My motto in life: “If my dog can’t come, I’m not going.”

I absolutely love going on vacation with my pups and I’m fortunate to live in a state with many options for those who want to travel with their furry family members. Scout and I had some pretty epic adventures on our road trips over the years that I’ll forever cherish and hold close to my heart. Now that he’s gone, I hope to honor his memory by creating new memories and experiences with my rescue dog, Archie.

Do you want to go on a vacation with your pup, but just aren’t sure where to begin or what steps to take to make it a good experience for both you and your furry best friend? I hope this blog will help!

Taking your dog on a pet-friendly road trip can be a fun, bonding and a very exciting experience for both you and your pup. However, it’s important to prepare your dog for the trip to make sure that they will feel comfortable and safe during the journey. And keep in mind: traveling isn’t for every dog — and that’s okay! Don’t feel guilty if your dog is more of a homebody — dog’s come with all different types of personalities, just like people!

Here are some of my tips to help ease your dog into their first road trip and vacation away from home:

Prior to the Road Trip

Visit the vet: Before you leave, take your dog to the vet for a check-up to make sure that they are up-to-date on all of their vaccinations (or get titers done). This will help to ensure that your dog is healthy, protected and ready for the trip. I also highly recommend obtaining pet insurance for any unforeseen circumstances.

Start with short car rides: If your dog is not used to being in the car, start by taking them on short car rides around the block or to a nearby park. This will help them get used to the car and reduce any anxiety they may have. I usually pack a handful of treats to make it a positive experience and praise Archie for a job well done.

Get your dog used to their travel crate: If you plan on using a travel crate for your dog during the trip, make sure that they are comfortable and familiar with it before the trip. Place treats and toys inside the crate and let your dog explore it on their own with lots of verbal praise and encouragement.

Take a short staycation close to home: If you have the chance, spend a night or two in a hotel, airbnb, or even a friend’s guest room to see how your dog does being in an unfamiliar place and practice helping him adjust before hitting the road for a bigger trip.

Plan your route: Plan your route ahead of time and research pet-friendly stops along the way. This will help you find safe places to stop and stretch your legs with your dog.

Research pet-friendly accommodations: Make sure to research pet-friendly accommodations before you leave. Many hotels and vacation rentals allow pets, but it’s important to confirm their pet policy and any additional fees. Here is a list of our current pet-friendly, tested and approved Pawtastic Stays.

Pack familiar items: Bring along your dog’s favorite toys, blankets, and bedding to help them feel more at home during the trip. Familiar scents and items can help reduce anxiety and stress. Archie, in particular, loves to bring his Snuggle Puppy along on our travels.

Pack plenty of food and water: Make sure to bring enough food and water for your dog during the trip and keep it in an easy-to-access location for quick stops. Pack their regular food and water bowl to keep things familiar and make sure to offer plenty of water during the journey.

During the Road Trip

Keep your dog safe during the trip: Make sure that your dog is properly secured during the trip to prevent accidents or injuries. A seat belt harness or travel crate are both great options to keep your dog safe and secure.

Take a break to destress when you need it: Take a deep breath, calm your nerves and remember to be flexible. Traveling with a dog can be unpredictable, so be patient with your pup and yourself during the trip. Your dog might need extra breaks or feel anxious in new environments, so be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly.

Plan frequent stops: Dogs need to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom just like humans do. Plan frequent stops along the way to give your dog a chance to walk around and relieve themselves. I always add in extra time to my day’s drive in order to allow time for a good stretch or walk at a rest stop or park.

I hope these tips help inspire you to bring your dog along on your adventures so that you, too, can make many beautiful memories with your pups!

Do you have any tips you’ve learned during your travels that help make traveling with your pup easier and more enjoyable? Share them in the comments section below!