The road trip has long been an American tradition. Some of the best times of my childhood were when we loaded up the car to make the three-hour trip from Albany, GA to the Florida Panhandle. Of course, our dogs Moses and Missy were just as excited as I was in anticipation of splashing in the emerald green Gulf waters.
While many feared that rising gas prices would impact summer travel this year, lots of Americans are still planning to hit the open highways and byways of our beautiful country.
In fact, by some estimates, 2022 is shaping up to be a banner year for road trips. A survey by thevacationer.com revealed that 80% of Americans surveyed were planning some type of road adventure this year.
If you are one of the many Americans planning to add some miles to the odometer before summer’s end, consider taking your pets along for the ride. From pet-friendly roadside hotels and cafes to rest stop with pet relief areas, our pets — especially dogs — are now welcome on America’s open roads.
Whether renting an RV or cruising the highways in your own vehicle, it’s essential to prepare your dogs for long hours on the road and the warm breeze in their fur.
Drive Around Town: Get your dog used to being in the car before the big trip. Start with short rides, slowly building up the miles over time. Your pup should always be safely secured in the vehicle while in motion. Use a pet-specific travel crate, carrier, harness, or seatbelt to ensure your pet has a safe ride.
Travel Pack: In addition to the necessities like food, water, waste bags and medications, bring your pet’s favorite toys and bedding to provide them with the familiar smells of home. It’s also a good idea to pack a copy of your pet’s medical records and pick up a first aid kit before you hit the road. And, remember, your pet must wear a collar with a current ID tag.
Route Planning: When mapping out your journey, plan a rest break at least every 3 or 4 hours. This gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs, get a drink of water, and address potty needs. In addition, you’ll want to check that any overnight accommodation — whether it’s a campground, hotel or RV park — is pet friendly.
Outdoor Fun: If your dog has an adventurous spirit, be on the lookout for pet-friendly hiking trails. Keep in mind that while many California state and national parks allow pets in paved areas and campgrounds, they are often not allowed on trails. When traveling along the coast, search for dog-friendly beaches if your pup is a water lover. Always follow local leash laws and remember to pick up after your pet.
Hot Dog: Never leave your pet unattended in the car. While this is true all year long, it’s especially dangerous in extreme temperatures. With the summer heat, the temperature inside your vehicle will rapidly climb and could prove deadly within a matter of minutes.
Now that you have road trip basics down, I wish you and your four-legged family members many fun, safe and happy travels!
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on July 29, 2022.