I consider myself to be a seasoned traveler, as I’ve been enjoying the road and skies since before I can remember. Now that I’m older I have my own way of doing things, and I’ve created successful routines for traveling via car and airplane with my dog. I’m an expert at traveling alone with Wynston, and in the next couple of years I’d like to be living on the road full time. In the meantime, let’s discuss road tripping alone with your pup. Here are helpful tips for surviving a solo road trip with your dog.
Tips for Surviving a Solo Road Trip With Your Dog
Pack the necessities.
The most crucial step in ensuring a flawless solo road trip with your dog is being prepared. This means packing everything you need. So what do you need? Here I have a list of dog mom road trip essentials, complete with a checklist. With no one to help watch your dog, it’s not exactly easy to pop into the store and grab something you forgot on the way to your destination. I pack all of Wynston’s items in our Hilike Pet Travel Bag.
Create a dedicated space in the car for your dog.
It’s important that your dog has a safe, cozy spot in the car where they can relax and sleep. Every dog prefers something different for car rides. If your dog does best in a crate, make sure it’s set up in a place where your pup can see you and the outdoors. Make it into a safe haven, complete with blankets, toys, a bed and chews. Having a dedicated space for your dog will help with any potential anxiety or stress. Plus if your road trip is a long one, you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible.
You also want to avoid crowding your dog with luggage and “things,” which can create an overwhelming experience. We don’t want to be crowded, and neither do our dogs. Your pup will ultimately be happier and less stressed in their own uncluttered space.
Use positive reinforcement.
I’d absolutely recommend training your dog to like the car well before you head out on a road trip. It’d be a huge mistake to take your dog on 12 hour road trip if they aren’t a fan of the vehicle. Train them using positive reinforcement methods beforehand, and use treats during your trip to continue the training. I always bring high value treats on our travels for Wynston so it’s constantly a positive experience.
Allow them access to water at all times.
Keeping your dog (and yourself) hydrated on a road trip is important. There are several travel bowls you can get for the car, including my favorite Kurgo Gourd water bottle which has a detachable bowl.
Don’t ignore your dog’s need to go potty.
Not only do dogs get restless like we do, but they also need to go potty on a regular basis. Although it may seem like a pain to stop for potty breaks frequently, it’s necessary. On road trips I tend to stop every 2-3 hours for Wynston to do his business. Most rest stops have dog exercise areas with waste bags, and you can use the restroom there, also! Which brings me to my next point…
And you need to go potty also…
But you have your dog with you, which can pose a challenge. Have no fear. I have several suggestions.
- Stop at a pet retailer (Petco, Petsmart, Pet Planet, etc) to use the restroom. Typically they have public restrooms, and they are dog friendly! If you think you may be out in the middle of nowhere for a while and see a pet store from the road, stop to use the restroom. Planning ahead if always a good idea.
- Use a rest stop. Sure, rest stops say “no pets allowed” in the facilities, but when you gotta go, you gotta go! Rest stops are great for giving our dogs a chance to do their business, stretch their legs and play. Quite frankly I just bring Wynston into the bathroom with me. I doubt anyone will say anything. I have yet to have one of the workers tell me I can’t take Wynston in with me. I can’t condone breaking rules, but nature calls!
- Look for tourist stations. Depending on where you are driving, you may come across tourist stops or ranger stations. They may have restrooms that you can use with your dog in tow (or be able to point you in the right direction).
- Stop at a veterinarian office. A majority of vets have public restrooms, as most cities have vets! I’m sure the staff won’t mind if you find yourself stopping with your dog to use their facilities.
- Visit a large, pet friendly retailer. SO many big box stores are dog-friendly nowadays, and most of them have public restrooms! Examples are Lowes, Home Depot, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby. You’re bound to see at least one of these during your travels.
Pack a cooler and snacks.
I’ve found that on road trips with Wynston I stop frequently to allow him potty breaks. Because of this, I don’t like making extra stops for food. I like to pack a cooler with plenty of ice and drinks, as well as a bag of snacks. I always have a drink or something to snack on if I need/want it.
Check the forecast. You’ll want to be prepared for rain, snow or intense weather conditions. Like anything, if you’re prepared things will go smoothly!
I find road trips alone with Wynston to be incredibly enjoyable. I take my time, relax and enjoy the ride. I like to go on trips with minimal plans and expectations. I prefer to fly (or drive) by the seat of my pants 😉
Have you ever taken a road trip alone with your dog? What challenges have you faced?