Travel by Design: Summer Road Trip with Your Dog! by B. Malibu

Hello Everyone,

Well, we’re in the thick of summer and no doubt you’re probably ready to get away for bit. Here’s a great idea that I’m sure will work for you, your family, and your dog. The best adventures and best times, as I’m sure everyone would agree, are the times that include the love and companionship of your dog.  Plan an awesome Summer or Autumn road trip with your dog!


A very affordable, and super fun option is to plan a getaway for a three or four day weekend, and to someplace altogether new, or on the flip-side, someplace totally comfortable, familiar, and easy.  Either way, I recommend a Summer or Fall road trip with your dog, and that includes all of the fun and goodies that go along with it!  Choose a vacation destination far enough away whereas you’ll definitely know you’re not home, but a place that’s not too far away either. Consider perhaps a destination anywhere from 100 – 300 miles from home (give or take 50 miles on either side) and block the day out to drive and get there. Plan to travel at a leisurely pace and enjoy the drive. I highly recommend visiting to select the perfect hotel for you and your doggie.  All hotels in the Absolutely Pet-Friendly Travel database search (there are 28,000!!) are pet-friendly.

Back to planning your getaway adventure!  Naturally, you’re going to need to take off from work and/or day-to-day responsibilities for three or four days, choose your destination City, get your hotel room booked, and then set your estimated time of departure.  If you’re looking at five or six hours in the car with your pooch, plan for safety (no riding in your lap!), have plenty of water for everyone, and plan roadside breaks accordingly, based on your dog’s “schedule”.  Waste bags are essential, and it’s always great to have some paper towels on hand in case of any mess. Always use designated rest stops, have your dog leashed when out of the car, and make sure he drinks water while taking a break from the car.  Another important thing to be aware of at rest areas are other travelers and their dogs.  Rest areas (whether official or makeshift rest areas) are unfamiliar for everyone, and dogs don’t act like themselves, especially if they see other people and dogs.  You know your dog; you just have to be aware is all.

Safety in any unfamiliar environment is paramount; please pay special attention to traffic wherever you go and wherever you are, especially if you yourself are not used to traffic or if you’re unfamiliar with the area.  One other rule that’s absolutely critical when traveling is that your dog must always have a collar on 24/7 (in the car, in a hotel room, always) with and ID dog tag (plain, casual, bejeweled, artsy, couture, or – - whatever your dog likes to wear!).  When you arrive at the hotel, check-in and have your dog with you on leash.  Always make sure you introduce your dog to the front desk staff so they get to know him.  Most hotel staffs will go out of their way to say hello to your doggie as you “come and go” and some will even spoil your dog with unrelenting attention (this is not so bad, right?!).  Housekeeping staff, not so much.  As necessary, you should have housekeeping come when you and your doggie are out on an excursion.  All pet-friendly hotels love dogs.  Be sure to make arrangements with housekeeping regarding your stay and make them aware that you have a dog and they’ll be happy to accommodate you. You don’t need to be shy or coy.  Who knows, maybe you and your dog will make a lot of new friends on your trip!

Now, you definitely want to bring your dog’s own food (keeps him regular; you don’t want your dog to have an upset stomach on vacation, it’s not pretty), a water and food bowl, a toy or two, and his dog bed, unless he normally sleeps with you in the bed, which is more often the case than not with people and their dogs. If you forget anything or have any special needs that may arise, the front desk should be able to guide you or offer recommendations for a pet store, a veterinarian, or whatever.  Also check hotel’s pet policy – - – they explain most things you need to know, or of course, you can call ahead to get the scoop on the  hotel’s pet policies, guidelines, and additional fees (if any).  Note: some hotels provide basic amenities (bowls, treats, blankets, and beds) which means you don’t have to schlep them along.  Inquire about pet amenities at registration and always ask for them!  It’s one perk that your doggie deserves – - – it’s his vacation too!  Once you reach your hotel and get situated after check-in, get the lay of the land and let your dog do the same.  He’ll probably be as excited to be there as you are!  So, let the fun and adventure begin!  Take a nature walk, go to the beach, walk along the streets and shops, go to a magnificent city park, swim in the lake together, whatever – - – it’s all fun no matter what you do because your dog is with you.  If you have to leave your dog in the room and he tends to bark, you may want to look into a “dog nanny service” recommended by the hotel or have someone (official, qualified, and trained hotel staff only!) check on the dog periodically and walk him so he can do his business.  If this isn’t an option, by all means, keep the dog with you.  I do not recommend taking your dog to a local day care – - – this is way too traumatic for dogs.  It’ll ruin your trip and probably his.  Worse yet, all you’ll do is worry about your dog while you’re out trying to have fun.  You know you can’t get enough of each other anyway, and it’s so much more fun to explore and experience new things together.  Be sure to see if the hotel you’re going to be staying at has a “yappy hour” or other people / canine social events or activities.  They’re a blast!

One other note, some hotels charge a deposit or a “stay / or cleaning” fee or a nightly charge.  Some don’t have any extra fees relating to your dog at all. Keep in mind that it’s typically less expensive to bring your dog with you than to put them in a kennel or pay for a dog / house sitter.  Go for it!  I suggest you always bring your dog with you!  Experience the love of travel and adventure with your dog!

Where to go on your trip you might ask?  So many choices:  the beach, the mountains, urban downtowns, chic resorts, lake villages, quaint out-of-the way towns, national parks, the desert, mega resorts, etc.  My dogs (see the “Super Seven” above) love the city, the city parks, and all the people and the hustle and bustle of an urban city. What I know they love the most is the attention they get from all the shop owners, the hotel staff, and passers-by.  A great thing to do is to have a cocktail on some fabulous patio overlooking the beach or golf course, to lounge on a terrace overlooking an urban avenue, or to sit out on a deck looking up at the mountains or the starry night.  Regardless of where you are, look for eating establishments and bars that have pet-friendly areas. It’s just plain awesome to be part of a dog’s life, isn’t it?

Traveling with your dog is truly a wonderful experience.  So is traveling with 2 or even 7 (I know!).  You’ll have memories of your trip for a lifetime.

Is there anything possibly holding you back or that you’re anxious about?  Don’t be.  Any issues that arise along the way, you’ll be able to handle.  Your road trip will be just one more life adventure you have as a family that will stick with you for a long time, probably forever.

You can even call recommended hotels directly with any questions or concerns, or just to find out how much fun you can expect to have!.  Lastly, and by all means, relax and enjoy yourself.  This is what life is all about.

Wonderful travels and have a great trip!

Next time, we’ll explore another, new aspect of “Life Loving Dogs”.  Stay tuned.

And, one more “last” thing (really, this is the last “last” one), always support the National Canine Cancer Foundation.  They love and need your involvement and support.

Tails up!

P.S.  Be sure to take lots of pictures on your trip!  Coming soon!  Absolutely Pet-Friendly Travel is going to be hosting a venue for you to showcase (and maybe compete!) your images and travel videos!!!  How exciting is that?!

Summary check list of items to bring for your dog.  I suggest you keep it very basic, simple and light.

  • Collapsible Travel Water Bowl
  • Water Bowl
  • Food Bowl
  • Dog Food (Only Your Dog’s Brand)
  • Treats (Your Dog’s Usual Treats)
  • Toy
  • Dog Bed (If Your Dog Uses One)
  • Waste Bags
  • Paper Towels
  • Dog Crate (If Normally Used)

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