Los Angeles or bust. 30 days on the road with my dog Felix.
Instead of flying from Los Angeles to New York and then back again, like a normal human being, I decided it would be fun and bonding experience with my dog, to drive round trip to see some sights with my little buddy.
The trip has been a blast so far. Mostly it was fun, and at other times it was extremely nerve-racking. In this article, I take you through our journey and then lay out my go-to tips to make your next cross country drive with your dog a stress-free success.
If you’re in a rush, here are my essential tips to keep in mind when going on a road trip with your dog:
- Plan your trip to control every detail that you can.
- Overpack. From cleaning supplies to dog toys.
- Watch out for car sickness.
- Take plenty of breaks.
- Learn where all the dog parks are where you will be staying. Before you set out on your drive for the day, go to the park, and when you end the day of travel, go to a park.
- Train your dog on shorter trips.
- Make sure your dog is healthy.
- Make sure you have a first aid kit.
Planning the cross country road trip
Our round trip cross country road trip started in Los Angeles, California, and would take us over twenty-four states, half dozen National Parks, several bourbon distilleries, civil war sites, the unforgettable Civil Rights trail, many museums, tons of restaurants and bars, Friends and families houses, and quite a few unplanned walking pitstops for Felix, and would finally end up back home in Los Angeles.
This indeed was a road trip of a lifetime.
Prepping for life on the road
Before we hit the road, preparation was in order! I knew I was going to be traveling for at least 50 days, and I also knew that driving across the country with a dog would bring its own set of problems.
From a simple pit stop for gas to unloading Felix’s supplies at the hotel, everything is more complicated when you have a dog with you.
I had a positive attitude about the trip, but being in the car for nearly two months is hard for anyone, let alone a dog and a year and a half-dog at that. I knew that I needed to be prepared. If anything, I needed to be overly prepared.
I started packing for Felix with the basics. At the very minimum, I knew I needed enough dog food to last three weeks, a bed for Felix to sleep in (in the car and the hotel), toys, blankets, bowls for water and food, and cleaning supplies just in case.
I quickly realized that I was either drastically overpacking or that the “very minimum” supply count was high!
Here’s a full list of everything I packed for my dog for the cross country trip:
His travel bag
Water and food bowls
Elk antler (Felix’s favorite treat)
Training treats (reinforce good behavior)
Extra collar with dog tags
Once we were packed and ready to go, we set off from Los Angeles to New York and back again. The car fully equipped with all Felix’s essentials and dog treats that anyone could ever need.
How to prepare better
Before my trip, I thought I was overpacking. I thought there was no way I would need to use all of the things I brought. In hindsight, I can see that I was wrong.
Being prepared helped me get through the issues that popped up. From Felix getting sick to run into bad weather, I was ready to cause I had the supplies I needed.
Here are must-haves for a cross country trip with your dog.
Treat your dogs like first class
You want your dog to feel as comfortable as possible. Bring a bed that they’re satisfied with, and throw in one of their blankets for extra comfort! If you have the room, give them the full back seat. Doing so will let them walk back and forth between windows, stretch, and relax.
Food & Treats
Overpack on the menu. It’s better to have extra than to run out! You never know where the next pet supply store will be located. Make sure you have the food that your dog is accustomed to.
Bring your dog’s favorite treats. Driving a long distance is going to be tough on your dog; they deserve a treat. And a happy dog will make you happy.
Food & Water Bowls
These are obvious, but I like to bring a travel set of collapsible bowls to save room.
PRO TIP: Make sure that you have plenty of water and emergency supplies on hand in case your car breaks down.
Toys & Chews
Your dog is going to get bored. Bring some toys they can play with while you’re driving. Bring some safe chew toys for the road to let them burn off extra energy. Your routine is going to be off, way off; they’re going to need an outlet!
Bad weather gear
It rained in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, and a few other states, and having Felix’s jacket and bunches of cheap terry cloth towels to dry him off was a significant plus.
PRO TIP: having a collapsible wind friendly umbrella doesn’t hurt.
Looking back on the trip
Staying in different parts of the country, to varying types of hotels showed me how different the standards could be for various establishments. From welcome luxury bags and walking trails to a mini turf patch in the middle of a cold city, pet-friendly meant two vastly different things in both locations.
I’ve realized now that the key to a worry-free cross country trip is to do the research ahead of time and be prepared for everything that can come your way.
Make sure your dog is up to date on all shots and vaccinations. If you’re planning on hiking in areas outside of your home location, it’s good to make sure you have the right flea and tick medication that could help prevent issues down the road with your dog. Also, I recommend that you travel with all of your dog’s vaccination and rabies information and keep that with your car insurance and registration information you never know when you’re going to need it.
I hope my story helps to get you ready for your next long-distance drive with your dog! It’s easy to get stressed on the road. Remember to relax and enjoy the trip!
Happy trails and tails.