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Romingo’s One Stop Guide to Mastering Dog-Friendly Travel

dog friendly travel

Your dog is more than a pet. They’re your best friend! Why leave your BFF at home when you’re living it up and traveling the world? With a little planning and preparation, you can take your dog along on all of your adventures. You’ve come to the right place because we’re reinventing dog-friendly travel!

Whether it’s your first time planning a dog-friendly vacation or you want to master the art of traveling as a pet parent, this definitive guide to dog-friendly travel is a trustworthy compendium for planning your next adventure. 

This guide is a helpful resource, but if you ever need expert help planning your adventure, get in touch with Romingo!

 

How to prepare your dog for travel

While you’ve got the itch to travel, it’s important to remember that your pup probably isn’t as accustomed to a jet-setting lifestyle. A little preparation can reduce your dog’s stress, make it easier for you to travel, and even enable the two of you to go on more adventures together.

 

Take short car trips together

dog friendly travel

Car travel is easily the most convenient way to travel with your dog, but if you’re going to a destination that’s a 12-hour drive away, you’ve got to prep Fido ahead of time. 

Start by driving your dog to a park that’s 15 – 20 minutes away. Positive reinforcement helps your dog feel less anxious every time they get in the car, so be sure to load up on a few treats and plenty of snuggles. As they get used to the car, you can go on longer trips with your pup.

 

Perfect your crate training

If you’re new to crate training, you can start by acclimating your dog to the crate. This means sitting next to the crate, petting your dog, and giving them a few treats. You want to make the crate feel like a safe, positive space, so interact with your dog near the crate multiple times a day.

From there, feed your dog in the crate. Push the dish towards the back of the crate and lock it while they eat. Leave the door closed for 10 minutes at first, and then a little longer each time.

If your dog does just fine with crate training, you can start crating them when you leave the room. Keep it short, around 10-15 minutes at first, and then you can work your way up. Please don’t leave your dog for hours at a time (2 – 4 hours maximum for puppies or senior dogs), and they should never be crated all day. 

 

Socialize your dog around new people and dogs

dog friendly travel

Your dog loves you to bits, but are they anxious around strangers and other dogs? Socialize your dog with new people and dogs, whether that’s at: 

  • Farmer’s markets
  • Puppy classes or training
  • Doggy daycare
  • Dog parks
  • Family events

 

Visit your vet

A quick trip to the vet can answer a lot of questions unique to your dog’s health, anxieties, and specific issues for their breed (e.g. flying with a pug). 

If you’re traveling by air—and especially if you’re going to an international destination—you’ll need to get paperwork from your vet before you travel, anyway. But even if you aren’t there for the paperwork, it’s good to talk to your vet for travel tips. You can’t put a price on peace of mind!


Dog travel packing list

You’ve packed your own bags, but what about your dog’s? Your best friend is coming along for the journey, so make sure you pack these items to keep your dog safe, healthy, and happy during your travels. 

  • 2 leashes
  • Collar with up-to-date contact information
  • Blanket or bed
  • Extra food
  • Water 
  • Wet wipes
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Medication
  • Brushes
  • Waste bags and pooper scooper
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Vaccination records
  • Flashlight
  • Travel crate
  • Motion sickness medication, if prescribed by your vet
  • Dog shampoo
  • 2 old towels
  • Carpet shampoo for accidents
  • Laundry bag
  • Brush and other grooming supplies
  • Seat covers, if driving
  • Seat belt or safety harness, if driving

Where to go? How to choose a dog-friendly destination 

 
 
 
 
 
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Are you dreaming of a warm California getaway with your dog? Or maybe the snowy peaks of Switzerland are calling your name? 

Everyone’s travel dreams are different, so it’s wise to choose where you want to go based on a) how dog-friendly a destination is and b) what kind of vacation you want. 

Here’s what you should look for when planning a dog-friendly location:

 

Dog parks

Quantity is important, but the quality of a dog park matters, too. Check out Google reviews, Yelp, and online photos of the park to determine: 

  • Whether the park is on-leash only or if there are designated off-leash areas
  • If it has special areas for small dogs or senior dogs
  • If it includes fun obstacles, water fountains, and other features your dog will love

 

Dog-friendly restaurants

A good rule of thumb is to look for restaurants with a patio or with al fresco seating. 

Unfortunately, some restaurants don’t allow pups on the patio, so the best thing you can do is call the restaurant ahead of time. A quick scan of their website, reviews, and social media will also give you an idea of how dog-friendly they are.

