Dog Friendly Travel Tips – Comfort for the both of you!

French Bull Dog in suitcaseYou’re getting ready to take your vacation and you want to bring your best friend. So you’re asking, “Is it a good idea to bring her?” Well, that all depends. Keep in mind that traveling is potentially stressful for both you and your dog. On the other hand, it can be stressful for both of you if she stays home. Either way, you need to prepare. So, let’s discuss some dog friendly travel tips.

Should you take her?

Here are some reasons why it might be better not to take her:

  • Pregnancy
  • Any kind of illness
  • Motion sickness
  • She is injured
  • She becomes upset when her routines are disrupted

You have to ask if your dog will enjoy herself on vacation. After all, she may not like to be cooped up in a hotel room while you’re out to dinner or sightseeing

If you decide to leave her, make sure you have things set up so she’ll be comfortable. Probably the best scenario is having a very reliable friend or relative who she knows stay at your home with her. In this case, that person needs to have familiarity with all aspects of your dog from A to Z.

However, if you decide to bring her, read on about preparing for the trip.

Preparing for your trip

There are several things you can do prior to leaving on a trip with your dog. First, check with the hotel where you’ll stay about their pet policies. Do they accept pets? What size? Are there play areas for them on the grounds? These are essential questions to ask. If you travel overseas, please read this information on dog friendly hotels.

Furthermore, consider micro chipping your dog if you haven’t already done so. As you probably know, when you micro chip your dog it can save her life. And, make sure she wears a collar with tags that show all your contact information

Also, make sure all vaccinations are up to date and that your dog is healthy enough to travel. If you’re traveling over state lines or abroad, having vaccination records may come in handy in case someone official needs to see them

Traveling by car with your dogCreme colored Lab in car with seat belt on

If she doesn’t travel much, acclimate her by taking a few short drives. It’s probably a good idea to put her in a crate or carrier while you’re driving. Have a well-ventilated crate or carrier that she has plenty of room to sit, stand and turn around in. Also, make sure it won’t slide or tip over in case of an abrupt stop. Get her used to the crate before you actually leave.

But if you decide to forgo the crate, keep her in the back seat with a harness like the one shown here and don’t let her poke her head out the window. Yes, dogs love to feel the wind in their hair and it’s darn cute to see them do so. However, for obvious reasons, this is dangerous. She could fall out or flying objects could hit her. If you have a pickup, do not place her in the bed of the truck as this is equally dangerous.

Giving her a sense of familiarity in a new place is important so make sure to bring her favorite food, food and water bowls, treats, leash, toys, poop bags, bed and pillows. Also, bring plenty of the water she usually drinks in case there are stretches in your trip where it’s hard to come by. Even if other water is available, foreign drinking water can cause stomach upsets. And, remember her medications if she’s taking any.

You should feed your dog at least a few hours before leaving in case she has motion sickness. Also, don’t feed her while moving for the same reason. In fact, you should wait for a rest stop to do so. Obviously, you don’t want her to throw up and she probably doesn’t enjoy it either. For dogs who are prone to motion sickness, consult your veterinarian for remedies or try ginger capsules that are available at health-food stores.

During a stop, it’s a good idea to let her walk or play to get rid of pent-up energy. Never let her out at a rest stop unattended without a leash. You can’t believe the number of dogs that have been lost in this way. Remember, she’s in a foreign place and may get frightened and run.

You may find that she just sleeps a good deal of the time while the car is moving.

Never leave her alone in the car during a hot or even warm day. Keep in mind that cars heat up quickly even with the windows cracked. For example, on a 78 degree day, the inside of a car in the shade can heat up to 90 degrees and inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160 degrees. Animals can die from heat stroke within 15 minutes. Use window shades for the back and side windows. Also, make sure your air-conditioning is working. Conversely, leaving her inside a car on a cold day is equally dangerous.

Lab type dog standing on tarmac with airplane in background

Traveling by airplane with your dog

Traveling by air is quite a different story from road travel. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) says that it’s dangerous to transport your pet in the cargo hold of an airplane. Therefore, the best thing is to let her ride with you in a carrier under the seat. As a consequence, a large dog is going to be hard to bring along. Read here if you’re interested in purchasing a small dog carrier.

There is an exception and that is chartering a jet that has no size restrictions. Read here for more information. However, you have to be ready to shell out a considerable amount of money for this privilege. Therefore, most people will not be able to afford this option.

With this in mind, the first thing to do is figure out if your small dog is actually small enough to fit under an airline seat. Size and weight restrictions vary airline to airline but most require that dog and carrier not weigh more than 20 lbs together. Further, they insist that your dog fit comfortably inside the carrier and that it fit under the space in front of you. There are even some restrictions as to breed and age. As a matter of fact, most airlines don’t allow puppies under eight weeks to fly and some even have restrictions about pugs and bull dogs because of the increased risk of respiratory issues

Always check with the airline about their guidelines prior to departure.

Be sure to speak with your vet before flying with her. It’s possible she doesn’t have a temperament for flying and it may cause way too much stress. You can get anti-anxiety drugs but doing this is controversial.

Also, book a direct flight to your destination if you can, There is added stress on your dog in layovers as she will have to be among the hustle and bustle of yet another airport.

When you arrive at your destination

Remember that dogs thrive on healthy routines and this doesn’t change just because you’re away from home. That is to say, walk her, give her play time and the food she is used to eating. Also, be a polite patron and don’t leave her in your hotel room if she barks. Many hotels accept dogs but they want you to follow the rules!

When you arrive at your hotel, give her a nice long walk and let her get used to the place. Remember, she’s in a new environment and is likely a bit nervous.


Yes, you can travel with your dog with these dog friendly travel tips. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there doesn’t seem to be many options for air travel with a larger dog unless you can afford to spend a lot of money on a charter. And please, don’t put your dog in a cargo hold!

We love comments so please leave yours below. Be sure to tell us about your experiences traveling with your best friend!close up of dog in sunglasses on the beach


4 comments on “Dog Friendly Travel Tips – Comfort for the both of you!

  1. Cathy

    My dog loves car ride, but not for too long a distance. She gets stressed out and will drool all over the car. I tried introducing her to swimming once, but it totally freaks her out.

    After much attempt, I figured out that she’s most comfortable around the neighborhood. Since she’s down with arthritis, I have taken her less on the car – which requires jumping up and down – and just walk around the neighborhood. It’s still enjoyable for her, just less stressful.

    1. Christopher Mitchell

      Hi Cathy:

      Every dog is different. Sounds like the walks around the neighborhood work for her. So, as you say, no need to add to her stress by taking her on long trips.

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Ruya

    We used to have two dogs (not at the same time) but unfortunately we were afraid of going on vacation with them because we didn’t know what to expect, especially when traveling by airplane. Our first dog had motion sickness so we had to leave him at a friend’s place while we were on vacation. Luckily she was a dog lover and had experience with dogs and took good care of him. It can be stressful traveling with a dog but these are actually really good tips. I will definitely follow your guidelines as soon as I get a dog in the near future.

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Ruya:

      Yes, it can be tricky and not every dog will be a good traveler. So glad to hear you had someone who could take good care of him!

      Thank you for your comments!


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