There’s nothing quite like a long road trip, a good playlist, your windows down, and the wind flooding your vehicle while cruising down the highway. The only thing that could make a road trip even better is your four-legged buddy riding shotgun!
Over the last year and a half, we’ve traveled in our RV with our dogs all over North America—almost all 50 states, Canada, and all the way south to Baja Sur, Mexico. It’s true that bringing along your dog can change your trip a little and the way you plan your day-to-day activities, but watching your dog explore the unknown alongside you is worth the extra effort!
Plan your route according to the weather
Depending on what time of year you’re planning your road trip, the weather can play a huge factor in how comfortable you and your pup are while adventuring. It’s best to try to travel south during the winter time and north during the summer months. If this isn’t an option, be sure to plan your days around your dog—hiking during the coolest times of the day at sunrise and sunset, or, if you are in cooler temps and snowy climates, pack your dog’s winter gear such as booties and sweaters.
As most people know, national parks in the U.S. are not the most dog-friendly tourist attractions. However, there are some national parks that have specific rules for bringing a dog to the park or dog-friendly trails within the national park (i.e., Joshua Tree National Park has one dog-friendly trail, as well as allowing leashed dogs to be walked on any dirt road that cars drive on). We’ve found the public lands and state parks right outside of national parks to be dog-friendly and just as, or sometimes more, beautiful than the national parks themselves (and less crowded).
A quick Google search before arriving to a new destination will help lead the way, as well as phone apps for finding hiking trails, they generally will list whether hikes are dog-friendly or not. And lastly, when in doubt, ask a local or a park ranger!
Pack the important paperwork
If spontaneity is the plan for the road trip, be sure to bring along all of your dog’s health certificates, shot records, or anything important from your veterinarian specific to your dog’s health. Whether your dog is injured on your trip, you need to last-minute board your pup at a boarding facility, or if you want to pop into Canada or Mexico, you’ll need all of these to see a new vet or to travel to a neighboring country. And, of course, be sure your dog is up-to-date on all their shots and vaccinations.
Planned an activity that is not dog-friendly?
There are some things you feel you can’t miss during a road trip, and those activities may not allow dogs, so what do you do now? Be prepared to pay to have your dog put in a doggy daycare facility, pay to have hookups at an RV park, or even getting a dog-friendly hotel for a few days where you know your dog will be safe and comfortable while you’re away for longer hours during the day. This tip is of course relative to how your dog behaves and how they may handle being away from you for hours.
We’ve used all of these options before! While we don’t typically choose to go on hikes that our dogs cannot join us on, there have been times where we have not felt comfortable leaving our dogs unattended in the RV for longer periods of time. The online websites Rover and DogVacay may be good options if you’re at an RV park and feel comfortable having someone come and walk your dogs a few times a day.
Helpful websites and apps for a dog-friendly road trip
AllTrails: Find dog-friendly hikes and trails
BringFido: A one-stop-shop for finding all kinds of dog-friendly activities wherever your road trip travels may take you
Rover: Find a dog walker or dog sitter quickly and easily all across the country
DogVacay: Find dog sitters and doggy daycare options across the country
The most important thing to remember is to plan your trip around your dog and have fun with the unique planning. There are so many amazing places across North America that are dog-friendly and just waiting for you and your pup to discover them!