 

Dog-friendly shopping 

While your dog is pretty much always welcome at dog boutiques, pet shops, and farmer’s markets, other areas aren’t as clear. 

Grocery stores rarely allow non-ADA dogs inside for sanitary reasons. You can always have groceries delivered to your hotel room if you really need ingredients to make dinner!

Generally speaking, outdoor shopping malls or strip malls allow dogs outside. If you have a small dog, the stores will usually allow you to carry the dog around the store. Larger dogs usually aren’t welcome inside stores, so you’ll likely have more success if you go to small local businesses instead of retail chains. 

 

Natural areas and potty breaks

Unless your dog is trained to use the shower or toilet, you’ll need to book a destination with a few patches of grass for your dog to go potty. 

You should also look for nearby natural areas like city parks, trails, or national parks that allow dogs. Many of these areas welcome dogs, but it’s important to check local leash and muzzle laws before you go. 

 

Tips for traveling internationally with a dog

Want to travel beyond US borders? It’s possible, but it’s a good idea to choose your destination carefully. 

We recommend: 

  • Visiting a dog-friendly country: Europe is a good bet in general, but there are many dog-friendly countries that will welcome your pooch with open arms.
  • Knowing the documentation requirements: Every destination has different vaccination, microchipping, and documentation requirements. 
  • Choosing pet-friendly airlines or airports: Obviously, the airline and airport you choose will depend on where you’re going. But if you have the option, try to go for dog-friendly providers with low pet fees.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to visit an international destination by yourself and then return with your dog after you get a feel for the culture. There are a lot of things to consider when traveling internationally with a dog, so check out the US State Department’s guide to plan your globe-trotting adventure.


How to book a dog-friendly hotel

Hotels change their pet policies over time, but there are a few things you can do to find the most dog-friendly options at your destination. 

 

  • Find their official pet policy: Size and breed restrictions—as well as expensive pet fees—are common even if a hotel promotes itself as dog-friendly. The easiest way to find a hotel’s online policy is to search on their website for “dog” or “pet” or to search on Google for “hotel name + dog policy.
  • Call to confirm everything: We recommend calling to confirm the hotel’s pet policy before you book anything. If you booked your hotel several months in advance, check in with them 2 weeks or so before you leave. 
  • Check their amenities: When it comes to dog-friendly lodging, you shouldn’t settle. Check for options like dog meals, relief areas, beds, bowls, and water stations. Some dog-friendly hotels will even offer services like dog sitting, dog walking, grooming, and boarding. 
  • Assess if your dog will be comfortable there: Look for must-haves that will keep your dog comfortable and safe while you’re relaxing at the hotel. This includes fenced-in pools, green space, a dog run, dog-friendly meals, and hardwood or tile floors.
  • Read customer reviews: You can’t always trust what a hotel says about itself online. They might sound like the cat’s meow, but when you show up, the “expansive lawn” they promised is just a 10 X 10 patch of AstroTurf. Check for customer reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and travel sites like Expedia. 

 

When in doubt, check Romingo

You could do a ton of research to see if a hotel is actually dog-friendly, or Romingo could do all of the work for you. Romingo connects pet parents who’ve been bitten by the travel bug to find hotels, restaurants, and venues that are actually dog-friendly. 

All Romingo-approved hotels fit our high standards, including Romingo’s guarantee: 

  • No pet fees
  • Dogs up to 75 pounds
  • Up to 2 dogs per reservation
  • The hotel provides bowls, treats, and dog beds

Check out the Romingo Score for a holistic measure of an accommodation’s pet-friendliness!

When you’re seeing the world with your dog, give your business to a hotel that treats you and your dog with the same respect. If you aren’t sure about a hotel, check Romingo before you book!


Fun things to do with your dog on vacation

You’ve decided to go on an adventure with your pup—so what do you feel like doing? 

Generally speaking, non-ADA dogs aren’t allowed at historical sites, museums, theaters, or supermarkets. While every destination is different, you should try to plan a travel itinerary that’s as dog-friendly as possible. Our Romingo blog will give you great information on dog-friendly spots to check out in different cities!

Not sure what activities are dog-friendly? Check out our recommendations!

 

Parks

dog park

Whether you want to walk the trails, enjoy a picnic with your pooch, or toss a frisbee around, parks give you the freedom to enjoy the great outdoors without a lot of gear.

