George Michael has yet to accompany me on a flight but he has been a companion on many road trips. Luckily, he's a pretty easy-going traveler in that he loves car rides and doesn't get motion sick so it's pretty great that he can tag along when we're heading somewhere local. Traveling with a dog definitely changes the type of trip I plan. GM tends to get a bit anxious when left alone (especially in an unfamiliar place) so I have to make sure our holiday is filled with plenty of activities that he can participate in and that he is comfortable.
Tip 1: Choose a dog-friendly destination
So, if your dog is active and likes hiking, then pick a place that's got some great parks and trails. If you're looking for something a bit more relaxing, find a dog-friendly beach where you can both lay out on the sand and sunbathe. If you need something a little more exciting, hit up a city that's known for its dog-friendliness.
Tip 2: Take advantage of rest stops
Even though GM is a champion at controlling his bladder (in the mornings, he holds in his wee specifically because he'd rather sleep in) taking frequent stops on road trips is important. It gives us all a chance to stretch our legs and GM doesn't have to stress out about holding in his wees (and poos).
Like I said, GM has never flown or been on a long train or bus journey and I'm not sure how well those modes of transportation would work out for us because he's oddly claustrophobic and cannot be crated. However, if we ever did anything like that, I'd make sure to spend as much time outside prior to entering the airport/train station/bus stop and maybe ask my veterinarian for a doggy xanax. And then, whilst en route, let him out of his crate now and then to stretch his legs.
Tip 3: Book a pet-friendly hotel
This is an obvious one, but when you're away on holiday with a pooch, you need to find accommodations that allow pets. Check hotel websites for pet policies but also double check and give the hotel a call. The website could be outdated or they might only allow pets in certain rooms; whatever the case, you want to make sure and have your ducks in a row before you show up.
And, before I actually book anything, I make sure to check reviews to make sure the hotel is up to snuff. I look for indications of well sound-proofed rooms, nice outdoor areas for dog wees, and accommodating staff.
Tip 4: Plan your dog-friendly itinerary
There's no need to plan out every minute, but make a list of activities you might want to participate in and places you want to visit and make sure they are all dog-friendly. I like using Bring Fido to not only confirm that my activities will be fun for GM but also for finding ideas when I'm going somewhere new.
Whilst in Ithaca, we hit up my favorite state park (Buttermilk Falls), visited the Cornell Plantations, and the Farmers Market, all three of which are happy to allow leashed dogs.
Tip 5: Pack Smart
- cozy bed - obviously, this one might be difficult if you have a huge dog, but in that case, bring along a favorite blanket. GM just sleeps in the hotel bed with me, but I bring the bed for him to nestle into in the car.
- kibble, treats, food bowl, and a water bowl.
- favorite toys - to GM, all of his toys are his favorite toys so I just pick a couple for him.
- distractions - I like to bring a kong toy and peanut butter to occupy GM in case I need to briefly step out of the room or if the guests in neighboring rooms are being noisy because GM will bark his head off when he's unhappy.
- clothing - a safety vest for walking at night, a raincoat for inclement weather, and a jacket for the cold.
- pee pads - just in case!
- rabies certification - the national state parks sometimes ask you to prove that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies and it's possible that other organizations might ask for this too. It's just a single slip of paper so just bring it along.
- harness, leash, and poop bags
Tip 7: Have fun