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California to Virginia. It’s about as far as you can go. At first, you were worried about how your own sanity would fare crossing the third-largest nation in the world, but now the focus has shifted to Spot, your loyal pup and sidekick.  He’s no fan of the car, but the plane is far worse. So, you’ve decided that Spot is coming with and you’re looking for ideas on how to make the ride a little smoother. We have some tips on how to drive cross-country with your dog that will do just that. After all, it should be an adventure, not a headache.

1. Scout out the pet-friendly hotels in advance

The majority of hotels won’t welcome Spot. Do your research early and get familiar with the best pet-friendly hotels so that you know which chains to pick when you’re searching through the options in any particular city.

How to drive cross-country with your dog
Photo by Sarah_Ackerman

2. Call ahead

You want to give the staff a heads up before arrival. Sometimes individual hotels won’t follow the chain’s general policy and you don’t want to find that out after a full day on the road.

3. Ask about the pet fee beforehand

Our experts on the road have reported pet fees of up to $70. Clarify this ahead of time and factor it into your hotel selection process.

4. The right stop goes a long way

A stop for a hike or a walk through a downtown area (not sure if Spot is a city or country dog) will help him get his mind off the road. Making the stops routine will give him (and you) something to look forward to.

How to drive cross-country with your dog
Photo by benjgibbs

5. Keep the kibble handy

You have to know where Spot’s food is at all times. After a long day on the road, he’ll be hungry and the last thing you want to do is dig through the trunk for his dinner.

6. It’s a long ride so get comfortable

Try to make it a first-class trip. Our experts on the road found that placing a dog bed in the back seat secured by some bags or pillows in the case of a quick stop is far superior to the regular seat. The dog bed is also a little bit of home on the road.

How to drive cross-country with your dog
Photo by hillary h

7. Rotate

If you’re traveling in a group, assign one person to Spot each day. When you head out to get the food they can stay behind and keep Spot company at the hotel.

8. Drive-thru

If it’s just you and Spot, drive-thrus can be lifesavers. You never want to leave Spot unattended in the car and bringing him into a restaurant will usually not be an option. The drive-thru saves you all the trouble.

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How to Drive Cross-Country With Your Dog
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