If you’re planning a trip to the park with your dog, make sure you pack: 

  • Water, food, snacks, and bowls
  • A leash and collar with ID tags
  • Your fully-charged phone
  • Waste bags
  • An air horn or water gun to break up fights
  • A picnic blanket
  • Outside toys like frisbees and balls

Before you go, you should check the park’s local leash laws. Since some parks are only open seasonally, you should also check the park’s hours.

 

Camping and hiking

dog camping

Many national parks allow camping and hiking with your dog, so this option is great for exploring the wilderness together. Roast s’mores by the fire, cuddle with your dog under the stars, or explore miles of trails together. 

If you’re camping or hiking with your dog, you’ll need your typical human supplies, plus: 

  • Food, water, snacks, and bowls. 
  • GPS collar. 
  • First aid kit. 
  • Dog booties. 
  • Towels. 
  • Coat or cooling jacket, depending on the weather.
  • Life vest.
  • Travel-friendly toys. 
  • Waste bags.

Camping and hiking are dog-friendly, but as always, you should make sure the area allows dogs. You should also know the leash laws for this particular campground, as well as trail etiquette (like yielding to bikes or horses). 

 

Restaurants and cafes

dog friendly cafe

Thanks to the pandemic, more people own dogs and want to see the world with them, so it makes sense for restaurants to cater to pet parents. That means more restaurants are opening up al fresco dining and dog-friendly patios—which is good news for you and your pooch!

It’s usually a good bet to check out breweries, which are both dog-friendly and a great way to hang out with the locals. Some breweries even have a menu just for dogs!

If you bring your dog along for a meal, be sure to bring: 

  • Their collar and leash
  • Waste bags
  • Food and water bowl (don’t let your dog eat off your plate or your fingers)
  • Dog food, if the restaurant doesn’t serve dog meals

We recommend taking your dog to the park and letting the zoomies out before you grab a bite to eat—the less squirming during a meal, the better

 

Beaches

dog beach

At the beach, you and your dog can cool down with a swim, roll in the sand, play fetch in the water, surf, and nap in the sun. To make the most of your beach trip together, be sure to bring: 

  • Food and water bowls
  • Bottled water
  • Dog food and treats
  • Towels
  • Beach umbrella
  • Dog sunscreen
  • Dog life vest
  • Buoyant dog toys for the water
  • Dog booties or goggles
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof GPS collar

The biggest disadvantage to a beach vacay with your dog is the safety hazards. Try to avoid large crowds and always keep an eye on your dog. Crabs, jellyfish, and other sea creatures can hurt your dog if they get too close. 

Always put a life vest on your dog if they’re in the water, too. It might seem over the top, but the ocean can be dangerous and unpredictable.

 

Pet parent meetups

Breed-specific meetups are a popular way for pet parents to connect with locals while they’re traveling the world. 

You can search for local dog meetups at: 

  • Meetup.com
  • Facebook Groups
  • Pet boutiques or pet stores

When you go to a special meetup with your dog, it’s a good idea to bring: 

  • A whistle or water gun to break up fights
  • Leash and collar
  • Bowls, food, and snacks
  • Toys
  • Waste bags
  • Towels or dog blankets

Make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and be alert and attentive when your pup is meeting new dogs and people.

 

What if you need a pet-sitter? 

Maybe you planned for a dog-sitter because you want to do a few solo activities. Or maybe a venue suddenly changed its dog policy and—surprise!—you need a dog-sitter ASAP. 

So, how do you find a pet-sitter while you’re traveling? We recommend: 

  • Asking your local vet: If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll likely need to visit a vet to sign your departure papers, anyway. Some vets offer boarding services, and since your dog will be more familiar with this vet anyway, they could be a good option.
  • Asking the hotel concierge: Ask your hotel’s concierge service if they know of any trusted local dog-sitters. If you booked a dog-friendly hotel, the hotel might even offer free or low-cost dog-sitting.
  • Signing up for Rover.com: Consult Rover to find highly rated pet-sitters in your area for boarding, house sitting, drop-ins, daycare, or walking.
  • Checking into a doggy motel: Some cities have dog hotels with more amenities than a boarding facility. This is a better option if you need someone to supervise your dog for at least 24 hours. 
  • Paying for doggy daycare: Some Petsmart locations offer single-day passes for daycare, but call before you go to make sure it’s available. 

No matter who you hire, every service will ask for your dog’s medical records and vaccinations. This is why it’s so important to bring your dog’s records with you when you travel, even if you don’t plan on hiring a sitter. 


How to keep your dog healthy and safe while traveling

dog health

Even if your dog is young and healthy, they can become sick or injured while you’re traveling. Instead of panicking, you can keep your dog healthy and safe with a little bit of planning.

