We just got back from our road trip to Stockholm with our dog Nello. After almost 4k kilometers (about 2500 miles) and multiple hours spent in the car we can definitely say: Nello is the best travel buddy ever. It was such a lovely trip, he was on his best behavior and it was so much joy to explore the world with him.
But not every dog is as easygoing as him. If you want to find out whether it’s a good idea to take your dog on vacation with you and what you need to think about when planning a trip with your dog, read on! We got you covered with helpful travel tips, advice from our experience and a packing list! Let’s get started!
Dog Travel Tip #1: Make Sure Your Dog Will Be Happy to Join You!
As much as we understand that you want to take your dog everywhere you go – including your summer vacation – your number one priority should always be your dog’s wellbeing. Don’t be selfish and take your dog on vacation only because you’d feel miserable without them. So before you even consider taking your dog on vacation, ask yourself: Is my dog okay with being away from home? Are they fine with spending time in a car or any other means of transportation? Will they like being in a new environment and seeing lots of new people, dogs, places?
Only if your answer to all of these questions is “yes”, you should even think about taking your dog on vacation with you. If your dog is very anxious or gets overstimulated easily, please look for a good doggy hotel or ask a friend to take care of your dog while you are gone. After all, if your dog is not happy, you won’t be able to enjoy your vacation either.
Dog Travel Tip #2: Choose a Dog Friendly Destination
So if you’ve decided to bring your dog on the trip, you should choose your destination wisely. There are lots of things to take into consideration:
- Country – While some countries like Germany are dogs’ paradise, other countries are not very dog friendly and won’t allow you to bring your dog anywhere. So keep that in mind when picking your destination.
- Weather – Make sure the weather is suitable for dogs and your dog will be fine with whatever plans you have. If the climate differs too much from what your dog is used to from home, it might not be the best idea to bring your dog along. Sightseeing in the heat? Not so great.
- How to get there – When choosing a destination also think about how you are getting there and if your dog will be fine with the means of transportation and the travel time (we will discuss this in more detail later in this blog post)
- What do you want to do there – In addition you need to know what your plans at your destination will be. Most museums or art galleries for example will not allow dogs inside. So if your dog is not okay with staying at the hotel alone (which may be a problems even for dogs who normally don’t have separation anxiety) make sure you have dog friendly activities in mind.
Dog Travel Tip #3: Choose a Dog Friendly Accommodation
Going camping is probably the easiest way when going on vacation with your dog. You will never have to worry about finding a dog friendly hotel – but of course you might need to check if dogs are allowed at the campsite you want to stay at.
When it comes to choosing hotels or apartments, it gets a bit more tricky. Not only do some hotels not allow dogs, but also most will charge an additional fee if you bring a pet. From our experience this can go up to 50 Euros (almost 60 USD) per night – which is quite a lot considering Nello will not leave a single trace. Some people will smuggle their small dogs inside but we would just not feel comfortable doing that. Don’t forget you will have to go outside with your dog multiple times during your stay when they have to go potty.
Always make sure to double check with the hotels that they really do allow dogs after all. We’ve booked a hotel on booking.com once which said on their website that it was pet friendly. Once we arrived they cancelled our reservation because they didn’t have a pet room available anymore (apparently they don’t allow dogs in every room). After this experience, we always make sure to call the hotel to confirm our reservation – including Nello.
Vacation Packing List for Dogs – What Do I Need to Bring on Vacation With My Dog? The Essentials
What you will need of course depends on where you are going and what your plans are. Here are just a few essential items that should be on your packing list:
- travel documents – pet passport or other required documents
- dog bed or blanket
- food and water bowl
- enough food and treats for the time of your stay – Especially if you have a picky eater it makes sense to bring food your dog likes so you don’t have to find something they like there.
- harness and/or collar – We prefer harnesses over collars on vacation because you might not be able to concentrate on your dog as much as you normally do – as you are probably paying more attention to your surroundings!
- bottle of water for your trip
- poop bags
- nail clippers
- toothbrush and toothpaste – if you brush your dog’s teeth
- medication – more on this later
- tick removal tool
- muzzle – in some places (like some cities in Italy for example) you are required to always have a muzzle on you, sometimes you might need it only for public transportation
- backpack for your dog – of course only for small breeds
- clothes – especially for Italian Greyhounds
Travel Meds for Dogs – What to Bring and Why You Should See a Vet Before You Leave
Your dog’s health is always a priority! It always makes sense to have a first aid kit at hand including bandaids and a disinfectant spray. As Italian Greyhounds are super sensitive it is also a good idea to always bring an antihistamine in case they have an allergic reaction. Check with your vet to find a product that works well for your dog.
We recommend to always ask your vet about precautions before traveling with your dog. Leaving the country you live in means a different environment with diseases you might not know and other potential “dangers”. Your dog might need vaccinations (for example most countries require dogs to have a valid rabies vaccination) or other treatments like a flea and tick treatment. To find out more about helpful precautions when traveling with your dog in Europe, check https://www.esccap.org/travelling-pets-advice/.
Example: Around the mediterranean sea there is a disease called leishmaniasis that dogs can get through a mosquito bite. While you can never be 100 percent safe, there is a drug that you can give your dog to lower the risk of them getting stung by those mosquitos. Be aware that some dogs are very sensitive to this kind of treatment!
How Do You Want to Get There – Traveling with Your Dog By Car, Bus, Plane or Train?
But not only the destination should be chosen carefully, also think about how you want to get there.
- by car – Is your dog comfortable with being in a car and for how long? The good thing here is that you can always take a break to just stretch your legs a little or if your dog needs to go potty.
- by plane – Italian Greyhounds for example are small enough to be brought in the cabin when traveling by plane. Check the regulations of the airline you are flying with. For Lufthansa for example there are rules on how big the bag should be. The weight of the bag including the dog may not exceed 8 kg. Most airlines won’t allow dogs to get out of their bag during the flight.
- by train or bus
Nello’s longest car ride was from Copenhagen back to Munich. As there was a lot of traffic, we were in the car for 15 hours! But luckily he doesn’t mind being in the car at all as he’s been used to it from the very beginning on.
Conclusion on Traveling With Your Dog: A Great Experience For Both You And Your Dog
Traveling with your dog is definitely a great experience. But it will only be enjoyable for all of you if you are well prepared and your dog is okay with the kind of vacation you have in mind. If you make sure your dog will love it as much as you, you choose your location wisely and prepare accordingly, then you will have the best time together!