Before Your Trip
Visit your veterinarian
If you’re going away for more than a weekend, you’ll want to make a vet appointment and get a checkup for your dog before you hit the road. Refill any prescriptions and stock up on any special medications your dog needs, including basics like flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medication. You can also ask your vet about anti-anxiety medication if your dog gets a little uneasy in the car from time to time.
Update your dog’s identification
Up-to-date wearable identification is an absolute must-have when traveling with any pet. At a minimum, make sure your dog’s ID tag has the correct contact information and that it’s securely attached to a wearable dog collar. Take it a step further and get your dog microchipped if they’re not already. And for the most peace of mind, purchase a tracking device your dog can wear at all times so that if they get lost, they get found quickly.
It’s best not to spring anything new on your dog at the last minute or while you’re out somewhere new. That’s why training with the exact collar, leash, outerwear, food, toys, and carriers at home before you leave is so key. Start a few weeks before you leave and be as consistent as you can at practicing getting in and out of the car, going for short rides together, visiting dog parks and rest stop locations, and hitting some mild hiking trails together. Dogs love routine, and the more you can make things feel familiar, the more settled they can be.
Planning Your Trip
Make sure your dog is welcome where you plan to stop
We think dogs should be allowed everywhere in the world, but sadly, that’s not always the case. So do your homework on whether your planned stops are dog- and pet-friendly. Check out regulations for state parks, national parks, campgrounds, and any private land you plan to visit. Find out if you can take your dog on the trails you plan to tackle and whether they can handle the level of difficulty.
Know where local vets and emergency pet hospitals are located
Hopefully you never have to use this information, but it’s critical to have on hand. Research local vets and emergency hospitals within driving distance of your main stops so that if your dog needs last-minute care, you already know where to go. It’s also a good idea to write down the number to a pet poison control service in case your dog gets into something that’s potentially poisonous. We use the ASPCA’s hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Don’t forget to pack all your dog’s favorites
You love having all your favorites with you, and so will your dog. Set aside their own travel bag and pack their toys, bedding, first aid, harness, collar, leash, food, treats, dishes, doggie poop bag, grooming brushes, and cleanup supplies. If you’re headed for cooler weather, throw in a jacket, booties, or a cute little shirt to keep your dog warm. Take a look at some of our other pet (and pet lover) favorites here.
While You’re Adventuring
Keep your dog safe
Water, water, water. Always have more than enough water for your dog on hand. Collapsible water bowls are easy to throw in a bag and take on the trail. When you’re camping, an extra water dish to keep outside will come in handy. If you notice your dog panting heavily, get them to a shady area, re-hydrafted, and rested before you’re on to the next activity.
If you’re headed out in a boat, raft, kayak, or canoe, your dog should wear a life jacket that’s appropriate for their size. And if you’re going on a particularly rugged trail, consider booties for your dog’s feet or wear your dog in a pet backpack.
And this one might feel obvious, but we’ll say it anyway: never leave your dog alone. Even if they’re outdoors in temperate weather, your dog is safest when you’re nearby and watching. You never know what wildlife, weather changes, or unforeseen circumstances will pop up.
Keep everyone else safe
A good rule to remember is when others are around, your dog should be leashed. That means when you’re around groups of people and children, other animals, or moving vehicles, your dog’s collar and leash should be secure and in hand. Trust us, you’ll have plenty of moments for your best friend to run free.
At the campsite, you should keep your dog’s food inside your camper/RV or in a sealed container (bear safe, depending on where you’re camping). You never want to be the person who attracts dangerous wildlife to camp, all because of a dog bowl.
Airstreaming and camping with dogs is so much fun, and we hope these tips have gotten you inspired to road trip with your dog and make memories together. Share photos from your trip and be sure to tag us; we can’t get enough dog pics!
Check out our gift guide to pet-friendly products and things to make traveling with your furry friends easier and more fun.