Tips for Traveling with Dogs

  • Don’t.
  • Don’t get dogs.

The end. Thank you for reading.

Just kidding. Really though, traveling with your four-legged family members is not easy, especially when you have two of them, and they’re labs, and one of them is well, an Oakley buddy who beats to his own drum, and well, I’m not a dog trainer okay. BUT, it is doable and can be a ton of fun for you and your pups!

Back story: Jordan and I have two beautiful pups, Daenerys (who is about to turn 6) and Oakley (our pandemic puppy who will be 4 in February). They look like they could be siblings or mother and son but actually couldn’t be more different.

Oakley (Left) Daenerys (Right)

Daenerys is part Pit Bull we believe? looks just like a pure bred American Labrador with the skinnier face but up close she’s so muscular, a lot like a Pit would be. Her name was already Daenerys when Jordan got her. His friends dog accidentally had puppies and didn’t know who the male dog was. He named all the puppies after Game of Thrones characters; Daenerys is the Dragon Queen! And funny enough, my last name is also Stark, which is another Game of Thrones Character. Now everyone thinks we are die heart fans when in reality, neither of us have seen the show!

Oakley, we got off Craigslist right as the pandemic in 2020 began. We were originally looking to adopt a friend for Daenerys since she was always alone during the day while we worked. We came across this certified breeder who was worried about finding the puppies good homes before everything shut down and people stopped traveling so he allowed us to come by his home in Hemet and pick out a pure bred English Labrador. Crazy!

Because of Covid, we were both home with the dogs 24/7 and Oakley became SO attached. He still HATES when we leave him (Daenerys is fine on her own but obviously still loves when we’re around). Which is why even now, we still love to go on quite a few adventures each year where the dogs can come along. Oakley is crazy and always makes us laugh but both dogs do surprisingly well on outdoor adventures and road-trips. Both, for the most part, both dogs are great on trails. They love hiking with us and they’re obsessed with water and love to swim, so thats usually what we look for in a trip when we want to take them somewhere.

Anyway, Over the last few years of traveling with them we have definitely learned a thing or two about what works and what certainly does not. So, here’s a few tips from your average dog mom who just loves her pups but is by no means an expert when it comes to training or traveling with your four-legged family members!

1. Pick a Dog-Friendly Destination

First things first, picking the right place to travel should be number one on your list. We typically only bring the pups along on our more outdoorys/adventurous trips (which, is like 90% of our travel but whatever). Be sure to do your research on a location before committing to bringing your dog there. We like to look at whether the hiking trails are dog-friendly, if there’s nearby dog parks, rivers or lakes, and dog friendly camping spots and beaches. I tend to do my research on and!

Here are a just few very dog friendly destinations we have visited so far and feel comfortable recommending to others!

  • Greater Palm Springs, California
  • Idyllwild Pine-Cove, California
  • San Diego, California
  • White Sands National Park, New Mexico
  • Parker, Arizona
  • Sedona, Arizona
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Denton, Texas
2. Prepare Accordingly for the Car Ride

When going on a road-trip with our pups, we usually cover the backseat with a dog seat cover. They still manage to get the car completely coated in hair though…recommendations on better covers greatly appreciated.. We also pack a bin in the trunk of our car with all their necessities, including a big galloon water jug so when we stop we can just pull out a bowl and give them a little to drink. Also, always be sure to take them to go potty before you leave! For longer road-trips, we like to make our stops in dog-friendly areas. A new favorite thing to do is plan our lunch stops near a dog park! We’ll usually pick-up a sandwich to go and then sit at a dog park or an open grass area and let the dogs get some energy out while we eat, it’s perfect.

3. Find the Right Place to Stay

We tend to prefer dog-friendly vacation rentals over hotels. The best locations are when you can find either a friendly neighborhood or secluded cabin, somewhere off the beaten path. Oakley does occasionally get vocal at night if he hears something he doesn’t like, so I worry about being in a hotel and disturbing people right next door to us. A lot of dog-friendly vacation rentals are usually in locations where there’s lots of understanding neighbors who have dogs of their own or they are off on their own, away from people! I would recommend thinking about how your dog reacts in unfamiliar situations to best book a place to stay! Look on VRBO for the best pet-friendly options!

4. Cook Your Own Meals

I personally hate taking my dogs to restaurants even if they are super dog friendly. I prefer to go the route of staying in a vacation rental and then cooking dinners. If you’re catching on, I like to cause the least amount of disturbances as possible when I bring my dogs places, and unfortunately, Oakley isn’t always the calmest and the quietest (yet). We like to focus on the fun of traveling being the outdoor adventures and then cut costs down and minimize our stress by cooking meals or picking up something to-go. Like I said before, they are GREAT outdoors and they like all people, making the hiking route the way to go for US. Again, I would recommend thinking about how YOUR dog reacts in unfamiliar situations and places before deciding what and where you want to eat while you’re traveling!

5. Get yourself these doggy adventure products!

Lastly, here’s a few links to some of the products we LOVE to bring for our dogs when we take them hiking and to the river!

Expandable Dog Bowls

We are obsessed with these water bowls. Anytime we hike with our dogs, we throw these little guys in our backpacks and we’re good to go. 

Dog Life Vests

We have two Labradors who are obsessed with water and swimming. Now you might be thinking, if they love to swim, why the vests? Well, we like to take them to the river with us often in the summers and they just swim nonstop all weekend. Sometimes I worry about them getting caught in a current or becoming overly tired and these vests provide them with a little extra security. Plus, they’re bright, making it easier to watch them. They also insist on being next to us if we’re hanging out in the water and try to cling onto us for support. These vests also give us a little peace from their hectic personalities.

Dog Tie Out Cable

This is the greatest camping hack if you have doggos! Find two trees or poles of some sort and tie the cable across the two tightly. Then, you clip on the other rope and attach to your dog and you have a long leash that never gets tangled and the dog has a bit more freedom to roam.

Scented Doggy Bags

I mean, no explanation needed… don’t be that person.

Wishing you all a fun filled year of adventuring with your pups! Hope these tips provided some helpful insight and inspiration for planning your next trip!

As always, travel on my friends.