Bringing Our Dog on Road Trips: Six Things to Consider

February 3, 2018

We take a lot of road trips in my husband’s Jeep Wrangler. And every time we plan a trip, we have to decide whether or not we should bring our dog on our road trip. Roxy, our nine-year-old rescued Australian Retriever, loves going with us, but not every trip is as dog-friendly as others. Roxy has been on many road trips with us. She’s made countless trips to see my husband’s family in Indiana. She’s been to Colorado, Arizona, and Utah (and all the states we drove through to get to those places). Deciding whether or not to bring a dog on a road trip is not always a simple task.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of good family or friend dog-sitter options. If we don’t bring her along, she ends up being boarded at a dog kennel. It’s a kennel she’s familiar with (as she goes there weekly for “doggie day care”), but it’s still stressful for her when she stays there for awhile. She was a wreck after two weeks of boarding during our trip to Europe a couple years ago.

To decide whether or not to bring her, it’s pretty simple: we bring Roxy along if the pros (for her and for us) outweigh the cons. Obviously there are many different kinds of dogs, and whether or not your dog can come on a road trip depends on a lot of variables. Here are some factors we have considered before deciding whether to take our dog on our road trips. The thought process might help you, too.


Related Reading: For a great list of tips to master family road trips, check out the Top Ten Tips for Mastering a Family Road Trip from Travel with a Plan!


Here are the factors that make our dog a good road trip pet:

1. Her size

Roxy is about 50 lbs. She takes up some room in the cargo area of our Jeep, but it’s workable.

2. Her temperament

Roxy is a very mellow dog. She loves being with us, and she loves riding in the Jeep. She does have a little anxiety when she knows we’re packing up the Jeep or when we stop the Jeep, as she doesn’t want to be left behind, but her behavior more annoying than anything else. Also, unless you drive up to our house in a UPS truck, she’s not prone to a lot of barking or growling as a rule. She’s also not hostile to other dogs or people. Once in awhile an overzealous puppy will annoy her, and she might try to nip at them, but again, it’s manageable. She also doesn’t freak out if we leave her alone in a vacation rental. She has no problem relaxing, as you can see in this picture from one of our trips to Moab


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But here are the challenges with bringing our dog on road trips:

3. Her physical condition:

Roxy is nine years old. She has bad hips and knees. As a result, she can only get in and out of the Jeep with a large set of collapsible steps. Plus she’s probably not going to be able to join us on as many hikes as she used to.

4. Her impact on our packing space

Her cumbersome steps only fit in the cargo area of the Jeep, which is also where she rides. It’s easiest to get her in and out of the cargo area from the back door. That means that we can’t bring our bike rack and bikes along for our next road trip because, if we do, we can’t open the back door wide enough to get the steps or her out of the back of the Jeep. In addition, she and her gear (her steps, food, medicine, treats, bones, poop bags, leash, bed) take up a fair amount of our cargo area, which limits how much of our gear we can bring along. Usually that’s not a huge issue as we’re pretty light and efficient packers, but it’s still an issue we have to plan around.

5. Lodging

Obviously we have to stay in dog-friendly hotels along the way, and in dog-friendly vacation rentals at our destinations. Thankfully it’s not too hard to find pet-friendly accommodations, but it generally does add some expense in the form of pet fees. All of the extra pet fees we end up paying are probably equal to the costs of boarding her, so bringing her along really doesn’t save us money.

6. Her impact on what sights we can see along the way

For example, we are currently planning a road trip where we are driving through Kansas City. We won’t be able to easily leave her alone in the Jeep while we quickly stop to see such exciting sights as The World’s Largest Shuttlecocks (which is a thing…I can’t wait to feature this in an upcoming blog post!), as she gets anxious when alone in the vehicle. It is also a challenge to bring her to national parks. Once we stopped at Mesa Verde National Park on our drive from Estes Park to the Grand Canyon. My husband and I had to take turns hanging out in the Jeep with her, as she couldn’t be on the grounds.

But wookit dat face! How can we leave her home?



And so on our upcoming road trip back to Moab, Utah, Roxy is making what could be her last vacation road trip with us, depending on how her health holds up. Fingers crossed that the joy she feels for being with us outweighs any difficulties for her.

But as for our children’s guinea pigs…they’re out of luck.


Pin it for later:

bringing our dog on road trips


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  • Reply
    February 4, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. πŸ™‚
    I have even created an Instagram account for them ( ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I wanted to subscribe to your newsletter, but I couldn’t find it. Do you have it?

    Keep up the good work on your blog.


    • Reply
      February 4, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Thanks! I am also on Instagram @WorldIsWideTrvl, fyi. I will check your beloved pets out.

