Pet Travel. Made Easy.

Tips For Traveling Alone With A Pet

Road trips make the best vacations, and traveling alone with your pet gives you special time to bond. The excitement of choosing a destination, packing the car, and hitting the open road is thrilling!

But, while solo outings are delightful, traveling alone with a pet requires some additional preparation. Whether your road trip buddy is a dog, cat, hamster, or bunny, these tips will keep you both safe and happy on your next excursion.

Tips for Traveling Alone with Pets |*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.*


Tips for Traveling Alone with a Pet

1. Plan Your Route

Once you’ve decided where to go, the next step is to plan your course. The trip planner is a great place to start, allowing you to map the route and identify pet friendly attractions, restaurants, and dog parks that you’ll be passing by. Note any interesting options where you and your furry travel buddy can take a break from the car.

Determining the number of miles you can cover per day depends on your preferences. If you like to mosey and take in the sights, 100 miles may be far enough each day. If you’re more intent on getting to your destination, you might drive 400 miles or more.

Your smartphone app allows you to check driving times and alert you to any road construction you might encounter.

Dog in Car

2. Make Reservations

If your trip involves overnight stays, don’t leave your accommodations to chance. You don’t want to pull into a hotel after a long day behind the wheel to find they’re completely booked.

And, just before you begin your trip, call again confirm your reservations. Also verify that they have not changed their pet policy since you booked your stay.

Read More   8 Questions to Ask When Booking a Pet Friendly Hotel

Travel Like a Pro: 8 Questions to Ask When Booking a Pet Friendly Hotel |

3. Share Your Itinerary and Stay in Touch

Once your plans are squared away, be sure to share them with a friend or family member. Give them your planned route and the telephone numbers of the places you’ll be staying.

Throughout your trip, be sure to keep in touch with at least one person. Let them know where you and if you’ve had to make any adjustments to your route or schedule.

4. Invest in Road Side Assistance

Before any road trip, have all routine maintenance completed on your vehicle. And consider signing up for a roadside assistance plan. If you get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car, it’s better to have reliable help.


5. Prepare Your Travel Buddy

Whenever your pets are in the car, you’ll want to pack some basics. Always include their current vaccination records and recent medical history. In addition, you’ll want a spill-proof bowl, comfortable pet bed, and a toy or chew for entertainment.

Finally, to keep you both safe, pets should be buckled up while you’re driving. Trying to wrangle Fido while he hops into the front seat, or catch Fluffy as she saunters across the dash, is too dangerous when you’re driving.

READ MORE ⇒  Packing an Overnight Bag for Your Dog

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


6. Post Your Emergency Instructions

Write out your emergency instructions, put them in an envelope marked “In Case of Emergency,” and tape it to your dash. If something should happen to you while you’re traveling, the first responders will be able to quickly contact someone for you and get your pet cared for until you can recover.

7. Where to Eat

Packing food from home is always the best way to ensure you’ll have something delicious to eat along the way. But stopping for lunch or dinner is a nice way to get a break from the road and experience the local food scene. Find restaurants with pet friendly seating using, or call in a take-out order and find a nearby park for a picnic with your pup.

Tips for Traveling Alone with Pets |

8. Restroom Breaks

The biggest question most solo travelers grapple with is what to do about restroom breaks. Leaving a pet alone in the car while you use the bathroom isn’t ideal, so plan stops at places that will allow you to to take your pet with you to the restroom:

  • Pet retailers like Petco, Petsmart, and independent pet supply stores
  • Veterinary offices
  • Many big-box retailers like Lowes, Home Depot, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby are pet friendly and have public restrooms. Just be sure to ask before bringing your pet inside!

9. Leaving Your Pet in the Car

You may need to leave your pet alone in the car for a few minutes to use the restroom or pick up food. If so, these steps will ensure your pet is safe and comfortable:

  • Park in the shade.
  • Place a sunscreen across the windshield to block sunlight and to make it more difficult for passersby to see inside the car.
  • Use a spill-proof bowl and give your pet access to plenty of fresh water.
  • If the weather is warm, use a cooling mat to give your pet a comfortable place to lay. Keeping the mat inside a cooler with some ice until you need it will make it even chillier for dogs and cats with heavy coats. You can also also use a portable travel fan to increase the circulation inside the car.
  • If you’re concerned your pet could be stolen from your vehicle, place her in a pet carrier or collapsable crate with a lock on the door.
  • If it’s hot or cold enough to put your pet’s health at risk, carry an extra key or use a remote-start system to leave the air conditioning or heat running.
    Always set your parking brake and engage the child locks on the windows when leaving your pet in a running vehicle.
    Note: Leaving an unattended vehicle running may violate the law in some jurisdictions, as it could encourage auto theft. However, for the 3-5 minutes it takes to use a restroom and return to the car, I’m willing to prioritize my dog’s safety over getting a ticket.
  • Anytime you leave your pet alone in the car, set the alarm on your phone for 10 minutes and be sure you’re back to the vehicle before the alarm goes off.

