Dog Travel Essentials Checklist 🚌

Dog Travel Essentials Checklist 🚌

The holiday season is upon us and that usually means traveling.

Whether you are road-tripping, planning a nearby staycation, or visiting family out of town, bringing your fur best friend is always a plus. But, how should you prepare for a pet-friendly vacation? Team Tomlinson's has you covered from safety to cleaning up pet messes on the go.

Here are ten must-have items for your dog travel bag:

1) Easy-To-Serve Food

This might be a no-brainer, but the anxiety of a new place will sometimes make your pet unwilling to eat. Especially if this is your first time traveling, you'll need something that is high-value and acts as a reward.

Freeze-dried food is our preferred travel food. Not only is it one of the healthiest and most bioavailable foods to feed your pet, but it's a multi-use formula. You can serve as is for a full meal, mix with water to create a wet food texture, or use as a treat. 

You can also sprinkle freeze-dried food onto your pet's kibble. It will bring a new smell to the scene, enticing them to eat while on the road. Plus, mixing the formula with water will hydrate your pet.

Pick up a bag of Northwest Naturals on your next shopping trip. This freeze-dried food has a soft, palatable formula you can serve dry or mix with water. It's a complete and balanced meal in a resealable bag. Score!

Dog Sleeping in Their Kennel

2) Kennel or Carrier

Whether you utilize them in your normal routine or not, we recommend adding a kennel or carrier to your packing list. Safety and comfort for our pets should be a top priority for pet parents. And when on the road, kennels and carriers make it easier, safer, and less stressful to transport your dog to and from.


On a road trip? Pet travel by car is safest in a crash-tested kennel. Their kennel should be big enough for them to sit, stand, and turn around in, but small enough to keep them secure. Generally, travel crates should be no more than six inches longer than your dog.

Don't forget to secure your crate with ratchet straps, bungee cords, or seatbelts. In the event of a car accident, a secured down crate will provide adequate shielding and can prevent serious injury to your pet.

Airlines require carriers and each airline will have specific kennel dimensions and regulations on pet sizes and breeds—yes, breeds. Please refer to and abide by your airline's unique pet guidelines.


Your dog's kennel is their den, a safe space for them to relax or decompress from potentially stressful environments. A properly sized and secured kennel will help with travel anxiety.

Some pups take their stress out on nearby pillows, rugs, or furniture. If you're staying in pet-friendly hotels or rentals, crates might just save you from paying accidental damage fees. 

Fill your dog's crate or carrier with a chew-safe bed or mat and their favorite toy for long-distance coming and going. When staying overnight in a crate, be sure to remove any toys. Stress can lead to over-chewing and toys can become choking hazards.

Golden Lab Puppy laying in thin dog bed

3) On-The-Go Bed

When choosing a travel bed, ask yourself two things: Is the bed easy to clean? Does it fit in their kennel?

From muddy paws to potty accidents, you'll want a machine washable, moisture-wicking, stain-resistant pet bed that duos as a comfy sleep spot. Thankfully those are easy to find at Tomlinson's!

Having a bed and kennel mat, especially one that smells of home, will make being in their den comfortable and transport much easier to manage. Dog Waiting for their food to fill a collapsible bowl from Ruffwear

4) Collapsible Bowls

Unless your kennel comes with secure food and water bowls, a collapsible bowl is a great (and our recommended) option.

Collapsible travel bowls are designed with adventurers in mind, with fabric that is portable, durable, and ready to hit the road. Our favorite bowl is Ruffwear Bivy Dog Travel Bowl.

Remember to pack plenty of water and enough shelf-stable pet food for your journey.

Tomlinson's Pro Tip: Use one bowl for food and water! Just give it a wash between use and you'll save space and money.

5) Bottled Water

Grab a gallon jug the next time you're at the store! You'll be glad you have it.

Having fresh water will come in handy if your pet need drinking water or if there paws/coat get dirty from an outdoor adventure. 

Dog with a Pet Seatbelt in the car

6) Harness, Leash, & Seatbelt

All dogs are different. This means all dogs react differently. It's important to have a harness and leash, not just a collar, on hand when away traveling away from home.

Properly fitted and secured harnesses not only keep your dog at your side in unfamiliar territory but help with car travel safety. If you utilize a pet seatbelt when your pet is in the car, it's important you use a harness rather than a collar.

In case of a car accident, a collar could slip off or cause neck injury and harm to your dog. A harness, especially a car harness tethered by a pet seatbelt, is designed to prevent jerking with sudden movements.

Check out this seatbelt & harness for dogs.

Picking up Dog Poo in a eco-friendly baggie

7) Dog Poop Bags

Always pack your biodegradable poop bags for your road trips!

While our baggies are biodegradable, they are not to be thrown back into the woods. The great outdoors should look like the great outdoors, not your pup's personal litter box. 

