How to Plan a Dog-Friendly Vacation

by Jessi Larson

For years my husband Kyle has been talking about how fun it would be to take some sort of trip with our dog, Toby. We both love to travel and the thought of sharing that with our beloved furbaby in some shape or form makes a dog friendly vacation sound like a pretty cool experience.

The trouble is, Toby is 110 pounds. With thick, coarse fur that seems to get everywhere. And he has a deep, intimidating bark. So those factors definitely impact our options.

How To Plan A Dog-Friendly Vacation

But, we are determined to plan a dog friendly vacation sometime soon! I’ve finally been putting a more serious effort into researching options and would recommend the following steps if you want to bring Rover with you on a vacation:

Are you going to fly or drive?

First things first: Are you going to fly or drive to your destination? Can you even fly with your dog?

BringFido is a fabulous resource when it comes to understanding airline policies. Some airlines allow you to bring small dogs in the aircraft carrier next to you while others only allow pups in the cargo area. Fees range from free to $500. Check out the section on airlines at BringFido and see what options are available to you on available carriers.

If flying isn’t possible for your dog for whatever reason, whether it’s their size, temperament, cost, etc., then it comes down to driving. Which is totally fine, but it could limit your geographic options. Extra-long road trips with a restless pup who constantly has to go potty can be difficult. That shouldn’t stop you from taking a trip, however, you just may have to limit the ride to 8-10 hours or less.

Find a pet-friendly place to stay

I know I’m stating the obvious, but the next step is to find dog-friendly lodging. It could be a hotel chain that allows dogs, or a lodge or cabin, or even a private house through AirBnB. Or you could rent an RV or go camping., and are all great resources, or you could use travel search engines like and search for pet-friendly locations.

Just a word of advice: Always check and see if there are any breed or size restrictions. Also see if they require a pet damage deposit and what those requirements are.

Research activities you can do with your doggy

After you’ve traveled all that way with your dog, it certainly isn’t fun to just sit inside and stare at each other. Get outside and explore!

This could be finding hiking trails, going to a pet-friendly beach, walking through downtown or checking out the local dog park. Find an outdoor café or bar that allows dogs and take them with when you dine. Or find a local pup pub crawl (yes, those really do exist!).

How To Plan A Dog Friendly Vacation

Or travel for a dog-themed event

Another idea is to travel for the sole purpose of attending a special dog event. BringFido has an awesome calendar with all the dog events going on worldwide.

For example, Los Angeles has an annual dog surfing competition and festival. How fun would it be to bring your dog there and check out all the crazy talented canines?

Pack all the essentials for your dog friendly vacation

And finally, when it comes time to leave for your trip, don’t forget to pack all the essentials. If you do miss something, you could always stop at the store (if you’re not going somewhere too remote, that is) but it’s always easier just to pack things up front.

Recommendations include:

  • Food and treats – you don’t want to run out, so pack a little extra to be safe.
  • Travel food and water bowls – having a travel version allows you to bring them with you when you’re on the go.
  • Proof of vaccinations – just to be safe.
  • Waste bags – because when a dog’s gotta go, a dog’s gotta go.
  • Medications – even include preventative medications, say for example, Benadryl if they have seasonal allergies.
  • A good leash – because you’ll be out and about with your dog a lot.
  • Their favorite blanket or bed – this allows your dog to cuddle up with the comforts of home.

In the end, I think Kyle and I will rent a pet-friendly cabin somewhere up north around Lake Superior. It’s only a few hours way from Minneapolis, and the thought of hiking around the lake with Toby, hanging out on a restaurant patio and then curling up back at that cabin in front of a fire sound pretty darn awesome right now.

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