Pet Travel. Made Easy.

The Complete Guide to Planning the Perfect Pet Friendly Road Trip

You’ve been dreaming about it for years, and it’s finally happened … you’re planning a pet friendly road trip. You can almost see the miles of open road, feel the wind in your hair (or fur), and imagine all the new sights and scents along the way. It’s going to be fantastic! But it will take a little preparation to make sure your pet friendly vacation comes off without a hitch. We’ve made it easy by gathering our best advice into the this guide to planning the perfect pet friendly road trip.

The Complete Guide to Planning the Perfect Pet Friendly Road Trip - Everything you'll need to make your next vacation a success - @GoPetFriendly


Guide To Planning A Pet Friendly Road Tip

Prepare Your Vehicle

In addition to making sure your car is tuned-up, you’ll need to get it “pet ready” before you hit the road. Coming home together safely is the most important part of any trip, so be sure you have a way of securing your pet while you’re traveling.

Crates, carriers, or car harnesses will prevent your pet from making an unannounced visit to check the view from your lap while you’re driving, and will protect him from injury in case of an accident. Also remember to deactivate the airbag for any seat your pet will be occupying.

Ty in Sleepypod Click-It Harness |

Talk To Your Vet

Before you leave, call your vet to confirm that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and discuss any possible health concerns that might exist where you’ll be traveling. Also ask about possible remedies for car sickness, diarrhea and restlessness – just in case!

Finally, consider having your pet micro-chipped or update your contact information if you’re pet is already chipped. It would be a nightmare, but pets do become separated from their people while traveling. Shelters, animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and humane societies have scanners that read the chips so they can quickly notify you of your pet’s recovery.

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Polish Your P’s and Q’s

 You can avoid embarrassing and potentially dangerous situations by teaching your dog reliable Come, Heel, Quiet, and Settle commands. Practice is the key. Before you set out, test your progress somewhere with a lot of distractions, like an outdoor café, beach, or dog park.

Dog Friendly Restaurant - Charleston, SC

Gather the Gear

Pets need a lot of stuff when they are on vacation! Below is a checklist of things you’ll want to take along.

Packing the right gear for your pets is important for any pet friendly road trip.


  • Food and Treats And, for canned food, don’t forget the can opener!
  • All medications, vitamins, and supplements
  • Drinking Water – If your pet’s stomach is easily upset, take along drinking water from home.
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Your pet’s bed and a couple of toys
  • Current Identification Tag – Include your cell phone number, or other phone number where you can be reached while you are away.
  • Leash – Many places require your pet be on a leash no longer than six feet.
  • Waste bags
  • Litter box and litter for cats
  • A roll of paper towels for muddy paws and other messes
  • An old towel in case of rain or after swimming
  • First aid kit
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Medical records – In the event of an injury or illness, scan the documents to an easy-to-pack USB drive.
  • Photo of your pet – In case you get separated, have a current photo handy so you can create posters quickly.

All this advance preparation takes some time, but it’s the secret to planning a pet friendly road trip that’s enjoyable for everyone. With the groundwork done, you can choose your route and decide what you’ll see!


Remember Less is More

Start poking around and you’ll find that there are thousands of pet friendly destinations that would be fun to visit with your pet. From hiking in the mountains, to exploring a new city – the possibilities are almost endless! It’s tempting to jam-pack your itinerary with all of the pet friendly stops you’ll find along the way, but remember to leave time to stop and sniff the roses.

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A colorful map of the U.S. with pins locating pet friendly attractions

Book a Place to Stay

Reserving a pet friendly hotel can be a tricky proposition. While more and more locations welcome pets, the degree of enthusiasm with which your cat or dog will be received ranges from “barely pet tolerant” to “over-the-top accommodating.” The following questions will help you narrow down the best places to stay:

Does the hotel accept pets? Hotel pet polices change quickly, so it’s a good idea to verify that the property you’re considering still welcomes pets.

Are there any weight or breed restrictions? It’s common for hotels to impose weight restrictions. If you’ve found a hotel that’s a perfect in every way, except that your pup is a little too big, ask if they’ll make an exception! Most hotels leave a little wiggle room in their size limitations and will try to accommodate you when asked.

How many pets are allowed per room? When you travel with multiple pets, this is an important consideration.

Will you be charged additional pet fees? This is where a hotel’s true pet friendly colors will show. Some hotel chains welcome pets to stay for free, while others heap on additional charges that can add up to more than the nightly room rate! Be sure you have a clear understanding of the cost before booking your reservation. Determine whether the fee is per night or for the entire stay, whether it’s charged per pet or is fixed regardless of the number of pets. Also ask if any portion of the fee is refundable if the room isn’t damaged during your stay.


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Dogs - Ty and Buster at Hotel Salomar - San Diego, CA

What amenities does the hotel offer? The most important amenity is always a convenient, grassy pet relief area. But some hotels also provide treats at check-in, pet beds and bowls in the room, doggy room service menus, spa treatments, and pet sitting services. It’s always nice when the hotel has a restaurant with a pet friendly patio. There are even hotels that host a “yappy hour” in the lobby each evening! Deciding how much to pamper your pet is entirely up to you.

May pets be left unattended in the room? Determining up front whether the hotel allows you to leave your pet alone in the room while you step out for something to eat or to run an errand helps you plan appropriately. Hotels are primarily concerned with two things when pets are left unattended: damage to the room, and barking that disturbs other guests. To alleviate those concerns, the hotel may require that pets be in a crate when you’re away and following our tips for a quiet stay will help ease any worries with barking.

Are some areas of the hotel off limits to pets? Pets are generally not allowed in breakfast areas, restaurants, pools, and fitness rooms, so ask to ensure you can live with the restrictions.


Keep to the Schedule

When planning a pet friendly road trip, maintaining your pet’s feeding and exercise schedule is key. Sticking to his regular routine as much as possible helps reduce any anxiety he might feel about being away from home. Set an alarm to remind you when meal time is approaching, and plan time each day to let your dog stretch, run, and burn off some energy. Isn’t that what being on vacation is all about, after all?!

Buster Fetching Sticks on Canon Beach, OR

Be Considerate

When you travel with your pet, you are an ambassador for all pet travelers – so make a good impression! Abide by the rules of the places you visit, especially keeping your pet on-leash and always cleaning up after him. Inconsiderate behavior can have unfortunate repercussions on future pet travelers and local pet owners.

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Dog Bowl on Sidewalk

Roll With It

Despite your best efforts planning a pet friendly road trip, things will sometimes go a little sideways. When they do, you can choose to let it ruin your day, or see it as a new adventure. Pets are great teachers in that they’re never attached to the outcome … where you end up, how many places you see along the way … those things are all irrelevant to your pet. He just wants to be with you and have fun. If you can embrace that mindset, you’ll see every detour as an opportunity to have a great time, and you and your pet will grow closer for the experience.


With these tips in hand, planning a pet friendly road trip will be a breeze! And, most importantly, you’ll be making memories with your best friend that will last a lifetime.

Waggin’ trails!



Lodgings | Destinations | Trip Planner

  • robin says:

    Awesome article. Thanks!

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