By Elena Sipe
You’ve packed, you’ve planned, the big moment is finally approaching: the day you leave for your trip. You’ve gotten your things together, but what about your dog?
If it’s your first time traveling with your dog, I have some good news! You don’t need to bring a ton of special travel things.
All you need are the things you and your dog use on a regular basis at home—a leash is a good starting point (plus an extra in case of breakage), plus a couple travel-specific items whose presence will make your lives a whole lot easier.
Carrier – This is the Swiss Army knife of dog traveling. Whether you’re flying or traveling by car, you’ll want a carrier that your dog is comfortable being in for long periods of time.
If you’re flying with your dog in-cabin, it goes under your seat. If you’re in the car, put the seat belt or pet-specific restraint around it for an instant boost in car safety. When you get to your destination, it’s your dog’s familiar bed.
Plus, if your carrier has pockets, this is a great place to store smaller dog accessories. Think of it as your dog’s suitcase and their bed!
Collapsible bowls – These often come with a carabiner clip and collapse flat for easy storage. This means you can attach them to a leash, put them in a small pocket, and hang them off a bag to dry. Use a permanent marker to mark the amount of food you normally feed your dog on the bowl before you travel, which eliminates the need to bring a measuring cup.
Poop bags and holder – When you’re rushing around trying to pack, you’re bound to forget things. I prefer to dummy-proof this process by having a poop bag and holder attached to the leash. You can’t forget something that’s attached!
It’s a good idea to bring an extra roll or two of bags (shove them in the nooks and crannies of your luggage) so you don’t run out.
Toys – Bring a chew or activity toy to keep your dog busy while you’re in transit. They take little to no room in your luggage, and even if your dog can destroy the toughest Kong on the market, they’re also readily available at pet stores, so you can replenish along the way!
Depending on your dog’s affinity for stuffies or fetch toys, you may be able to get away with just one or two. Bring only their favorites. If your dog likes stuffed toys but not fetch, just bring a stuffed toy. If they like both, bring both. A toy is nice because it is something that’s familiar to your dog and it gives them something to cuddle or burn off some energy.
Mess kit – Poop happens. So do other messes. Make sure you pack wipes, towels, pee pads, and cleaners to clean them up so you can easily move on to the fun parts of your trip!
Vaccination papers, health certificates, and ID tags – It’s always a good idea to have a copy of your dog’s vaccinations, your vet’s contact info, and an emergency vet at your destination (it may even be a legal requirement to travel through some states). Depending on where you’re going, you may need a vet-issued health certificate. It’s a good idea to keep a digital copy of all this, along with a copy on you and in your dog’s carrier if applicable.
Make sure your dog’s ID tags are current; it’s a good idea to get one for your dog’s carrier as well. If traveling internationally, include an email address and Skype or Google Voice number where you can be reached.
First aid kit – This doesn’t have to be extensive, but should include basic wound treatments, antibacterial cream, tweezers or a tick key, flea preventatives, generic tablets of benadryl for bee stings, and any medications (and prescriptions, if you anticipate needing refills) that your dog needs. If your dog needs a special shampoo or other skin treatment, this is a good place to put it.
Waterproof bag for dog food and treats – Bring along as much of your dog’s food as makes sense. At a minimum, this should be a day’s worth, as it allows you some time to locate dog food at your destination. Putting it in a waterproof, reusable bag helps keep it fresh.
That’s about it!
As you can see, you really don’t need to bring much more for traveling with your dog than what you normally use at home. If you can, take a couple of short trips with your dog before going on longer adventures; you’ll get hands-on experience to learn what you really need to bring with you, and what is just taking up room in your bag. Refine as you go, and remember that you can always replenish at a pet store if needed!
Elena is an adventure-seeker, world traveler, foodie, and all-around nerd person that is rarely seen without her rescue dog, Alfie, by her side. When not hiking or spending time near water, Elena can be found eating, cuddling with Alfie, enjoying nerdy books, and learning, which her and Alfie both love though only one of them gets treats for it.