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Taking Dogs on Vacation: Full Packing List, Travel Tips & 5 Essential Items | Pupford

October 23rd, 2023

Filed under Podcasts, Pet Parenting, Tips, Lifestyle + Stories

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Taking dogs on vacation can typically go one of two ways...

Outcome #1: Enjoyable for everyone (dog included), fun, and relaxing

Outcome #2: Stressful for everyone (dog included), unpleasant, and miserable

While you can of course get bits and pieces of both outcomes, this article will help make your vacation with your dog full of enjoyment, fun, and even relaxing memories!

I’ve taken my dogs across the country multiple times, to a variety of places, and in a variety of seasons. Hopefully, my experience will make your next vacation with your pup easier, stress-free, and fun for everyone!

Here is what we’ll cover in this article:

  • 3 quick tips for stress-free dog vacations
  • 5 must-pack items
  • Full dog vacation packing list

Let’s get to it 👇


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Before the dog vacation tips, a quick survey!

I’ll be interested to see the stats on that survey. Hopefully you’ve had some fun vacations with your dog!

Now, here are some quick tips for traveling with a dog on vacation (or even just a road trip)


black dog acclimating to new environment on vacation | Pupford

Dogs are creatures of habit. And when they are placed in a new environment, they need time to acclimate.

Here are some ways to let your dog acclimate when you take him/her on vacation.

  • Make sure your dog goes potty before entering the home/hotel/lodging
  • Give ample time to sniff and explore the area surrounding your lodging
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in the new lodging on the first day of vacation, take them with you
  • Give extra potty breaks, set a timer if needed
  • Make positive associations with their new environment through play, treats, and tasty chews

Remember, each dog is different! Be sure to read your dog’s body language in their new environment and adjust plans accordingly.

PS- Take the highly-reviewed Dog Body Language Course here!


dog at a restaurant on vacation laying down | Pupford

While many places claim to be dog-friendly, I’ve found that sometimes it’s not actually the case.

I personally think it’s best to call ahead if you’re wanting to bring your dog on vacation. That includes your lodging (Airbnb, hotel, etc.), restaurants, cafes, parks, hikes, beaches, etc.

It can be extremely beneficial to consult a website like BringFido as well!

One pro tip is to check out reviews from real people. Here’s a quick walk-through of how to do that in Google Maps.

  1. Search location/name of the place
  2. Click reviews
  3. In the search bar next to reviews type either ‘dog’ or ‘pet’ or ‘animals’ to filter the reviews

Using Google Maps to “double verify” the dog-friendliness of a location is immensely helpful! On my most recent trip, I found restaurants that were not just “dog-friendly” but actually wanted our dogs there. It makes a difference!


dog at the vet on vacation | Pupford

While the posts you see on Instagram of dog vacations look perfect, they never are. Ever.

I’ve found it’s best to plan for the worst while hoping for the best!

Here are some ways to plan for the worst-case scenarios when taking dogs on vacation.

  • Research the local animal hospital or vet and know where it is, when it is open, etc.
  • Bring medications your dog might need (varies for each dog, for us it is Rimadyl since our pup has hip issues)
  • Know the quickest route home if something major were to happen and you needed to leave quickly
  • Research the local pet shop or where you can buy items as needed

Also, depending on the weather (or other factors) you may need to be prepared for getting stuck at your vacation spot.

Do you have enough food for your pup? Can you get more if needed?

While I’ve always been a planner, I’ve found that being prepared can reduce stress levels when problems arise with your pet on vacation!

🐶 Don't miss out on the best travel shampoo bar, Sudsy! Shop here! 🐶


beagle dog on vacation near the beach | Pupford

Now that you have some dog vacation tips, let’s cover five items I wouldn’t ever leave home for a dog vacation without!

Of course, there are SO many other things you may need to pack (more on that below). These five items are must-haves for me and my pups, and will hopefully help you too!

I would never leave home for a dog vacation without the following items ⬇️

  1. Vaccination information and other health documents
  2. Hand vacuum
  3. Dog shampoo, brush & towels (even if you don’t think you’ll need it)
  4. Dog GPS tracker
  5. High-value treats

Now, let’s break down each item and why they’ve made my dog vacations extremely enjoyable!


Depending on where you travel, you may need to show vaccination and health documents for your dog. This is especially true if you’re traveling across country borders.

Some places will require a bill of health from your vet, others need rabies information, and some may require nothing at all.

Do your research beforehand and see if your vacation spot will require these documents.

In any case, it is always a good idea to have these documents available at least digitally. Think Google Drive, Dropbox, your phone’s files, at least a picture.

Being able to prove this information can make your life much easier. In the worst-case scenario of your dog biting someone, you’ll want to be able to show health information!

Here’s some of what you may want available.

  • Microchip number
  • Your vet’s phone number
  • Health certificate or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (some places require it)
  • Rabies records and more!

One other quick thought. If you’re going to let your dog off-leash on vacation, make sure they’re up to date on all their shots, vaccines, flea & tick medication, etc.


