We here at Travel Fish are dog people. And we’re travel people. We’ve learned how to share the best of both worlds, and we’re here to offer tips and tricks that we learned on the road. In the last year, our dog, Ellie, a boxer mix, has come on multiple road trips and we’ve loved every minute. We think she has too.
Before you begin, you need to know your dog. Some dogs (luckily, not many) hate riding in a car. If this is your dog, you might want to reconsider a road trip. However, we know our dog well, and we know when she is likely to get anxious. We know she loves to ride in the car, so through trial-and-error we’ve found the best options for her.
Planning a trip is pretty important when you’re bringing your furry friend. We had the best luck with Bring Fido in finding pet-friendly locations, although a handy Google search also helps!
First things first, you need to pack accordingly. Bring plenty of food, especially if your dog has a special diet. Collapsible bowls for both food and water are extremely useful. Whenever we travel with Ellie, we also throw an old towel in the trunk- it’s amazing how dirty a dog can get while exploring new places. You’ll want some extra special treats in case they need a little bribery or extra encouragement. In case of an emergency requiring you to board your dog in a nearby kennel, always bring up-to-date vaccination records. Don’t forget some doodie bags as well. And finally, make sure to bring extras of everything you might need, because throwing your dog’s routine off can mean extra bathroom trips, leading to using all your poop bags before you even reach your destination… don’t ask how we know.
Now to the actual road trip with your dog. We usually give ours free reign of the car, but if you’re in a vehicle you don’t want damaged, you can purchase a dog hammock (we use the Kurgo Dog Hammock) to protect your seats. Or, you could even invest in a dog seatbelt for added safety (next on our dog travel shopping list). Knowing your dog’s typical habits is essential as well. When does your dog normally eat, drink, and need the bathroom? Plan on your road trip taking a little longer to give your puppy frequent breaks. We stopped often, finding public rest stops to be the best options due to their big grassy areas.
Want to stay in a hotel? Use the handy internet to find yourself the best dog-friendly accommodations near your destination. The first time we tried this, it was pretty last minute, and the only room remaining was a two-queen-bed option. Our spoiled puppy actually loved this, as she had her own bed! Consider camping, as well, because campgrounds tend to be much more dog-friendly than hotels. Be prepared to pay a pet deposit, and don’t forget bowls for food and water. If your dog gets anxious in new surroundings, bringing a favorite toy, blanket, or even some calm down treats. Ellie was able to relax after a long walk introducing her to the area, and giving her a chance to sniff her new surroundings.
Now that you’re in your destination, what do you do? Don’t leave your dog trapped in a hotel room! If you absolutely must leave your dog behind (we hope this doesn’t happen unless an emergency arises), find a local kennel where they can be supervised. We successfully took our dog into San Francisco, a massive city, and still had fun! Use the web to find pet friendly locations such as beaches and parks. We were even successful enough to find restaurants that allowed dogs. One great place in Santa Cruz, Pono Hawaiian Grill, offered a “dog menu.” They brought Ellie a bowl of beef and she was over the moon. Make sure you pack your camera, as the memories we have watching our dog see the ocean for the first time were priceless.
Finally-it’s sad we have to say this- don’t be an asshole pet owner. During our travels we have encountered the worst of the worst. Pet friendly hotels with poop-covered lawns, pets being left alone and becoming destructive in their rooms, dogs barking all night and keeping neighbors awake, poop left on beaches and in parks. You are their human. You are expected to clean up after your dog, and if you don’t, we all lose privileges at these beautiful destinations. Don’t leave your dog alone in the hotel room. Keep your pet fed, watered, bathroomed, and with their people. And finally, if you find a really cool location where your dog was welcome, let folks know about it! Reviews online help others find these places (and the proprietors gain business) so they can enjoy them.