dog road trip essentials

Dog Road Trip Essentials – Ultimate Packing List

Whether you’re setting off on a cross-country adventure or heading home for the holidays, preparing for a road trip with your dog can feel like being trapped in a whirlwind. Rest assured, our ultimate list of dog road trip essentials will make road trips with your best friend a breeze!


Table of Contents

Top 10 Dog Road Trip Essentials to Never Leave Home Without

1. Portable Dog Bed

If your dog already has a cozy and compact bed, be sure to add it to your list! The warm smells and familiarity of home will help to comfort your dog in an unfamiliar destination.


Depending on the length of your trip and the space available to you, it might not be practical to lug around a full-sized pet bed. In this case, we recommend packing your pooch’s favorite comfort toy or blanket and treating them to a Petspective Pet Mat instead.


This padded travel mat rolls up like a sleeping bag, making it a great space saver. The bed is also simple to wipe down if you won’t have access to a washing machine or are predominately sleeping outdoors. 


Petspective Pet Mat

2. Travel Crate

A travel crate is a great multi-use alternative to a doggy seatbelt or car harness. All dogs, regardless of temperament or size, must be safely secured while in a moving vehicle. Travel crates prevent injury and driver distraction. For this alone, we consider them a  must-pack.


There are other benefits, however. Crates provide your dog with a safe space both in and out of the car. They can be filled with toys, food, and water when needed. Crates can also prevent a mess while in the car, helping to contain mud and anything else your pup may drag along with them.


An easy-to-move crate will make all the difference on your trip. The EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate is a great option for car travel, coming pre-fitted with seat belt loops for added security.  


We also really love that it comes in a huge variety of colors (and sizes) so you can find just the right one for your pup. 


EliteField 3-Door Soft Dog Crate

3. Car Harness

There is a massive array of items on the market when it comes to road safety for dogs. If you have a smaller vehicle, then a car harness is a great option. You can opt to purchase an entirely new harness with the securement pre-secured, or simply select a suitable seatbelt attachment for the harness your dog is already comfortable in. 


Is your dog known to chew through restraints? It takes my kelpie, Coco, approximately 6 minutes to gnaw through any kind of strap! If your dog loves to chew in the car, then this Leash Boss No-Chew Steel Coated  Restraint might also be a worthy addition to your list.


Leash Boss Dog Car Seat Restraint

4. Collar and ID Tags

Wearable identification is crucial while on a road trip. For many dog owners, there’s nothing scarier than the idea of your pet being lost in an unfamiliar place. 


Before heading on your trip, take the time to check that any collars or ID tags attached to your pet are up to date. You will want your dog to be as easily identifiable as possible. There are heaps of options here, so we’ve broken this section into a few parts.



The world is your oyster when it comes to the variety of collars on the market. Your dog probably already has a collar but just in case, we’ve found the Blueberry Pet collars to be a great all round solution for most dogs.


There are some cute color/pattern options and a size to suit every dog. The collar is water safe for those dogs that just can’t stop themselves from getting wet. And there’s a small clip on ring to easily attach most ID tags.


With nearly 3,000 high ratings, this collar is definitely a winner.


Blueberry Pet Adjustable Dog Collar

ID Tags

If you’re looking for new ID tag for your dog, this is one that we’ve found that seems to be super popular with dog owners.


It comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and is made of a durable stainless steel that isn’t too heavy. Reviewers say that this company is super quick with delivery too.


Personalize it with your dogs details and you’ll be ready to explore!


Tip: Make sure that your mobile number is listed on all ID tags rather than just your home number. Although it may sound obvious, details as small as this have delayed reunions in the past. 


GoTags Paw Print Pet Tag

GPS Trackers

If your pet is a regular Houdini, consider fitting them with a wearable tracking device. Especially useful if your dog goes AWOL when you’re somewhere new.


The Whistle Go Tracker allows you to monitor your pet’s location via Google Maps. You can also set up a designated ‘safe zone’. If your pet leaves this zone you will be notified immediately through your mobile.


While some might see this as drastic, those with escape artists of their own know-how reassuring these devices can be. There are 3 cute colors available which are awesome and the tracker will fit onto any 1″ wide collar. The tracker also monitors health information for those who are mindful of their dog’s activity level.


GPS trackers generally require an AT&T service, and subscription to access the app information. Subscriptions can vary depending on what level of information you’d prefer.


Whistle Go Tracker for Pets

5. Travel Bowls

Whether you’re planning a short overnight trip or a long adventure, portable travel bowls are streets ahead of regular dog food/water dishes.


We’ve found that two bowls seem to work best (for one dog) – one can be dedicated to food and the other to water. For short trips, we love to take collapsible silicon bowls like these from Pawaboo.


There are hundreds on the market but these ones have lids to keep excess food fresh and well-contained. They also feature a carabiner that can keep the bowls firmly attached to a leash, backpack, or even a belt loop.


