Going on a Road Trip With a Dog

Our four-legged friend, Bella, is no stranger to traveling around the world, but this particular road trip is her longest travel experience to date. Today I’m going to share some things we’re doing and using to make her trip more enjoyable. I need to note, right off the bat, that Bella is a rare breed in that she’s extremely chill. She’s quite possibly the most go-with-the-flow dog in the entire world (not an exaggeration), so I fully realize that some of these things may not work if you’re going on a road trip with a dog.

What You Need For Going on a Road Trip with a Dog

Going on a road trip with a dog can be great for the whole family, but it involves a little planning, some patience, and these essentials for the trip! | jessicalynnwrites.com

A Bag for Everything:

The last thing you want to do on a road trip with a dog is take extra stuff with you. We try condensing everything we need into as few items possible when traveling, so we put all of Bella’s stuff in her own bag. I thought I was clever by getting a Paw Patrol bag for all her dog stuff—I happened to buy the one we’re using at the Dollar Spot at Target—although it’s currently starting to tear, so maybe I should’ve opted for something a little more sturdy. This is handy, because we know that everything Bella needs is in her own blue bag.

Food & Drink Bowls:

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You may have nice, sturdy ceramic bowls at home, but if you’re going on a road trip, collapsible bowls are the way to go. We got ours at TJ Maxx, but these are just like them. They’re great since they don’t take up too much space, and we can pull them out, and fill them up at each of our stops, then put them right back in her bag.

Food:

Depending on how long your trip is, you can put how much food you’ll need in a Ziploc bag—again, so you’re not lugging around a huge ol’ dog-food bag with you into the hotel each night. We also have a small container of peanut butter that we give her a scoop of each night. Traveling makes her lose her appetite, but since she still needs to eat, some yummy PB helps her scarf it down.

Poop Bags:

Let’s get real here: When one eats, one poops, and the same goes for dogs. Keep a stash of poop bags with you, and you won’t have to worry about leaving a mess behind. We have a roll in our car and one in our bag. (By the way, the poop bags work great for poopy diapers, too.)

The Sleep Situation:

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One of the biggest hurdles of going on a road trip with your dog is finding a place to sleep at night. It turns out that pet-friendly hotels are few and far between across America. During this trip we’re frequenting TownPlace Suites to rest our heads at night, because their pet-rate is low (we’ve paid between $20—$50 per stay), AND their rooms are large enough for a family (they have an actual kitchen and a separate bedrooms that actually close—totally essential when traveling with little kids and a pet)! On top of that, they typically have dog treats for your pooch, and they give you a sign to go on the door so housekeeping and other guests know you have a pet with you.

When Bella’s in our room we bring in her folding travel crate, and a small dog mat (similar to this one) to go in it so she’s comfy. We love these two things, because A) they’re travel friendly. They collapse, which makes them easy to store in the car; and B) it’s a safe place for Bella. We trained her as a puppy that her crate is a safe and happy place, so she knows that she’s not in trouble if she goes there. We also try to bring out her mat before we go on a trip so she can get used to it again.

Pet friendly hotels, like TownePlace Suites, typically have a grassy area for pets, too. When we’re on the road we’re usually driving most of the day, so we make it a point to take her for a walk before we get in the car and before we call it a night. They need to move their legs and stretch just as much as we do.

On the Road:

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Bella gets her own spot on the floor of the car (or on the seat depending how much room we have). We put an old towel underneath her, (because she sheds, and because you never know when she may have a puppy accident), and she basically just sleeps the whole time. We also keep her harness on her since we never know when we’re going to get out; then we can just attach the leash to it whenever we get out.

Speaking of getting out, there aren’t many restaurants that are pet friendly unless they have a patio, so either pack some lunches or plan on eating outside for meals. Unfortunately we’ve come across towns where we literally can’t find any pet-friendly spots, so one of us (usually my husband) stays outside and walks Bella while we grab food real quick and then meet him back outside. On the bright side, Bella gets to walk around a little more.

We have a regular ol’ leash for her, but we also have a longer, retractable leash (ours is a 16-footer) that we like to use for our daily road trip breaks since it lets her go a little further and explore. It’s also nice for letting her wander at night at the hotels since most places require pets to always be on a leash.

Extra Stuff:

Bella gets carsick really easily—always has since the day we got her—but we give her a car sick pill every morning. We use Cerenia (ask your vet about it), and we’ve given it to her before car rides and airplane rides. We prefer this particular medication, because it doesn’t make her loopy or extra sleepy; it simply doesn’t make her puke. Since she’s getting older we also give her a vitamin twice a day (which we call a treat, but I’d suggest taking some actual treats with you to help make things a little more exciting for your four-legged friend. If your dog likes playing with toys or bones, bring them along so they can still have fun and feel like they’re at home even though their on the road.


Do you travel with your dog often? What are some must-have things that you take with you for your trip? Bella’s a world traveler, and I have a feeling this cross-country road trip won’t be her last.

This post is sponsored by TownePlace Suites by Marriott. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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5 Comments

  1. We haven’t done too much but want to in the future. Our dog gets carsick too so it was nice to read about what worked for you guys. We will look into that for her when we plan a trip.

  2. I don’t have a dog, but my husband definitely wants one. These are great tips to keep in mind for when (or if) that day comes. Sounds like you have a really great dog!

  3. Hi there! Looks like I’ve found my way into the archives. Helpful post, though! My husband and I are PCSing to Alaska, and we are driving with our fur baby 🙂 Thanks for all the links– I am definitely going to have to check that out soon!

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