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Tips for Long Distance Roadtripping with your Dog

Updated: Jun 17

I wanted to share some things that have helped me throughout my experiences driving all across the United States. I've driven all over the country with Sora, most of the time with someone, but also solo as well. I've driven through all different kinds of climates - high desert, snowy mountains, and coastal regions, and have had a blast in the process!

Some examples of routes I've driven in the last few years are:

  1. Virginia -> Indiana -> Kansas -> Denver (2020 summer)

  2. Denver -> Jackson Hole -> Bend -> Cannon Beach -> Seattle (2021 summer)

  3. Seattle -> Bend -> Redwood National Park -> Fresno -> Las Vegas -> Zion National Park -> Moab -> Denver

  4. Denver -> Omaha -> Chicago -> Connecticut -> Boston -> NYC -> DC -> Indiana -> Kansas City -> Denver (2021/2022 winter)

  5. Denver -> Crested Butte -> Ouray -> Salt Lake City -> Lake Tahoe -> San Francisco - > Monterey -> Santa Barbara -> Los Angeles -> San Diego -> Phoenix -> Santa Fe ->Denver (2022 summer)

Working Remotely while on the Road

During my solo California roadtrip this summer I was working remotely during the week days. If I was spending multiple days in a location, then i'd work from the hotel, so ensuring there is reliable wifi is important (read reviews or call!).

Some days I would need to log on for a meeting, but i'd be between destinations (checking out early and not able to drive and check-in to the next place yet).My go-to thing would be to find a dog-friendly coffeeshop and get some iced coffee and breakfast. When searching for a cafe, Google lets you search reviews, search for common words like "dog" or "pet" and then also type "dog friendly coffeeshop" in your google maps search bar. You can also check Yelp if those don't provide the information and lastly you can always call an establishment beforehand. I'd also recommend searching "wifi" in the reviews as some people will mention reliability and speeds. As a backup, you should have a personal hotspot available for use on your phone. Charge your laptop the night before!

Getting through the Long Leg days

It's important to know your maximum amount that you can comfortably drive. The max I can do on my own is about 8 hours, once I hit that I know I'll need to rest and stop driving. Try to drive during the daylight hours and start early to avoid getting sleepy, if you can. Also be familiar with cruise control and utilize it for long straightaways so you can stretch your legs and go longer distances.

I'll try and go for a run or walk in the morning to help tire me and Sora out physically and then I usually start the morning with large Americano coffee. Coffees really add up these days, so I highly recommend switching over to a portable espresso machine if you travel a lot and drink a few a day. I usually have a cooler and espresso pods with my tumblr. This reduces my costs and keeps my awake whenever and wherever I am. You'll save money and reduce plastic waste, which is a win win!

Then I switch to energy gels or chews since that'll prevent tons of bathroom stops. Ask some friends if they are busy during the long leg drives (when you know you'll have service) and have audiobooks or podcasts downloaded for when you don't have service. Having a roadtrip playlist downloaded is also great, but I have found I can get bored of music once i've been driving for too long. I'll link two of my Spotify playlists here: Mountains, Hiking music.

Some of my favorite Apple podcasts shows are:

  • Date & Mates with Damona Hoffman

  • Love, Happiness, & Success with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  • TED Radio Hour

  • She Explores

  • How I Built This with Guy Raz

  • Seasons 3 and 9 of Something was Wrong

Make Preparations for your Dog's Health

Sora is a very sensitive dog and sometimes she gets pain in her leg which can be random. On our east coast roadtrip from Denver to Connecticut last year we were in Chicago and she was having a severe case of limping. I had to quickly find a vet and get her seen so we could get her medication. I unfortunately left her Carprofen at home, since she hadn't limped in a long time and I didn't think we'd need it for the month on the road. The one medicine I never leave at home on roadtrips is Sora's Cerenia medicine (dramamine for dogs that helps prevent motion sickness). It has been a huge life saver for long drives as Sora still tends to throw up in the car without it. This doesn't make her drowsy at all, but helps stop the need to vomit. I also use this for plane rides. In general it can also be nice so that they don't get sick in the hotel rooms. It's also common for dogs to not want to eat while their routine is disrupted. I like to stop by a local grocery store and buy rotisserie chicken (it's cheap and healthy) and put it in her dog food to help stimulate her hunger.

Hotels & Dogs

When you're choosing a hotel, always check the cost of the pet fee and factor that into the total cost when you're comparing prices; some hotels (notably Marriott can have insane pet fee prices) will appear cheaper than charge large amounts for pets, though I still find hotels are superior to Airbnb when you're traveling alone or just with one other person. Make sure the hotel has a fully refundable policy. Make sure to notify the hotel when you book it (usually there's a messaging section) and they will make note of that for the reservation, some hotels have a limited number of pet-friendly rooms. If your dog sheds a lot, consider bringing a lightweight, old sheet you can lay on top of the bed to avoid pet hair removal costs. I also use lint rollers to clean before I checkout as well.