While this may sound unnecessary, having a hand vacuum has saved me on more than one occasion.

It doesn’t take up much space, is often rechargeable, and typically only costs about $30-$40.

I personally have Ryobi’s hand vacuum (I own other Ryobi tools), but any small hand vacuum can do the trick!

ryobi hand vacuum for vacation with a dog | Pupford

Every time I take my dogs on vacation I end up using my hand vacuum in the car at least a couple of times. Plus, it can be nice to vacuum up your lodging’s entryway floors that often end up nasty from all the things paws track inside!

Another item along these lines is paper towels! Bring a roll or two with you if you have the space.


dog getting a bath on vacation with sudsy | Pupford

Even if you don’t plan on giving your dog a bath while on vacation, bring grooming and bathing supplies anyways.

Dog shampoo is certainly something you’ll wish you had when you end up needing it (mud puddles, looking at you).

I prefer Sudsy because it’s super compact for travel! Plus, the Original Scent helps to repel bugs and pests, which is huge when going into new environments.

Do yourself a favor and get Sudsy here!

best dog shampoo bar for vacation sudsy | Pupford

Along with dog shampoo, I love having one or two dog-specific towels on hand. While they’re great for drying after a shampoo, things often get dirty and a towel is a game-changer.

I even like laying the dog towels down on the seats and floor to decrease the messes, hair, and dirt that end up in the car.

And don’t forget your dog’s brush, especially if your dog sheds! I like to brush my dogs before heading into a dog-friendly restaurant, just as a courtesy to other restaurant-goers.

Plus, if you’re hiking with your dog or in wooded areas, you’ll want to brush your dog to make sure they’re not bringing any pests in with them!

Pro-tip, use a Mud Buster for dirty paws. I literally couldn’t live (or travel) without mine!

🐶 Don't miss out on the best travel shampoo bar, Sudsy! Shop here! 🐶


While I don’t think you need to go out and buy one just for a vacation, I have LOVED our Fitbark GPS tracker!

And on vacation, it provides such peace of mind that I will forever have one for our pups.

dog on a hike with humans | Pupford

While there are many dog GPS trackers, I personally have the Fitbark GPS Tracker. It tracks location (duh), movement, sleep, and more! You typically pay once for the actual tracker and then pay annually (or something similar) for the GPS service.

If your dog gets out of the “Safe Place’ zone, you will get an alert and can start tracking your dog’s location. Again, dogs can behave differently than normal when on vacation, so I love this feature if my dog were to get spooked and run away!

I also love seeing how far my dogs travel on vacations, since we’re typically doing more hiking, swimming, and walking!


Going to a restaurant or dog-friendly location with your pup can be stressful. It can be hard to know exactly how your pup will behave in such a new environment!

That’s why I always carry high-value training treats with me on vacation. They're either in my pocket or in a bag I’m carrying.

I use the treats to reinforce calm behavior at restaurants, when coming back to me on hikes, and of course as just a tasty snack for my pups!

dog getting pupford treats in a field | Pupford

Plus, I love Pupford treats because they aren’t greasy, they don’t dissolve into powder in the bag, and they’re super small and easy to use for quick rewards.

And the key here is to find what works for your dog! Some dogs prefer salmon while others go crazy for beef liver. Find what is “high value” for your dog and bring that on vacation!

Be sure to check out Pupford’s full line of high-value training treats here 👈


Knowing what to pack when taking dogs on vacation can be challenging! With this dog vacation packing list, you’ll know exactly what you need for your trip.

First, a pro tip! Put all of these items into an action packer or storage trunk! Then you can keep them out of your dog’s reach when they’re left alone in a car or hotel!

action packer for dog vacation | Pupford

Plus, it makes it super easy to grab one organizer and know all of the dog items are there, ready to go.

Here is a full dog vacation & travel packing list ⬇️ (click to shop)


To make your life even easier, we've created a printable dog travel packing list. Just click to print it out and check off items as you pack them!


Download and print the PDF version here.

While I may have missed some items (let me know in the comments), this dog vacation packing list will help you be prepared for anything!


a woman taking her brown dog on vacation near a green plant wall | Pupford

Taking dogs on vacation can (and should) be an enjoyable experience! If you implement these tips and pack the must-have items, it will be much more pleasant and less stressful.

Reminder, here are three quick vacation tips.

  1. Let your dog acclimate
  2. Research dog-friendliness of hotel, restaurants, hikes, etc.
  3. Plan for the worst while expecting the best

And of course, these are the five things I always bring when I take my dogs on vacation with me!

  1. Vaccination information and other health documents
  2. Hand vacuum
  3. Dog shampoo, brush & towels (even if you don’t think you’ll need it)
  4. Dog GPS tracker
  5. High-value treats

Before you leave, check out this fun survey!

What’s your favorite story of taking dogs on vacation? Or your dream dog vacation? Tell me in the comments!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out my favorite dog shampoo bar, Sudsy, here!

🐶 Don't miss out on the best travel shampoo bar, Sudsy! Shop here! 🐶


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