Getting ready for an hour road trip is much different than preparing for a long road trip with your dog. When I say “long” road trip, I mean 6+ hours. In this post I share the ways I ready myself and Wynston for such adventures, and many of these tips can be used for any road trip, despite length. I go through a process to make sure that Wynston and I are prepared for extensive road trips, especially when I know we’ll be in the car for almost 12 hours. I hope this post is helpful for you. Safe and happy travels!
How to Prepare for a Long Road Trip With Your Dog
Make a Checklist in Advance
It’s so important to make a checklist of items you’ll need for your travels. Your list should contain necessities that you’ll need for the car ride itself, and things you will need at your destination. I highly suggest creating the list several days in advance. Sometimes you need a few days to really think about everything you will need. I like making my list at least four days before we leave so I don’t have the chance to forget anything. I have a checklist below to get you started:
Get Your Car Ready
Safety on the road should always be priority. I like to make sure my car is in tip top shape before I head out on any road trip, no matter the length. Things you’ll want to check are tire pressure and oil levels. When’s the last time you had an oil change or filled your tires? These are items you’ll want to consider before hitting the road. It’s also nice to get a car wash before leaving so you can be nice and comfortable in your ride. If you have a spare tire in your car, make sure it’s ready to go in case of an emergency. You will also want to have your insurance info and roadside assistance information available.
Get Your Pooch Ready
Obviously your dog needs to be healthy and in good condition to travel before you take a trip. I like to get Wynston’s nails trimmed and give him a bath before we travel. I also pack vaccination or health records when we go anywhere, just to be safe. Plus, you never know when you’ll need that info. (Remember when Wynston broke his foot when we were on a trip? Yikes).
- Nail trim
- Bath (we always use 4-Legger shampoo)
- Gather vaccination records.
- Create a list of emergency vets nearby your destination.
- Remember to pack your dog’s medication, if any.
- If you aren’t sure if your dog is healthy enough to travel, seek veterinary advice.
Map Out Your Route
I have a thing for paper maps. Growing up, my family used to go on road trips a lot, and my dad taught my sister and I how to read a map at an early age. When Wynston and I travel, I map out our route ahead of time. I check it out a few times on Google maps, then I review it on a paper map. I look into alternate routes just in case, then I take notes as necessary. I want to be absolutely sure I know where I’m going, assuming I have a specific destination in mind.
Check the Forecast
I’m obsessed with checking the weather forecast. This is something my parents also taught me to do at a young age since we traveled a lot. Check the forecast, and often. You want to be prepared for any type of change in the weather. I always bring an umbrella with me wherever I go, and I want to be all set with proper clothing for myself and Wynston. If you can expect rain on your drive, be sure you have working windshield wipers on your vehicle.
Create a Music Playlist
I’ll tell ya what – 13 hours in the car is a long time. You will want to create a fantastic playlist or two for your road trip. If your dog gets nervous in the car consider making a classical music playlist to help keep them calm (although I don’t suggest a long road trip with an overly anxious dog, unless it’s necessary). Another idea is to pick up a few audio books. They can help pass the time quickly.
Plan to Pack Snacks
I always pack snacks and plenty of water when Wynston and I travel. I bring dog-friendly snacks that I can share with Wynston. I also make sure what I bring isn’t too messy. Bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog as well as any other delicious drinks you enjoy.
Know Your Dog’s Limits
If your dog is not accustomed to riding in the car, I would not recommend driving 6+ hours with them without some practice. Be sure that your pup doesn’t get car sick or super stressed out in the car. A sick, anxious dog on a road trip is no fun for anyone. Here are some tips on how to help your anxious dog.
I stop every 2-3 hours with Wynston on road trips so we can stretch our legs and he can go potty. I can always tell when he needs a break from the car, so I stop accordingly. It’s important to know your dog and their limits.
If you’re driving alone with your dog (which is what I most often do), refer to this helpful post on how to survive a solo road trip with your dog. It includes tips on taking restroom breaks and such.
What is the longest road trip you’ve ever been on with your dog? How do you prepare for it?