Every summer, our family makes the trek from San Diego to Seattle for a little family vacation. Usually we fly, but twice in the past years we’ve driven so the dogs could come as well. I’m not going to lie- it takes some preparation and work to manage a road trip with kids and dogs, but the fun of having the entire family together at our little lake cabin makes it all worthwhile. And as it turned out, dear Brody passed away this winter, so I am even more glad we put in the effort.
This year we have an additional wrinkle: a new puppy in the house. Although boarding or a petsitter is certainly an option, my goal is to bring Dakota along on this 3,000 mile roundtrip journey up the coast. So how do we make this go smoothly? It’s all in the preparation!
- Map out the journey. For us, eight hours a day is the maximum amount of time we would like to comfortably spend driving, including the time we spend at rest stops. Step one involves listing out the towns we will be staying in each night.
2. Reserve lodging. More and more hotels, motels, and private rentals accommodate pets in response to increased demand from families like ours. However, even in pet-friendly establishments, many places offer only a limited number of rooms that are designated for pets. Others limit the number or weight of the pets.
Utilizing sites specializing in pet travel has been invaluable; I use bringfido.com and gopetfriendly.com as starting points. Booking sites through Airbnb or TripAdvisor also often allow you to search for pet friendly rooms. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of higher-end, boutique hotels that allow pets! I’ve also had success booking directly through the individual hotel websites; I like laquinta.com specifically because all their locations are pet friendly.
3. Stop by the vet before you go. Are your pet’s vaccines up to date? Do you need a health certificate if you are crossing state lines? Are you travelling through areas with a specific health concern, like canine influenza, that you might not be experiencing at home? Bring your itinerary to your vet for a pre-travel checkup. This is also the time to get caught up on dewormers, heartworm preventive, and- if needed- travel medications.
Since it’s summertime, you’ll want to make sure your pet is well-protected against fleas and ticks. You have lots of options, from oral tablets to collars to spot-ons. With Dakota, we use vet-quality PetArmor® Plus, which kills fleas and ticks for up to 30 days. Ask your veterinarian if you’re not sure which preventives are best for your pet. Nothing’s getting on this pup!
4. Have your travel supplies ready to go. I portion out my dog’s am and pm dog food rations into individual bags, since we are pulling our supplies in and out of our rooftop Thule every night and this makes things much easier than scooping food out of a big bag. I keep his food, treats, toys, poop bags, and collapsible travel bowls in his own designated bag so we can easily grab and go.
5. Safety first. Did you know that most pets injured in accidents are hurt not from the accident itself, but afterwards when he or she escapes from the car? For years I’ve been a vocal fan of Sleepypod beds and harnesses for having the highest safety designation of car-safe pet travel. Should the worst happen, you also want to ensure your pet’s collar tags and microchip information is up to date so he or she can be reunited with you. I use a Pethub tag since it allows a person to access a wealth of data beyond just a phone number with one scan of a QR code.
This can be done in a under a month if need be, but I’ve found starting a solid 6-8 weeks ahead gives you the best chance at booking the rooms you need, getting into the vet with time to spare, and gathering products you might need. That way, with everything arranged and ready to go, you can enjoy your trip and all the sights to take in! Any other tips I missed from our frequent travelers? Feel free to share below!
These summer travel tips are sponsored by PetArmor® Plus. All advice, recommendations, and content creation is my own.