If you’ve never traveled with your dog, and you have no idea where to start, then this post is for you. In this post, I’m breaking down how to plan a dog friendly vacation, so that you will be equipped and prepared for a successful trip!
Not sure if you should bother taking your dog on vacation? Check out these 5 Reasons Why You Should Travel with Your Dog.
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be flexible / go with the flow
When it comes to planning a dog friendly vacation, you need to be in the correct mindset for the vacation you are about to plan. Taking your dog with you on your trip will pose you with challenges and inconveniences that you wouldn’t have if your dog wasn’t with you.
So, during the trip planning stage, you will want to be flexible in terms of what you are going to be able to do, where you will be able to go, etc. when you have your dog with you.
Be prepared for unexpected hurdles and plans needing to change. The best thing you can do is to go with the flow when it comes to your dog-friendly vacation.
look up dog friendly destinations first
To set yourself up for success, I would advise you to look up dog friendly destinations first. Going to a popular dog friendly city will be easier on you and your dog and you are more likely to enjoy your vacation more vs. going somewhere that isn’t accommodating and forcing your dog into the vacation out of convenience.
This also goes for where you want to go. If you really want to go to Washington D.C to visit all of the museums, then you may not want to bring your dog on that vacation. Dog friendly travel does not have to be: “I take my dog with me everywhere”. Your dog coming along with you on vacation should make sense in terms of what you plan to do on the vacation and how your dog fits within those plans.
heavily research places to stay and dog friendly restaurants
You will save yourself a lot of trouble if you pre-plan where you are going to stay and eat. If you are planning on staying in a hotel, make sure to call the hotel and verify their dog policy and any fees you may owe on arrival. Do not take what is posted online as the most recent policy. Always, always, call the hotel to confirm. Policies change all the time and you don’t want any surprises when you arrive. Personally, I like using Hotels.com for booking pet-friendly hotels. They have a pet-friendly filter that makes it easy to filter out the hotels that don’t allow pets.
For restaurants, you’ll want to check out a website like BringFido which lists restaurants that are dog friendly and even have reviews for some of them or blogs like mine 😉 Even so, always call the restaurant to make sure their policy has not changed. Keep in mind that most restaurants that allow their dogs on their patio have limited seating, so expect to wait longer than usual for a table and have a few restaurants as backups in case your first choice doesn’t pan out.
Don’t forget, you can always get carry-out and eat in your hotel room! We’ve done this a few times and it’s super nice to sit back and relax in PJs after a long hike!
Have A Game Plan For When It Rains
Never assume that it won’t rain on your vacation. It’s a good idea to check before your trip if there are any indoor places in the area you are staying that allow dogs. Some shops allow dogs (look up local pet supply stores or treat shops) or find a restaurant, brewery, or winery that has a covered patio where you can eat and relax.
If all else fails, find a Home Depot, Michaels, or other retailers that allow dogs and shop around until the rain stops!
make sure to pack the essentials
A well-planned dog friendly vacation should have all the essentials your dog will need to be happy and comfortable on your trip.
The essentials include:
If you need help packing for your dog, check out how I pack my dog’s travel backpack.
work your way up to larger trips
If you’ve never traveled with your dog before, you’ll want to start small. I would also recommend going somewhere you’ve been before so that you aren’t in an unfamiliar environment.
Our first trip with Kirby was to Traverse City for a weekend getaway. I grew up going to Traverse City in the summer, so I know that place like the back of my hand. It made the new experience of having a dog with me less stressful because I knew the place so well.
Once you’ve got the hang of having your dog with you for a weekend getaway and they do well, try a long weekend or road trip to somewhere new.
understand your dog’s limits
I obviously do not know your dog, but you do. To successfully plan a trip with your dog, you have to have confidence in your dog’s abilities. If your dog is trained and listens to you well, (even when they are distracted by something else), then your dog will probably be a great travel companion.
Dogs with anxiety or have a fear of being around other dogs and people, may not enjoy traveling or need to be trained a bit more before venturing out of their comfort zone.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dogs need more rest than we do. You’ll want to make sure your dog gets plenty of sleep on your vacation!
I hope these tips help you plan an awesome dog friendly vacation! If you need help finding somewhere to go, check out the dog friendly destinations Kirby has been to so far!