 

How to prepare for a safe trip

Life happens even when you’re on vacation. What will you do if your dog is sick or injured while you’re traveling? Here’s our advice: 

  • Get pet insurance: Do you really want to be on the hook for a $1,500 emergency vet bill? If you don’t already have a policy, consider buying pet insurance before you travel with Fido. Most policies will cover injuries, surgery, diagnostic tests, and some emergency room fees. 
  • Find local vets: Once you know where you’re staying, look for a local 24-hour vet hospital. Save the address to your phone and add it to your favorites in Google Maps or Apple Maps. The closer and more accessible it is, the better.
  • Bring your dog’s medical records and supplies: Always bring your dog’s medical records and vaccination information when you travel (we recommend having a digital copy). If your dog needs medication, be sure to pack them in your carry-on and not your checked luggage.

 

Know how to manage dog stress

The calmest dog in the world can still become stressed out during a vacation. Dogs are just like people: new situations, places, and foods can stress them out. The best thing you can do is learn how to manage your dog’s stress when you travel. 

  • Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement like treats, praise, and snuggles tell your dog that everything is okay. If they’re overwhelmed by a new experience, reward them for their bravery. 

  • Try calming supplements

Calming medication or supplements can soothe your dog during travel. Make sure you buy supplements designed specifically for treating dogs’ stress, though. 

CBD is a popular option for not only minimizing stress but also for managing aches and pains. Whatever you decide to give your dog, please consult your vet first. The last thing you want to do is make your dog sick!

  • Spray dog pheromones

They might not smell like much to you, but a bottle of dog pheromones has the power to soothe your dog almost instantly. A few spritzes on their dog bed or favorite blanket can make travel a breeze for a stressed-out pooch. 

  • Get a Thundershirt

This calming weighted jacket is like a portable hug for your dog. If you’re out and about and see your dog shaking, put them in the Thundershirt for extra reassurance. Try the Thundershirt on your dog well before the trip so they’re used to it. Use positive reinforcement when your dog is in the Thundershirt so they see it as a source of comfort. 

  • Take a stimulation break

If your dog is too stimulated in a busy area, give them a breather. Take them outside where there are fewer people, connect with them, and give them a few scratches until they calm down.

  • Stay calm yourself

If you freak out, your dog is going to freak out. Dogs can tell what we’re feeling, so managing your dog’s emotions starts with controlling your own anxiety. 

 

Protect your dog’s tummy

Unless you want to deal with diarrhea or vomit during your trip, you’ll need to protect your dog’s stomach while exploring in a new city. Follow these tips to guard your dog’s digestion: 

  • Don’t change their food: Keep your dog’s food the same when you travel. This isn’t the time to whip out a new food that could upset their stomach!
  • Hydrate: Get a lightweight, collapsible bowl so it’s easy to keep your dog hydrated.
  • Skip raw meat for now: Raw meat diets are popular, but bacterial infections from new meat sources are no joke. 
  • No people food: It’s okay to give them some “people food” when you’re at home, but on the road, greasy human food isn’t an ideal combination with your dog’s anxiety or motion sickness.
  • Minimize treats: Too much of a good thing can hurt your dog’s tummy. Try to limit your dog to only two types of treats in a day. 
  • Limit their meals on travel days: You might feel a little guilty feeding your dog a smaller portion on travel days, but this will keep your dog from throwing up during travel. 
  • Add fiber or canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet: Fiber can settle your dog’s stomach and prevent diarrhea. If you’re worried about gas, give your dog pure canned pumpkin. 

 

What to do if your dog gets sick when you’re traveling

It’s the worst feeling in the world. You’re taking on the world together and your dog is either sick or injured. Don’t panic! Here’s what you should do if your dog needs medical care:

  • Treat their wound: If your dog is hurt, you may need to sanitize the wound and wrap it in gauze to stop the bleeding. Use basic first aid to keep your dog safe while you find a vet.
  • Restrain your dog: Transport your dog in a blanket, towel, tarp, or crate so they don’t try to walk. You might need to restrain your pup so they don’t run away.
  • Get your paperwork: Grab your dog’s medical records, insurance information, and vaccination records.
  • Look for a local vet: Go to a local vet and ask for an emergency appointment. If it’s after-hours, you’ll need to go to a 24-hour vet hospital instead. The ER will be more expensive, but they’ll be open and ready to help your dog. 
  • Adjust your travel plans: Depending on what’s going on, you may need to pause your travel plans or push back your travel dates. 
  • Submit an insurance claim: Insurance won’t cover everything, but it can certainly make a dent in a big vet bill.

