Mother Nature may not like it, but we are getting close to summer, and with summer comes road trips! Full disclosure, I am not an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. I have travelled a lot with a vehicle full of Furry Beasties and kids, and I’ve found a few things that work for me.
Definitely pre-plan your stops. Not every hotel will take dogs. Some hotels that accept furry guests will only take dogs who are below a certain size and some will have limited rooms available for pets. Worth checking too is how much the hotel will charge for your furry family member as some hotels charge nothing at all, and others can charge $25-$100 dollars. Personally, I try to look for La Quinta hotels (not a sponsor of this blog!) because almost all of their properties accept dogs of all sizes for no extra fee. They are not five star hotels, but they are generally bright and clean and very pet-friendly.
Hotel tip – If possible, try to take your dog on an elevator a few times beforehand. You don’t want your pet to get nervous or scared at the end of a long day when you are trying to wrangle suitcases and possibly kids at check-in time. If you know your dog is nervous in elevators, try to book a ground floor room if possible.
Warning – If you don’t restrain your dog in the car while traveling, you could wind up with a lap dog when your Furry Beastie decides they want to look out the window!
The system that has worked best for me is to get up early and have a quick breakfast at the hotel before leaving. If your hotel has breakfast, try to take turns walking the Furry Beasties and getting breakfast. A good walk in the morning sets them up for a nap in the car once you start out for the day.
At some point, we stop for the healthiest drive thru lunch that makes every one happy. That’s a post for another day because I usually travel with four kids and multiple Beasties! We’ll take our drive through lunch to a park or rest stop and eat outside while the Furries get some fresh air and another walk and then we are off for the last driving session of the day.
I try to stop for the day by late afternoon. Everyone is tired of the car at that point. Once we are checked in to the hotel for the night, we try to find a local restaurant to get dinner delivered. The Furry Beasties can roam the hotel room while we eat something that reminds us we are traveling through a different area! BBQ in the south, Pizza in Chicago, whatever works.
Please plan to bring enough of your Furry Beasties regular food as you will need for your entire trip. Your Furry Beasties food may not be available at your destination and a vacation is not the time to try out new dog food. Upset tummies and road trips do not mix well! Always keep extra water for your Furry Beasties in the car and a water dish for when you stop. I like the collapsible water dishes because our vehicle is usually crammed full.
Why not take your dogs to restaurants? If your dogs are great on dog-friendly patios, by all means, give this a try too. For me, I think my dogs are out of their routine when we travel, and I always want to set them up for success when they are out in public.
Why not leave the dogs in the car and run in for a quick lunch? Obviously, if it’s a hot day, this is extremely dangerous for your dogs. Even if it’s not super hot, cars heat up fast and your Furry friend does not do well in the heat. Sure you could leave the windows down or the a/c running but there are safety concerns there too. You also may have a well-meaning passerby try to rescue your dogs if they feel they are in danger or may call the police to rescue your Beastie. Even if your Furry friend is perfectly safe in your opinion, you could find yourself in a difficult situation. Chances are you have many other opportunities to go for lunches without Furries. Why not embrace this time with your Beasties instead. Which brings me to…
Why travel with Furry Beasties at all? Certainly, not every trip is going to be ideal for your Furry Beasties to join you. Consider how long the trip is and what your destination plans are before deciding to bring your Furry Beasties along. Sometimes it may be better to send your Beasties to a kennel or a bed and biscuit or hire a pet sitter to come to your home. If it is possible with your timeline and vacation time, take your Furry friends and have fun with them during your road trip. You may need to stop more often for potty breaks or walks. If you look for interesting places to stop along the way, you may discover some hidden gems you would otherwise have missed. You will literally have the opportunity to stop and smell the roses and that can make for a wonderfully relaxing trip.
Daisy at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Do you have any great tips or advice to share about your experiences traveling with your own Furry Beasties? Feel free to share in the comments section!