6 Travelers Share How They Pack Their Bags and Travel with Their Dogs

Traveling with dogs can be difficult.

Just what should you pack to make sure you have everything you need for your dog – and at the same time don’t weigh yourself down with lots of unnecessary stuff?

To improve how we pack our bags, we have talked with 6 experienced travelers with dogs and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all the travelers with have lots of experience traveling with dogs, so they really know what they are talking about!).

Dog and backpack at a train station

The 6 Experts

Shandos Cleaver
I’m from Australia, but my husband and I have been travelling around Europe for the last 18 months along with our dog, a Miniature Dachshund called, Schnitzel. Prior to flying to Europe, we had rarely travelled with our dog, apart from weekend visits to relatives, as Australia isn’t a dog-friendly country. However, in the dog-friendly countries of Europe, we’ve been able to combine our love of travelling and our love of our pup.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all travelers with a dog bring?

We try to travel fairly lightly, though travelling with a dog makes this harder. (Especially when they’re as small as a Miniature Dachshund and can’t carry anything!) Most things we take for our dog I’d say are fairly common. Treats are a big must for us, as our dog isn’t always well behaved when dining out, plus he deserves a reward for posing for endless photos. He also loves his blanket (my old alpaca throw), which we bring along with his bed. He’s a big fan of snuggling, even when it’s not winter! We’ve also recently added dog toothpaste to his bag, as it’s important to maintain their dental hygiene, even when on holiday.

How do you bring things with you?

We’ve got a real mix of bags. My main travel bag is a nice leather overnight duffel bag, which is large enough to fit most of my everyday gear, but not too large that I can’t carry it around when catching public transport! As we’re travelling full-time, I’ve also got a 35L Black Wolf backpack, that carries extra shoes, seasonal gear and rarely worn clothes.

My husband travels with a large Black Wolf backpack. It’s massive, but luckily it’s large enough to fit our dog’s bag and bed, especially when we’re flying. (It’s the sole bag that we check in, the other two bags go as carry-on.)

We keep our dog’s gear in his own bag, to keep separate. It’s a cute cotton carry bag we got as a gift. Plus our dog has his own travel bag for when he’s flying in the plane cabin. It’s a simple soft bag from the pet shops – soft bags are easier to fit underneath the plane seats.

To stay organised, I have a variety of zippered pouches, plus ziplock bags are great – for everything from electrical cables to shampoo bottles to dog treats!

What are your top tips for other travelers with dogs?

It’s certainly harder to pack light when travelling with a dog, in particular when you need to bring their dog food along! We’re lucky that our dog is small, but when we buy a new bag of food, that 2kg certainly adds a lot to our bags.

The main way we don’t pack like everybody else is we don’t use rolling luggage. We see a lot of people struggling with them when travelling around Europe, especially on trains – some train stations only have stairs, plus often the only place to put your luggage is on the overhead racks. It’s also tempting if you have a large suitcase on wheels to overfill it, and bring things you don’t need. We prefer to strip back and only carry what we need.

We highly recommend other travellers to try travelling with their dog. We weren’t sure how it’d go before we started, but it’s easier than you expect. And the joy of having your dog around makes up for the extra complications of travelling with a dog.

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Susan H. Smith
I am President and owner of Pet Travel, Inc. and Pet Travel Transport, LLC. We have been in the business of helping pet owners transport their pets worldwide since 1998. We assist many travelers with proper equipment and preparations to help transport their pets safely via ground and air transport. We provide only the best crates, carriers and pet products for our pets.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all travelers with a dog bring?

For domestic travel, we bring strong leashes, harnesses, our pet’s bedding and water and food from home with travel bowls and all-natural pet calmers. As we drive, we take plenty of rest stops and let our dogs stretch their legs and do their business. They are excited when we stop, so keeping them leashed and harnessed will keep them safe. We also keep them hydrated when traveling but only feed them half of their normal ration before traveling. Less chances of upset tummies. We award their good behavior once we arrive with dinner and lots of treats. Should loud noises upset them along the way, a calmer treat will take away all the anxiety.

It is tempting to bring a lot of pet toys, chews and treats. Your pet will be focused on their excitement at being in a new environment. You cannot trade your time in introducing them to their new environment with a toy. Once acclimated, you can go to a pet store for a new toy.

How do you bring things with you?

