Travel Essentials for Your Dog You Don’t Want to Leave Behind

Sometimes a vacation is only as good as your packing list. Forget the bathing suit on a beach vacation and you’ll spend more time at the shopping mall than you like. It’s the same when traveling with your dog. Forget his favorite food and you may find yourself pet food store hopping to find the right brand. Forget her favorite toy and you might have to endure days of whining. Worst of all, forget to bring adequate ID and if your dog bolts at a roadside rest stop, you might never see her again.

To help ensure your next vacation with the dog goes smoothly, we’ve put together a list of the most essential items you’ll want to pack.

Collar, Leash, Harness (and ID)

Depending on where you’re going, what you plan to do, and what your dog’s preferences are, you may or may not need a harness. But you’ll definitely want to bring a collar and leash, possibly even more than one of each.

Best Overall: Perfect no matter where you’re going, we particularly love the Lazer Brite Reflective Open-Design Adjustable Collar because of its reflectivity. Whether you’ll be walking your dog through busy streets in the evening or relaxing in a campground, the 3M material is visible for up to 600 feet. The matching leash is equally as visible, making it nearly impossible to be missed, even under the dimmest light conditions.

Not worried about being seen at night? We’re also fans of the Sublime, Styles and Wolfgang collections, which come in many stylish and fun colors and patterns, making them perfect for city breaks where looking good is important.  

Best for Active Vacations: The extra durable K9 Explorer Brights Reflective Adjustable Collar, K9 Explorer Brights Reflective Front-Connect Harness, and selection of K9 Explorer Reflective leashes is perfect for hiking and camping outings with your pooch. Combining reflective technology with sturdy construction and an earthy aesthetic, the K9 Explorer collection is designed to keep your dog safe while exploring the great outdoors.

Best for Water Fun: While both the Lazer Brite and K9 Explorer collection have most of your vacation options covered, we’d be remiss not to call out our Pro Waterproof collars, leash and harness. Made with a durable, specially coated webbing that’s completely waterproof, these are a must-pack if you know your dog will be spending any time in the water.

If your vacation includes any amount of time spent on a boat (whether that’s a canoe, kayak or something bigger), we’d also suggest outfitting your pup with a doggy lifejacket for extra security.

Finally, don’t forget your dog’s ID. It’s best if you can get him microchipped before hitting the road, but even chipped dogs should always be wearing a name tag with your contact info on it.

Dog Food, Food & Water Bowls

Nobody likes traveler’s tummy, including your dog, and the best way to insure against it is to bring your dog’s regular food. For car trips, we recommend loading your dog’s kibble into an easy-pour Bergan Smart Food Storage bin, which comes in three sizes.

Don’t forget his preferred canned wet food and treats, as well. Plus, you’ll need at least two bowls for his food and water.

And, always remember, no matter where you’re going, you always want your dog to have access to fresh water.

The Bergan Collapsible and Life Is Good travel bowls are both collapsible for easy storage and transport. Both can hold up to three cups of food or water.

Dog Crate, Carrier or Car Harness

Depending on your dog’s size and how you’ll be traveling, you’re going to need something to keep him safe during transport.

Going by airplane? Unless your dog is small enough to slip under the seat in a carrier, you’ll need a crate for transporting him in the cargo hold.

(Learn more about how to crate train your dog for a stress-free travel experience.)

Traveling by car? You’ve got several choices. If you’ve got a big enough vehicle, like an SUV or truck, you can put him in a crate in the back. With a smaller car, you’ll need a harness like the Bergan Auto Harness or a carrier that can be clipped to the seat using the seatbelt, like the Bergan Booster Pet Carrier.

By the way, if your dog is a shedder and you’ll be spending lots of time in the car (especially a rental), consider bringing a seat protector. It makes cleaning up so much easier.


Sleeping in a strange place, be it hotel room, tent or crate on a long-haul flight, can be stressful for a dog. You can make it easier by bringing along her favorite dog bed or blanket. That way, no matter where they are, it smells like home.


You wouldn’t leave home without toys for your toddler. Give your dog the same consideration and make sure you’ve got a selection of her favorite toys to keep her occupied on the road, in her crate on the plane, or even just hanging out in a hotel room. (We like to recommend the Rascals Fleec-e-Friends toys. They’re durable but also a great sleeping companion for dogs who like something soft to lay their head on; the Li’l Pals version does the same for small dogs.)

Toys for outdoors are great as well, especially if you’ll be visiting a local dog park or spending time at the beach. (We love the ProFit Foam Toy Mega Ring for beach days. It’s waterproof and floats, making it great for water retrieving.)

Cleaning Supplies

No matter where you go, your dog is going to, well, go. And you need to be ready to clean up after her. That includes poo bags, but also cleaning supplies, like paper towels and spray cleaner, in case she has an accident in a hotel bathroom. You may want to consider bringing puppy pads as an extra precaution.


If your dog takes any type of medication, whether prescribed or a supplement, make sure to bring enough with you to last your entire trip.

If you’ll be spending any time outdoors, you’ll also want to ensure his flea and tick medicine is up to date. (Up-to-date vaccinations are important too.) You may also want to ask your vet if you should double up by adding on a flea collar if you know you’re going someplace where fleas and ticks are particularly common. (If the vet does recommend adding a flea collar, consider switching his collar to a SecureAway Flea Collar Protector each time you’re going to be somewhere he needs the extra protection.)

Also, don’t forget a small medical kit (gauze, cotton balls, antibiotic spray or ointment) just in case your dog gets injured.

Destination/Season Specific

There are some items you’ll need to pack if you’re going certain places or certain times, like the life jacket if you’re going boating as mentioned above. Here are a few others:

Camping: Many campsites require dog owners to tie out their pet. The Titan Stake and Cable Tie Out Combo has everything you’ll need if the campsite you’re going to requires it. We’d also recommend something like our USB Light-Up Neck Ring for extra visibility in the campground after the sun goes down.

Summer: Summer travel has its own requirements, like making sure you always have enough water on hand to keep your dog from getting dehydrated. But we also recommend sunblock for his ears and nose, and especially if your dog has light colored fur.

Winter: Like summer, you’ll want a few extra items for any winter trips. For dogs with short fur, a sweater or coat may be helpful if you’ll be spending time outdoors. Paw and nose ointments are good to keep them hydrated when the air is cold and dry. Even doggy booties can be helpful depending on where you’ll be going.