The silicon is easy to clean and lightweight. The bowls collapse into a neat, flat shape – great for storing in your car or RV. There are two sizes to choose from and a huge color range.


Pawaboo Collapsible Dog Bowls

We really want to include an alternative style of travel bowl like this dog bowl travel kit by Awakelion.


These are favored by people that love outdoor adventures with their dogs such as hiking and camping. The set is made from sturdy, foldable oxford cloth – easy to fold and store. It also includes a food storage container for longer expeditions such as multi-day hikes.


Reviewers say these bowls are a generous size – perfect for medium to large dogs.


Awakelion Collapsible Dog Bowls

6. Dog Food and Treats

Packing enough dog food for the duration of your trip means one less thing to worry about along the way. It also saves the risk of an upset tummy if you can’t find your usual brand.  A few weeks before your trip, start keeping track of how much your dog eats daily and pack accordingly.


Be sure to also consider any treats your dog might be having on top of their meals. Treats are a great way to capture your pet’s attention and keep them busy while you’re driving.  Long-lasting bags of treats, like these Yak Chews, are perfect to have on hand. 


They are made from 100% milk and no artificial ingredients – a win-win! The product also boasts a 100% money-back guarantee if your pooch is fussy.


For the record, my dogs love this treat and they last for a long chewing time. I usually buy a 5lb bag to keep us going for a while.


Ecokind Himalayan Dog Chews

My larger dogs also enjoy these easy-to-digest collagen sticks. They seem to last just that bit longer than most other treats – particularly good for those aggressive chewers.


They’re easy to digest and are made from top-quality ingredients. Available in a variety of pack sizes and there’s even a subscription option.


Pawstruck Beef Collagen Sticks

7. Car Appropriate Toys 

While your dog can’t utter the dreaded “are we there yet?”, they will most certainly let you know when they have had enough. Puzzle toys are ideal entertainment during these long stretches in the car.


Many classic puzzle toys, like the Kong, involve food. While these are great if you’re willing to pop a towel down, or your dog is traveling in a crate, they aren’t always ideal for the car. Luckily, there are other options!


Strategically rotating through ‘hide and seek’ style toys such as the ZippyPaws Popcorn Bucket and Milk and Cookies Plush will still result in hours of fun. 


ZippyPaws Popcorn Bucket

ZippyPaws Milk and Cookies

8. Pet-Friendly First Aid Kit

Despite the best planning, sometimes things go wrong. Having a dedicated doggy first-aid kit on hand can be the difference between a simple accident and an emergency. 


If your pooch is a seasoned traveler, you’ll likely already have everything you need to create your kit. You will need to include items like:

  • Vaccination records
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Registration papers
  • Medications and supplements
  • Gloves
  • Scissors
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Thermometer
  • Tick removal tools 

If you don’t already have a first aid kit put together, purchasing a pre-made kit can be simpler and more cost-effective.


The Adventure Dog Canine First Aid Kit is a perfect starting point. This beginners kit includes all of the basics, with the helpful addition of a  pet-focused first aid handbook. It also includes basic first aid items that you can use so is a 2 in 1 solution.


Adventure Medical Kits Dog Series

9.  Grooming Kit

If your trip is predominately outdoors, remember that your dog may need to be groomed more frequently than usual. Mud, twigs, and that beloved wet dog smell are all likely to make an appearance. 


If you already have a great selection of grooming tools at home, simply pop them in a  travel container and tick them off of your list! If not, then a pre-packed grooming kit is a simple way to ensure you have everything you need on hand. We highly recommend picking up a grooming kit that includes a brush and a comb.


If you’re a stickler for canine oral hygiene, then a toothbrush might also be on the list. This grooming kit has a good balance of grooming basics and is a lightweight alternative.


A bottle of gentle dog shampoo like the Burt’s Bees one is also handy to have when visiting the beach or camping. I personally love a more compact shampoo bar and this natural soap bar smells divine. 


5-in-1 Pet Grooming Kit For Dogs

2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

WashBar Natural Dog Soap Bar

10. Dog Waste Bags

No matter the length of your trip, waste bags are our top dog car travel essentials.


Bathroom breaks can quickly turn unpleasant when there are no pick-up supplies on hand. Keep in mind when making an emergency bathroom stop that there likely won’t be a trash can allowing you to dispose of any waste immediately.


For this reason, we highly recommend these Fazaihkg Extra Thick Bags. The strong seal and lavender scent will prevent any unpleasant scents from escaping into the vehicle until you can dispose of the bag properly. 


FAZAIHKG Dog Poop Bags

Time to Hit the Road!

You’re packed and ready to go, it’s time to set off!


Why not test out our list of dog road trip essentials on one of these incredible pet-friendly road trips?


Jenni C.
Jenni C.

Jenni and her dog Bailey take every opportunity to go adventuring together. Now their family of pups has grown to 7. Their favorite places to visit are freshwater lakes and mountains.