fine as long as you keep her away from wildlife and stray dogs and cats.

      If she hasn’t had her other vaccinations, you’ll need to be careful to keep her away from other dogs as well as pet waste on your travels. Avoid dog parks, and look for areas to walk her that are lower traffic. For example, at rest areas, park well away from the buildings and let her relieve herself, then move the car and use the facilities yourself. Also, get some pet wipes and wipe her paws anytime you have to take her in an area where other dogs have been (like if you need to stop at a pet supply store). I hope that helps and that you have a safe trip!

  • Carolyn Clarke says:

    We plan a cross country trip, in our RV, in the near future. We will visit as many sights as we can with our dog. I am concerned about the heat, the hot ground, and, of course, strong sunlight. Are there any items, such as, sunscreen, booties, or, any other advise, for hiking with our dog. Of course, we would have plenty of water for drinking and a spray bottle. Just wanting a heads up!

  • Aly says:

    Hi, this article it’s what we need!! I’m so glad we found it!! We are relocating from west bend Wisconsin ( we will start our relocation from Chicago) to las vegas with 2 dogs and I saw that it’s exactly the same route that you did!! can you help us with some hotels names or some friendly park to stop with the TV ( or a van) and what kind of cities is better to avoid? I already start to planning but I wanna be sure i did everything right… Thank you in advance!!!!

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Aly! Thanks so much for reaching out, and congratulations on your move. Since you’ll likely only be spending one night, my recommendation is to look for reliably pet friendly hotel chains (La Quinta, Red Roof, Motel 6) in smaller towns for your stops. They’re more likely to offer free parking (vs. hotels in big cities that sometimes charge separately for parking) and are easier to navigate with a larger vehicle.

      If you’d like, you can use our Road Trip Planner to find hotels along your route:

      I hope that helps and that you have a terrific trip. Safe travels!

      • Aly says:

        Thanks very much!!!! I will use definitely the road trip planner

      • CJ Wilson says:

        Hi Amy….you should drop LaQuinta from your recommendations. We, too, were stunned by the unannounced policy change. LaQuinta was our “go to” hotel chain. No more. Management at corporate level did not care. Thought they had the best marketing–free pets. No more.

        • Amy at says:

          I completely understand where you’re coming from, CJ. We have been recommending other hotel chains when they seem to be a good fit. The thing is, SOME La Quintas haven’t changed their policy and still are very pet friendly. We just having gotten the corporate office to tell us which ones! Thanks for your note, and safe travels to you.

  • Emiliano says:

    What if your traveling to Mexico or some where out of the USA border, do you need?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Emiliano! For crossing into Mexico or Canada, you’ll need proof that your pet’s rabies vaccination is up to date. That’s the only documentation required to drive across the border from the US into our neighboring countries. Safe travels to you!

  • Tiffany says:

    Pawtastic article! Thank you :)

  • Wonderful! We’re so happy to help, and we wish you waggin’ trails, Kathryn!

  • This article, as well as your responses to questions asked, is by far the most helpful I’ve found!

  • I wish I had a good solution for you, Rachel. The things I suggest are all pretty common sense – park in the shade if you can, put a sun screen in the windshield, if it’s too hot, use a spare key to leave the car running with the air conditioning on. You can also leave a note that says, “I’m inside using the restroom. If you think my pet is in distress, please call my cell phone at 000-000-0000.”Unfortunately, when you’re traveling alone there’s really no more you can to when pets aren’t allowed inside the facilities. Good luck and safe travels!

  • >