We have a little family vacation coming up, and I’m trying to decide what to do with the dogs.
Normally, I would either board them or have a housesitter, but this is a destination the dogs would really like, I think. My husband’s family owns a little cabin on a lake, and we are going to spend a week or so there in August. There’s not much two retrievers would enjoy more than hanging out at a lake in the woods.
But, it’s a long drive. A long, long drive. Almost-Mexico to almost-Canada- about 20 hours in the car. If we didn’t take the dogs, we would fly. This moderate flying day of travel would turn into two days of travel on either end of the trip, with a 4 year old, a 5 year old, and two boisterous dogs.
No RV, no camper. We would need to find a motel somewhere in northern California that is dog-friendly. I would need to keep the kids entertained. Brody would have to have some motion sickness medication (I guess this is my chance to find out if Cerenia is as good as I hear it is for this purpose!)
I’m not a big road trip person. Give me a plane and a quick arrival at my destination any day. I am way too impatient for that whole “life’s a journey, not a destination” stuff- I have limited vacation time and I believe in optimizing it, so all of this road trip planning and execution stuff is pretty foreign to me to begin with.
I’m not overly against leaving the dogs at home- Koa with her separation anxiety would probably do better with a house sitter than being boarded, but I can work something out. I just know that if I could get them there without too much drama, they’d enjoy it.
So, I need advice from the road trippers- is this a terrible idea or possibly doable? Is this “Advanced Road Tripper Only” travel? Too much work for 5 days at a lake? No biggie? Any advice would be appreciated. And don’t worry, if we do go this route they would be safely secured inside the car. 🙂
We used to drive from Calgary AB to Gold River BC three times a year, that’s about 19 hours total in a car, cause of driving through the rockies and having to take a ferry to Vancouver Island. We always brought our dog with us, Minx. She was never much of a hassle. You have to stop every few hours to take some quick pee breaks, and maybe stretch your legs, but as long as you have activities to keep the kids occupied, pillows in case they want to sleep, and turn the back of your SUV/Van into a little doggy haven filled with toys, you’re good to go.
You could leave them at home, sure, but for that entire week you’d just think about how much your dogs would have loved it there, and you’d be kicking yourself. Koa is so well behaved already, and Brody is going to love all the new smells.
tabitha W says
The biggest thing on my mind is space. Do you have the space in your car to make everyone feel comfortable? You included. Kids are easy, colouring books, mini games, eye spy ect. The dogs on the other hand…
I think you can do it, I also think that Brody would LOVE the lake but be bored in the car. If you can find something for Brody to do, it would work. I know it would.
But keep in mind the space!!!
Road trips are fun, plan your route and see what is along there you may want to stop and see such as the worlds largest pizza, or ball or yarn. Make it an adventure for you and your dogs!!
Ann from Montana says
I travel with a dog and cat always – hate flying now. And now, I have a motorhome so much different scenario but I did travel with them pre-RV…albeit in a Suburban with no kids.
I think the key here is I ALWAYS travelled with them and my dog was/is generally always with me in the car – unless heat prohibits taking him – so my “family” is used to this mode of travel. (for whatever reason, my cats have always done well with car/rv travel – as long as I can let them out of their carrier – in the carrier they seem prone to motion sickness)
I started by dogs with car travel in an open wire carrier when they were pups – it is what I like and part of their existence. I think normal patterns need to be weighed against all the other things you stated. There is not wonderful solution…longer, possibly uncomfortable travel days vs missing them and worrying how they are doing.
Whatever you choose to do, best wishes on a wonderful vacation :)!
Take the dogs with you. Every time I’ve left my dogs home and gone away, even if it’s only for a couple of days, I miss them and want them with me. All of my dogs, rescue and personal, love to ride in the car and once you’re moving, they’re quiet. They look out the window, nap, chew on another dog. Two hour rides has actually cured one of the rescues of her motion sickness.
I also made an 18 hr drive with my dogs from northern Texas to central Michigan. Every time I stopped for gas, they got out, had a walk, something to drink, and back on the road we went. I know it doesn’t affect Brody so much, but traveling is a good form of socialization and makes it easier to take the dogs because they’re not fearful or fretting about being in new situations.
