It’s that time of year when we travel to San Diego for the winter and a lot of other people travel to visit family. So I thought it would be appropriate to give some traveling with dogs tips. In addition to the long cross country trip, we travel a lot with our dogs. Of course there are the adventures which vary from 15 minutes to a couple hours. We’ve also taken many trips from Southern Indiana to Northern Indiana. When we lived in Bloomington Karlie and I made many trips to Northern Indiana to visit my parents. And when we were building our home in Northern Indiana we made monthly trips with Sunny to check on things.

Do Some Pre-Planning

Traveling with dogs requires a little preplanning, but can be quite fun. One of the most important things is to make sure your dog is comfortable and used to traveling in a vehicle. Making sure they have a comfortable, safe place in the vehicle is the first step. For Sunny (and Karlie before her) I set up a spot in the backseat with one of her favorite blankets. I put a box behind the front seat and place several large blankets and then her favorite blanket on it so she has the whole space behind the seat to stretch out. We also use a seatbelt attachment to secure her while we drive. And of course I give her some toys to keep her entertained.

Karlie on the road - traveling with dogs

The next thing is to take short trips to get your dog used to traveling in a vehicle. You don’t want trips to the vet to be the only time your dog travels in the car before a longer trip. We adopted Sunny in San Diego and less than 2 months later, when she was barely 5 months old, we drove to Bloomington, IN. We took many short trips before this trip to make sure she was comfortable traveling in a car. Despite that I was still amazed how well she did on our cross-country trip.

Find a Dog-Friendly Hotel

Another important thing is finding a hotel that is dog friendly and has nice grassy walking areas. We also like to go to hotels with at least a small fridge and microwave so we can bring our own food instead of trying to find dog-friendly restaurants or ordering fast food. When you arrive at the hotel ask if they have designated potty spots. Don’t be surprised if it takes your dog a long time to pee and poop in unfamiliar areas. Some dogs get easily distracted by all the new sights and smells and struggle to do their business. Sunny is one of those dogs so we try to find quieter spots and let her explore. I also like to pre-plan places we can take a hike after we arrive at the hotel. When we drive across the country we have long days of driving so everyone is ready to stretch their legs and walk. Plus it’s fun to explore new areas.

Sunny in the hotel with a toy

Bring a Doggy Bag

We also have a bag that has all of Sunny’s necessities including a towel, paper towels, toys, food portioned out for each day, treats, bowls, and a first aid kit. This bag is in an easily accessible area for the trip and I take it into the hotel every night. I also bring several of the blankets from the car into the hotel. I place those on the bed to protect it from fur and make it more comfortable for Sunny. When Sunny was younger we brought a travel crate for her to sleep in at night since she was not potty trained.

What Do you Suggest When Traveling with Dogs?

I’m looking forward to our upcoming trip and hope these tips help you if you travel with your dog over the holidays. Although this list is not all inclusive, it’s what we’ve learned over the years with our dogs. What are some things that you do when traveling with your dog?

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