A dog mom’s guide to traveling with your best friend

Have you met Zuzu? She is my life. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. There are few places I go without her and most places I do go without her I wish I could bring her.

Traveling with her at first seemed scary. I didn’t want to overwhelm her or make her anxious so I had a lot of learning to do in order to make it easier on her. Now, I am going to share it with you!

Zuzu is a little jet-setter now and is an absolute joy to travel with. She has been on a 1500 mile road trip in a U-Haul, has flown on countless airplanes to and from Georgia and Colorado, mini road trips pretty much every weekend, and she even survived a recent RV trip with my family.

Air Travel

The most daunting for me but it actually isn’t that bad. Zuzu is a short-nosed breed so that means she cannot fly below the airplane and I would advise, if possible for you, to fly with your dog in-cabin regardless of their nose.

While, I have had only good experiences flying with Zuzu it is becoming more and more scary to fly with your dog. [Dog Dies in Overhead Bin , United Airlines Third Pet Incident in a WeekDog Dies on Delta Air Lines Layover]

Just do your research and take every precaution necessary…and maybe don’t fly United.

So my advice only applies to flying with your dog in-cabin because I have never had a dog fly below the plane.

  • Buy an under the seat bag that is comfy for them, small enough to fit without giving you a mental breakdown while boarding, and that is easy to carry around. Each airline has different requirements for carrier size so check those before you buy.

I use this bag and love it. Zuzu only weighs about 11lbs so the shoulder strap isn’t a strain and the side pocket is helpful for storing her paperwork and other supplies (I’ll list later). The bottom of the bag also has a soft lining so she is comfortable. The sides of the bag have a wire frame to keep her from getting squished. This bag has worked on every Delta flight I have taken but I haven’t used it on other airlines.

If your dog is a little chunkier I would advise a bag more similar to this or this. If you are looking for a more affordable option check out this one or this one.

Almost all airports have dog relief stations now. Look for signs that say “Service Animal Relief Areas.” Despite their name, they are open to passenger pets as well. The room will be mostly tile with a small area of fake grass and a water faucet that you can use to clean off the grass or to fill up your dog’s water bowl. Zuzu has never once needed to go so bad that she gave in to the fake grass but it is there if your pup needs it.

Lastly, on the topic of keeping your dog calm during flight. I got damn lucky. Zuzu is a better traveler than I am. She falls asleep as soon as I put her in her carrier bag but if your dog needs a little more persuasion… here are some ideas:

  • I always slip one of Zuzu’s chew toys in her bag. Usually an antler or horn (these will probably get extra screening at TSA -you were warned-) This is soothing for her and keeps her occupied if she gets bored.
  • Children’s Benadryl. TALK TO YOUR VET FIRST!
  • A Thundershirt
  • Other calming aides or treats (I have never used any of these and I feel uncomfortable linking any specific one. Please do your research before feeding your dog any new treats)

Road Trips

Again, I would suggest getting a carrier. Many people let their dogs roam free in the car while driving. The paranoid mom in me just sees her flying through the windshield in a wreck.

[This is morbid but while we are talking about it I would suggest picking up these pet alert cards for your wallet so emergency services can contact someone to take care of your dog in case something ever happens.]

I use the same carrier, that I listed above, on road trips. It has a seat belt strap so you can strap the carrier in and it also creates a safe place for them.

Supplies you’ll need [for air and road]:

  • A portable food and water bowl.  They come with a carabiner clip and are collapsible!
  • A luggage tag for your dog’s carrier. This is required for certain airlines but I would advise to have it regardless on any flight. Zuzu’s looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 6.23.28 PM

List any special needs your dog has as well and then print and stick in a luggage tag.

  • A paw/nose balm

I use this one and have been pretty pleased. I use it on her nose and even my elbows from time to time. Air travel can really dry out your pup’s nose and a little balm can be helpful. If you are hiking with your pup this balm helps protect and moisturize their paws.


Happy travels!


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