      I do not yet have a newsletter, but I am looking into it. Once I do, I’ll let you know.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I don’t have a dog (have cat, cat person through and through) so, that was interesting to read about the pros and cons of tagging them along on a road trip. I guess, it’s a good thing at least you can bring her (also dogs in general, cats on the other hand a no no just because iof their temperament). I hope she enjoys her last vacation trip a lot.

    • Reply
      May 5, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      I should probably update the post, she did go on the trip and really enjoyed it. Yes, we’ve taken a cat on road trips too, and it’s kind of a nightmare. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    May 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Aww! While I don’t have pets, I can picture your love for them, having friends and family who do. How did her health hold up, on the trip?

    • Reply
      May 5, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      She held up just fine, thanks for asking. We took her on a couple short walks/hikes, and she loved it. She just gets tired easily. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    May 6, 2018 at 4:28 am

    It needs to be hard and easy in the same time to travel with a dog? I see that you had an amazing time and your dog is so cute. But when you love it so much, I think nothing is so hard that you can’t handle on the road. Is it hard when you go to some restaurants to bring it with you?

    • Reply
      May 6, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      The hardest part is on the road trip to our destination. She gets very upset when we all leave the Jeep, so usually we just get nasty fast food or make sure one of us stays with her when we stop. It’s quite a hassle. Once we are in our destination (with pet-friendly accommodations) we can leave her alone for awhile.

  • Reply
    Shreya Saha
    May 6, 2018 at 4:29 am

    That’s a very cute soul you got Kristie. I can hug her to death. No, I won’t do that. Great that she can travel with you. I have a cat but it’s not for me to take her along. I wish I can someday,

    • Reply
      May 6, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      We’ve tried traveling with a cat. They are not travelers. At. All. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    May 6, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Aww, I don’t have a dog but I can only imagine how hard it must be to leave her behind so I am glad that you are nice enough to take her along with you, she’s adorable. But I also understand the challenges involved, especially because she’s old and not in the best physical shape. Also, thankfully you’re able to find enough pet friendly places, in countries like the one I live in, there aren’t too many of those. I also appreciate that it restricts your adventure because you’re unable to leave her behind alone in the car to explore certain places where you can’t take her along. It sure involves compromises but it’s not easy to convince yourself to leave that cute thing behind either, is it!

    • Reply
      May 6, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Right! We know she’s upset for days on end when we’re gone. While she’s not happy every minute of vacation, it’s better for her when she can go. This might be our last time taking her on a vacation (outside of visiting family). πŸ™

  • Reply
    Alexander Popkov
    May 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    That should be useful for people, traveling with dogs. I think I will never have a dog, while I travel actively. Only if I settle down.

    • Reply
      May 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Dogs are a commitment that isn’t very compatible with a travel lifestyle, that’s for sure.

  • Reply
    May 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    You’re so right it’s never easy whether to take your pet with you on trips and like you mentioned there’s just so much to take into consideration when doing so. I do have a dog myself and although I travel further afield I wish I could take her with me but the logistics just don’t allow me to. I can imagine how difficult it must be when doing the research on where you can and cannot lodge in, activities and areas you go to as well.

    • Reply
      May 6, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      It is definitely more research and planning to take a dog along! And she hasn’t gone on every trip we’ve taken. I definitely wouldn’t try flying with her…she’d be a wreck! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    May 7, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Roxy is such a gorgeous dog! I’d really love one one day, but for the reasons you write here, it makes me stop. Having a dog is a huge responsibility and not always easy when on the move. Her face is gorgeous though, I couldn’t leave her behind either!

    • Reply
      May 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      If you’re living a travel lifestyle, it’s pretty hard to have a dog. We are more settled down, but it’s still hard when we do travel. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Amrita Sen
    May 8, 2018 at 2:01 am

    I can really understand your predicament here. We too had to think a lot about leaving Kuttus (that was her name), our pet spitz back at some dog kennel. She was a ball of energy and did not usually liked to be left behind. But, here in India, at those time places and people were not pet-friendly! Although things are changing gradually for the pets, but its still a long way to go.
    Hope you have a great time with Roxy and She too enjoys all the trips!

    • Reply
      May 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

      Yes, it’s hard to decide whether or not to leave them. πŸ™ Luckily she came on the last trip and had a great time!

  • Reply
    Priya Florence Shah
    May 11, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Roxy is adorable. Wookit that face. Who’d wanna leave that behind πŸ™‚ My Tiara is 8 and I’m considering buying her a set of collapsible stairs too. Both of them can use it to get in and out of the SUV. I usually find them a good home boarding for trips I can’t take them on, but I want to do a road trip with them at least once a year.

    • Reply
      May 11, 2018 at 10:17 am

      The steps are quite bulky, so sometimes we don’t have room to bring them, but they do help. We do a good boarding place, too, but she does get upset when she’s away from us that long.

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