We have larger dogs and travel in a car, but would say that pet owners with smaller dogs or cats should have a well-made pet carrier. It should have a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation and secure fasteners (heavy duty zippers). Many carriers have pockets that will allow storage for small items like pet calmers. Because the airlines will use the weight of the pet including the carrier, it is not advantageous to have too much storage available in the carrier.

Some examples of well-made carriers are SturdiBags, Sherpa, Bergan and Prefer Pets.

What are your top tips for other travelers with dogs?

Preparation, preparation, preparation. Get a good pet crate or carrier. Acclimate your pet to its crate or carrier. Practice with short trips to fun places. Research airline and country pet policies if flying or traveling internationally. Visit your vet for a health check.

Pack only basics that your dog will need: medication, rabies and health certificates, leash and collar, harness, bedding, food, water (ground, not air) and one chew toy. Don’t weigh yourself down with things you can purchase at your destination.

Visit Susan H. Smith’s website


We reside in a small suburb in Pennsylvania. Our dog Ammo has been our constant travel buddy since he was eight weeks old, we can’t imagine leaving home without him by our side.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all travelers with a dog bring?

Our top 3 things would be:

  • Ammo’s LED Glowdoggie Collar, which makes him visible at night for any evening walks. Once he accidentally escaped from our home during a Halloween party which was themed as Super Heroes. Thankfully he was wearing his Glowdoggie collar so when a bunch of adults dressed as super heroes went running down the street after a dog with a jet pack, he was easily spottable in the dark with his collar on.
  • Ammo’s GPS TRAX Collar – because inevitably we will have to hunt him down when he wanders a bit too far looking for groundhogs.
  • Ammo’s Life Vest, although he’s an excellent swimmer we all feel a little safer when he has it on around water.

How do you bring things with you?

Ammo has his own special travel bag, Haul Bag, from Ruffwear, and as a self-professed bag hoarder/user, I love to pack smaller bags inside bags. It makes it so much easier to find things quickly.

What are your top tips for other travelers with dogs?

I always find it helpful to leave a “go bag” packed at all times. It’s got the basics for different types of adventures so you can just grab it and head out the door right away. We even have family bags packed at all times like our giant “pool bag” which has everything we need for a pool day (even Ammo’s gear) so we can just wake up in the morning, decide it’s a good pool day and hop in the car. I’ve never been a light packer, but if you drive a big enough car you can be prepared for anything! 🙂

Visit Kyley’s website

Trina Cooper
Originally from Vancouver, Canada, currently travelling the United States and Canada checking out North America’s dog-friendly finds. It all started when I got relocated from NYC to Hong Kong and Maggie was only a year old. Before Maggie, when I was a makeup artist I travelled throughout Europe and the US with my cat Max, so I was prepared to start travelling with Maggie.

From there Maggie and I have travelled all across Europe, the UK and the Americas. In fact, Maggie has been on three continents. It is the best way to see the world. You instantly meet locals wherever you go!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all travelers with a dog bring?

Always Maggie’s blanket. It smells of home and she knows when I put it down she has her spot! I always have her homecooked food, so she is familiar with what’s for dinner. And most important I keep her schedule. It’s morning walks, breakfast, every day no matter where we are. Dogs love routine, and if you keep it when you travel they feel more confident and know that everything is fine. Also, I have a travel dog tag that I put on Maggie with a local number in case she ever got lost, anyone can call us locally.

I could write a book on how Maggie has helped and improved things on our travels. I have made lifelong friends while travelling with Maggie, I have seen things off the tourist track while walking Maggie and have been invited to many places due to Maggie. Life is magical when you travel with a dog. And your dog will never tell you they don’t want to go where you are going.

Useless things are things your dog would not use at home. Travel bowls that are not a good fit for your dog, for example.

How do you bring things with you?

I have a dog travel bag which contains Maggie’s blanket, her travel bowls, poo bags, food, and treats. I designed a dog travel bag and use that. It has everything I need.

What are your top tips for other travelers with dogs?

Pack the things that your dog uses at home. If you think about it, it is pretty basic. Something to sleep on, their food, travel bowls for food and water, treats and a favourite toy.

I think the only thing a lot of travelers do wrong is not taking the food that dogs eat at home. This is not the time to change their diet. Second, if you act nervous travelling, your dog is going to pick up on it and feel the same. Third, when you arrive, show your dog something great. If you are staying in a hotel, right after check-in… check out and show your dog a great place to walk or explore. It’s great for you to enjoy your surroundings and your dog is going to love it too!

