Travel tips

Tips for traveling with your dog

dog traveling

We share a lot of travel tips with our fellow explorers, from what to pack, what travel accessories to buy, where to stay and what to do when you get there, but not all travelers get around on two feet and many enjoy going to new places as much as their humans.

Dog-friendly travel has become more popular over the last few years with many hotels catering to people’s pets.

On that note, there’s a third member of the Back to the Passport team that I’d like to introduce you to: Rocco.


Our little dingo has a big personality for a little body and while he isn’t always hitting the road with us, we have traveled a few times with our little guy. He has an anxious personality and can’t stand it when we haul out our suitcases or Rick starts packing up anything, so we’ve had time to perfect our travel plans when we’re bringing Rocco with us.

Travel can be stressful, even for those of us that walk on two legs but can be even more stressful for pets when their routine is disrupted and they’re put in new environments. Make an upcoming getaway easier on everyone in your family, including your canine companion, by reviewing our top 10 tips for traveling with your dog!

10 dog-friendly travel tips

Dog in car

1. Pick a dog-friendly destination

Is your destination a pet-friendly city? Does it have pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and public spaces? Some cities are more welcoming of four-legged travelers and actively promote pet-friendly activities and accommodations, so be sure there’s enough to fill your travel itinerary with your furry friend.

Some popular dog-friendly travel destinations in the US include:

  • San Diego
  • Austin
  • Scottsdale
  • Tucson
  • Orlando
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Chicago
  • Colorado Springs
  • Virginia Beach

2. Check your accommodations

Obviously make sure you check that your hotel or Airbnb allows pets and you’ve read through the pet policies and know of any extra fees your furry friend might add to your final bill. Keep your dog’s needs and well-being in mind when choosing a room too. We always book a room on the first floor when traveling with Rocco as he doesn’t handle stairs or the elevator well and we want to be close to a grassy area for our old man’s potty breaks.

Some hotels have pretty fun pet perks like on-site dog walkers, doggie daycare, or green areas for them to play. Just like you scope out the amenities, take a look for the amenities available to Fido as you look at different accommodation options.

Also inquire about any pet policies regarding leaving your friend in the room. Some have special door hangers so housekeeping knows a dog is in the room, other hotels might require you to be present when housekeeping is tending to your room or that the dog cannot be left alone during housekeeping, or for a certain amount of time. 

3. Visit the vet

Before you hit the road, take Fido to the vet to make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, is healthy for your mode of transportation, and discuss where you’re traveling and if there are any concerns for your pet’s health while on vacation. 

If your pet isn’t chipped yet, you might consider microchipping them before a vacation just in case he or she gets out and gets lost in a new city. 

Home Alone 2

Get a set of travel dog tags that have your name, phone number, and the dog’s name so people can easily contact you if they find your dog. 

4. Keep your dog relaxed

We actually have to sedate Rocco when we travel with him as being in the car makes him very nervous. We make sure to have his favorite blankets and toys in his crate on our road trips to recreate a home environment as much as possible.

If you’re flying with your pooch, be sure to do your research ahead of time to find out about fees (most airlines charge an additional $100-300 per pet each way), travel arrangements, like if your dog can be in the cabin or not, and any pet policies you may have to follow.

Most airlines go by sizing to determine if your pet can be in the cabin, unless it’s a service dog or emotional support animal. Being in the cargo hold can be extremely stressful for dogs who don’t travel or don’t like being away from home or their owner. It’s up to you to figure out if the stress of travel on your pet is worth it when it comes to flying. 

While your pet can’t take up the seat next to you or sit in your lap, try to make it as comfortable as possible for them by having a quality crate. Features to look for in a flight-friendly dog crate include:

  • Durable but has a leak-proof, padded bottom
  • Ventilation on opposite sides
  • Strong handles
  • Labels for your contact information, travel itinerary, and dog’s information

Do not try out new foods with your pet on the day of travel and keep their intake light, generally stopping food intake about four hours before a trip so there are no accidents. Flying is also harder on certain breeds, like pugs, and older animals and sedatives should be avoided as air travel can increase the risk of heart problems with the change in altitude and pressure. 

The routine

5. Stick to your routine

Try to stick to your dog’s regular routine as much as possible, especially for eating and bathroom breaks. This will help them adjust to any new places and time zones as quickly as possible. 

Chances are, as soon as your pup gets outside and has a ton of new smells to investigate and areas to run around, they’ll be just fine being somewhere new.  

6. Pack enough food and water

Measure out and pack enough food for the duration of your trip and add an extra scoop or two for good measure. Always better to be safe than sorry when traveling with your furry friend. 

You might want to invest in collapsible bowls for food and water so they’re easy to pack and can be taken on hikes or when visiting a dog-friendly beach. Just like we have to stay hydrated as we adapt to new climates and places, it’s important to keep your pooch’s water supply full.  

One way to make travel more rewarding for your dog is by giving them extra treats for good behavior. Again, don’t introduce new food items to your dog’s diet while traveling but bring along a few of their favorite treats while you travel.  

7. Travel supplies

We have a travel crate and tote ready for Rocco so we don’t have to worry about packing his bed or blankets early and instead can just grab his travel supplies and go. Pack all the essentials: food and water bowls, food bag, treats, leash, and poop bags.

You might also consider adding in a doggie coat, dog booties to protect their feet on extremely hot or cold surfaces, and a towel if you’re going somewhere wet.

8. Schedule potty breaks

Pack extra poop bags for your trip and be sure to take breaks for your best friend so they can stretch, get some fresh air, and go potty. Give them enough time to do their business and get some water to rehydrate before getting back in the car or catching your next flight. 

You could set your clock to Rocco’s habits and so when we travel, we have to adjust our schedules slightly to accommodate his needs and factor into account any time changes as his body runs on Denver time. 

9. Know the signs of an emergency

Travel is stressful on us all, even puppies, and it’s good to brush up on the warning signs of pup problems. Symptoms of heat stroke include rapid panting, staggering, and excessive salivation. Keep your dog cool and immersed in cool water if possible until you can seek medical attention. 

If hiking with your pet, take any precautions to mitigate insect bites and keep them away from sick or dead wildlife. Check your dog for ticks or burrs after exploring the great outdoors so they’re not bringing anything home with them. 

You know your dog’s habits and limitations. Don’t push him or her past those and if you suspect your pup is acting strange, it’s time to go back to your accommodations for a break or a quick call to your vet. 

10. Keep them on a leash

Even the most well-behaved dog can panic in a new environment and bolt or try to find a place to hide. 

Keep your pooch on a leash until you’re certain your dog  is calm and can’t escape anywhere. This is especially important on hiking trails, walking downtown, or in a hotel for the safety of the other guests. 

What other dog-friendly travel tips do you have? Share with us in the comments or over on Facebook

Rocco in the car
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Hey, I'm Stephanie! I'm a copywriter living in beautiful Denver with my husband Rick, and our dog Rocco. I love traveling, writing, reading, and being outside as much as possible - unless I'm on the couch binge watching Stranger Things with a glass of wine! Thanks for reading and being a part of the adventure with Back to the Passport! ❤️

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