Whenever we travel, Brandon and I always make arrangements to take our dogs with us. It can be tiresome at first but once you learn a few of the tricks it’s not so bad. I’m talking about tricks like:
- Calling ahead to the pet-friendly hotel and asking if they offer dog-walking services. If not, arranging with a local dog-walking service (check Rover.com for recommendations) to walk your dogs at the hotel while you’re out.
- Remember to pack favorite blankets and toys for your dog so the smell of home follows them to the hotel.
- Packing a collapsible indoor dog pen instead of the dog crate because it’s easy to transport and provides your dog with more space. We use this one and it’s the simplest/best thing ever.
- Finding a few pet-friendly restaurants for your dinners so the dogs can join you and get out of the hotel for a while. I recommend using BringFido.com to find restaurants but remember you should still call ahead to confirm especially asking about outdoor table reservations and any breed restrictions they may have in place.
Typically, the one thing that has brought us the most stress has been actually transporting the dogs in the car. We used to put them in their crate in the back seat and stop frequently to let them out, stretch their legs, eat, and go to the bathroom. It wasn’t a very pleasant way to travel at all.
This year we decided to invest in setting up the backseat as a dog travel-zone and the first thing we did was invest in a Kurgo Bench Seat Cover (but it’s only $36 so it’s not a huge investment).
I think I stood in the aisle at PetSmart for a good 20 minutes debating over car seat covers before I settled on buying this one. The PetSmart associate walked by and asked me at least 4 times if they could help but I politely declined. I mean, how could I possibly say, “I’m just an obsessive crazed woman that can’t seem to make up her mind about which of these extremely similar items I should choose to cover my car seat.” Ultimately I settled on this one for a few main reasons, most notably:
- It’s the right size, seemed sturdy, and was waterproof (bonus!)
- Two large pockets for extra storage (for food, treats, toys, etc)
- Velcro openings for seatbelt use
It was the fact that it was waterproof and had openings for seatbelt use that really got us though because we were debating between investing in doggie car seats and strapping them in or buying travel harnesses. I was in favor of the travel harnesses so they had mobility but Brandon was leaning toward the car seats so they could look out the windows. It was such a silly argument, I’ll admit.
The Kurgo Bench Seat Cover was way more sturdy on our bench seat than I expected it would be. It latches over the headrests, under the seat, and behind the seat (through the trunk) for maximum attachment. I had been concerned my wiggly little dogs would knock it off the seat but they don’t stand a chance. That thing isn’t going anywhere.
I won the argument with Brandon about harnesses vs car seats (for now). I bought one of these travel harnesses from Top Dog for the dogs to wear while traveling. At first I was concerned that the dogs would hate them because I couldn’t imagine them loving being attached to the seatbelt but since they are accustomed to wearing harnesses while being on the leash (as pictured) they didn’t seem too bothered by it. Plus, the seatbelt actually goes through a loop (like a leash) attached to the harness so I don’t think it feels much different to them. When you get to your location, the loop comes detached and you can attach the leash for a walk. Definitely worth it!
It has made traveling with the pups, even just a quick trip to PetSmart, so much easier! My car stays clean, the dogs are safe, and everyone is happier out of the crate. Now, to recap (and add a few more details)
My top tips for traveling with pets
- Inform your vet before you travel and ask for tips/suggestions for your specific pet. Your vet knows your dog best and may be able to warn you about anxiety or other behaviors to watch out for while on the road.
- Call ahead to the hotel to ask if they offer dog-walking services. If not, check Rover.com for recommendations about dog walkers available to walk your dogs at the hotel while you’re out.
- Pack your dogs’ favorite blankets and toys so the smell of home follows them to the hotel and they are less anxious in the hotel room.
- Make sure the hotel staff has your best contact information in case of an emergency with your pet while you’re out and notify housekeeping that a pet is in the room. Avoid using housekeeping if possible.
- Pack a collapsible indoor dog pen instead of the dog crate because it’s easy to transport and provides your dog with more space. We use this one and it’s the simplest/best thing ever.
- Confirm a few pet-friendly restaurants in your destination so the dogs can join you. I recommend using BringFido.com to find restaurants but remember to call ahead to confirm details and ask about breed restrictions they may have in place.
- Protect your car with the Kurgo Bench Seat Cover and secure your pets with a Travel Harness.
Then, enjoy the trip and be sure to take tons of pictures!
Do you have any other travel tips to share? Do you take your pets with you, board them, or hire a pet sitter?