If lately you’ve been feeling like a hostage in your own home, trapped in a dreary cycle of work-laundry-dinner under one roof and staring out your window at a frigid, snowy landscape, it’s no wonder that a vacation is calling your name. Imagine how your dog feels.
Your furry friend could be clamoring for a getaway too.
Coincidentally, the safeguards of a socially distanced trip — car travel, camping, outdoor dining — can line up perfectly with the natural restrictions of travel with a dog. With some extra patience and planning, you can make special memories with your pooch and give them — and yourself — the change of scenery you both need.
Know Your Dog
Some dogs get overly stressed by long car rides. If this is the case with your pup, consider a closer getaway, like a day or weekend trip in-state. Look at state, national, and local parks nearby for an unfamiliar destination with less travel time.
Before You Go
Check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and preventative medications. Tell your vet where you’re going so they can offer advice on the best way to prepare for your dog’s vacation. Depending on your destination, you may need a health certificate issued from your veterinarian for interstate travel. Make sure your dog is microchipped and wears a tag with your current contact information in case they become separated from you.
Do a Road Trip Right
Before hitting the road, make sure your pet will be as safe as possible on your trip. For smaller dogs, secure a carrier in the backseat that they can move around in freely. Otherwise, you’ll need a harness that you can secure with a seatbelt. Check out these crash test certified options from the Center for Pet Safety.
En route, make plenty of stops to satisfy your dog’s needs. Most highway rest stops display signage on where you can walk your dog.
What to Bring
- Generous supply of your dog’s regular food
- Food and water bowls
- Bedding and blankets (the more familiar, the better)
- Veterinarian contact information
- Pet first aid kit
- Dog waste bags
- Extra-special treats
- Vaccination records (either paper copies or on your phone)
- Strong leash
- Grooming items
Pitch a Tent
Camping is an obvious arrangement for a dog vacation. There are so many options for campgrounds and national forests that will allow you to bring your four-legged friend. You could go the “glamping” route, and rent a posh tent in Moab or a camper in the Florida Keys. For a more rugged experience, try backpacking with your dog for free in Ocala National Forest or the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Whether you camp off the beaten path or at a private campground, be sure to check ahead of time to make sure dogs are allowed. There might be restrictions based on weight or breed.
Get a Room
If hotel accommodations are more your speed, you can find plenty of places to stay that will allow your dog. EconoLodge, Best Western, and Red Roof Inn allow dogs for little or no extra charge at many U.S. locations. In the way of luxury resorts, Inn by the Sea in Maine and the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in New Mexico are just a couple destinations that offer special services and accommodations for dogs. Find more on a site like PetsWelcome.
Where to Go
Camping and Backpacking
- Garden of the Gods Wilderness in Shawnee National Forest, Herod, Illinois
- The Lost Coast Trail, King Range National Conservation Area, Humboldt County, California
- Jefferson Park, Mt. Hood National Forest, near Portland, Oregon
- Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama
- Bonita Canyon Campground, Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
- The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana
- The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Barnsley Resort, Adairsville, Georgia
- Calistoga Ranch, Napa, California
- Emerson Resort, Mount Tremper, New York
- Key West, Florida
- Austin, Texas
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Bend, Oregon
- Sedona, Arizona
Tips for the Pet Set
- Prepare your dog for tent camping by trying it out before you go. Make sure their toenails aren’t so sharp that they’ll poke through the floor of your tent.
- Many beaches and piers disallow dogs, and you could face a steep fine for breaking the rule. Look ahead of time for dog-friendly beaches and parks.
- Keep in mind that your dog is in a new environment, possibly surrounded by dangerous wildlife. Even if you’re used to letting them go off-leash, it’s best to keep them leashed and close for their own safety.
- Be prepared to spend a lot of time with your dog. Specifically, ALL of the time. Unlike at home, you won’t be able to leave your dog unattended on vacation (probably not in a hotel room or camper, and certainly not in a tent). Plan ahead, and you can spend less vacation time fretting about this and more of it bonding with your pooch over beer and oysters on a patio or frollicking in the surf on a dog beach. For days when you might want a break, find a local dog daycare or search for a sitter on the website Rover.
Featured image: Kit8.net / Shutterstock
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