If you’ve ever considered bringing your dog on vacation, you probably know that flying with a pet can be difficult due to airline restrictions. When you hit the road with your pup by your side, you have much more flexibility and freedom for the furriest member of your family on the way to your final destination.
But it can take quite a bit of planning to keep your dog happy and safe in your car. Here are some tips for planning a dog-friendly vacation.
Understanding dog road trip essentials
There are a few important items you’ll want to keep handy with your dog on board: 
- Food, water, snacks, and pet bowls to keep your pup happy, fed, and hydrated
- A blanket or pet bed that smells like home to keep your dog feeling cozy and comfortable throughout the vacation
- A favorite toy or chewy to help your buddy stay entertained and free from stress
- Medications, which can be prescribed by a veterinarian for your dog if they have anxiety in the car
- Collars and leashes that you might need for any walks or hikes— you may need a variety if you’re working on leash training
- Potty bags for when duty calls
- Anything else? You know your dog best. Think of what you or your pet might be happy to have once you’re down the road.
Preparing your car for a long car ride with your dog
Once you’ve packed everything on your pet travel checklist, you’ll want to make sure your car is dog-ready. There are several precautions to take in keeping your pup and car safe throughout the drive:
- Consider crates, dog car barriers or seat belt harnesses, which may be required in certain jurisdictions
- Protect your car with seat covers
- Have water readily available
Have a plan for when you have to leave your car
You’ll probably need to leave your car to get food or use the restroom. Have a plan in place for your dog during that time, whether it’s having other family members on the trip take turns keeping watch or identifying dog-friendly locations where you can keep your pup by your side.
Avoid leaving your dog in the car for extended periods unattended, particularly during the summer. Doing so can subject your dog to extreme temperatures, causing serious harm. 
Go on practice drives before you leave
Get your pup acclimated to spending an extended period of time in the car by going on practice drives.
Plan for stops to go on hikes and take walks
Do your research ahead of time to find dog-friendly places to stop for hikes and walks with your pup. Reviews and posted user-posted photos can help you decide which places will work best for you and your furry companion. 
Stop at a pet-friendly hotel for the night
If you’re wondering where to stay throughout your vacation, there are some safe, reliable pet-friendly hotel chains that can usually accommodate your pooch. Just make sure you take note of each location’s pet rules and policies before booking a reservation: 
- Best Western
- Choice Hotels
- Extended Stay America
- Four Seasons
- Hampton Inn
- Home 2 Suites by Hilton
- Kimpton Hotels
- DoubleTree by Hilton
- Motel 6
- The Peninsula Hotels
- Red Roof Inn
- The Ritz-Carlton
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