Over the holidays we took a cross country road trip with Chuy and our 2 month old daughter. We traveled 20 hours from Virginia to Texas to see my in-laws so they could meet Catalina in person for the first time. Everyone that we told about our trip thought we were nuts for driving! Truth is, my husband and I actually love road trips . . . especially dog friendly road trips! Chuy is used to traveling with us but we’ve never taken a road trip this long. We thought about flying but decided that there was no way we would attempt to fly with a newborn AND a dog!
It’s a 20 hour drive from Virginia Beach to Houston. Back in the day we used to be able to do the entire drive without stopping . . .but that was before a dog and a baby. One thing I like about breaking the trip up is that you can do some touristy stuff along the way. We spent a night in New Orleans on the way back which was a lot of fun! I thought I would share my experience with you and my top ten hacks for a successful (and sane) dog friendly road trip.
Plan, Pack, & Organize Ahead of Time
A road trip of this length takes a bit of planning. Take some time to plan out everything your dog will need based on the number of days you’ll be away from home. I like to lay out everything that Chuy will need on the bed so I can see it before I pack. Yes, he has his own little suitcase too. Now add to that one more suitcase for all of Catalina’s stuff! How does a tiny dog and a tiny human need so much stuff?!!
Here are my must haves to pack for a dog friendly road trip:
- Food (Always bring more than you think you need.)
- Collapsible Bowls (This is a must have in the car when making stops for water!)
- Bottled Water
- Medical Record
- Leash & Harness
- ID Tag
- Clothes (depending on the weather)
- Dog Bed
- Grooming supplies
Make a Vet Appointment Before Your Trip
Before you travel with a dog it’s important to get a clean bill of health from your vet. Plus, some hotels will require a vaccination record. Make sure to get a copy of that. Also, if your dog is on any medications get a RX refill so that you have enough while you’re away. We have to keep medications for IVDD on hand in case Chuy has a flare up. In fact, when we went to Savannah last summer we needed his meds and thank goodness I had them!
Plan Your Route
If you’re going to take a long road trip, plan your route in advance. I use good old Google Maps for this. Make sure you account for the time of year and any weather that could impact your trip.
Be Prepared to Stop!
On a dog friendly road trip you also need to think about how often you’ll need to stop for gas, bathroom breaks, walks, etc. On this last trip, we were able to time all of our stops at the same time so we could get gas, use the bathroom, take Chuy out, and feed/change the baby. I think we only had to stop once or twice outside of that. Not bad!
Look how sleepy Chuy was at one of our rest stops!
Stay at a Dog Friendly Hotel
You’ll also want to figure out where you’ll need to stop to spend the night. Personally, I don’t like making hotel reservations in advance for our stop over. I download the Hotels.com app and once we are close to needing a break, I’m able to search for a pet friendly hotel along the interstate. I also like the website Bring Fido to find dog friendly activities, restaurants, and things to do.
A Tired Dog is a Calm Dog
If possible, make sure to take your dog for a long walk before loading up in the car for hours across the country. The more energy you can get out by walking the better they will behave in the car.
Book a Dog Friendly Airbnb at Your Destination
This was our first time booking accommodations with Airbnb and our experience was awesome! Since we took Chuy with us we didn’t want to book a hotel. We planned on visiting family and doing some sight seeing. Not everything that we planned to do was going to be dog friendly which meant Chuy needed somewhere safe. I never leave Chuy alone in a hotel room.
Having an actual house made it feel like we were at home. Plus, it was way cheaper than a hotel! We brought his crate and our baby monitor. Yes, I primarily use my baby monitor to keep an eye on Chuy when we aren’t home! We all felt right at home and it was perfect for traveling with Chuy and baby Catalina. Just make sure that you find an Airbnb property that allows pets which you can add to your search filter.
Drive at Night
We found that driving at night was much better for both Chuy and Catalina. They were more tired and slept most of the time. If you can drive at night, great!
Dog Friendly Restaurants
When you’re doing a road trip along the interstate, you won’t usually find much in terms of fine dining. Most of the rest stops only offer fast food. Not such a bad thing when you’re traveling with a dog. Drive thrus are your friend! .When we’re traveling, Chuy will not touch his food. I don’t want him to go all day without eating. When we stop for food, I always get an extra grilled chicken sandwich. I cut up the grilled chicken into small pieces and that’s what he gets to eat,. Judge all you want but it works! A fed dog is a happy dog.
Keep an Overnight Bag Handy
I still don’t know how we fit all of our luggage into my truck. It was packed! Thank goodness for my husband so I don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff! Something I strongly recommend is keeping an overnight bag handy in the backseat that you can easily access. The bag should at least include food, treats, a collapsible water bowl, bottled water, a towel, and some dog wipes. I’ll get to the wipes in a second. Plus, when you get to the hotel you can grab this bag and not worry about taking ALL of the suitcases out. Ok back to the wipes. On one of our stops, Chuy decided to roll in the grass while we were walking him. Well, he rolled in the most disgusting smelling thing ever. I thought we were going to throw up! Luckily, this was at our hotel for the night so I was able to give him a bath.That reminds me, Bring dog shampoo just in case! In case you’re not near a shower, Burts Bees Dog Wipes are my favorite and they come in handy for getting your dog clean in a pinch.
Another hack? Bring extra zip lock bags to throw the dirty wipes and other trash in until you get to a rest stop.
Plan Your Next Dog Friendly Road Trip
Are you planning a dog friendly road trip any time soon? Tell us all about it in the comments below. Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Dog Friendly Vacations for ideas and inspiration to plan your next trip.
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