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Ultimate Checklist for Road Trips with Dogs

Written by Tillie Bailey

Most dog owners take their furry friends on road trips. We dread the day that our dogs get left behind for several days with no regular guidance, so it is much better to bring them on road trips. However, if you plan on travelling with a dog in a car, take note that there are some essentials that you always need to bring and keep in mind. Make sure NOT to forget these things when you travel with your dog! And make sure to scroll all the way down to print or download the ultimate checklist for road trips with dogs.

Before anything else when planning a road trip with the dog, check the location and place where you’ll be staying. Make sure that they are pet-friendly. Meaning: pets are allowed in their place. Some hotels and camping areas do not allow pets while others do. You do not want to spoil a long travel with your dog in a car surprisingly not allowed to enter the premises. When all details for the destination is aligning with your plan to bring your dog, check what we have prepared for you.

You may be ready for that much-awaited road trip, but have you considered if your dog is ready too? We made a compilation and checklist for road trips with dogs to make it easier for owners to complete the list. We want to make sure that your road trip will be as smooth as possible.

Travelling With A Dog In A Car Checklist Navigation

  1. Health
  2. Hygiene
  3. Food, Treats, And Water
  4. Activities
  5. Safety And Comfort

Dog Training Before Road Trip

Before going on a long road trip with a dog, be sure your pet is ready for it. When I watched this Ecuador travel guide, I realized that proper training will have them ready for the long journey. To do this, start by introducing short car rides with a dog. Make short trips like a trip around town, to the grocery, to the salon, etc. Your dog needs to get used to being inside the car while in motion. Do not rush things because he or she will definitely get used to it.

It is also great to start bringing him/her to short distance travels and doing several stops along the way. This would be a great preparation for long road trips. Another essential part of the training is to not feed your dog plenty of food before riding the car. No matter how comfortable he/she is, dizziness and stomach ache will make you regret it!

When you feel like your dog is ready for that long trip in a car, it is time to check the items on your list. We hope it helps! If not, watch this video below about how to train your dog to ride in the car:

1. Health

Before you start packing anything, a vet visit is necessary to ensure that your dog is in great shape for a long distance travel in a car. This is the time where you should confirm vaccinations, answer health-related concerns, and distance remedies for common travel ailments like a headache, diarrhoea, or boredom!


Keep the vaccination and medical record of your furry friend in his own pup bag. This record will come in handy if you plan to visit a country with strict vaccination requirements. Furthermore, you will be ready to present medical records should an emergency happen during your vacation. The National Animal Poison Control Center with telephone number (888) 426-4435 is the best one to call in case of animal emergency situations. Do save the number on your phone!

First Aid

If your dog has any health issues or required medication, always pack a first aid kit for your dog. Keep your veterinarian in touch so he can recommend trusted clinics in the area you are travelling to. If you got a medical insurance for your pet, do not forget to bring it as well. Do not forget to tick this off your road trip with dog checklist.

These are some of the items that you should include in your first aid kit: styptic powder for accidental toenail bleeding, antiseptic moist wipes, tweezers for ticks of sticky things, gauze bandage, scissors, adhesive medical tapes, and eyewash for wound cleaning. These will come in handy at any time. I personally use this dog first aid kit and I highly recommend to get one.

Vitamins and Supplements

You don’t have to pause vitamins, minerals, and supplements for your dog if you are travelling. You can bring it with you so your pup can still have it on the road, in your destination, and on the way home! Do pack some syringes for fluid vitamins!

2. Hygiene

dog training before road trip

Our pets would still need to be cleaned so our dog travel pack should include hygiene essentials. You will never forgive yourself if you forget any of these things. It will make your vacation a lot cleaner than you expect especially with a furry friend.

Diapers and Waste Bags

Travelling with a dog in a car can be pretty messy especially if you need to cover long distances. Always bring doggie diapers for accidental pee or poo situations when you cannot make stopovers. Another thing to keep in mind is waste bags since you do not want stinky diapers or garbage smelling inside the car.

Bath Essentials

In case things get pretty messy, a bath is extremely necessary so add dog soaps or shampoos in your checklist. Bring all necessary bath items to keep your pup fresh and clean no matter where you go. Of course, a good bath is not complete without a brush to smoothen his fur. Bring one because it also keeps them quiet and at peace for a while. You can also read my full review on Aquapaw Dog Bathing Glove and decide whether you want to use it during your road trip with a dog or not.

Anti-Pest Sprays

As a dog owner, we never run out of flea and tick repellant. You never know when you’ll be needing it. It just happens out of nowhere! But road trips with dogs can be a triggering factor since they’ll be entering a new environment. Pack your tick and flea repellants to avoid going home with an irritated pet.

Paper Towels

Never forget paper towels! You need it everywhere, no questions asked. For anything that needs immediate cleaning, paper towels are the way to go. Bring some cleaners for muddy situations that can be wiped off by a paper towel. It will be your travel buddy just like at home!

Cotton Towels

We are positive you’ll be using cotton towels to dry your pet any day during your vacation. He might want to go swimming all of a sudden, or you decide on giving him a bath after a muddy day.