Think of travelling with your dog as an extended walk. You have your bag packed, and your dog’s bag packed. Jump in the car and go! They are going to love any place that you love and watching your pet explore its new surroundings will always put a smile on your face.

Visit Trina Cooper’s website

I’m from the Indianapolis area. I’ve moved over a dozen times in my life to a bunch of different cities–always a bit restless!–but I ended up back in Indy a couple years ago.

I started traveling years ago with my two dogs at the time, Emmett and Lucas, because we were living downtown Washington, DC, and loved to get out of the city. Then, over the years, I started bringing Emmett with me on work trips. I cover the pet industry, so it made sense to bring him along. In fact, he got invited to do more fun stuff than I did! Plus, we always took them on vacation, hiking, family visits, and so on. Emmett and Lucas have both passed away, but my dog Cooper now travels with us.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all travelers with a dog bring?

We travel by car with Cooper–he’s too big to fly, and road trips are super fun! One of the things I bring that should be more common is a square-bottom canvas tote with a top that closes. When we camp or hike, we’re responsible for bringing all our trash out of the site, and that includes pet waste. So many people think it’s OK to leave on the trail, but it’s not! Pet waste is a groundwater contaminant, so I pack scented pickup bags (I like the ones from Gemma Rose) that can tie tightly shut and store them in the tote until we get somewhere we can responsibly throw them away.

I also bring all his veterinary records stored on a small jump drive. It has his rabies certificate, current medications, and allergies saved on it in case we have an emergency far from home.

I always bring a tick key, even if we’re not camping or hiking. Ticks are prevalent in cities, too! I like the one from Tick Ease because it’s small and lightweight but works well to safely remove a tick on him or me.

How do you bring things with you?

Cooper’s food and basic supplies go in a Mountainsmith K-9 Cube Dog Pack. This modular pack is by far my favorite bag to take because it keeps everything sorted and organized, and it has built-in food and water dishes. So convenient! It’s a little small for more than one dog, though, or if you have a really large dog who eats a lot. He has a Kurgo Wander Dog backpack that can tote his own pickup bags, treats, and other small supplies.

What are your top tips for other travelers with dogs?

To pack light, pack dehydrated dog food rather than kibble. We love The Honest Kitchen for that. It’s super lightweight and you need very little to make a lot of food.

I think a lot of people hesitate to travel with their dogs because they’re not sure how their pup will do outside the normal routine. My suggestion? Plan an overnight trip close to home or even a weekend away to test the waters. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you and your dog have together.

As for things travelers do wrong, there are two biggies: First, always, always, always pick up after your dog. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the city or in the woods. Pet waste pollutes, and it transmits disease. Always pick up after your dog. Second, keep your dog on leash unless you’re somewhere specifically designated for off-leash play. Your dog might be fine around other people or dogs, but not all dogs are. For your pup’s safety, and for the safety of everyone else, keep your dog on leash!

Visit Maggie’s website

Taylor Owens
I’m originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and as four years ago I have lived in Boulder (CO), Bryson City (NC), Lander (WY), and Jackson Hole (WY). I have just recently moved to Cummington, MA. I started traveling with my dog, Ullr, two years ago. I started traveling with him because I started to work several different seasonal positions, and I wanted to bring him along with me.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all travelers with a dog bring?

For Ullr, I always bring one large carabiner, a long cord, and an extra long leash. Ullr is a very large and athletic dog that needs time to run and be out of the car. Having these things around, Ullr has been a lot happier, and he doesn’t try and bolt as soon as he gets out of the car if he is given space to run around.

One instance where Ullr was in the car for too long happened during our time traveling across Wyoming. As soon as the car doors opened after a six hour stretch, Ullr jumped out of the front door and ran out into the Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He always wears a tracker on him, but we found out that he had run six miles chasing a herd of elk. We eventually found him, but not after he already torn into an elk carcass. I think people bring too many large dog beds. Blankets are always a good idea to keep in the car, but you don’t a lot of extra beds taking up room.

How do you bring things with you?

I really don’t carry a bag for him when we travel other than his food bag.

What are your top tips for other travelers with dogs?

It’s relatively easy to travel with your dog. You just have to understand your dog’s temperament and whether or not they will do being constantly on the move and around other people. Don’t take too much for them except a few things to keep them entertained. Don’t overpack, but make sure you can keep them comfortable.

Visit Taylor Owens’ website

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