Summer Journal: Traveling with Pets
Our pets are family members, loved and treated as people. They think they are people. So, when it’s time to leave the old homestead and embark on a road trip, why would we leave them home? My cocker spaniel, Bailey, lays on the rug by my garage door when I’m gone, waiting for me to return. How can I leave her for a month? But, traveling with my furry friend takes some planning and preparation.
The following is a list of essentials I have developed over the years for traveling with pets.
1. First and foremost, I want her to be as safe as possible on our vacation. Along with her collar, ID tags and leash, she wears a travel harness always while in the car. She is harnessed in back-most seat with a regular seat belt through her harness. She has learned that that is her spot for travel and accepts it readily. Bailey has a harness such as these. I also take her out for a walk each time we stop. This gives her some exercise and a chance to “go potty.” She gets a little water afterwards and always her treat.
2. Bailey has her own bag packed just for her. It includes her food, plates, treats, medications and toys, bags for picking up her “waste,” room for her extra leash, (having an extra can be great if one is lost or broken) and harness when not in use.
3. The food issue. So many of our pets have special diets these days due to their allergies, so I bring along her “special” food and lots of it; enough for the entire trip. I pack bottles of water for the days in the car along with little plastic feeding dishes for her to eat from in hotels, motels, etc. If your pet uses canned food, buy the small sizes that can easily be consumed and thrown away so refrigeration is not a worry. Remember a spoon for serving. And, DON’T forget the treats. A little travel-sized plastic bottle filled with dish detergent is helpful for cleaning.
4. Bailey has a crate. It is portable and collapsible making it easy for travel storage and easily accessible when needed. Exposing her to the bed liner of the crate so familiar smells permeate the crate a few days before we begin our journey and adding a few of her favorite toys to it increase her comfort level. Crates are used in homes of friends, motel rooms and house rentals. I have this one.
5. Taking along your pet’s health records, vaccination records, and medications to last the entire trip is important. You never know when you might need that information for an emergency and for a few pieces of paper to be with you at all times is no big deal.
6. Finding lodging that is “Pet Friendly” is easier than you might think. There are many motels that accept your pet, some with a fee, others not. A simple search on web sites such as hotelsallowingpets.com or tripadvisor.com will give you access to many choices. I want a place to stay that is acceptable to my entire family. We have found a couple of “chains” that are truly spectacular when it comes to accepting our pet and being exceptional for us. Drury Hotels particularly in the southern states are terrific. LaQuinta is also special. Always call ahead just to make sure your pet is welcome and rest assured you will be staying in a great space with your family and pet.
7. Bailey gets particularly nervous when we are “on the road.” She wants me in her sight at all times, so I am her main care giver while away. She accepts some help from other family members and friends but wants me most of all. I know her skittishness will occur while away and accept it without any hesitation. So beware of these little personality changes can occur in unfamiliar surroundings.
8. That brings me to my last point. Be aware of your surroundings, strangers and other animals at all times. We go to the mountains where deer, bear, and fox live and have been seen by all family members. Always be aware of where your dog is and make sure your pet is on a leash at all times when outdoors. There is a wooden deck outside our “mountain” retreat. Bailey can easily get under the fencing and jump off that deck. Deer and bear have been seen strolling through our yard space (proof below) and into the forest. Bailey would loose any battle with one of those forest animals. So protection as if your pet was a curious 2-year-old baby (because she/he is) should be your top priority at all time.
Bailey loves our road trips, and I love her being with us. The grand daughters love to assume “care” of her and how pleasant it is to see them snuggled up with Bailey. We enjoy our adventures with her and she seems to love the discovery process as much as we do. Bailey has climbed the highest peak in the Smoky Mountain National Park with us. She has visited the rapids in the mountains, check out the ski lifts, sniffed clover, and licked ice cream in some of the finest places in the eastern USA. Traveling with your pet can be a great reward.
Now go give your pet a hug!