Be prepared for your next pet-friendly vacation with these 10 tips for traveling with dogs. Thank you Vacasa for sponsoring this post. Find your Vacasa home for the summer today!
If you’re like me, you likely take your four-legged bestie everywhere — or at least try to.
Cocoa doesn’t do so well when she’s boarded overnight somewhere, and we really don’t have anyone here in Washington to watch her for us (the closest family we have is about 14 hours away).
So this means Cocoa comes with us on vacations, especially when we drive there.
In a few weeks, we’ll be driving down to California and vacationing in Sacramento, Napa, and Austin, Texas. We will be flying to Austin and leaving Cocoa with grandma in California, but Cocoa will be with us for most of the trip — including the 850-mile drive there and back.
We often bring Cocoa on vacation, including a cross-country road trip (twice). Over the past 8 years, I’ve become pretty much an expert on traveling with dogs.
And here are my ten best tips.
10 Tips for Traveling with Dogs
Determine the Best Way to Travel
When it comes to tips for traveling with your dogs, you should determine the best way to actually get to your destination. If your dog hates the car and you have a long road trip ahead, you might have some work cut out for you to get your pup accustomed to long distance drives. When traveling by car, always make sure your pup has a safe and comfortable way of traveling, such as a dog seatbelt or car crate. If your dog gets carsick, make sure he’s traveling on an empty stomach. Prepare for car trips to take longer than usual due to potty stops, exercise, and water breaks.
Traveling with your pet by plane will take much more planning, so do thorough research in terms of the certification and vaccinations needed, reservations, and specific airline regulations.
Find the Best Pet-Friendly Accommodations
The most important tip for traveling with dogs is finding a pet-friendly place to stay!
Many hotels can accommodate your pets, but be prepared and review the rules, room types, and pet fees. Every hotel will have different policies. Some may charge nightly while others charge per stay, most will not allow dogs left in rooms unattended, and some may only offer certain rooms as pet-friendly or have size restrictions.
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I love renting Vacasa properties with my dog, because she has much more than your standard hotel. It also helps her to feel more “at home” during vacation, and I always look for a rental with a backyard, walking trail, or large patio.
To make things even better, the Vacasa customer care team is available around the clock — with a local property manager ready to help out — if anything is needed during your stay. So it never feels like I’m missing out on anything by choosing Vacasa over a hotel in terms of service.
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It’s always a good idea to pack a bag for your dog, too. Bring a traveling, collapsable dog bowl that you can fill with water when needed (on hikes, walks, or car stops) and keep easily stashed away when you don’t. Bring your dog’s own bed, favorite toys, and treats, as it’s good to have things that are familiar to them. And, of course, bring their dog food. My dog eats food that needs to be refrigerated, so I always need to ensure where we stay has a refrigerator. Additionally, you may plan on buying your dog’s food when you get to your location, but I suggest checking ahead to ensure local grocers and pet stores carry the brand of dog food you use. Changing dog food, especially coupled with the stress of traveling, can really upset your dog’s stomach.
I tend to follow the old saying “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” When traveling, it’s a great idea to have a list of local vets and animal hospitals. There are also smartphone apps that will help you find the closest local animal hospital, so have those downloaded before you go.
Research is Your Friend
Before traveling with your pet: research, research, research! Google “pet-friendly [city name],” and check Yelp for pet-friendly restaurants, hiking trails, breweries, and more. It’s harder to find a place to eat on a whim when you’re traveling with your dog, so craft a list of pet-friendly places with back-up options and try to make reservations if possible. I also recommend calling establishments to confirm if they’re pet-friendly. You might find that places declaring they’re pet-friendly online or on their website have changed their policies.
Make Sure Your Pup Has Fun
Don’t bring your dog on vacation just to have them sit in a rental the whole time. Make sure you plan fun things for your dog, too. Take them to local parks, on hikes, walking trails, or to a dog park. Many cities always have dog-friendly events happening, so do a little research before you go.
Have Alternate Care Options
Chances are you’re likely going to want to go to a museum, art gallery, restaurant that isn’t pet-friendly, or other places your pup can’t accompany you. Have some care options ready and booked. Most local dog daycares will require a behavior evaluation, so make sure to connect with them ahead of time. Options like Rover.com or local dog walkers might be a better bet.
Complete a Health Checklist
Before traveling, make sure your pup is up to date on their vaccinations and have copies of their records on hand. It’s also a good idea to put your dog on a flea and tick preventative if they aren’t on one already. While these may not be an issue in your area, they can be to the place you’re traveling to. It’s never fun to find a tick on your dog after a hike or to realize your dog got fleas and they’ve now infested your rental property and car.
When traveling, it’s especially important that your dog is wearing proper ID tags at all times. In new and unfamiliar environments, it’s easier for your dog to become scared or distracted and run off. If your dog hasn’t been microchipped, that’s also something to consider.
You’re on vacation. Have fun and relax! If traveling with dogs is extremely stressful for you, it may not be the best option. For me, I love traveling with my pet. My pet brings me great joy, and I love to do things with her. However, she can be a handful when traveling. I just take the good with the bad and accept that traveling with dogs is never going to be perfect. There are going to be accidents, possible scares, way too much barking, change of plans, frustrating moments, and pet hair all over the place (at least in my case). Just relax, accept it, and have a great vacation.
Do you enjoy traveling with dogs? What are your best tips? Browse rentals, find a pet-friendly Vacasa for your next trip and book confidently. Always get the guaranteed best price on Vacasa.com! Learn more on Vacasa.com.