Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Stella & Chewy’s as part of my year long partnership with them. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make THM possible.
I’ve been wanting to write this post pretty much since we packed up our life (and our 3.5 month old puppy!) and road tripped across the country. Most people thought we were absolutely crazy getting a puppy just before we moved, but it felt perfectly right for us. C and I love to travel and having a dog that fit with this lifestyle was important to us. Training Bodhi from an early age to manage long car rides and flights was a no-brainer for us.
Of course, there were a lot of bumps (literally and figuratively!) along the way, but luckily we seem to have mastered the art of traveling with your dog. To be honest, Bodhi mastered it far faster than we did. As soon as the suitcases come out, Bodhi knows something is up. Lucky for him, he gets to come with on our adventures most of the time. Of course, there are times he doesn’t travel with us (it’s rare!), but for the times that he does, having a packing list is key:
Traveling with Your Dog Packing List
1. Food– This may seem like a no brainer but we’ve almost forgotten to pack food before. Don’t judge! Depending on how long we’re traveling for, we bring the whole Stella & Chewy’s bag of dog food or we measure out what we think we’ll need for the trip (plus a few extra scoops just in case). Changing your dog’s food is something you should do gradually so it’s never a good idea to just bank on buying food there.We feed Bodhi Stella and Chewy’s Raw Blend Kibble and besides the fact that it’s grain-free, made from organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed or cage-free meat, Bodhi absolutely loves it! Travel and change can be a lot for animals so we try to keep everything as comfortable and familiar as possible, including keeping him on the same healthy diet. To learn more about what you should be feeding your dog, check out this post. (PS – grab a $5 off coupon for kibble here!)
2. Bring food and water dishes –Depending on where we’re traveling we bring a portable, pop-up dish for Bodhi or we bring his food and water dishes from home.
3. Dog bed of some sort – Bodhi is the king of the road – we put his dog bed in the back seat and he lounges and sleeps like royalty being chauffeured across the country.
4. Crate if applicable. Bodhi’s crate is his safe space so we usually pack it if we can. It’s great to have the option to put him in his crate when we run out for a meal or an adventure and we don’t have to worry about him in the hotel or friend/family’s home.
5. Toys – We almost never leave home without a tennis ball because it is endless entertainment for Bodhi and it’s tiny so there’s no excuse not to pack it.
6. Treats and bones – We always keep Stella & Chewy’s treats on hand to reward Bodhi – both at home and traveling. After being a champ in the car he definitely gets a few Carnivore Crunch pieces.
7. Collar, leash, harness – whatever you usually use for your dog!
8. Medication/Supplements – if applicable!
1. Check ahead of time where dogs can be accommodated. Whether you’re staying with family/friends, at a hotel, or at a campground be sure to check if dogs are welcome. Most places accommodate pets (for a fee) but it always gives us peace of mind to know this ahead of time. AllTrails is a great app for checking to see if dogs are welcome on trails and Bring Fido is a great resource for finding pet-friendly accommodations and restaurants.
2. Don’t stress about your dog! He/she will most likely not have the same eating, drinking, and sleeping habits. Think about yourself – do you ‘travel well’? Do you have the same routines, eating and sleeping habits when you travel? Probably not. Neither does your dog. My rule of thumb is to make sure Bodhi has what he needs at all times (i.e. food and water, a bed to take a snooze if he needs, etc) but from there, I let go of expectation and stress. If we’re happy, he’s usually happy!
3. Know boundaries with your dog. If you’re going on a long gruelling hike or if you know your dog gets overwhelmed with a lot of small children (two extreme examples) just be aware of this and try to do what’s most comfortable for your dog. Everyone will be happier in the end!
The packing list and advice above both apply whether you’re traveling by car or plane, but I thought I’d add a few additional tips depending on your mode of transportation.
Traveling with your dog in a car
As I mentioned above, from 3 months old, Bodhi was used to long stretches in the car. Starting them young is key but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Bodhi lovessss the car and is known to snuggle whoever sits in the back seat with him (occasionally C feels like our driver because I like to sit in the back with him!). Here are a few tips for traveling with your dog in the car:
1. Create the ultimate sleeping arrangements! For Bodhi that means his bed, blankets, toys and bones. If it feels like home they behave like they’re at home. We then transport that into our accommodations based on where we’re staying!
2. Bring your food and water bowls in the front seat of the car. We’ve made this mistake far too many times! We always stop if we need to feed Bodhi, but occasionally he needs some water while we’re driving. We usually bring an extra water bottle that is his water that we pour into a bowl as needed. If there’s any leftover we pour it back into the bottle. Just try to remember not to drink from that bottle!
3. Research and plan your stops and meals ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere and discovering they don’t allow dogs! We hate leaving Bodhi in the car so knowing where we might need to veer off our path to pick up food or find a dog-friendly trail is always something you want to know before you head out on the road…and lose wifi!
Flying with your dog
As you know, Bodhi is my ESA so when he flies with me he sleeps at my feet on the plane. Because he is 70 lbs I won’t fly alone with him. It actually gives me more anxiety to do that. But since I almost always fly with someone, as long as we are sitting next to each other Bodhi happily sleeps at our feet and it’s totally seamless. Here are a few tips for flying with your dog:
1. Know the rules! I can’t even explain to you how many times I’ve had to describe to people how it is that we fly with Bodhi. If your dog is an ESA (more about that here) you MUST have your ESA letter with you at all times. If not, check with the airline to see the weight-limit on bringing your dog into the cabin vs. checking them below the plane.
2. Call the airline ahead of time. Bodhi is an ESA and no matter how many times we’ve flown with him, we always call the airline first to give them a heads up. For some airlines this is mandatory and others it is not. If your dog is not an ESA and is under 20-25 lbs (check with the airline), you should be able to bring your dog on the plane with you so long as they are in the carrier (more on that below). But regardless, call the airline to let them know as you will likely have to pay a pet fee and oftentimes airlines only allow a certain number of pets on the plane so book and call early!
3. If your dog is large, upgrade to the bulkhead seats – aka those seats with extra legroom at the front of the plane. DO NOT book the exit row seats. You will be asked to move as your dog cannot block the exit row.
4. Bring a high-reward treat. Bodhi knows that chicken = plane rides. We cook a chicken breast and cut it into small bites for him. We feed them to him throughout the airport and flight experience and it just allows us to keep his attention the whole day.
5. Limit food and water beforehand. 2 hours before we fly we take food and water away.
6. Let them get their energy out ahead of time. We try to book a later flight so that we can let Bodhi run around and get his willies out before the plane ride. We also make sure he goes #1 and #2 before arriving at the airport.
7. Get the right carrier. Because Bodhi is an ESA, I’m not too familiar with the best carriers out there, but I’m told people love the: Sleepypod air carrier.
8. Know your dog! If your dog is highly anxious or has trouble in public situations, flying with them might not be the best idea, and that’s okay! At the end of the day, make the right decision for your dog, not you.
Looking for some dog-friendly travel destinations? Here are a few of the places we’ve brought Bodhi along for!
Do you travel with your dog? What are some of your favorite dog-friendly destinations?
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