Nothing can replace the bond you have with your dog, who else can make a good thing even better and love you so unconditionally? For many dog owners, vacation time can come with some complications, as there are very few accommodation options that are as open to pets as you might be. When the alternative is to travel without them and find a dog sitter, it’s no wonder many decide to just stay at home. This is why road tripping is such a fun and easy way to travel and see the country, but it’s not as easy as putting your best bud in the front seat and setting off. Before you spend another holiday period at home and visiting the dog park, take in this road-tripping guide and never miss another opportunity to hit the road with your furry friend.

Firstly, let’s assess the health of your dog

Road tripping is a suitable travel option for almost all dogs, but you shouldn’t assume that your dog has no health problems or health implications. By visiting a vet before you embark, you will safeguard your dog against any complications on the road, and you can get a better insight into what they can and cannot do on the road. Exercise and quality dog food will signal the health of your dog, so if they are fit and happy, you should try your best to replicate the same exercise and diet regime on holidays. If you steer off course of what is working, your pooch might get an upset stomach or grow restless.

Your vet might actually be able to arm you with some strategies to keep your dog from backsliding or not acclimatising to your trip, but more than anything it’s always great to have the blessing of your vet before any lifestyle shift or event. Be sure to go into detail about the temperature of where you are headed, access to accommodation and anything that will enable vets to prescribe an informed routine and advice. They have the full history of your pet and will know what is okay and what might need revising.

Research your route and pre-plan your stops

Travel research looks a little different when you are taking your dog with you, but there shouldn’t be too much more to look into. You yourself might be able to put 100km’s behind you without a pitstop, but your dog might need a snack, drink or a bathroom break along the way. Pre-plan where you are going to stop based on their typical behaviour at home, and opt for an expansive rest area where you can have a wander and stretch those four legs, as opposed to the side of the road which is both unsafe and not big enough.

You could even take this a step further and actually plan to stop at some dog parks on the way to your destination, especially if they aren’t too far off course. Anything that is going to make your dog a little worn out so they can be snoozing on the backseat and less likely to distract you or get agitated. Plan more meals and expect a greater water intake as they will be panting more, exerting more energy in and out of the car, and exploring new surroundings, and even the air conditioning might have them a little parched.

Find, book and then confirm your accommodation

You would be forgiven for thinking there are no dog-friendly hotels and accommodations in Australia, but there is actually quite a movement behind this with many more budget and boutique hotels letting dogs check-in. One thing to be mindful of is that some hotels dedicate only a few floors to pets, and so blindly booking a room might not assure you a dog-friendly room.

Now just because a hotel accommodates your dog, doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go. If your dog needs more physical exercise and enjoys the company of other dogs, you might choose to rest your head at a caravan park or community cabins. Simply try and recreate in your mind how your dog will act in any of these accommodation types, and choose the one that is going to be the least hassle. You should also take note of things like tics and bodies of water, as the outdoor option could turn dangerous quickly. 

Prepare your car for the journey

There are a couple of ways to prepare your car for a road trip with your dog, but let’s start with the most critical. Having a healthy car is always important, but when you are driving with your furry friend it is even more important. Imagine how much more stressful it would be to break down on the side of the road with your dog sweating inside the car, or having to venture out for help in varying conditions. Get your car looked at and tell your mechanic that you are heading on a road trip and make sure they give you the clean bill of health before you hit the road. 

Caring for your car also includes the car interiors, and you don’t want to find yourself only discovering a wee, vomit or anything worse when you have reached your destination and the damage has already been done to your car. Whether or not your dog is prone to accidents or not, a road trip is a game-changer and might test their normal boundaries and routines. Give yourself the peace of mind and lay the backseat (or wherever they are sitting) with a water-resistant cover so that your car won’t pay for any number of sins.

Now, none of these points and considerations is designed to dissuade you from taking your pet on a road trip with you, but they should be addressed and prepared for before you hit the road and are limited to the resources of the next petrol station. Most of all, have a great time out there discovering Australia with your dog, as they will thank you for the opportunity to discover new territories and spend extra time with you.