Going on a road trip with your dog is more than just a journey, it’s an opportunity for personal growth, connection, and adventure. It’s a chance to step outside your comfort zone, explore new places, and create lasting memories with your furry companion by your side. By packing these essential supplies and following these tips, you’ll not only ensure a safe, enjoyable trip for your dog but also experience a transformative journey for yourself—a journey filled with wagging tails, open highways, diverse scenery, and endless possibilities for growth and exploration!

Our own journey took us on a three-month road trip across the US, with our rescue dog, Rocky. Living in a truck and a rooftop tent, we navigated diverse landscapes and encountered countless experiences along the way.

What to Bring When Road Tripping with Your Dog
Credit: Alyx Braunius

Considerations When Traveling With Your Dog

Traveling with a dog can be filled with unforgettable moments and breathtaking scenery, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. Many National Parks, for instance, don’t allow dogs on the trails, prompting us to seek out alternative destinations like National Forests, which in my opinion, offer a quieter and more dog-friendly environment, with similar breathtaking views.

Traveling with a dog also requires careful consideration of factors like extreme heat in desert regions, especially for pups accustomed to cooler climates in the Northeast. Additionally, some cities and towns are more dog-friendly than others. In some areas, we had no problem going out to eat, enjoying coffee shops, going to farmers markets, and shopping with our dog, whereas other areas were not as dog-friendly, making it more challenging to enjoy town.

Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that not all dogs are suited for road trips. Our previous dog, my soul dog, loved car rides but struggled with severe anxiety while traveling. Recognizing his discomfort, we would only take him on short road trips.

Despite these challenges, having our pup by our side made the journey all the more rewarding. It was heartwarming to witness his excitement and curiosity as he explored new places, people, and dogs, and enjoyed his own adventures. As a young rescue, the road trip provided him with valuable experiences and helped him grow into a confident and adaptable companion.

On the road with a four-legged friend
Credit: Alyx Braunius

15 Essentials for Traveling With Your Dog

Below is a comprehensive guide to the essentials you’ll need when hitting the road with your dog.

1. Dog Veterinary Records

Remember to pack your pup’s veterinary records, including proof of vaccinations. Many destinations, such as National and State Parks or border crossings, require documentation of your dog’s health status (most just require proof of rabies).

2. Dog Food and Treats

This one should be obvious! Bring a sufficient supply of your dog’s regular food and favorite treats to last the duration of your trip, or plan to pick them up at local stops along your route. Opt for sealed containers or resealable bags to keep the food fresh and prevent spills. Bringing along their favorite treats will help keep them attentive but also serve as a comforting reminder of home during adventures on the road.

If you have a dog with specific dietary needs, I recommend packing enough food to last for the entire trip, as it can be tricky to find special food in some areas. For our three-month journey across the U.S. with our 85-pound dog, we precisely planned our food supply, packing 100 lbs of food (equivalent to five 20-pound bags) to ensure he had ample nutrition throughout our travels.

3. Water Supply

Ensure your dog stays hydrated by packing plenty of fresh water for the journey. We packed five five-gallon water containers and a Sawyer water filter. This may have been a little excessive, but it was our drinking, cooking, dishes, laundry, and shower water, and knowing we weren’t going to run out was important to us.

4. Dog Car Hammock

Invest in a quality car hammock to protect your vehicle’s interior while providing a comfortable and secure space for your dog to relax during the drive.

5. Dog Blanket or Bed

Create a cozy spot for your pup to rest during car rides and nights at camp by bringing along a soft blanket, sleeping bag, or travel bed.

Road tripping with a dog
Credit: Alyx Braunius

6. Quick-Drying Towel

Keep your dog clean and dry after outdoor adventures or unexpected messes with a compact, quick-drying towel.

7. Collapsible Dog Bowls

Pack lightweight, collapsible bowls for food and water to ensure your pup stays nourished and hydrated while on the go. These are wonderful to attach to your backpacks or fanny packs to have during hikes or while touring towns and cities.

8. Poop Bags

Be a responsible pet owner by bringing biodegradable poop bags to clean up after your dog’s bathroom breaks. Don’t leave it on the trail!

9. Collar, Leashes, and Harnesses

Equip your dog with essential gear to ensure their safety and security on the road. Have a collar featuring your dog’s identification tags in case they wander off during your adventures, and pack your favorite leashes and harnesses—I always opt for hands-free designs and bungee-style leashes for trail excursions, providing freedom of movement while maintaining control. For urban explorations, a shorter leash offers convenience and control in busy towns and cities. If your pup responds well to training collars, now is the perfect time to utilize them, reinforcing positive behaviors and keeping your dog close by your side throughout your journey.

10. Dog Packs

If your pup loves to work, consider outfitting them with a dog pack to carry essentials like water and waste bags while hiking or camping.

Vacationing with a dog
Credit: Alyx Braunius

11. Long Tie Out or Dog Hitching System

Bring a long tie-out or hitching system for supervised outdoor relaxation at campsites or designated areas. When camping in remote backcountry areas, you may discover serene and secluded spots where your dog can roam off-leash without worry. However, in more regulated campgrounds, dogs are typically required to be leashed at all times.

These handy tools allow your dog to enjoy some freedom while remaining safely secured, ensuring compliance with campground regulations and providing peace of mind for you and your dog.

12. Toys and Chews

Keep your dog entertained during downtime with their favorite toys and chews to chew on during breaks or quiet evenings at camp.

13. Dog Booties

Protect your pup’s paws from hot pavement, cold surfaces, or rough terrain with durable dog booties designed for outdoor adventures.

14. Crate

If your dog is crate trained, bring along a portable crate to provide a familiar and secure space for relaxation or containment when needed. For example, a crate is handy to have if you decide to rent an Airbnb and have some dog-free time exploring town.

15. Dog First-Aid Kit

Prepare for emergencies by assembling a first-aid kit containing essential supplies like gauze, bandages, tweezers, a tick-puller, and wipes. 

Dogs playing on a trip
Credit: Alyx Braunius

Tips for Road Tripping With Your Dog

Following a few simple strategies is a surefire way to ensure a successful trip with your pup. Before setting off on a long car ride, it’s essential to give your pup plenty of exercise to tire them out and prepare them for the journey ahead. When on the road, plan regular stops to allow your dog to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and enjoy some fresh air.

Balance staying present with capturing memories. Embrace the journey and savor every moment spent exploring new destinations and bonding with your beloved pet, but also take time to document your adventures. A library of photos and videos from your trip allows you to relive those special moments on the road with your furry companion.

Going on a road trip with your dog is a fantastic way to create lasting memories. With proper planning—and packing these essential supplies—you’ll ensure a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable adventure that’s sure to create beautiful memories and deepen the bond between you and your dog.