Name two things most people like? How about road trips and dogs? While the summer months may have officially come to a close, a slight breeze in the air could be perfect for a road trip. Without the sweltering heat drivers won’t get that weird sunburn that only covers half of their body, pooches will be more comfortable, and smaller crowds at popular destinations won’t create as big of a headache. Just the sight alone of a dog with their head out the window, tongue and ears flapping in the wind, smile on their face is well worth a long journey on the highways of the United States. For anyone eager to pack up their car for an adventure with their four-legged companion, we have some helpful tips for being prepared.
1) Warm your dog up to the event. Not every dog is a natural car lover. Some, in fact, can be extremely nervous and uncomfortable with trips in the car. As with any type of training, this might require some patience, and trial and error, but after a few positive experiences (aka not going to the vet) many mutts should be ready for an extended ride.
2) Plan mealtime. Unless drivers want to make a quick stop or are OK with a stinky situation, feeding furry co-pilots three or four hours before departure is a good idea. Aside from bathroom breaks, this also eliminates most of the risk of a dog getting carsick.
3) Pack a bag. Human travelers are not the only ones who need an overnight bag. Be sure to think ahead and have everything prepared. The absolute essentials include poop bags (!), a towel or blanket for your dog to rest on, food and water supplies like bowls and pre-measured amounts of food, leash, any necessary medications, and entertainment. For entertainment, toys like food puzzles are excellent ways to keep any dog active and distracted during long legs of the trip or in quiet hotels.
4) Have your hotels and/or campgrounds booked in advance. While this may take away a little from the free-spirited mentality provided by a long road trip, it will save you some hassle, as not every accommodation is pet-friendly. Having the peace of mind knowing there will be a viable spot to crash for the night can definitely make the trip less stressful. Upscale hotel chains like The Four Seasons and Loew Hotels are usually pet-friendly, while more economic options like La Quinta and Best Western welcome animals as well.
5) Update your dog’s information and vaccinations. Better safe than sorry! Make sure every dog is either microchipped or has a reliable dog tag on the off-chance something separates you from your companion. Taking a trip with a pet is also a good opportunity to make sure all necessary shots and vaccinations are up to date.
6) Be a team player. Leaving your hound in the car unattended can be both dangerous and stressful for your friend. Remember an outside temperature of 70 degrees can heat a car internally to 116 degrees in one hour. Try to stick to the pack mentality whenever possible.
7) Crating. While many traveling human-animal duos will be seeking wide-open roads, driving is still a safety risk. Since traditional seat belts are not dog compatible, it would be wise to invest in a car-safe crate for them to ride in.
8) Follow the appropriate pet etiquette. In pet-friendly hotels respect quiet hours, noisy pets can be asked to leave the premises if they are causing havoc or interfering with other guests’ experience. Even with the most well-trained dogs, certain areas, towns, or states could have varying leash laws, so keep up to date on any regulations when arriving in a new place.
9) Have fun! Chances are, if owners are having fun so will their pets. For an extra special road trip remember to keep everyone in mind, including pets. Make stops at dog beaches for an afternoon of rambunctious frolicking, maybe take a stroll through New York’s Central Park to chase squirrels and pay respects at the Balto statue, or plan a visit to one of the amazing national or state parks that stretch across our country.
Zack is a recovering technical recruiter who traded in his suit and ties in Silicon Valley for salsa music and a passion for writing in Medellin, Colombia. When not writing for AllTheRooms, the world's first vacation rental search engine, you can find Zack with his nose in a book, puttering around nature, or getting ultra-competitive while watching Jeopardy.