Packing Essentials for a Day Trip with Your Dog

Learn how to pack the ultimate on-the-road bag for your dog.
By: Paris and John Permenter
Packing the ultimate day-trip bag for your dog.

Ready for a fun day trip or weekend getaway with your dog? Part of the attraction of a quick road trip is the ability to go on a moment’s notice without the hassles of planning and packing for a vacation, but even a day hike or picnic with your dog involves more than just grabbing your car keys and the leash. To make sure your dog stays happy, healthy and safe on your jaunt, it pays to pack some essentials, like a special dog-day trip bag you can keep packed and ready for your next getaway.

Here, learn how to pack the ultimate on-the-road bag for your dog.

Prepare Your Car’s Dog Safety Equipment

Just as your seat belt remains in the car and ready for action, you’ll want your car to be equipped to carry your dog safely at a moment’s notice. Whether your dog rides in a crate, canine booster seat or buckled in with his harness, your car should always be prepared with the right safety gear and ready to roll whenever the urge to travel strikes.

Carry Essential Information

Next up: pack up your smartphone with information that won’t add to your load but can be crucial in an emergency. Make sure you have—in a separate folder that’s easy to find—both a headshot and full body photo of your dog in case you and your dog should become separated. Also, have at the ready (whether in a document or an app) your veterinarian’s phone number, your dog’s microchip number, the phone number of any pet microchip registration services you subscribe to, the number of your pet insurance company (if applicable), and the phone number of an emergency veterinary clinic at your destination.

Packing Your Doggie-Day Trip Bag

With the equipment and info in place, now it’s time to assemble a bag that you can keep in your car for your day trips and quick getaways. Once packed, all you’ll need to do between trips is replenish the bag with fresh food and water and you’ll be set for your next dog adventure at the drop of a hat—or harness, as the case may be!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Safety first: Be sure your bag includes an extra collar with an ID tag (one that includes your cell phone number) and a spare leash. Even for the shortest getaway, be sure to carry a small first aid kit made especially for dogs, with basic equipment including bandages and tweezers. If your dog is on any medications, you’ll also want to pack those, too. Don’t forget to include a current copy of your dog’s immunization records. If your dog wears booties or a winter coat, add those to your bag as well.

Cleanup:While you’ll likely have a roll of poop bags clipped to your belt or bag, include some extra rolls in your day trip bag. (They’re also handy on trips for everything from gathering seashells to using as little car trash bags.)

Hand sanitizer is a must (keep it in a zippered plastic bag if you’ll be storing your day trips bag in the car full time). For dog cleanups, an old towel comes in handy for everything from post-swim rubdowns to wiping muddy or snow-covered paws. And for overnight getaways, an old bed sheet is handy for draping over hotel furniture or the bed duvet.

Food and water:Whether you’re planning an afternoon hike, a leisurely picnic or a patio restaurant meal with your dog, don’t forget the water bowl. A collapsible silicone bowl with a carabineer is handy for hikes and restaurants alike. A couple of liter bottles (one frozen the night before) will supply your dog with water from home (easier on your dog’s tummy), and freezing one of the bottles provides cool water later in the day. Pack both bottles in a neoprene wine tote or a lunch cooler to keep them cool throughout the trip.

As with bringing your dog’s water from home, packing your dog’s food for the day helps prevent an upset stomach as well. A zippered plastic bag makes it easy to pack your dog’s kibble or a dehydrated meal—and don’t forget to carry a long-lasting chew for extended stops or long stretches of the drive.  Tuck in some small training treats for holding your dog’s focus even in the face of many tempting distractions.

Something from home:Be sure to carry the scent of home, whether that’s a familiar travel bed for your dog or a favorite plush toy. And if your dog’s a fetcher, don’t forget the balls or disks for some off-leash fun on the journey.

Finally, be sure to pack a spirit of adventure, wherever you and your dog may roam. Even the shortest day trip or weekend getaway can fetch memories for years to come.