Fresh Food, Small Car, Big Adventure: Your Dog Travel Packing Guide (Early access for our Patreon community)

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Raising Your Pets, Dogs and Cats Naturally

Dog-Friendly Road Trip with Limited Space

Dog friendly travel tips
Packing light for a dog-friendly road trip.

Taking a dog-friendly road trip with Dexter is one of my favorite things to do in life. Dexter is now fourteen, and we have been on numerous trips, including times when we have had limited cargo space for our adventures. We are about to head out to Duluth in a small Prius, not just us, but with two other adults! Dexter is a raw-fed dog and also travels with a doggie stroller. I thought this would be the perfect time to discuss some ideas on how to travel with a dog with limited car space.

Efficient Packing for a Small Car

When hitting the pavement on a dog-friendly road trip in a small car, it’s important to pack efficiently for both your dog and yourself. Keeping things light is essential, especially if you’re driving a smaller car. For your dog, you might consider a collapsible bowl, small toys, and portable water bottles that have a sipper cup to save space. Try to pack only your dog’s essentials. The same goes for the humans. Focus on items that serve multiple purposes and avoid unnecessary bulk. By packing only the essentials and choosing smaller items when possible, you can make the most out of the limited space. For soft items, you can use compression bags. Another option is to roll them up. Both offer more space.

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If you are packing anything like blankets or towels, consider placing them under your dog’s crate or sitting area. This can offer a bit of cushion during the trip, but is also a pretty efficient way to pack these larger items that would take up a lot of space if folded.

Car Organization

You can keep smaller essentials and things you need to have access to during your trip in a car seat organizer. Things like water bottles, poop bags, bowls, pet wipes, tick spray, vet records, etc. This prevents them from rolling around and helps keep things organized and handy.

Under the Seats

Don’t forget under the car seats! This is a great place to store items you don’t need to have access to until you reach your destination.

Traveling with dogs. Travel safety and tips when you take a pet friendly vacation. #raisingyourpetsnaturally #petfriendlyvacationrentals #dogfriendlyvacations #petfriendly #dogfriendly #travelbloggers
Traveling with dogs and travel tips

Dog Travel Safety

When it comes to keeping your dog safe during car rides, look for a harness or crate that’s been crash tested….and passed! I say passed because I was actually contacted by a dog car harness brand that said their harness was crash tested. What they didn’t say was that the harness failed! So, do your homework.

Traveling with a Raw-Fed Dog

When traveling with raw-fed dogs like Dexter, there are various options you can consider to ensure their dietary needs are met while on the road. Options such as portioned raw meals, freeze-dried foods, food mixes, and even calling ahead to pet stores to check for fresh food availability can make a significant difference. For this trip, I’ve opted to simplify things by going the freeze-dried route.

Divide and Freeze: If taking your dog’s raw food, start by portioning it into labeled freezer bags. This not only saves space in the cooler but also makes feeding on the road easier.

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Dog-friendly destinations.

Packing the Cooler: Selecting a cooler that fits snugly in your vehicle’s trunk or cargo area can be very helpful in saving space. I will admit, that we have a variety of coolers to choose from, depending on our vehicle and needs. If I’m taking Dexter’s raw food, I keep one day thawed in the cooler, and the other days frozen. I arrange either ice packs or ice cubes around the food to ensure it remains cold and fresh. If it’s a long road trip, I re-ice as needed.

Filling the Trunk: The trunk is where Dexter’s doggie stroller goes. It’s a must for him, not an option. This is also where our luggage goes and possibly the cooler. Sometimes the cooler is in the back seat on the floor, sometimes the trunk. It just depends.

Considering Rooftop Storage: If the interior space is limited, rooftop storage options like a roof rack or cargo boxes for larger luggage items such as suitcases or camping gear could provide the extra room we need. They even have soft-sided roof racks, which are what I’ve used in the past when I presented a dog training demonstration at a pet expo. I just had so many props, I needed more space. It was incredibly helpful in creating more space inside our car, making it easy to bring along everything we needed for the trip.

Luckily, my mom is a packing wiz and always makes sure everything fits just right. Thanks to her assistance, we’re sure our Prius will be well-organized for our trip, making it smooth sailing with Dexter by our side.

Your questions or comments are welcome below.

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Fresh Food, Small Car, Big Adventure: Your Dog Travel Packing Guide  (Early access for our Patreon community)