The time has come to take a road trip- Yay! Road trips with your pets can be enjoyable if properly planned out. After all, what dog owner can resist that pleading face, happy dance, or excited yip when they hear the jingle of your keys! Here are my top 10 essentials I consider when road tripping with the fur-babies.

Crate or Kennel with Bedding

By far, this is the safest way of traveling with your pet, both for yourself and your pet. One of my pups can be very reactive in the car when he gets super excited. He has even tried jumping out a window to chase something!  Over the years, he has learned to (somewhat) calm down with car rides, but we have found that he is the most content in his kennel.

For kitties, it is always recommended to get a travel carrier. My kitty likes to roam the vehicle, which is great until she decides to make herself comfortable near my feet while I am driving, which has happened on numerous occasions! A carrier is a safe place for containment if needed.

If you are not into crates or kennels for your babies, there are many different options available that will still help contain your furry friends in the vehicle. There are barriers that can be purchased to keep them in the back seat, or even seat belt adapters for dogs!  Either way, its important to consider proper containment for your pet so they cannot escape the vehicle, or becoming a flying object if lord forbid you have to suddenly slam on the brakes!

Enough Food, Water, and Medications for Your Trip

Don’t forget to pack enough of Fido’s food! If you’re like me and have your pets on a special type of diet, its important to make sure you have enough food for the trip and that it is stored properly away from your furry friend, to prevent any unplanned snacking while your driving.  I found pet food canisters very useful for traveling! And with some canisters the top/bottom converts to food/water bowls, making them even easier to store!  Which is another good point- don’t forget food and water bowls!

Your pet’s medications are another thing to remember before you set off on your journey. There is nothing more annoying than realizing you forgot Fido’s pills at home and now you need to make a special trip to a veterinarian (and spend more money) to get a refill.  Even if your pet is not currently on any medications, do the research to make sure they don’t need any for where you are traveling to. You wouldn’t want Fido bringing any new parasites home with you on your journey! 

It is also common for pets to get either carsick or very anxious while traveling. Talk with your veterinarian about any supplements or treats your pet can take before the trip to calm their tummy and nerves.

Leash and Collar, with ID Tags

It seems like common sense, but sometimes it is forgotten. Some people let their pets be “free-spirited” with no collar or leash.  That’s great when they are at home, but when traveling it is good to be safe and have a collar and ID tag on your pet. Before getting out of the vehicle, always secure your pet with a leash so that they don’t get nervous or excited and run off.  Plus, it never hurts to be able to stop for a few and stretch everyone’s legs by taking a short walk.

For cats, it’s a good idea to have them in a harness if you have them wandering your car. That way you have something to secure them to. Or, as a safety precaution attach a leash to the harness and make sure someone has a hold of the leash when opening up the car doors.


If you have not done so already, it’s a good idea to also consider getting your pet microchipped.  So many pets are lost while traveling and are found without their collar and ID tags. A lot of people are under the assumption that a microchip is a “GPS” for their pet. This is an incorrect assumption; a microchip contains information on how to get your pet back to you. It contains a unique number that shows up when the pet is scanned, and that number identifies your pet. A police officer, shelter, or veterinarian will call the microchip company and the company will look up your pet’s microchip number which will contain your name, address, and phone number. Of course, a microchip is only as good as if you remember to keep your contact information updated with the microchip company. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure you have current contact information registered with the microchip company.

Attire for the Destination- Life Jacket? Sweater for Smaller Dogs? Cooling Bandanas?

In some cases, it may be appropriate to make sure you have proper attire for your pet. If you have small dogs and are going to a colder climate, it might not be a bad idea to get them a jacket or sweater to keep warm. On the contrary, if you are going to a much warmer climate than your pet is used to, It might be wise to plan for that by getting a cooling pad or a cooling bandana for your pet to wear.  Going boating? Don’t forget a life jacket if you are taking your pup. Dogs are good swimmers, but like people, they can tire easily if swimming long distances.  If you’re taking your dog hunting, don’t forget their hunting vest to keep them protected from getting cuts and scratches running through the terrain. 

