1. Plan to stay at a hotel with a Pet Friendly Policy
You might be surprised to find not all hotels accept our furry family members. When we first brought Oliver home, we had a 13-hour drive from Alabama to Florida. Since we did not know about him or even have a thought of taking a dog on a road trip at the time, I made reservations to stay at a hotel without considering their pet policy. Turns out it was not Pet Friendly, so Oliver stayed with my brother overnight. Everything turned out just fine, but I learned to ask about the policy before making a reservation since then.
Who would not want this sweet baby to stay the night?
2. Wash all bedding, toys and doggie prior to leaving home
I know some people will say, “To help the pup feel more at home, you should take bedding and toys with his scent on them.” Well, that is great, but remember your pet is riding inside the car or cab with you. No matter how clean Oliver is, he still stinks sometimes! We don’t want to smell dog on a road trip all the way to our destination. Plus, we want him accepted in hotels along the way. I wash him and his stuff the day before we leave. He is very comfortable with that and we have a better trip too.
3. Take the dog crate
The safest way to travel with a pet and the most comfortable way for him is to use his crate. I put all Oliver’s fresh bedding and toys in his crate just before we leave on the trip. Usually, I fill his Kong with treats and toss it in the crate for good measure. He is very satisfied and sleeps most of the drive. I usually need to wake him to get out to go potty.
Also with the crate handy, your dog will have his familiar bedding for the hotel. We use Oliver’s crate at home for his sleeping quarters. He is not allowed on our furniture and he loves having his very own place. When it is available in the hotel, we can rest assured he is not having an accident on the carpet, not chewing on the furniture and is safe when we go down for breakfast. We try to always stay at hotels with free breakfast.
4. Feed regular food on regular schedule
If you are thinking about changing your pet’s food, wait until after the trip to do it. The change should be made gradually over a week or two. The last thing you want is a doggie with an upset tummy on a road trip. Oliver eats twice a day and does his business ten minutes or so later. I’d call that regular! When planning the departure time of our trips, I try to work around his feeding time to let his meal settle before we leave. About 30 minutes is usually long enough for him. If we are making quick rest stops on the road, I usually don’t try to feed him even if it would be his regular feeding time. A cookie or Puperoni is plenty to satisfy. Better safe than sorry. He eats well at the hotel before bedtime.
5. Do a trial run around town
Some dogs get car sick on trips so be sure to check out the situation with your pup first. There is medicine for that. Check with your vet if it is an issue for your loved one. I think the crate helps with motion sickness too. I have noticed that Oliver sometimes gets sick in my car on short trips to school or vet when he is in the backseat with just his harness and no crate. Some dogs suffer from anxiety and car rides just add to the pressure. Maybe a few short rides to some place other than the vet will help, especially if the vet’s office is a source of anxiety.
6. Find suitable boarding
If road trips are too traumatic, there is no shame in finding suitable boarding for your pet while you are away. In our case, Oliver loves his vet. They always give him treats and love on him. He feels so special and is excited to go for his visits. Offering boarding is just one of their services; at $29 per night, it is affordable. In some cases, boarding is cheaper than the extra charge at a Pet Friendly hotel. The charges for lodging pets in hotels can vary greatly. Some hotels offer pet lodging at no charge. While others can charge between $10 and $25 per pet per night. I have even seen many that charge $75 or $100 per night.
7. Take a leash
Almost every place you stop on the road requires pets to be on a leash. Some dogs are well behaved and can go about normally without a leash. However, the pet policy of hotels and parks usually require a leash. While you are getting a leash, why not get a Pretty As A Peacock Leash? 🙂 Of course, a Basic Black number is always en vogue!
8. Take bottled water and travel bowl
While I may not feed at rest stops, I try to give a little water. It helps to have bottled water because it is handy and portable. I mean, that’s why we buy so much of it for ourselves, right? A silicon collapsible bowl is also very handy. Since it flattens after use and usually has a carabiner clip, it attaches and stores conveniently. The bowls come in a variety of colors and sizes from teeny tiny to jumbo. Being collapsible, they are also adjustable in volume because they can be partially collapsed and still serve food and water. Choose the size to accommodate the amount of food your dog needs per feeding in case you want to feed on the road. I serve dry dog food so it is easy to use just one bowl. Once Oliver finishes eating, I fill the bowl with water and pat it dry after use.
9. Check your destination for boarding and pet friendly activities
Many theme parks offer inexpensive boarding right at the park. Just drop off at the entrance and pickup after your day of riding roller coasters and swirly gigs!
Chambers of Commerce often publish activities for tourists and include family/pet opportunities. I like to look on the websites of cities I intend to visit for ideas on ways of including my pet and child.
10. Chill out and enjoy the ride
You may have heard that life’s a journey not just a destination. I don’t know who said that, but I think it is correct. Build in extra time to stop and see things along the way that may not be on everyone’s must see list. Find hidden treasures in out-of-the-way places. Stop at a State Park day use area for quick walk down a beach trail or pack a lunch and take advantage of a picnic table way off in the corner of a rest area. Stretch your legs, take some deep breaths. Pack a ball or Frisbee and play a few minutes every chance you get. Your dog will enjoy it and so will your family. None of us is promised tomorrow. Make the most of today.