Dogs can be very sensitive to new environments, if your dog gets bad separation anxiety it might be best to prepare a few ways to make them more comfortable when you have to leave them at the hotel room. I open the blinds so Sora can see outside, which helps relieve her anxiety. I also put the "Do not Disturb" sign on the hotel room door so that she doesn't get spooked by strangers (cleaning staff) coming into the room while i'm gone. I also like to put the TV on so there's some ambience noise - this helps drown out the sound of people or other dogs walking by in the halls which causes her to bark and become alert; it can also cover the sound of her crying and/or barking which hotels can reprimand you for. If you're able to bring a dog bed or crate, that can also help them feel more comfortable. I have the Diggs Eventur inflatable dog travel crate which is great if you need to save space in your car; it inflates in about 20 seconds.

Embrace the Solitude or Time with a Loved One

If you are going solo and you're into it, bring a journal in case you need to write your thoughts down one of the evenings; i did a lot of this on my first solo camping trip. There is no one else there to tell you where to go, how long to spend there, what to eat, or what to do. If you want to drive an extra amount of time for the perfect breakfast burrito or skip dinner and go for a run along the beach, do it! Allow the freedom of traveling alone to take you where it does. Spark up conversations with other people and see where the night takes you!

If you're traveling with a companion be sure to be mindful of things that interest them as well. Ideally you are traveling with someone who wants to see and do similar things as you, but that's not always the case and sometimes you'll need to adjust. When I was roadtripping with my dad through Zion, I knew he wasn't going to be able to do Angels Landing, so I picked one of the easier hikes for us near the narrows and then the only dog friendly trail that was flat and easy for his comfort. When you're with friends you can start a Spotify playlist remote party and have others add their songs to it as you go.

Know your Route & Have an Alternative Route Planned

Make sure to research the route as well as an alternative/backup route in the case of extreme weather and closures. If you're traveling in the summer on the western part of the US you might get re-routed due to wildfires (think Tahoe summer of 2021) or you might end up like me and get rerouted due to flooding and mudslides in October of 2021 (we had to throw away our reservations at Yosemite and Tahoe and head towards Vegas to avoid the flooding across all of California). The entire Napa valley was flooding and the road was disappearing beneath us - it was one of the most scary moves of my life as I went from Seattle back to Denver.

Efficiency & Money Saving Tips

Try to avoid backtracking for any and all hikes or stops if you can. If the hike is en route to your next destination, then aim to just stop along your drive. You'll be very exhausted after a long drive that you probably wont want to drive another 2 hours on your "off day" for a hike. This past summer gas prices were insane - and I have car that takes premium, so it was needless to say a very expensive roadtrip. I used the Gas Buddy app each time I need to fill up, and it really made me regret not having a Costco card on past roadtrips as they consistently had the cheapest gas in every city/state I visited - especially in Lake Tahoe, California.

Choose Safe Areas & Other General Safety + Dog Road Trip Tips

Solo travel as a woman comes with more risk than for men. The times I was most scared on my roadtrips were at isolated gas stations where people have harassed me or approached me for money and checking into motels at night. I try to go to populated, well-lit gas stations and bail out if there are sketchy people around.

  1. Aim to do most things in the daylight. Always go during the daylight if you're in an unfamiliar area. If you can check-in during daylight that helps too. Don't engage with strangers no matter how helpless they may appear, they should know better than to approach a single woman and making her uncomfortable. If it's the summertime, take your dog out before it gets dark for the evening so that you don't need to go outside alone when it's dark.

  2. Share your location with your family and friends, so they can check on you if something happens.

  3. Have a plan if your car breaks down and/or tire goes flat. MINI has an "SOS" button that can be used and I know I can call a local towing company if my car's tire goes flat.

  4. Be aware of temperature changes and tire pressure. I usually have to fill the air in my tires at least once when on long roadtrips - especially traveling from warm to colder climates and vice versa. Know how to fill the air up or a place you can get it done for you (costco also provides this service for free).

  5. Download Offline Maps. If you're heading to an area that is remote, which can honestly be places you would expect to have service, it's smart to just download an offline map from Google Maps so that in the case your directions get disconnected from a stop, you'll be able to still safely get to your destination. Most mountains towns or drives between major cities I didn't have service and definitely felt more nervous about stopping and having the directions get interrupted.

  6. Sunshade + Glass Cleaner for Sunglasses. I absolutely hate nothing more than being in the sun side in the car. I get burned very easily, even with sunscreen, so I use my sunshade to help block those UV rays so I don't get overheated or burned on long drives in one direction. I also use a glass cleaner spray to make sure my sunglasses are always clean so I can see clearly.

  7. Use that Windshield cleaner at the gas stations! You have no idea how many bugs have really hit your windshield until you're driving at sunset and/or in the night and you can't see a thing due to the bugs covering your view! It's extremely unsafe for visibility and just gross!

  8. Consider getting your Concealed Carry Permit and having a personal firearm for extra safety precautions. It's hopefully something you'll never ever have to use, but in the most extreme case where someone tries to abduct you / in a human trafficking scenario, you will have yourself covered. There are gun safety courses you can enroll in based on your state. Firearms are a tool that need to be carefully considered before bringing into your life, but they are something that can protect you in a dangerous situation. I have the p365 sig sauer in rose gold!


Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

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