Is the open road calling you? Maybe it’s time to take a pet friendly road trip!

You might think it’s too hard. There’s work. Responsibilities. How can you get away for an epic road trip with your pets?

Here’s how …

Golden Retriever Dog smiling with his head out the window of a car on a pet friendly road trip

Planning Your Pet Friendly Road Trip

Would you believe me if I told you the planning is the best part of a road trip? Really!

Scientific studies show that anticipating a trip brings more happiness than even going on the trip. So planning your epic road trip with your pet will be loads of fun.

To get started, ask yourself these questions:

Where Do You Want To Go?

Browse the destination guides on for hundreds of awesome ideas. Do you want to explore a region? Visit specific types of sites? Are you interested in a theme?

I love baseball. Someday I’d like to visit all the ballparks that have pet-friendly games.

Or take your inspiration from Leah Erb. She circumnavigated the continental United States in her RV, Betty, with her dogs, Zack and Zoe.

Or follow in the paw prints of the team and take the Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip to the most pet friendly attraction in each state!

But don’t finalize your destination yet. Because you still need to decide how much time you have for your pet friendly road trip.

Golden retriever with saw palmetto.
Traveling with your dog gives you lots of cool places to take walks.

How Long Can You Travel?

For most of us, how long we can travel is influenced by another factor: how much money we have.

If you have a solid savings account, you may be able to take vacation time, a leave of absence, or sabbatical from your job. When your trip is done, you can return to your regular work.

Or are you a risk-taker? Maybe you’d prefer to sell your stuff, quit your job, and travel using your assets. Then, when you’re done traveling, get a new job. If you broke into a sweat reading this idea, it’s probably not the right plan for you.

Perhaps there’s a middle ground that would suit you. More people are embracing the nomad life by working while traveling. If you have skills that you can practice remotely, you can support yourself while traveling with your pet. Graphic design, website building, transcription, and other computer-based tasks lend themselves well to travel.

Once you figure out the money, you’ll also have to think about your comfort level with traveling.

It’s exhausting to drive long distances, visit strange places, and to leave your comfort zone. So be realistic about how many miles and how long you wish to travel.

Golden retriever with crab sculpture
While traveling through North Carolina, we enjoyed finding crazy crab sculptures. This was in Washington, NC.

Are You Comfortable Traveling Without Another Human?

How do you feel about traveling with only your pet and no other human companion? If the notion scares you, should you fight through your fear? Or find a person to join you on your trip?

Do you want to stick with locales where you can get help easily if you need it? Or are you self-sufficient and willing to head out to visit more remote places? 

Golden retriever in dinghy with man.
Believe it or not, lots of people anchor in the Hampton River without once leaving their boat. Luckily, we have a dog who forces us to explore.

Would you prefer to stay in pet-friendly motels or campgrounds? Or are you willing to boondock (camping where you rely solely on your own water and energy)? 

You want to stretch yourself. Because that’s one of the best parts of travel. But you don’t want to be miserable.

And you certainly don’t want your pet to be unhappy either!

What Can Your Pet Handle?

Do you dream of driving across the country with your cat who has only ever traveled to the vet? How do you think your pup who’s afraid of strangers would feel at a summer festival?

To help your pet enjoy an epic road trip with you, think of what they really love. And be realistic. I guarantee you’ll have more fun if you plan a trip for both of you.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips for Road Tripping with Cats

Golden retriever with dunes.
Honey loves playing in sand. So that leads us to visit lots of pet-friendly beaches, like this one on Cape Hatteras.

Frankly, I’d love to sail to the Mediterranean. But Honey would not be happy crossing the Atlantic Ocean for weeks at a time. We’ve created a travel plan that everyone can live with. And it’s still fun exploring the coastal United States.

Besides knowing what your pet can handle before you leave, you can also create a plan to help them enjoy your road trip more.

Make sure you’ve taught your dog helpful cues that will keep him safe. Spend time getting your cat comfortable with a leash and harness, backpack, or stroller. And, of course, ask your vet’s advice for addressing motion sickness or coping with common threats in the places you’ll be visiting, whether ticks or scorpions.

Finally, what mode of transportation is best for you?

How Do You Want To Travel?

There are many ways to take a road trip — bicycling, driving your own car and camping, renting a camper van. Even buying your own RV! (Some people buy one long enough to complete their trip and sell it upon their return.)

Which one you choose will depend on what you can afford. And what you and your pet would most enjoy.

Having your own vehicle with climate control will give you the most flexibility. Plan to bring your pet with you everywhere you go. But if you can’t, a climate-controlled vehicle with a system for monitoring the temperature will keep your pet happy and safe.

Once you’ve made some basic decisions, the only thing left is to set out on your road trip. And what a trip it will be!

READ MORE ⇒ Renting a Camper Van With Pets

Benefits of a Road Trip With Pets

You’ll have a great time on your epic road trip–seeing new places, deepening the bond with your pet, enriching their life.

Your pet will also bring many things to you too. 

We explore remote beaches, nature preserves, and parks—all because we need to take Honey off the boat for exercise. Where will your pet take you?

And pets notice interesting things you may have missed! I can’t tell you how many times Honey has alerted us to dolphins swimming off our bow before we’ve noticed them. 

A road trip brings new sights, smells, and experiences—to everyone, both pet and person.

Golden retriever on porch with rockers.
Looking for a cool place to anchor with Honey led us to Edisto Beach State Park. Glad she helped us make our plans.

Are you convinced? Will you be taking a road trip with your dog? Or hitting the trail with your adventure cat? I hope so. You’ll never forget the experience.

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  • The dogs and I just completed a 3 week, 10,000 mile trip to the Arctic Ocean. We did the whole thing for ~$1,400 ($1,800 if you include the new set of tires I needed :P )

    • That’s fantastic, Sean! The Arctic Ocean is a place I’d never considered going, so now you have my wheels turning. Thanks so much for your note – it’s a perfect example of how much we can do if we put our minds to it. Safe travels to you!

  • So far money – and the rest of the cats at home – have kept from taking Plush on the road full time. But we love traveling over weekends or long day trips. Our next big adventure is heading to Cleveland for the big CFA International Show.

    • Hi Emilia! Yes, having some pets that wouldn’t enjoy traveling, and financial constraints are very common reasons that people don’t travel more. But your trip to Cleveland sounds fantastic! I hope you and Plush have a wonderful time.

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