What to pack and what to do: How to plan the perfect dog holiday

Written by Napo HQ
22nd Aug 2022
9 mins read
As well as all the essentials like food, poo bags, and leads, you’ll need to remember a few extras for a holiday with your pup, like their bed, vet details, and insurance. If you’re heading abroad, you’ll need a wad of paperwork on their vaccinations and health too.
While you’re away, there are loads of activities you and your dog can enjoy together. As well as exploring new surroundings on walkies, try visiting local landmarks, beaches, and castles too.
Planning and packing for a holiday can be one of the most stressful moments of your vacation, especially if you're taking the dog too! That’s why we’ve created this dog holiday checklist which includes everything you need to take to keep your pooch safe, happy, and healthy on your travels.
As well as talking about what to take on your trip, we’ll also discuss a few dog-friendly holiday activities, so you and the pooch have plenty to do on your trip!

What to pack for your dog’s holiday

Food, treats, and bowls

A holiday without good food isn’t a holiday worth having! Although you might be staying near a shop, there’s no guarantee they stock your dog’s usual dinners. (And switching their food quickly can cause stomach upset!) So always remember to take enough of your dog’s usual food for them to have on their holiday. You’ll also need bowls for them to eat and drink out of, and a few of their favourite treats.

Poo bags

You always need to pick up after your dog, whether you’re at home or holiday!

Dog collars, ID tags, and leads

Your dog should always have a collar with a dog tag on whenever they’re out in public. (It’s a legal requirement!) So don’t forget your dog’s collar, a tag with your details on, and a lead for walkies when you’re away. If your pooch prefers walking on a harness, don’t forget to take that too.


Although you’ll be doing loads of fun activities on your dog holiday, you still need to take some toys to occupy your dog. A Kong will help to keep them settled and entertained on long car rides, or if you ever need to leave them alone. Meanwhile, a ball is a must-have for a beach day or a walk. Take a few of your pup’s favourites to keep them happy!

Dog bed

We all love our creature comforts, canines included. Your dog will need somewhere to sleep while you’re away, so you should take their bed with you. This also means they can snuggle down in a cosy spot that smells of home, which should help to keep them calm and settled in an unfamiliar place.

Portable bowl and water

No dog holiday would be complete without epic walkies, but you must make sure you keep your pooch safe on your adventures. Take a portable water bowl and fresh water with you everywhere you go, whether it’s a hike, a beach trip, or a trip in the car. Your dog needs to be able to have regular drinks to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.

Towel and brush

Dogs are dirt magnets, so it’s a good idea to take a towel with you so you can dry them and rub off any dirt after walkies.It’s also worth taking one of your dog’s brushes too. That way if anything gets stuck in their fur, like grass seeds, you can brush them out and keep your dog clean and safe. It also means you can keep up your dog’s usual routines, like a weekly brush.

First aid kit and vet contacts

Many of us take a first aid kit for any scrapes or minor illness we might have on holiday, and you should prepare a first aid kit for your pup too. 
A doggy first aid kit should contain some crepe or self-adhesive bandages, non-adhesive dressings, surgical tape, cotton wool, and some sterile wipes. That way if your pup ever hurts their paw or injures themselves when you’re out, you can clen and cover the wound until you can get to a vet.
You will also need to take any prescription medication your pooch needs. 
Finally, you should also get the contact details for a local vet or an emergency vet near where you’re staying. Hopefully you won’t need to call them, but if you do ever need their help, you have their details handy.

Pet insurance

Holidays can be expensive enough, without adding in an unforeseen vet bill. Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but just in case, pet insurance with travel cover can offer you peace of mind that any unforeseen accidents and illness will be paid for.

What to pack for a dog holiday abroad

If you’re travelling abroad, you’ll need to bring all of the above, plus a few extras. 
When travelling overseas on your dog holiday, you must remember to pack the relevant paperwork including a pet passport, vaccination record, a health certificate from your vet, and your dog’s insurance certificate and policy details.
Depending on where you’re travelling, you may need a different type of health certificate. If you and your pooch are heading to the EU or Ireland, you’ll need an Animal Health Certificate. If you’re going anywhere else, you’ll need an Export Health Certificate.

Don't forget!

Remember to check your dog’s microchip is working and the details are up to date before you travel.
You should also check your dog’s insurance policy before you go to make sure your pet is protected. Depending on your insurance policy, your cover may be limited when you're overseas. All Napo dog insurance includes travel cover to the EU. So even if you go abroad, we can keep your pooch protected.

