Summer road trip with dogs

Summer Road Trip With Dogs – Our Ultimate Checklist

12 hour summer road trip with dogs, anyone?

The pups and I will be doing just that from Spring Lake, NC to Memphis, TN in mid July. That means I’ll have about a month to finalize our preparations for the road trip.

Since Missy & Buzz love going for car rides, I won’t have to worry about potential car sickness or anxiety issues.

However, if your pup suffers from dog car anxiety, check out this blog post first.

On the contrary – I know they’ll have a good time, especially during the cooler parts of the trip through the mountains.

That’s when I’ll be able to turn off the AC and roll down their windows to let them sniff the good mountain air.

Summer Road Trip with Dogs – Our Ultimate Checklist for Stress-Free Travels

When thinking about all the different components of our road trip, I realized that it’s a combination of two things:

(1) Road/Dog Safety & (2) Travel Essentials.

So in order to put our checklist together, I first did some brainstorming on my Jeep’s road safety.

Next, I looked at what exactly our daily doggie routine consists of.

That said, I came up with 4 categories, then broke each one down into its respective components.

Finally, I figured out what’s essential and absolutely has to come along!

Summer Road Trip With Dogs - Our Ultimate Checklist

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Daily Routine – Dog Travel Essentials

As mentioned above, the pups’ daily routine can be broken down into 4 categories:

  • Dog walks
  • Raw dog food
  • Playtime
  • Snoozing 

1. Dog Walks – Collars, ID Tags, Leashes, Poop Bags, Insect Repellent, Dog Backpacks 

The pups will be wearing their collars while traveling, and their dog leashes will be stored in the pockets of our travel hammock.

That way, they’ll be easily accessible during potty breaks and little walks to stretch all of our legs every 2-3 hours.

I’ll also bring an extra collar as well as an additional leash for each pup, just in case one should get lost or break for whatever reason. 

I also always carry a slip collar in my purse should I need to replace a broken collar while out on a walk/potty break.

The pups always wear their ID tags on their collars, and I’ll make sure to bring an additional one featuring the address of where we’ll be staying at.

This will be the perfect opportunity to test out the Twigo Tags I came back with from the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, FL earlier this year.

They are customizable pet ID tags you write on, then place in boiling water, & cover – the beauty of them is that you can erase what you’ve written using rubbing alcohol (only).

So if you want to update a phone number or address on your pup’s tag, you can do so without having to purchase a brand new one.

Pretty clever, huh?!

We Tested The Blue And Pink Silencer Twigo Pet ID Tags

We will, of course, have plenty of poop bags on board, but I don’t think we’ll bring the pups’ backpacks. It’ll likely be hot & humid, so I don’t foresee us going on hikes.

You never know what the weather might be like once on the road, so I’ll bring a towel or two for potential muddy paws & wet dog coats.

I’ll also pack our non-toxic Wondercide Flea, Tick & Mosquito Spray and a bottle of dog shampoo.

You never know what the pups might fancy rolling in once we get to Tennessee!

2. Raw Dog Food, Supplements, Bowls & Dog Treats

This will be the first long road trip with the pups since switching them from kibble to a raw diet in 2015.

That said, I really don’t feel like bringing their raw dog food along in several coolers I’ll have to top off with fresh ice on a regular basis.

So I already decided that I’ll just have their Darwin’s Natural Pet Raw Dog Food delivered to our final destination in Memphis, TN.

Easy enough! 

Missy & Buzz with their order of Darwin's Raw Food
Missy & Buzz with their raw dog food from Darwin’s

The only edibles I’ll bring along on the trip will be single-ingredient dog treats.

I’ve decided to leave their regular stainless steel dog bowls at home and pack space-saving collapsible dog travel bowls instead.

3. Playtime – Chuck-It Ball(s) 

Since Buzz can’t live without his beloved chuck-it balls, I’ll bring a few along.

