Every time my family travels, we’re faced with the impossible task of leaving our dog behind. It’s terrible; I don’t know if he can tell we’re leaving by all our rushing around or if he’s just learned what a suitcase means, but he spends the entire time we’re getting ready moping around and sighing.

It’s a conundrum all traveling dog owners must face, though: do you leave your canine companion behind with a surrogate caregiver, or do you brave a vacation with your furriest family member? While you may not want to take Rover on every trip, it’s not as difficult as it may seem to include him on some of your adventures.


Unfortunately, the world isn’t a utopia where dogs are welcomed everywhere. Even places you might think your dog would love, like national parks or beaches, may be off-limits to her. Do your research before you depart on your adventure to avoid any disappointments.

If you want to find a national park that won’t turn your pup away, you can search www.nationalparkpaws.com. The site lists information on where dogs are and aren’t allowed in each national park, as well as tips and warnings for visiting each one. Www.bringfido.com is also a great resource; it allows you to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, and more in just about any city.


Dog-friendly hotels (especially ones that don’t charge Great Dane–sized fees) are hard to find in some cities, so it’s a good idea to book lodging ahead of time so you don’t end up sleeping in your car. And if you plan to do any activities your furry friend can’t attend, make sure he has a place to stay while you’re away, such as a kennel or pet resort. It’s not safe for your pet to be alone in the hotel room, and he’ll be happier with other people and dogs to interact with while you’re away.

Companies like Dog Vacay and www.rover.com connect people who want to pet sit with people who need pet sitters. You can read reviews for pet sitters on the companies’ respective apps, and they provide you with 24/7 customer support, pet insurance, and photo updates. Pet resorts, though more expensive than pet sitters and kennels, will often provide you and your dog with amenities like live video feeds, activities, and grooming. These can all be good options whether your dog needs somewhere to stay for the day or for a few nights.


Before you take your dog on a long car ride, you should take her out on shorter trips. If she continually gets sick after 10 minutes in a car, you might not want to take her on your cross-country road trip. These shorter trips are also good for getting her used to the car and to associate it with positive experiences. (If you ended up at the vet every time you got in a car, you wouldn’t like cars either!)

If you do take your dog on a road trip, it’s safest for you and for her if she stays in a crate. You might not like the idea of keeping your four-legged friend cooped up, but it keeps her from becoming a projectile if you stop suddenly or get into an accident. Of course, accustom her to being in a kennel well in advance if she hasn’t used one before. On your trip, make sure you take plenty of stops to give her a chance to stretch and release some energy.


Most airlines allow you to take a pet with you in the cabin if he will fit under the seat in front of you in a crate he can comfortably turn around in. Otherwise, your dog is kept in the cargo hold under the plane or not allowed at all. The cargo hold can be extremely stressful for a dog because it’s a loud, unfamiliar environment that may reach uncomfortable temperatures. Some airlines refuse to carry animals during the peak of summer or winter to prevent animals from freezing or overheating. Regardless, pets die in cargo holds every year, and airlines have yet to find a solution.

If you do decide flying is the best option for you and your dog, make sure you know all the rules and requirements for the airline you’re flying with—and that you can afford the extra cost. There is usually a limit for the total number of dogs allowed in the cabin at a time, so you’ll definitely want to notify the airline as soon as you know that you’re bringing your dog. You reduce the risk of something happening to your dog on the flight if you visit your vet beforehand to make sure your dog is fit to fly (this is usually required by the airlines anyway), avoid flying during summer and winter months, and book direct flights.


Traveling with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience you’ll remember forever. As long as you puppare properly, you can avoid any dogsasters and enjoy a perfect vacation with your best friend furever.


—Haley Brown