15 Tips For Planning A Successful Road Trip

Written by Etta Grue | October 19th, 2017

There's nothing quite like being miles away from home exploring other places and creating new memories with loved ones. Taking a cross country or even just a half-way cross country road trip in the United States with your spouse or best friend is a fantastic way learning about each state and its differences. It's also a perfect way to bring all family members including your furry friends. Planning a vacation is always fun, but planning for a road trip including several places to visit may seem a bit overwhelming. That being said, it's important to be fully prepared before you hit the road. Here are 15 tips for planning a successful road trip with pets.

1. Get service on your vehicle


Before even leaving your hometown, make sure bringing your vehicle in to your car dealer to get a full service and an oil change. Although, your car has been fully checked, things may still happen and therefore it's vital you've necessary phone numbers by hand for quick help. You should also make sure you've a spare tire in your trunk. The better prepared you are, the better your car will perform on the road.

2. Get your dogs checked by your veterinarian 

It's good to have your dog checked for an annual examination to make sure he or she is up to date on all shots. Make sure doing your own research about different states as they have various diseases that you don't have where you live.  Always consult with your veterinarian. 

3. Make a Budget

While being on vacation, it's tempting to splurge yourself with the money you've saved up for the trip. It's important to understand that things will get more expensive than you can even imagine. A road trip often brings unexpected costs that you can't predict. Write a budget with daily spending goals and stick to it. It's better to start easy and then if there are money left over, you may be able to spend a few extra nights in a city you really liked or add another stop in a state you've never visited before.

4. Research. Research. Research

The more research you've done beforehand the better. Depending on how many days you're planning to travel, your budget, and how much you want to see, you may only be able to stay 1-2 nights in each place you visit. It's highly recommended to do research what you want to see and do in each place and how far it is to your next stop. Be realistic, you will get tired from all the driving. 

5. Pre-book pet-friendly accommondations

A road trip with your furry friend is a wonderful adventure and you want to make sure that you don't have to deal with overbooked hotels. Pre-booking hotel nights that accept dogs is highly recommended as well as following up with a phone call to the hotel. Some hotels may miss your request for pet rooms. Also look up different pricing hotels and motels charge for your pet. It varies from $0-125/stay.

6. Make Check points

It's important to have at least a few check points for your trip otherwise it's easy to get carried away and then lacking the time to see the fun and "must-see" things along the road. Planning is the key to a successful road trip, however, keeping an open mind for things that you discover along the road are usually the best memories you will keep for a lifetime. Set some goals and stick to it, but be open to occasional spontaneity! Many times you will talk to locals and they will recommend things to see in their hometown. 

7. Choose a dog vehicle seat belt

Find a good brand for a car seat belt for your dog through consumer reports online. There are also several YouTube videos about dog vehicle seat belts that may be good to watch before choosing the one that is best for your family. It will not only keep your dog safe, but also prevent you from driver distraction. It's good to getting your dog used to it before going on a road trip and therefore it's a good idea to gradually use it on your dog for shorter rides before driving across the country. If your dog is nervous of riding in a car, ASPCA has great advice on their website.

8. Bring a variety of snacks 

Snacks are a must while in the car not only for your hunger, but keeping you awake behind the wheels. Being on the road and sitting still for several hours per day require healthy snack alternatives. Baby carrots are crispy and will last you a long time. Also Cliff bars are other alternatives to keep the hunger away. Visit your local super market before getting on the road and you're good to go and it'll prevent you from buying chocolate bars at gas stations while making stops. Don't forget to bring fido a snack too!

9. Download podcasts

When you spend hours on the road every day, you'll not want to listen to the radio or Spotify all the time. Podcasts not only make the time fly, but also make your road trip interesting. Download several podcasts so you don't have to deal with it while driving when the wifi is weak. Also remember that dogs have very sensitive ears therefore adjust the sound accordingly.

10. Walk your dog while you fill up with gas

Sitting in the same position in your vehicle will make your body stiff. The same will happen to your dog. A good idea is to take a short walk and stretching out every muscle in your body every time you fill up your car with gas. Your dog will thank you for having the opportunity to checking out new environments several times a day, but be aware of that around many gas stations there are lots of dirt and garbage so watch out for your dog. 

11. Pack a bag for your dog

Packing a separate bag for your dog and another for yourself will make it easier to find things. There's no need to bring the entire bag of food for your dog. Instead, a great idea is to fill up new and empty poop bags with daily portions of your dog's food and then be using them as poop bags on their walks. Make sure to bring other things like a brush, shampoo, more treats, favorite toys, chew bones, flea prevention, tick remover, medications, blanket, water bowl, food bowl, wee wee pads, and more. 

12. Update your dog's ID tag

Make sure your dog's ID tag is up to date with your important information in case your pet will get lost. If you're visiting a friend on your road trip, you can add your friend's number on the temporary ID tag. 

13. Micro-ship your dog

Micro-shipping your dog is one of the most important things. If your dog is lost without being micro-shipped, it will be almost impossible to find your dog again. A micro-shipped dog gives you as a pet parent an extra level of security in case the collar or harness slips off.

14. Routines will make your dog more comfortable

The more routines you are able to keep with your dog the more comfortable your dog will be. Of course, you won't be able to keep the exact same routines as you do at home, but at least try to stick with some of them such as starting your days with a long nice walk together and feed your dog at the same time every morning and at the same spot in the hotel room. Dogs have a good way of getting used to new environments and they are happiest when they are around their pet parents, however, some anxiety may be present.

15. Planning for tourist attractions

If you're planning to visit any tourist attractions, go hiking where it's not pet friendly, or any other activities where dogs are not allowed, make sure to find a good dog daycare or a local petsitter. Depending how long you're planning to be away for the day, your dog may also be OK at the hotel room, just make sure to let staff at the hotel know about it. 

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