Your 4-legged friend is a member of the family, so of course you want to include your dog on your vacation. But if you’re headed out on a road trip with your pet, there’s more to it than just putting Fido in the car. Check out these 7 precautions to make sure it’s woof-derful for all.

1. Prepare your dog

Pets who never leave the house will be quite confused if they’re suddenly stuck in a box and taken on a long, long ride. And you don’t want to find out halfway to Hoboken that your dog gets carsick. Try to acclimate them to the crate and the car movement beforehand by taking short trips around town in advance of the big trip. It can help them feel less stressed if they realize the car goes to all kinds of fun places (besides the vet).

2. Create a travel kit

Just as you might like a pillow from home, your dog might also appreciate seeing and smelling familiar items. Make sure you pack a special blanket or towel as well as some favorite toys, bottled water, and any medication they take. And keep the leash and some toys handy for breaks. An old Frisbee can be helpful too — not just to play with, but also to serve as an impromptu water dish if needed. And, of course, always be sure you have clean-up bags at the ready for potty breaks.

3. Schedule frequent potty breaks

Speaking of, when you’re stopping to stretch your legs and use the bathroom … guess what? Your pets can use the same courtesy. Try to choose rest areas or local dog parks rather than parking lots so your pet can roam in some fresh air.

4. Find dog-friendly accommodations

There’s nothing quite like getting out of the car to relax in a motel after a long day of driving. Your dog will appreciate it, too, so make sure you’ve checked ahead to verify that pets are welcome. Pet-friendly accommodations can fill up fast, so it might be wise to make a reservation in advance. To make sure yours is, search for pet-friendly hotels on travel review sites. You might also want to call the property in question, though, just to be sure, in case it has changed its policy.

And it’s not just hotels to be mindful of. If you’re visiting friends or relatives, ask if you can bring along your pet. They might be allergic to pet hair or just prefer to keep a pet-free home. You don’t want to arrive and be put in the doghouse.

5. Never (ever!) leave your dog unattended in the car

Even with the windows cracked, a car can heat up to a scorching 20 degrees in only 10 minutes and become up to 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature within an hour, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

So if you’re stopping at a restaurant, get your food to go rather than enjoying a leisurely meal while your poor pet bakes.

6. Don’t forget their “car seat”

It’s a quintessential “happy dog” moment, with them hanging their head out the window to feel the breeze on their face, but unfortunately, pets run the risk of being injured by flying debris. They could also be harmed bounding around inside the car or distracting the driver. Make sure they have a comfy kennel in the back, and, just like everyone else in the car, keep them secured with a restraining belt.

7. Double check your pet’s tags

Have your cell phone number on your dog’s tag so you’re always reachable should Fido escape. And, if you haven’t yet gotten your pet chipped, this may be all the impetus you need.

Travel hacks | Getting there


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.