They don’t take up much space and are light weight. Missy’s not really into playing with toys (unless it involves a body of water), so I won’t bring any for her.

Entertain your dog inside with his favorite ball, for example a chuck it ball
Buzz and his chuck-it ball

4. Snoozing – Dog Beds & Blankets

I will bring along one of their big, soft, grey blankets that cover my bed and that they like to sleep on, as well as one of their dog pillows. 

Summer Road Trip with Dogs: Road/Dog Safety

As far as road safety is concerned for the Jeep, I need to:

  • Check my tire pressure on all 5 tires
  • Check on my wiper blades
  • Top off fluids
  • Inspect my glove box, GPS, & First Aid Kits. Can’t forget about securing loose cargo & the pups, of course!

Tire Pressure & Fluids

I have pure nitrogen in my tires because the tires last longer & the gas mileage is about 10% better than with the regular air/nitrogen mix.

That said, I’ll make sure to have them topped off with it before we leave – same goes for my spare tire.

I had to use it a few months ago while waiting for a new tire to come in – courtesy of a screw in my tire – and had it filled with pure nitrogen. It could probably use to be topped off again.

Speaking of topping off – I’ll also have my fluids topped off and might need to get an oil change before leaving for our summer road trip.

Wiper Blades 

My Jeep wiper blades for the front and the back need to be exchanged before we back out of our driveway in mid July.

That said, I’ll be pulling up to my favorite garage soon, asking them to exchange those blades for me.

I don’t want to be caught on the road with poorly wiping blades during a downpour!

Glove Box 

I’ll be going through my glove box before we leave to make sure the car registration is in there, as well as a current print out of our car insurance.

I believe their roadside assistance number is printed on the insurance card, but I’m not 100% sure. To be checked! #NoIDontKnowHowToChangeATire 

The glove box is also where I keep a printout of our medical insurance for the pups as well as their rabies certifications. 

Road Maps 

I got an update alert for my GPS a few weeks ago, so I’ll still need to load it with current maps.

By the way – I always keep a hardcopy Road Atlas in the car as well – you never know when technology might fail you!

First Aid Kits 

I always have a human first aid kit as well as a doggie first aid kit in the Jeep, so I’ll be checking them both before our departure to see if anything needs to be restocked.

If you’re up for it, you can put your very own DIY pet first aid kit together!

My Two Pet First Aid KitsAnd Pet First Aid Book

Safety Precautions For Loose Cargo 

We will be traveling with a Travall Guard Barrier. 

It’ll come in very handy as the back of the Jeep will be pretty packed, and I wouldn’t want anything flying through the car.

Travall® Guard Car Barrier

Especially not while driving up & down windy mountain roads.

About 4 hours of the trip will be taking us through the Great Smoky Mountains, past Asheville, NC.

K9sOverCoffee | Road Safety With Travall's Pet Barrier

Dog Car Travel Harnesses for a Safe Road Trip with Dogs

I wrote about purchasing crash-tested dog car harnesses for the pups in my post What No One Tells You About The Dangers of Unrestrained Dogs In Cars.

Specifically, the Load Up ones from Ruffwear

Silly me thought she got the right one for Missy at a heck of a deal for $39.95 on Amazon. But then I realized that I purchased the Front Range Harness instead. 


I believe it was a late night purchase, so lesson learned.

I’m definitely keeping it though because I’m a sucker for Ruffwear products and I’m sure it’ll come in handy at some point, although I typically don’t walk my pups on harnesses.

I might use it as an upgrade from her old car harness when taking her rollerblading.

So either way, I still need to get a Load Up Harness for both pups ($79.95), which will be an early July purchase.

Update: I purchased a Load Up harness for my big boy Buzz and compared it to Missy’s Front Range harness in this blog post.

Ruffwear's Front Range vs Load Up Harness - Which One Is Better?
We actively use Ruffwear’s front range harness & their load up harness – let’s find out if one of them outranks the other!

