Going on vacation is an opportunity to get away from everyday life, recharge your batteries, and spend some quality time with your family! However, vacation often means leaving your four-legged family members behind with a pet-sitter or boarding them in a kennel. 

Wouldn’t it be great if your pup could join in on the fun? Here’s how to plan a vacation with your dog.

Step 1: Make Sure It’s Dog Friendly

Before you pack your bags or get in the car, make sure your destination is dog-friendly and offers dog-friendly activities. Sites like Air BnB and Vrbo give the option to search for rental units that allow pets. There are also plenty of hotel chains that allow dogs, with and without an additional fee. Here’s a great guide to dog-friendly hotels!

dog in hotel room, Dog-Friendly Vacation: 4 Steps To Planning A Successful Trip With Your Pup

Another big consideration is if your destination is dog-friendly. In the United States especially, some cities are known to be generally more dog-friendly than others. If you’re heading to the beach it’s always important to check local dog laws before bringing your pup along. If you have a dog-friendly beach in mind, here’s a guide to canine beach etiquette

Also, ALWAYS make sure to check with your vet that your dog is up to date on ALL of their vaccinations before traveling.

Step 2: Pack It Up

It’s hard enough to know what to pack for yourself and you always seem to leave something behind. Your dog, however, is counting on you to make sure they’re covered! Create a travel checklist before hitting the road to make sure you have all your pup’s essentials ready to go and don’t forget a few of their favorite toys!

dog in suitcase, Dog-Friendly Vacation: 4 Steps To Planning A Successful Trip With Your Pup

It’s also important to consider how long you’ll be on vacation when packing. Make sure to bring a couple of extra days of food just in case.

Step 3: On The Road

Hitting the open road with your dog is a little different than heading down to the local dog park or pet store. You’ll be in the car for an extended period of time, and you’ll have to adjust to your dog’s needs. It’s always a good idea to have a seat belt and or harness for your dog, especially when you’ll be spending a significant time traveling on highways. Also, you’ll want to refrain from giving your pup food or water for about an hour before getting in the car, to avoid accidents.

dog in car, Dog-Friendly Vacation: 4 Steps To Planning A Successful Trip With Your Pup

Once you are on the road, plan to stop for bathroom breaks every couple of hours. Give your pup a chance to stretch their legs as long periods in the car could be making them anxious. NEVER give your dog food or treats in the car, this could cause nausea or an upset stomach.

Step 4: On Location

Once you reach your destination, try to keep your dog’s schedule as normal as possible. Make sure they get their usual exercise time, regular bathroom breaks, and eat on the same schedule as at home. Let your dog explore their surroundings before taking them into your rental unit or hotel, and once inside, keep a close eye on them, just in case they attempt to mark the new territory.

dog at beach, Dog-Friendly Vacation: 4 Steps To Planning A Successful Trip With Your Pup

New surroundings can cause a great deal of anxiety for your dog, so lay out their favorite blanket or bed in your rental and be sure to give them extra attention. When on vacation, leave your dog alone as little as possible. If you do intend to spend long durations outside of your rental, consider bringing along a kennel to keep your pup out of trouble while you’re gone, but do your best to plan activities and events that are dog-friendly! After all, it’s their vacation too!


Bringing your dog along on vacation can be a positive experience for both your family and your pup. It takes a little extra planning, but your canine companion would agree, it’s more fun with them around!