Tips for Road Tripping With a Dog

img_8895.jpg“In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.” – Harvey Broome, Co-Founder of the Wilderness Society

The American wilderness is magic, and there’s no better way to experience it than driving from spot to spot – waking up in snow covered mountains and falling asleep in the orange desert.


We owe the magic and memories of our latest trip across the U.S. from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Barbara, California to our 1 year old pup, Miley. This winter it was too cold for her to fly in cargo – (it has to be warmer than 40 degrees Farenheit), and she is too large for cabin travel. This was a blessing in disguise as road tripping by car across the U.S. for a month is the best thing that all three of us have done together. I’ve put together some of the resources and tips that helped make car traveling with a dog across America as magical as it should be.



Super Useful Apps / Mobile Sites

BringFido: We used the BringFido app and mobile site to search for dog friendly restaurants and dog parks in whichever area we stopped. It also shows hotels.

AllTrails: We used AllTrails constantly for hiking trail info. I’d definitely recommend downloading the app because you get access to maps of trails in the area. Filters will show which trails are dog friendly.

Dog Friendly Hotel Chains that we used:

La Quinta Inn & Suites: No charge for staying with a dog. We really loved this chain of hotels, they were always modern and clean and really affordable.

Holiday Inn: $25 per stay for having a dog. Rooms were clean and basic, but pretty nice.


1. Make sure your microchip info is up-to-date :

In the awful event that your dog gets away from you, it is so important to have their microchip current and to have an emergency contact who is not with you on the trip in case you are in an area with no service. I put Miley’s microchip number on her tag and listed my info publicly, so if anyone found her away from us, they could just search her info on the internet rather than try to find a place to scan her chip.

2. Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date and have proof with you:

When we wanted to hit some trails that don’t allow dogs like Antelope Canyon in Arizona and the trails in the Grand Canyon, there were some awesome places nearby that offered super affordable day boarding, but need vaccine history.

3. Go to State Parks rather than National Parks : 

We found that with the exception of the Grand Canyon, where you can walk your dog along the expansive paved rim path, most National Parks don’t allow dogs on trails or scenic spots. However, most state parks are very dog friendly, allowing dogs on plenty of gorgeous trails and look-out spots. Just make sure you follow the leash policy and pick up after your dog (don’t just bag poop and leave it) so that the dog friendly places stay dog friendly. 

4. Pack a “Doggy Bag” :

We packed a bag just for Miley with some food, toys, treats, shampoo and other essentials for hotel stays. This way, we could go straight to the room for some well deserved rest, rather than looking in the car to gather everything.

5. Plan your rest stops around off-leash dog parks :

Using GoFido made it easy to plan off leash parks to stop at for Miley to run out her energy. It was a great way to get out of the car for an hour or so and let everyone stretch their legs.

6. Make gas stops water and potty stops :

Unlike at home, water can’t always be available for your dog. First, it will spill, and second, it isn’t safe to take potty breaks on the side of the road. But luckily, just sitting in a car rather than being active makes dogs less thirsty anyway. Water and potty your dog three or more times throughout the day of driving while filling up on gas and try to make stops at around the same times each day so they get on a schedule. I found that a lot of gas stops in rural areas had grassy lots on the property that were perfect for this.


Lastly, just have fun. Being on the road, enjoying state parks, and the wilderness are memories that you and your dog will have forever. Every day is the best day ever for a dog, full of new smells and scenery, and the enthusiasm that a dog brings to each new place is contagious, so I challenge you to enjoy every minute of your road trip just as much as your dog does.

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