How to keep your dog safe while travelling

When you’re getting from A to B, you need to make sure you keep your furry friend safe. That means if you’re travelling by car, you’ll need either a dog crate, canine seat belt, or a dog guard. 
You can find out how to keep your dog safe and happy in the car in this guide.
Keeping your dog “restrained” in the car is a legal requirement. It’s also vital to keep your dog safe in case you ever have an accident. We humans never travel without a seatbelt, and our hounds shouldn’t either!

Do dogs like going on holiday?

We humans love a holiday, but do our dogs like going on holiday too? It’s a tricky question to answer, because every dog is different!
Some dogs love the opportunity to explore different scenery and new sniffs, and enjoy being able to go on long walks and spend quality time with their owner.
However, other dogs may be nervous when travelling, or anxious in unfamiliar places. So a holiday somewhere new might cause them undue stress, and they might be more comfortable at home with a petsitter, or staying with familiar family or friends.

For some dogs, a petsitter or kennel can be their holiday

Staying with friends, family, or in a kennel could be as much of a holiday as your dog needs. As veterinary behaviourist Dr Sophie White explains in our latest podcast episode, “If you’re going on holiday for two weeks, your dog’s probably going to be fine.""They’d probably much rather go to grandma and granddads, get lots of treats, and hang out for two weeks than do a big long journey and be somewhere new.""There are cases where a dog will have a wonderful time, it really depends on what your holiday is like.
But Sophie also explains that there are many holidays that are enjoyable for dogs, and some dogs really do love travelling. Knowing if your dog will like going on holiday depends on your dog, where you go, and what you do.
Not to mention, being an owner is a big responsibility. As Sophie explained on our podcast, sometimes a break away from your pets to rest is what us owners need!
You can find out more about whether dogs like holidays, and how to holiday with your dog, in our podcast with Sophie.

Dog-friendly holiday activities

Now you know what to pack for your dog holiday, you’ll have to figure out what to do! To give you a few ideas, here’s a list of some dog-friendly holiday activities that you and your pooch can try on your travels.

Epic walkies

No matter where you go or what you do, you’ll need to walk the dog. But you can easily make the walk itself an amazing dog-friendly holiday activity. You could check out nearby national parks, coastal paths, and landmarks to visit with your four-legged friend. Otherwise, take a look and see if there are any guided walks you’re interested in. Whether it’s a guided hike or some kind of walking tour, you’ll probably find they’re happy for your pooch to come too.
“I love ghost walks, and I’ll try and do one whenever I visit somewhere new. They’re a great way to find out hidden history and learn more about the place you’re visiting. But best of all, I can usually take Tess (my Springer Spaniel) with me!”
Erin Quilliam, Napo's content strategist

Go to the beach

It might be an obvious choice, but a beach trip is a summer holiday staple. But finding a dog-friendly beach can be tricky. Here’s a handy guide to the UK’s best dog-friendly beaches, so you can find one near you.

Visit lakes and lochs

If you’re inland, a lake or loch can be a brilliant beach alternative. While you’re there you might find you can go sailing or canoeing, and that your dog can come too! Otherwise, it’s a great spot to sun yourself and enjoy a wild swim. Just remember to check there are no dog restrictions in the area, and watch out for blue-green algae!

Explore some castles

Many castles, country estates, and National Trust sites welcome dogs into the grounds, so you can live it up like the lord of the manner and spend hours walking in beautiful surroundings. Better still, many of the castle or monastery ruins around the UK welcome dogs inside on leads. Take a look to see if there’s any near you and explore some hidden history with your hound.

Take a trip to an outdoor cinema

There was a revival for drive-in and outdoor cinemas during the pandemic, and many pet owners discovered it’s a great way to enjoy a night out with the pooch in tow! Although your dog might not be interested in the film, you can give them a Kong and have cuddle together while you enjoy a film night.

Mooch around a museum

One of the most overlooked dog-friendly holiday activities is a visit to a museum. Not all venues welcome woofers, but here in the UK, we’re very lucky to have a number of dog-friendly museums. From Weald and Downland in West Sussex, to the Dundee Transport Museum, or Beamish in County Durham, there are dozens of different museums that welcome dogs. Many open-air ones tend to welcome dogs, so start your search there!

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