Another item people forget is booties for your pup. Other than making us laugh, they do serve a purpose! In the dead of summer in a really hot climate, sidewalks can get higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine walking around in bare feet with that hot of ground!  In the winter, areas with colder climates might have ice melt salt or solution on the roads and walkways, which the chemicals in the ice melt can irritate your pet’s paws.

Familiar Toys for your Pet

If your pet has a favorite activity or toy, why not bring it along? Pets will appreciate fun stuff to do and it will make them feel more comfortable and “at home”.  Don’t forget to pack their favorite ball or food puzzle toy to keep them busy while your driving.

Research Pet-Safe Places to Stay. Not all National Parks Allow Pets. Research Pet-Approved Hotels.

Plan your journey along the way, including where you will be staying overnight. Not all hotels are pet-friendly, and not all national parks allow dogs! Have an action plan for places to stay while you are on the road, and definitely have a “Plan B” if it is around the holiday season as hotels and campsites may be full.

Basic First Aid Kit and Any Important Health Information

A first-aid kit is a really good thing to have for you, and also your pet. You never know when they could step on something and hurt a paw, or who knows what else could happen along the way. It’s better to be prepared! It’s probably not a bad idea to also bring your pet’s vaccination records with you. Some places will want to verify your pet has had their rabies vaccination. If your pet has any special medical conditions and suddenly needs to seek medical treatment while on the trip, a list of those conditions and any current medications or supplements they are on will be handy.

Bathroom Supplies for Your Pet

It’s easy to forget about bathroom supplies as pets don’t always remind you when they have to go! A good clean up kit for your vehicle is important but also think about ways to pick up and dispose of your pet’s waste. Some areas could fine you for not picking up your pet’s waste, and frankly, it’s just rude not to!  For the kitty, depending on how long the trip may be, you can always set up a litter box in the car. If you are unsure if kitty will use it, you could house this litter box in a kennel so kitty can spend some time in there and feel safe. It is a good idea to put some of kitty’s seasoned litter in there if you have the scoopable kind of litter- Not necessarily dirty litter, but litter that still has your kitty’s scent on it, rather than brand new litter.  You would be surprised how adaptable cats can be. During my cross country move, my kitty’s litter box was on the floorboard of the rear of my vehicle. She didn’t use it much when we were moving, but she sure knew when we were stopping for rest breaks or to get gas along the way!

Heating/Cooling Items if Needed

There are many portable items for heating and cooling if needed, everything from pads for your pet to sit on, to portable heaters and fans. It’s important to think about airflow in the vehicle when driving, The heat or air conditioning might not be the best in the rear of the vehicle, and if your anything like me, you won’t want to drive with the climate controls on full blast all the time. This is especially important if your pet is in a crate or kennel in direct sunlight while you are driving. It gets warm fast!

Rope or Tie-Outs for Extended Breaks

Going back to your travel action plan, think about your rest stops along the way. You might stop somewhere and get something to eat, wouldn’t it be great for your pup to sit outside with you at the picnic table along the way? Kitty could even appreciate a little grass outside if you had a leash/harness that they are wearing, which could tie to your picnic bench as well. Or, tying kitty to something inside the car will prevent any quick exits out of the vehicle when you get back in. Just make sure to check on kitty so they are not getting too hot or cold.

Bonus Item: Waterproof Car Bench Seat Cover

If your pets are anything like mine, they will find mischief and be involved in it. One of mine will not stay out of the water, the other will find something dirty or smelly to roll in! This can leave your vehicle very hairy and smelly, and sometimes stained. Your kitty might leave a litter box mess on your seat. Look into a seat cover for your vehicle if you are going to let your pets roam while your driving.  That way your seats stay clean!

With Proper Planning, whatever adventure you decide to take your pet on can be a fun one! Happy road tripping out there, and make sure you put on some fun music for your pet too!

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