Last month, we took Levi on her first big road trip up North to Jay, VT for a week-long mini ski vacation. We’ve never taken her with us on an adventure like this, let alone drove 3.5 hours with her in the car before. But she’s a family member & the sooner we acclimate her to our occasional traveling lifestyle, the better it’ll be for everyone involved down the road – especially when we have human children to care for in addition to our toddler of a pup. Kidding, ish.
Honestly, traveling with anyone or anything dependent on routine and schedule is destined to have its moments of agony. A lot of it is rolling with the punches & doing your best to be prepared. There’s no magic trick to a stress-free road trip with a young/not-well-traveled companion, but there are definitely tips to help you feel more in control of the potential outcome. Here’s what worked for us:
Useful Things To Bring
Car Seat Cover / Hammock
Portable, Collapsible Travel Crate (if your pup is crate trained)
Lightweight, Collapsible/Stackable Bowls
One Favorite Toy & Two “Not As Important” Toys (in case they get left behind accidentally)
Spare Collar & Leash
License/Rabies Tags (or photos of each)
Wipes for Eyes, Ears, Paws, etc.
Pet-Friendly Travel Tips
Ensure Place is Pet-Friendly
You’d be surprised how many rentals make you dig deep to reveal the truth of yes/no when it comes to pets, so definitely don’t assume that if you don’t see it mentioned in the description that it’s safe to bring your pup; message the host to confirm well before your travels
Puppy-Proof Surrounding Area(s)
If your pup likes to chew on small items, chotchkies, pillows, blankets, etc. then it’s best to move them out of reach before leaving him/her unsupervised in a designated area
Take Note of Existing Chewing/Scratching Damage
You don’t want to be charged for pre-existing damage done by other visiting dogs, be sure to photograph it upon arrival just in case
Stick to At-Home Schedule (best possible)
Try to feed/go to bed/stick to walk times familiar with your pup to help ease routine in a new place
Label Meals for Easy Packing/Tracking
I find labeling baggies with the day + AM/PM with a sharpie helps me keep track of how much food to pack in advance; I usually bring an extra baggie with the label “extra” on purpose just in case there’s spillage
Search Nearby Dog Parks & Bring Fido
Knowing where the dog parks are is helpful to get that extra built-up energy out, especially when in new surroundings. Bring Fido is helpful when determining which bars/restaurants are considered “pet-friendly” in your area. I personally don’t find that it’s updated that often, depending on the region you’re searching within, so might be best to call the restaurant directly to ask. You can download the Bring Fido app to your phone for easier searching too.
New Place = New Smells, Can Be Overstimulating
This could be the most exciting or the most anxiety-driven moment in your pet’s life, no matter the age
Expect Behavior to Revert At Times, Especially at Night
i.e. whining/howling if alone in crate or separate bedroom; we ended up allowing Levi to sleep in our room until she felt more at ease but made sure to not let it become a habit by Day 3 / when we returned home
The More Your Dog Travels, The Easier It Gets For Everyone
Like most things, practice makes perfect!