READ MORE ⇒   Where Is It Illegal to Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car?

Tips for Traveling Alone with Pets |


10. Stick to the Schedule

When traveling alone with a pet, maintaining his normal schedule will help reduce any anxiety he may be feeling. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you of his feeding, bathroom, and exercise routine, and be prepared to stop and sniff the roses.


11. Be Smart and Trust Your Instincts

Coming home safely is the most important part of any road trip, and there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that happens. Keep your doors locked while you’re driving, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Choose stops that are populated and well-lit, and trust your gut. If something feels sketchy, get back in your car and leave.

To avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, dress casually, leave expensive jewelry at home, and trade your purse for a fanny pack or money belt. It’s also a good idea to keep any cash you’re carrying in multiple locations.


12. Carry Safety Devices

Using a safety whistle, pepper spray, or taser can deter unwanted advances from strangers, dangerous dogs, or predatory wildlife. It’s a good idea to keep one or more of these devices handy when you’re traveling on your own.


The first time you do anything it can seem daunting, and traveling alone with a pet is no exception. Share your best solo travel tips in the comments below. You just might encourage someone else to give it a try!



Accommodations | Destinations | Trip Planner

  • Nikki Heck says:

    Good points. The best one is having an EMG letter taped to glove compartment when traveling alone. I never, never leave my dog in the car alone! I find a rest area with a picnic area. I find a place that has no other people around. I have a cup which I pee in. After, I throw the pee away. Then I take my dog out for a short walk. My dog will let me know if anyone is coming near my car when I’m doing my thing in the cup!
    I travel with my dog by myself, to all kinds of places… I make a plan, I tell others, and stay in dog friendly hotels. My family knows that if I don’t show up at the time I have told them…. they are instructed to call the police. Always get gas in a well lighted station. And DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE. Lock car doors.

    • Amy at says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Nikki. And waggin’ trails to you!

    • Ian says:

      Hell, is America really that bad? None of these things would be an issue travelling in Europe.

      • Amy at says:

        It’s very different here, Ian. I wish it were as easy here to travel with pets as it is in Europe. But then we wouldn’t need a website like!

        • Ian says:

          To be honest it wasn’t the dog friendliness I was referring to, although having just come back from a European trip where the dog was welcomed on public transport, most shops and many restaurants, the US position is disappointing. It’s the way that many of the Americans I know seem to spend their lives worrying about personal safety and violent crime that puts me off visiting. Of course crimes happen in Europe too, but we don’t live our lives obsessed by fear of the possibility, in the way that so many Americans seem to. There is something deeply wrong with a society like that.

          • Amy at says:

            I don’t disagree with you, Ian. And sadly, the current turmoil in our society seems to have made things worse.

  • Vicki says:

    Love this site! I’m planning a 3 month cross country road trip just me and my pup so all these tips are super helpful!

  • It sounds like you’re well prepared, Anne. I hope you and Baxter have a great trip – waggin’ trail to you!

  • Luckily dogs aren’t picky, Honey – any rest stop should work. Waggin’ trails!

  • Where do I go if my dog has to use the restroom?

  • Glad to help, Hannah, and waggin’ trails!

  • Fantastic article. I plan on traveling cross country with my two – to BlogPaws and you’ve mentioned a few things that were not on my mind.

  • Agreed, Bee – traveling in an RV is so convenient when you’re taking the pets along. Waggin’ trails to all of you!

  • Bee Walker says:

    I really like your post, because I do travel a lot with my three dogs. I live in Arizona, so it is very hot during most of the year, and leaving the dogs in the car simply is not an option. Going to the restroom is the most challenging part of traveling with your dogs by yourself! I really like your ideas. When I travel with my dogs in the car, I found a way to leave the car running and lock the car (not all models of cars will allow you to do this). Mostly this is the reason why I love to travel with my 5th wheel, because it allows me to pull over anywhere and use my own restroom and my dogs can be with me.

  • >