In this packing guide, I’m sharing what’s in my dog’s travel bag and how to pack all the dog travel accessories you need for a successful dog friendly vacation!
Bringing your dog with you on vacation can be overwhelming, but with a few tips and tricks and the right gear packed, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve been taking Kirby with us on our vacations for a few years now.. His travel backpack stays packed in a closet and it’s as easy as bringing it out, adding a few items and then he’s ready to go.
I’ll be breaking down what dog travel accessories are in each section of Kirby’s backpack and why and what we use!
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choose your bag
Personally, we use my husband’s old Swiss Gear Backpack from college to store all of Kirby’s travel accessories. We love the Swiss Gear style backpacks because of all the pockets! It makes it a lot easier to organize all the little items.
We are starting from back to front for this packing list. Typically the back section of this backpack is used for your laptop, but in this case we are using it for large items like towels, a cooling mat, and a ground anchor.
We usually bring two types of towels. A regular old bath towel that we no longer
a cooling mat
A cooling mat is great for when you plan to travel in the summer. Kirby has used his cooling mat on hot pavement, while we are camping, and even in the car on hot leather.
Word of Warning: Never leave your dog unsupervised when using a cooling mat, especially if you have a chewer. You don’t want them ingesting the gel that keeps these mats cool. Kirby hasn’t chewed through his and we haven’t had any problems with this, but you’ll find reviews about this with any type of cooling mat you research.
Main Pocket Items:
In your main pocket, this is where you will store booties, a trip worth’s amount of food, bowls and snacks. If you have a puker like us, I would also put extra plastic bags, paper towels and a pack of wet ones at the bottom of this pocket.
dog shoes / booties
You will find dog shoes aka booties, on almost every dog packing list I create. Why? Because your dog’s feet are not invincible and need to be protected. If you like to do a lot of outdoor activities with your dog, I encourage you to try out some dog shoes!
We have had a lot of success with these particular shoes. Our dog has really skinny poodle legs and these seem to be longer than other brands and have 2 straps of velcro instead of one.
To get your dog used to boots, let them wear the booties around the house (they will probably do a funny dance) and take them for short walks. Praise them when they don’t try and go after them and try to associate the shoes with going on the adventure!
collapsible food bowls
Collapsible food bowls are the best option for travel because they take up less space and are easy to clean. We like these because they have a clip attached to them so you can attach them to front of the backpack or to your purse when you go out to a restaurant and don’t need the entire backpack with you.
Disclaimer: Always check with your vet before you feed your dog anything new. I do not know your dog or what allergies they may have.
Kirby absolutely loves this Trail Mix blend. Plus, its super fun to buy something called trail mix when you are traveling. It has a variety of different treats in it, so you don’t need to buy multiple types for a trip.
Food Carrier Bag
Depending on how long your trip is, you should be able to fit your dog’s food in this backpack. We use a small drawstring cotton bag that one of our Loctote bags came in. Or you could use a ziploc bag if you wanted to.
If you are feeling fancy you could get one of these snazzy bags.
harness and seat belt
This would technically be on your dog, not in their backpack, but it felt too important to leave off the list.
We really like this Pawaboo Harness because it’s padded, only has a two clasps which makes it really easy to get on, and comes with a seat belt attachment that clasps into your car like a regular seat belt.
We use this as his regular harness too, so it’s not just used for car rides.
Front Pocket Items:
In the front pocket of your backpack, there should be a couple of smaller pockets where you can organize things like medicine and extra rolls of poop bags. The rest of the front pocket is great for toys and bones, where you can easily access them when your dog is getting bored in the car.
For long road trips it’s a good idea to get your dog a couple of new toys. One for the beginning of the trip and one for the end. It’ll keep your dog engaged and it’s a nice positive gesture they will remember if they aren’t particularly enjoying the long car ride.
We really like the TUFFY brand for toys, Our dog destroys his toys and these seem to last longer than others. There is also no stuffing, which is a plus when traveling so you don’t have stuffing everywhere.
Bones are great to have in the car and when you are out eating on a patio to keep your dog occupied. Dogs are sometimes particular about their bones, so make sure to bring some that you know your dog loves.
We really like to bring these bacon filled bones. Kirby loves them and it keeps him very occupied. This isn’t an everyday bone that he’s allowed to have, so when we do give it to him, it takes his full attention.
first aid kit
I highly recommend buying a pet specific first aid kit. This one has it’s own little pack and is great for travel because of it’s size vs. some of the larger ones you can buy.
While I hope you never have to use it, you’ll feel at ease knowing that if your dog gets a cut or hurts himself you can at least patch him up yourself before going to the vet.
Now that you have the main pockets filled, it’s time to go over some misc. dog travel accessories that you don’t want to forget!
- Extra Leash
- Any Specific Medication
- Vaccination Records
- Extra poop bags and a dispenser clipped to the front of the back
- Refillable Water Bottles in the side pockets
- A Tick Remover: We really like this one because it can easily clip to the front of the backpack or on your keys.
- Small Bottle of Dog Shampoo in case your dog gets into something that needs to be cleaned
- A Pair of Hair Scissors: especially if you have a longer haired dog in case something gets stuck in their fur on a hike.
For more dog travel accessories, check out my other packing lists