Hitting the Road: Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

March 15, 2024 Written by: Aiden Doane

Written By: Hanna Holcomb


Lindsey Hutslar and her four dogs (three huskies and a golden retriever) love to travel together. They’ve traveled thousands of miles on two cross country road trips and have enjoyed countless views and adventures.  

“I like getting to see the beauty that’s out there with my best friends at my side,” she said. “I like that they get to see and experience new things too, it makes it a lot more fun.”

Thousands of people take cross country road trips every year, but perhaps doing it with a dog, or four, sounds a bit overwhelming. Luckily, Lindsey has lots of tips and tricks to help everyone travel comfortably and safely with their four-legged friends.


Making a Plan

For Lindsey, every trip begins with a plan, and step one is deciding where to go. Using maps and online resources, Lindsey chooses locations that both she and the dogs will enjoy. The website Go Pet Friendly shares inspiration for and information on pet friendly activities across the US, including in cities and National Parks. For a National Parks-focused road trip, the National Park Service’s website and National Park Paws are great resources to learn where dogs can and can’t go. While many National Parks restrict dogs to paved areas, the Parks are often surrounded by National Forests where dog-related rules are more relaxed. National Forests can be a great alternative to National Parks if you’re looking to experience an area’s beauty while roaming further into the backcountry with dogs. 

After choosing her destinations, Lindsey finds places to stay, which can be challenging with 4 furry dogs. Many hotels have pet friendly options, but often have a 2 dog limit per room. Lindsey has learned that AirBnB’s are often more flexible and provide the most choices for traveling with multiple dogs. Campgrounds can also be a good option for pet-friendly overnight accommodations.

With lodging booked, Lindsey turns her focus to safety. For every destination, she finds the closest veterinarian and the closest 24 hour emergency veterinarian. “That way if something happens I already know where we are going,” she said.  

Additionally, she creates a “safety binder,” with all of the information needed for just-in-case scenarios. She includes the dogs’ veterinary information, behavior information and emergency contacts. She writes out care information in case something were to happen to her and the dogs needed to be boarded as well as a statement saying that if they are in an accident and the dogs need care, she’ll cover the costs.

Hitting the Road

Lindsey’s dogs are comfortable riding in the car, but not all dogs are happy passengers. When introducing a young dog to car rides or helping an older dog overcome negative associations, going slow and providing lots of positive reinforcement can help. Treats, belly rubs, new toys and fun destinations (not just rides to the vet) can help a dog create positive associations with riding in the car. Prior to a car ride, dogs should also be introduced to safety restraints like crash-tested crates or harnesses to help keep them calm and comfortable when on the road.  

While driving cross country, Lindsey makes frequent stops to let the dogs use the bathroom, drink some water, and run around a bit. Every 2 hours or so, she looks for a rest area that feels safe, is well lit and has a nice area of grass.

“I try to be selective about where I let the dogs go potty,” she said. “Like if it’s somewhere that the grass at the gas station is right next to a highway, I won’t stop because that’s just too much room for error.”

Exploring New Places

Lindsey and her pups strive to be good ambassadors for all traveling dogs by learning and following local rules. She’s sure to keep her dogs under control to avoid disturbing wildlife and other visitors and carries enough gear to keep everyone safe.

“We always have our Rex Specs eye protection because my guys are face first into everything,” she said.

She also brings extra water with collapsible bowls for the dogs, bags for waste, and a slip lead in case a leash breaks. In addition, Lindsey carries a first aid kit with things like gauze, wrap and common medications and an emergency rescue sling in case one of the dogs gets injured.

“I try to over prepare,” she explained. “If something happens, especially with having multiple dogs, I need to have a gameplan to get us all out safely.”

She brings her good ambassador ethos into their overnight accommodations. Wherever they’re staying, she brings in some old blankets for the dogs to lay on. She even has a hand held vacuum for cleaning up as much dog hair as possible.

 “I don’t want to be the reason somebody else can’t stay there with their dogs,” she said.

Feeling ready to hit the road? Here are our favorite travel tips:

  • Preparation is Key - Start with small road trips and share lots of treats to help your dog feel comfortable in a car.
  • Have a Plan - Know your destinations and where you can find safe rest areas. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency vet clinics too.
  • Safety First - Make sure your dog is safe and secure on the road with a crash-tested kennel or harness and seat belt.
  • Pack the Essentials - Bring your dog’s updated ID tags, medical information, plenty of food, water, and treats, any necessary adventure gear, and a first aid kit. 
  • Be a Good Ambassador - Learn and follow local leash laws and pick up your dog’s waste.
  • Have Fun!!

With just a bit of planning and preparation, you and your pup will be on your way to enjoying new destinations together. Whether you take a month-long cross country trip, or spend one night a bit away from home, your adventure will be made better with your dog by your side. 

Keep up with Lindsey and her pack's travels on Instagram and TikTok!

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