Summer Road Trip with Dogs: Bottom Line

It’s a good idea to take a few moments to brainstorm before a longer road trip with dogs.

Figure out which components of your daily doggie routine are essential and absolutely need to come along on the trip, and which ones can be left at home. 

Make sure your vehicle is up for the length of the trip to keep everyone safe and the trip enjoyable!

Summer road trip with dogs - ultimate checklist

I hope you’ll find the checklist useful! Do you have any additional travel tips for us? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below this blog post!

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    Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






    12 responses to “Summer Road Trip With Dogs – Our Ultimate Checklist”

    1. MilitaryWifeandPugLife Avatar

      This is awesome!! We take the girls everywhere.

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        I know you do, and I’m looking forward to taking the pups!!

    2. Beth Avatar

      Looks like you’ve got everything covered–the only thing I could think of is related to the food. I always try to bring a couple extra meals with us just in case something happens (our most regular trip is 13 hours) and we end up having to stop instead of making it all in one day–if something were to happen to the car and we were delayed, I’d hate for the pets to go hungry until we got to our destination! Maybe if you can fit a portion or two in a lunch box with some ice packs you could save space and the hassle of a cooler?

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        That is an excellent point, Beth, thank you for that! I am planning on getting the drive done without spending the night anywhere and want to leave the house here in NC around 4 am, but who knows, I might end up getting tired and needing a hotel room somewhere along the way. So I’ll be sure to bring either some dehydrated Proper Toppers from THK, or freeze-dried Stella & Chewy’s. AND I’ll also look up some pet-friendly hotels 😉

    3. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

      That is a good list. I always seem to forget the dog beds when we travel. Poor doggies are stuck on the hard floor. Not terrible for Freighter because he is young, but our seniors really need beds. Hotel floors are always so hard.

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        Thank you – the pups have yet to spend the night at a hotel. So far road trips with them haven’t exceeded 6 hours of driving time and we’ve always had someone’s home to stay at after the drive. Has your pack stayed at hotels many times?

        1. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

          Yes, mostly when we travel for dog events: hunt tests, shows, seminars. They are pretty seasoned.

          1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

            Ah yes, those events do require traveling, don’t they. I’m sure Missy & Buzz would love a little Hotel experience 😉 They’ve been in an elevator before at an apartment complex in D.C. that was laid out like a hotel, you know, with carpeted hallways and such. That was the closest hotel experience we’ve had so far.

    4. Elaine Avatar

      How exciting you’re moving to TN! We’ve made a lot of trips with Haley back and forth from Ohio to Fayetteville when my mother-in-law was living there. It looks like you’ve thought about everything.

      One thing I discovered when traveling with Haley is, it was easier for us to just get a large ice water from a fast food restaurant than to have a water bowl with a lid. Since the cup fits into a drink holder, it was easy to grab while on the road, the ice kept the water cold for a long time and it was less messy for her to drink out of.

      Another thing I just thought of was this tip from Leah at Let’s Go Dog.

      I loved her idea of using the carabiner when the car door is open and you’re juggling loading or unloading things out of the car. Being a pet sitter and dog walker, you might have a better idea for this, but I use this tip all the time.

      I can’t wait to hear more about your move and new home!

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        Yes!! 2016 is our year of change 😉 I’ll be writing more about it in due time.

        I just checked out the article you recommended over on LetsGoDog – what a very clever idea! I’ll be getting some carabiners for sure now. I usually put the pups’ leashes on while they’re still in the car and attached to their seat belts before taking them out of the car. However, I can definitely see those carabiners coming in handy. I’ll just attach one to each pup’s leash so that I’ll be able to use them spontaneously.

        I also like your ice water idea. I might have to end up taking a smaller cooler along to hold our water bottles. I’m a water snob and don’t like the taste of tap water, so when I go on road trips, I stock up on bottled water 😉

    5. JoAnn Stancer Avatar
      JoAnn Stancer

      Great check list.

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