I travel a lot with my dogs. So much that I’ve been able to refine my list of dog travel essentials over time and for different scenarios.
To make taking a vacation with my dogs easier, and to make sure I don’t forget anything, I created this pet travel checklist for when I stay in a roofed accommodation like Airbnb or hotel (we also camp, road trip, backpack, and overland and I’ll be working on lists for those two).
This list will work whether you are packing for a weekend trip with your dog or will be gone for several weeks at a time.
What will vary most is how much of everything you bring.
What Are My Dog Travel Essentials?
When I think of my must-haves for traveling with a dog I, or course, think of essentials like food, treats, medications, supplements, collar, leash, etc.
But to me, “essentials” go way beyond that.
Things that will help take care of little messes, on my dogs or on the floor, are also essential.
It’s also very important to me that my dogs be comfortable and the hotel stay feels a bit like a second home to them so they stay relaxed and happy.
What to Put in a Dog Travel Bag
I organized my packing list into categories.
Food and medication goes into a locking bin so the dogs can’t accidentally gorge on food or eat medication that will make them sick.
I put the dog’s eating kit – bowls, slop mat, etc – into a tote bag.
Keeping your dog travel essentials in a bag is not possible for some of the bigger items but storing them in the same area of the house will help you pack quicker when it’s time to go.
The cleaning supplies and most of what is on the rest of the checklist goes inside a dog travel bag.
Exceptions are big, bulky items.
For example, the portable dog crate, if I bring it, just gets shoved somewhere in my car.
The dog blankets, crate, and crate pad/bed don’t make it inside a bag either.
But You have So Much on Your List. I Don’t Have That Much Room to Bring it All!
Yes, my checklist has a lot of stuff on it. My purpose was to include absolutely everything I bring.
Also, I’m a dog gear fanatic so we have a lot of stuff for a multitude of scenarios.
My primary mode of travel with my dogs is via vehicle. Specifically, my SUV.
I fully understand that this affords me the luxury of bringing pretty much anything I would need or want for my dogs.
Depending on your mode of travel, you may not be able to bring everything you would like to.
If I was flying with my dog, I would have to narrow this list down. A lot!
Cross things off the checklist that you opt not to bring, at least not on the current trip, after you print it out.
My Favorite Dog Travel Essentials
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For the most part, I mentioned generic items on the checklist.
However, because I travel with my dogs so much, I love testing out the latest and greatest products, and I have really high standards, people are often interested in what we use ourselves.
So here are some of the key products we bring with us when we travel and stay in hotels, Airbnbs, vacation cabins, or other accommodations with a roof over our head.
I grouped them as they appear on the checklist below.
I didn’t include every item here because either we don’t have any favorites or we have a lot we switch between.
- Dog Food – This is what I feed my Dachshunds to keep them fit and healthy
- Dog Treats – Since my dogs get so many treats when they travel (for training and photo shoots), I primarily use actual food and consider it part of their daily food ration. Favorite treats include Only Natural Pet RawNibs and Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Mini Nibs.
Try to stick to the same food and treats you feed at home so your dog doesn’t get an upset tummy. Travel can already be stressful enough.
- Flavored water additive – I use a splash of coconut water or bone broth (this freeze dried one is handy for travel).
- HEMP CBD Dog Calming Treats – the HempMy pet CBD treats and oil are high quality and very effective for us.
Dog Medical Needs
- Dog Nail Clippers – These dog nail clippers from Millers Forge were recommended to me from a veterinarian.
- Protecting paw balm – Our go-to for years has been Musher’s Secret Paw Wax. I’ve recently been experimenting with Tuff-Foot because it’s been highly recommended to me.
- Dog Friendly Bug Repellant – If I want something totally natural knowing it won’t be as effective when the bugs are super bad, I use Wondercide Flea & Tick Spray. If I need to bring out the heavy stuff, I use Natrapel Insect Repellent Spray (note: the main ingredient – picaridin – is not approved by the FDA by use on dogs but studies have indicated it’s pretty safe).
Dog Cleaning/Cleanup Supplies
- Air Freshener Spray – I don’t know how something that smells faintly of Play-Doh can get all of the stink our of the air but I think Pure Ayre Odor Eliminator is pretty amazing.
Having cleaning supplies on hand for your hotel stay – the same favorites you know will work – can help give you peace of mind you can handle any accidents.
- Pet Stain and Odor Remover – My #1 favorite cleaner for pet messes on carpets and upholstery is Biokleen Bac-Out. It has a fresh, citrus scent. My second favorite is Nature’s Miracle Advanced Formula.
Dog Travel Essentials
The checklist of dog travel essentials I created is specifically for hotel-type stays.
But, honestly, the list is mostly the same whether we are staying in a roofed accommodation, camping in a tent, or going on a road trip.
- Food bowls – These are always some style of collapsible silicone bowl by the Dexas brand. My current favorite is their Popware for Pets Single Elevated Pet Feeder.
- Food slop mat – I like the Dexas Grippmat dog placemat because it doesn’t slide around and is completely waterproof to protect floors.
- Training treat pouch – I have several different models but it’s worth mentioning that the one I like most because of the simplicity and magnet closure is the Ruffwear Treat Trader. I also like the MuttRuk Sidekick Hip Pack when I need to carry a little more than just treats.
- Harness/Collar – I’m a firm believer of only using a harness to walk my Dachshunds for these reasons. You can read about our favorite harnesses in this article and this one.
- Dog Bandana – Sure, my dogs look cute wearing one but the main purpose is to help keep buys away (I use this method to make my own insect repellant dog bandanas)
- Dog bed/Crate pad – I like the Dream Chaser Classic Dog Crate Bed from Tall Tails because it’s supportive, water resistant, and has “cooler” side but can be flipped over to reveal a cozy fleece side.
- Dog blankets – We’ve been using the cozy fleece blankets from Tall Tails for a long time. I love how they look new even after years of use (and no pilling!)
- Dog Jacket(s) – I’ve tested many and listed our favorite dog jackets that fit Dachshunds in this article.
- Portable playpen – I don’t use the Carlson 6-Panel Foldable and Portable Play Pen in the hotel room but often bring it to help contain the dogs, without having to hold onto the leash, at the park or beach. It’s also great because it comes with a sun/UV shade to help keep your pup cool.
Pet Travel Checklist
Below is my list of must-haves when traveling with a dog.
Click on either of the pages to access a high-resolution, larger version you can print.
While some dog travel essentials will vary by activity and where you are staying, the majority of the gear and supplies list stays the same.
Referencing a checklist as you pack for each dog-friendly trip or vacation will help ensure you don’t forget something important.
If you are staying in a hotel, you are likely by a store where you can purchase anything you forgot, or discover that you need, but it’s more budget friendly to not buy duplicates of everything.
If you’re staying in a cabin or Airbnb it’s possible that you are in a more remote location and running down to the store, or finding what you need there, will be challenging.
If you are camping, there will be some things on this list you don’t need.
For example, the carpet cleaner and air freshener. You can cross those things off the checklist.
If you’re flying, you certainly won’t have room in your luggage, or carry on bag, to bring even a fraction of these things with you.
You can use this list as a reference though and just circle the things you want to bring depending on available space and destination type.
Hopefully you find this printable dog travel essentials checklist helpful.