There is nothing like the open road. Exciting unknown adventures ahead punctuated by beautiful scenery, friendly locals, and the personal discovery only travel can provide.
Many of us would not even consider road-tripping without our pets. They are family and an integral part of our traveling experience. It is much easier to travel with your pet now than it was even five years ago. So let’s bring them along.
Road tripping with your fur baby requires some planning, but it also makes your getaway a fun and inclusive adventure. Our pets bring us joy and peace and our vacations bring us joy and peace; therefore, bringing your cherished pet on your road trip journey will bring you double the joy and peace.
1. BringFido App
Apps are important tools in many areas of our lives. The BringFido app is a great place to start when searching for hotels, restaurants, activities, events, and even services you may need. It should be your first stop if you are looking for a place to stay or dine with your pet in tow.
The app features reviews from travelers recounting their pet accessible experiences. It includes ratings, reviews, and a trip directory for pets. Add your own pet-friendly finds to the mix; it’s part of the fun.
BringFido is focused on pups, so if you are traveling with another type of pet, contact your desired location beforehand to make sure it is okay to bring your cat, hamster, lizard, peacock, etc.
2. Pet-Friendly Hotels, Campgrounds, And Home Rentals
Large chain hotels and home rental services recognize we are road-tripping with our pets more frequently. They are becoming more and more pet accommodating. If you call ahead of time, you may be able to score a pet-friendly room, even if they aren’t listed as an option on the hotel’s information page.
Booking your room by calling the hotel directly is your best bet. Many hotels only book certain rooms for pet guests, and you want to make sure they have availability and are anticipating your arrival. The pet rooms tend to be on the first floor, which is convenient for your fur buddy, but may not give you the best view. Additionally, be prepared to pay more, because there is usually an added cleaning fee.
Campgrounds have been pet friendly for years, and their popularity with pet families has grown recently. It is not uncommon to watch a parade of pups and their humans looping the campground while out for their morning constitutional.
If you have a barker, consider a private home rental where you won’t be disturbing your campground or hotel neighbors. Private home rentals offer a more relaxed, home-like setting. Be sure to confirm with the owner you are bringing a pet and check on any rules they may enforce. There most likely will be an additional cleaning fee.
Whenever you stay, bring a portable gate or large crate so your pet can stay safe and secure if you leave them. When they are in a new place, interesting behaviors can pop up, and you don’t want any surprises or extra expenses. Most accommodations enforce strict rules around leashing and waste removal, ensuring a safe visit for all their guests.
3. Call Ahead And Ask Nicely
When you are booking a tour or an activity, call ahead to ask if it is possible to bring your pet along. If the website doesn’t particularly state you can or cannot have your pet join you, there may be some leeway. For instance, a tour operator might not have anyone else but your group for a particular tour time and could be more than happy to accommodate you. It is always worth the call.
If you need to leave your pet behind while you are attending a day-long adventure, check out the local pet daycares near your accommodations. Many veterinary offices offer day boarding or can recommend a local daycare; it is a good place to start. Having your pet mingling with friends for the day where they have access to the outside and human contact will make for a much happier pet at the end of the day.
4. What To Pack
When it’s time to pack your pet’s bag, make a list that coincides with anticipated activities in addition to their general needs.
Must-haves include their water and feed bowls, a few favorite toys to combat boredom, an extra harness/leash, collar with ID information, a towel, a thundershirt or calming treats, dog sunglasses, and anything else your pet usually requires.
If you are planning long outings, you may want to bring a pet backpack or carriage for little ones, a portable water bowl, water, a treat pouch, plenty of waste bags, and other activity-specific items.
5. Keep To The Leash
Most states require your pet to be leashed at all times, even if your pet is under voice control. Leashing is a simple way to avoid losing your pet miles from home or risk having a pet act out due to stress.
6. Take Frequent Breaks
Potty and exercise breaks are some of the easiest ways to alleviate your pet’s boredom and stress. Every few hours, get out at a rest area and take a 15-minute sniffing break. Sniffing new smells is good for your pet’s brain because it gives them something to think about.
Every time you stop, you need to offer your furry friend water. It is easy for them to get dehydrated on a long car ride; offering frequent stops and water breaks will give them a better road trip experience.
7. To Crate, Harness, Or Hammock
You are the best judge of your pet’s travel ability. Do they jump all around the car? Then a harness may be best. Do they curl up and nap the entire drive? Then a back seat hammock can work well. Using a combination of a hammock and harness offers your pet protection and a comfy ride in addition to keeping your car cleaner.
Crates are a tried and true method of pet travel. They keep your pet safe during the ride and contained when the car doors are open. The downside is they consume a lot of space. If you use a crate, have one that is large enough for your pet to stand and have some freedom of movement.
8. Go Easy On The Snacks
Giving your pet a treat or two while riding might seem like a good idea, but don’t overdo it. Traveling with lots of food in their stomach may not be the best practice for your pet’s digestive tract or your vehicle's upholstery.
9. Plan Walks Into Your Schedule
When you go on a road trip with your pet, you need to consider their needs on the same level as yours. If you will be gone on an activity they can’t join in, take them for a good long walk before you leave. This will tucker them out, and they should sleep while you’re gone -- and avoid getting into trouble.
10. Travel Off-Season
Traveling off-season has lots of great benefits. You avoid crowds, prices can be lower, and pet restrictions tend to be more lenient during the off-season. Many beaches are open to pets, some with off-leash policies during the shoulder and off-peak seasons.
11. Find Pet-Friendly Destinations
Many road trip destinations are pet friendly. Places like Provincetown in Massachusetts, the Jacksonville Beaches in Florida, and Denver in Colorado welcome pets with open arms. They offer a large number of restaurants with pet-friendly seating. You will see businesses leaving fresh bowls of water on their stoops. There are many dog park opportunities.
In pet-friendly destinations, you will find bringing your best buddy along will be a walk in the park.
If you are interested in visiting one of the destinations mentioned above, below are good road trip options for these cities:
- The Best Fall Foliage Road Trip In Massachusetts
- Colorado Road Trip: Denver To Grand Junction
- Amelia Island To Vero Beach: The Perfect Coastal Florida Road Trip
We love traveling with our pets. It makes us slow down, deters us from rushing from this to that, and allows us to enjoy the journey at a peaceful pace. Our pets bring out our inner zen, which is why they are so good for our health. Taking them with us on a road trip changes our mindset for the better. Consider planning your next road trip with your fur baby, and enjoy the ride!