 

What to do if your dog runs away or goes missing

This doesn’t happen often, but it’s a possibility that your dog might run away while you’re in a new city. Instead of panicking, use this handy guide to help you locate your dog as quickly as possible. 

  • Place your dog’s carrier where they disappeared

Before you do anything else, place your dog’s carrier or crate at the place where they disappeared. If you’ve trained your dog to see their crate as a safe place, they will probably return to it in a few hours. Put food, water, their favorite toy, and one of your worn t-shirts in the crate, too. 

  • File a report 

Be sure to file a report with your dog’s microchip company. This way, if someone finds your dog and scans their microchip, it will show that you’re looking for your dog. 

You can also file reports on: 

If your dog hasn’t returned to their carrier, it might be for a good reason: animal control could have picked them up already. Call animal control and shelters in your neighborhood as well as the surrounding area. 

  • Visit dog parks and shelters in person

Phone calls are a good start, but if some time has gone by, you’ll want to visit the shelters in person. Since most shelters only hold animals for 24 – 48 hours before they qualify as “abandoned,” it’s important to move fast. 

  • Print flyers and post to social media

If your dog has been missing for a few days, print flyers and post them across town. You can even offer a reward to incentivize people to be on the lookout for your dog. Be sure to share clear, up-to-date photos of your dog so people can clearly identify them. 


Traveling by road with a dog

Sure, you can book a cross-country plane ticket for you and your pooch, but honestly, traveling by road is the most convenient way to travel with your dog. 

 

Quick car travel tips

  • Don’t forget their car seat or harness: Having an unrestrained dog in your car is dangerous for everybody, and if (heaven forbid) you’re in a wreck, it can turn a fender bender into a deadly crash. 
  • Schedule frequent stops: We know how eager you are to get to your destination, but it’s crucial to stop every hour so your dog can stretch and go to the bathroom. 
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car: Whatever you do, never leave your dog unattended in the car, especially in extreme temperatures. Consult Romingo to find dog-friendly establishments so you can bring your dog with you wherever you go. 
  • Medicate for car sickness before you drive: If your dog gets queasy in the car, schedule a chat with your vet. It might mean your dog needs medication or that you need to limit their meals on travel days.

 

Rideshare with dogs

Driving your own car with your dog is one thing, but what if you’re in a new city and you aren’t renting a car? 

Use Uber Pet to request a special ride. You’ll pay a pet surcharge, but the app will let the driver know ahead of time that you’re traveling with a dog. 

If Uber Pet isn’t available at your destination, you’ll need to book the ride and then immediately call the driver to get their permission. The same goes if you’re using Lyft or any other rideshare app. 

Good manners are a must here, too. Follow good rideshare etiquette to maintain your 5-star rating: 

  • Bring a blanket with you so you can keep your dog off of the seats. 
  • Make sure your dog goes potty before you hail the ride.
  • Give your driver a glowing review and a generous tip for treating you and your dog with respect. 

 

Renting a car with a dog

Most rental companies allow dogs for no added charge. But here’s the kicker: they will charge you if you return the car dirty. 

You need to return the car squeaky clean and free of pet hair, stains, or dog smells. Just to be sure, you can make a quick trip to a car wash and vacuum the interior of the car before you return it. 

 

Bus travel

Bus travel might seem like an old-fashioned way to get around, but it’s actually pretty popular! The downside to bus travel is that most major bus companies in the USA don’t allow dogs at all. (Despite its name, Greyhound doesn’t allow dogs!)

The good news is that Peter Pan Bus Lines does allow dogs, but it has a lot of rules. Your dog will need to be in a carrier the entire time, and the combined weight of your dog and the carrier can’t be over 25 pounds.

 

Train travel

Not a fan of the bus? You can still enjoy the convenience of train travel with your dog on an Amtrak train. Your dog and their carrier can only weigh 20 pounds total. You’ll also need to arrive early to fill out paperwork and pay a dog fee (it’s usually around $25). The kicker is that Amtrak only allows 5 pets on each train, so you need to make a reservation ahead of time to claim your spot.


Ready to see the world? Romingo connects you with supportive establishments that won’t charge you high fees or limit your dog’s freedom. We help you and your pup experience dog-friendly travel in a pleasant, hassle-free way! Consult our list of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, venues, and more to plan your next big trip.

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