Always pick up after your doggo by scooping and disposing of their poop bags properly. If you don't, some cities come with fines. Here in Austin, there is up to a $500 fine for lawbreakers who don't scoop the poo. Won't that make for a fun vacation story? 

White fluffy dog getting dried off with a red towel

8) Towels & Fabric Cleaner

Whether they are planned or unplanned, there will be a few messes to clean up––trust us. A couple of small towels, or even paper towels, stowed away in the backseat will come in handy when cleaning off dirty paws, wet fur, and impending messes.

A towel can also duo as an indoor game and toy! All you need is a towel and training treats. We'll deliver these dog treats today. 

Instructions: Lay a towel flat on the ground and sprinkle a handful of treats on top. Scrunch and twist the towel into a messy ball, keeping the treats inside. Your dog will push and move the towel around to find the hidden treasure inside. Easy peasy!

Dog with a makeshift muzzle out of gauze in their first aid kit.

9) First Aid Kit

While it's common practice to have a human first aid kit, don't forget about Fido! Accidents can happen anywhere - which is why it's important to be prepared.

A pet first aid kit specialized just for your dog could help save their life (and yours), but what should you keep inside of one?

We have a full list of first-aid must-haves, but when traveling, you may be short on space. Here is an updated list of items to keep in your kit when you're packed to the brim:

  1. Gauze (use as a muzzle in a pinch)
  2. Scissors
  3. Tweezers
  4. Antiseptic & Antibiotic
  5. Cotton Pads
  6. Benadryl
  7. Disposable Gloves

Dog At Table with a Collar On

10) Vaccination Records & Dog ID Tags

Most airlines and pet friendly hotels will require updated ID tags, microchips, and vaccination records. Although most of this information is uploaded online, bring physical copies. You'll be glad you brought them with you in case of technical difficulties.

Your dog's ID tags should include your cell phone number along with your home address.

Nice-to-haves when on the road:

Packed the pet travel essentials? If you have room, here are a few more supplies our team would add to their travel checklist.

Ruffwear Dog Shoes

Pet Booties

Protect your pup's paws from the hot, Texas pavement to snowfall in Colorado with dog booties. These boots are made for walking and won't slip off when you're on the go. 

You'll be glad you had them on rocky trails as paw pad inquiries can be painful and costly. 

Tomlinson's Pro Tip: If you're an adventurous lot, Ruffwear is a Team Favorite brand and makes gear perfect for the outdoorsy pup and human. 

Snoop Toy for a Dog - Interactive Toy with peanut Butter in it

Dog Busy Toys

Aside from their favorite toy, bring a brain teaser! Interactive toys offer hours of long-lasting, brain-stimulating entertainment for dogs of any size. 

Our go-to toy is the Snoop! This dog toy can be filled with treats, kibble, or even a decadent delight like peanut butter or plain yogurt. This is our favorite PB, but any xylitol-free PB will do.

Spraying a Calming Spray on their Travel Dog Bed

Calming Aids - for your pet!

Seek out a dog-safe supplement that will help keep your pet calm in loud, stressful situations using hemp oil or a blend of calming herbs. Bonus: many of these supplements can also support a number of issues including appetite and pain relief.

Our team's favorite Claiming Aid? With notes of lavender, grapefruit, and roman chamomile, a few spritzes of this locally made Dog Bed Spray will help calm your pup and refresh their dog bed. 

We're here for you.

Now that you have your travel goods, it's time to hit the road or catch your flight. The last thing to pack is Fido!

Message our team if you need recommendations for food, treats, and traveling products even if you are away from your local Tomlinson's. We're always here to help.

Featured Products

RC Pets Sit Tight Grey Seatbelt Tether

RC Pets Sit Tight Grey Seatbelt Tether clips to your dog's harness and then clicks into the female slot of any of your car's seat belts. You can le...

View full details
Tall Tails Dream Chaser Crate Bed

Tall Tails Dream Chaser Crate Bed is a is made with the floppiest pup in mind. This mat fits into most sized crate, is built for pups who love to s...

View full details
from $45.99
Tomlinson's Poop Bags

Make sure to grab some of these sturdy, blue waste bags before your morning and evening stroll! Dog Bag Highlights: Unscented Tie up easily Contain...

View full details

Related Posts

15+ Dog-Friendly Activities in Austin, Texas

15+ Dog-Friendly Activities in Austin, Texas

Exploring the city isn't complete without your pup at your side. So grab your leash, their booties (yes, seriously), and some drinking water because we're...
Read now
16 Must-Haves In Your Dog's First Aid Kit

16 Must-Haves In Your Dog's First Aid Kit

A pet first aid kit specialized for your pet could help save his life, but how should you build one? Let’s take a look at some...
Read now