So you are heading out on a family road trip… That thought alone is enough to scare a lot of families. But, if you are a dog family, there is even more to consider. Road trips with dogs are no walk in the park.


Our dogs are part of the family. We want them in our Instagram photos, we want to make memories with them, and we want them on our family vacations. But, bringing a dog with you on a road trip takes a little more planning and can be a daunting prospect. So here are a few tips on how to make it the best possible experience for your dog, your family, and for you.

1. Exhaust them

The secret to calm, happy pet travel? Tired puppies. Spend the day before your trip wearing your dog out. Take him for a run―three of them even. Throw the ball, play tug of war, and give him the chance to play like he has never played before. Get your kids involved and if the stars align, both kids and pup will sleep happily for hours.

2. A spill-proof bowl

Grab a spill-proof bowl before you head out. Not only are they a genius idea but, they give your favorite companion access to water all day long, without it spilling in your car.

3. A dedicated comfort space

Create a designated comfort space for your dog in your vehicle. Make sure it has everything they need including a comfortable pad or blanket. Make sure they know it is their space. Also, make sure your kids know it is the dog’s space too and to keep it clear for Rover.


4. White noise

If your dog is like my dog and barks, growls, and startles us every time anything happens outside (ever), then staying in a hotel or camp park might mean a sleepless night. Download a white noise app to help drowned out the sounds the neighbors make.

5. Bring on the toys

Sometimes driving is terribly boring, even for your dog, and he doesn’t know how to play the license plate game to pass the time. Keep him entertained by bringing him a few things to chew on: a tennis ball, a rope, his favorite already chewed shoe, etc. Consider packing a ball launcher for the breaks as well. Give your dog a reason to run. It will make the car ride more comfortable when you get back in. Hand the launcher to your kids and you are effectively entertaining child and dog for a good 15 minutes.

6. Update your dog’s ID and download a GPS app

Nothing could be more worrisome than losing your dog on vacation! That is stressful. Before you go, update your dog’s tags with your vacation contact info. Make sure you pack an extra tag, just in case.  It is also a good idea to low jack your dog with a GPS. The Paw Tracker is my favorite because it clips right on any collar and you can track it from your phone. You could even attach it to your kid… just saying.

7. Your car is going to get dirty―be prepared

When your dog is living in your car, things get messy. Paw prints, hair, drool, and dirty toys get everywhere. Pack some wet wipes to keep things tidy, wipe the tongue prints off the glass, and keep the mud contained. A squeegee also works really, really well to gather up hair.

8. Car sickness

Some of our furry friends get sick riding in the car. If your best friend is one of those dogs, roll the window down for him a little bit. Looking out the window and feeling the fresh air helps your dog with car sickness. You can also give them a little chicken broth in their water (low sodium of course).

Most importantly, enjoy your vacation. Your pup is thrilled that he got to come and didn’t have to stay home or at the local kennel. Take lots of breaks, run, play, and explore the amazing places in the world. You are making memories your family will never forget.

At a loss of where to go? Outdoor destinations are perfect for adventurous families and energetic pups. In the United States, Southwest Colorado and southeast Utah are fantastic, dog-friendly destinations. You can also check out Go Pet Friendly’s road trip planner for pet-friendly locations along your travel route. Get out and explore!

Words and images: Kara Law

Editing: Sharnon Mentor-King


Get our best articles straight to your inbox. 

Subscribe to The DARling below:

About the author

Kara Laws

Kara Laws

Kara Laws is a photographer, mom, and jewelry enthusiast. Eight years she started the photography business Illuminated Moments in Phoenix, Arizona. Since then she and her husband have moved to Blanding, Utah, where they have chosen to raise their loud and insane children. She prides herself on not having a filter and keeping it real. Life is hard and life is hysterical―but, it is best with family.

Her business has grown over the years and Kara now works with almost 100 different families each year. She is thrilled to help provide a few local jobs, meet new and amazing people, and learning that almost every family has the same issues her own family does.