3. Food, Treats, And Water

water in a car with dog

Photo Amazon

If there is just one thing you cannot forget, then it is definitely dog food! You dog car travel gear should always include food and treats that your pet can eat on the road. It can be difficult to look for shops selling dog food in a place you are just visiting for the first time. And some of our pups do not like eating a food they’ve had for the first time. Pack enough for your road travel or each day while away from home. Bring his/her favorites and keep it in a sealed space so your pet won’t go sneaking for a treat when it is not eating time.

Aside from dog food and treats, bring your pup his/her water and water drinker. It is unsanitary to just get water from anywhere while on the road. You do not want your dog getting sick while on vacation. The drinker will help him know that it is his water. A lot of dogs I know have familiarity with their stuff. We use these spill-proof water bowls for travelling for many years. 

If you plan to bring canned food, you should also bring a can opener. Opening cans with swiss knives are never safe!

4. Activities

dog toys for road trips

Photo Max Pixel

If kids are such headaches during travels, dogs can be the same too! We know a lot of people asking how to travel long distance with a dog and survived it! To keep your pups busy and attentive, you need to pack some things that can make your travel smoother and less stressful.


To keep your dog busy inside the car, hotel room, or wherever you plan to stay, bring his/her favorite toys with you. This will help prevent him from doing unspeakable things when your pup gets bored. Of course, you do not need to bring a lot with you. Choose the ones that will surely keep him busy for plenty of time.

Interactive Materials

As a dog owner, I tried plenty of interactive materials to boost my pup’s IQ. I’ve come across things that helped build our relationship and interaction much stronger. You can bring some that are not bulky during your road trip. Some toys can be used while you exercise together. We recommend you to check our list of the best interactive dog toys, so you can pick one for your road trip.


The camera is technically not for your dog. It is for you. You may want to take a record of this memorable experience to share the world! It sure is fun to share that your dog enjoyed a vacation away from home like you did. We recommend you to check our list of the best dog treat cameras, so you can pick one for your road trip.

5. Safety And Comfort

dog car seat cover

Photo Amazon // BarksBar Dog Car Seat Cover

A long road trip with a dog can be tiring for you both. We want you to feel the comfort and enjoyment of travelling. So we compiled another checklist that you need for safety and comfort.

Sleeping Essentials

You can’t expect your pet to sleep anywhere during a road trip. Your pup won’t enjoy an uncomfortable place wherever you are staying when you’ve arrived at your destination. It is best to bring a familiar sleeping pad or blanket that will make your buddy feel like home. He will also have a personal space during your vacation if you set up his sleeping area. Sleeping pads or blankets won’t take up too much space compared to cages, baskets or tents.

Car Harness/Booster Seat/Crate

A lot of owners dread travelling with a dog in a car. Why? It is because dogs can be very naughty and uncomfortable when the car starts moving. They can cause road accidents if not handled well. The best solution is already available for us dog lovers – a dog car harness! This will ensure that your furry friend will remain in his designated position inside the car. This will make your long distance travel safe and secure too! 

These harnesses are designed to hold them in position but still remain comfortable. So there is no need to worry if they might not like it. You’ll probably love having one even for short grocery trips when you can’t leave your pet at home.

This is a great safety measure while on the road. But do not forget to close the windows and deactivate the airbag on where your dog will be occupying. We tried so many of them and picked the one called Pawaboo dog vest harness. We have been using it for road trips with our dog for the past 4 years and it works really well for me and my pup.

Collar and Leash

While on vacation, you can’t expect your dog to stay inside the car or hotel room until the last day. You’ll be needing to make bathroom breaks, unpacking, cleaning, or short picnic and walkarounds! To make walks, or probably runs, easier, it is best to bring a collar and leash.

Sínce you will be bringing a collar, use the one with identification tags so you can be reunited in case your pup gets extra excited and runs to an unknown place. A lot of places and tourist destinations require dogs to be leashed no longer than a certain distance. Bring a short and long leash so you’ll have options depending on the daily activity. 

If you want something fancy, you can check our lists of the best LED dog collars and LED leashes.

Latest Photo

For travels, we always have to prepare for the worst. Take your dog’s latest clear photo in your emergency kit. If your pup gets lost, you can show his photo to people. Remember his unique identification marks, other people in the area can help make the search easier for you. 

To avoid that, you are better to use GPS collar so you can track your dog with a mobile app. Check our list of the best dog GPS collars and pick one for your trip.


By schedule, we mean to say that it is best to stick to normal sleeping, eating, and exercising schedule. When you go on road trips with dogs, it is normal to get tired after hours on the road and activities. But do not neglect the need of your dog to eat and exercise. Skipping or suddenly changing your pet’s routine can make him anxious and uncomfortable. You should both enjoy the vacation, anyways!

We hope that the road trip with dog checklist prepared for you is complete and handy for your next travel plan. Dogs like to have some time away from a familiar environment too because they sure love some adventure with their owner. These things will make your road trip easier and more comfortable. Oh yeah! See the printable version below and share it with you dog owner buddy!

Checklist for Road Trips with Dogs (INFOGRAPHIC)

Checklist for Road Trips with Dogs (INFOGRAPHIC)


  • Tillie Bailey

    Tillie graduated with honours from University of California as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2008, and is a member of American Veterinary Medical Association. He stays up-to-date on the latest innovations in dog technologies and shares her thoughts and experience on that topic.

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