Our dogs are great car dogs so it was okay driving with them. Do your research (there’s a site called Roadnotes where you get anything you may need from the road from rest stops to Petsmarts). Worst part of a road trip, IMO, is 1) stopping overnight (loading/unloading/loading again) and 2) the drive back home. The first we resolved to take shifts instead of stopping. The second? If you overcome the initial feeling of dread it’ll be okay!
We have 2 kids and 2 large dogs and one small car so we don’t road trip. But I’ve been really impressed with Cerenia.
I have three dogs and we don’t do a lot of road trips simply because it’s like riding with three toddlers and my brain explodes. But when the dogs do come along, I plot a route that enables potty stops every two hours. . .small cooler of just ice. . .snacks. . .toys. . .doggles & the back of the stationwagon outfitted with barriers, nets, & their safety harnesses. I carry & use Ark naturals Happy Traveler – helps keeps them calm & keeps them from being snarky with one another. I also check to see which hotels allow pets and what the charge is. . .altho the last time we went on a road trip we camped along the way so the dogs really thought that was pretty awesome. We even have “road trip” harnesses and leashes – the harnesses are padded & the leashes are the same material as the mountain climbing rope. It can be a hassle but the fun & memories are so well worth all the preparation.
Your desire for lack of drama is EXACTLY why we created GoPetFriendly.com! We definitely think you should take the dogs with you! We travel with our two dogs (almost) full time so we have A LOT of experience here. If you’d like, we could help you plan your trip – finding dog friendly hotels, restaurants, and maybe even an attraction or two along your way. Send us a note at ContactUs@GoPetFriendly.com if we can be of assistance. Look forward to hearing from you!
I’ve done NY-LA with a dog that isn’t a great traveler. While she didn’t love the car, she did love all the amazing experiences she got to have. I have found that Motel 6, Kimpton Hotels, W Hotels, and KOA campsites have great pet policies (no/low fees, no limits). I think Candlewood Suites will also let you take the pooches; it costs a bit, but they do offer a kitchenette. In Carmel, CA, Doris Day owns an place called The Cypress Inn, which is probably quite pricey but is also apparently great for dogs. Good luck!
Dr. V says
Thank you Justine! Carmel is kind of on the route- I hear it is unbelievably beautiful there!
Laurie Buchele says
We love a good road trip with kids and dogs along! Use a website like http://www.gopetfriendly.com (not affiliated, just a fan!) to find lots of things to do with your kids and dogs and places to stay. I say take two weeks and make it an adventure you and your family will never forget!!
On the practical side, determine beforehand who is in “charge” of what — you take one child and one dog, hubby takes the other child and other dog, or whatever works for you. We find this helps when things get stressful or busy if we both know what our primary “responsibilities” are.
Another idea I used when our girls were little for both the kids and the dogs — get some small, fun things for each child and dog. New coloring book, new books to read, new little character figures, etc for the kids — new chewy, new toy, new treat, etc for the dogs. And don’t forget yourselves! Chocolates, new CD to listen to, etc. As you cross a state line, everyone gets a little present! Most states have a welcome center or rest stop near their state line, so it’s a perfect opportunity to stop, stretch your legs, and distribute new, fun things to the whole crew.
It will be a lot of prior planning to make it go smoothly, but I really think you will be happy you took the time and put it all together. Our most memorable family trips include our dogs. We recently had much the same debate and decided to take everyone along — we are so glad we did as it was the last vacation our elderly dog got to take with us. He passed away a month later. Thank goodness we will always have that to remember and he was so happy to be with us.
Enjoy the journey — it truly is worth it.
We travel with our golden Tucker as much as possible. But, our kids our 11 and 14, and their assorted paraphernalia much smaller in size. So glad we are well past having to bring strollers, playpens, etc. Invest in a rooftop carrier. I like the soft bag type as it can hold different size bags, folding chairs, strollers, etc. The hard top carriers are nice, but I find them limiting. You will gain a ton of space inside for the kids and the dogs. It is also worth putting a trailer hitch on the back of your car, not for a trailer, but for various other racks, that can carry bikes, coolers and other stuff.
We stop every pretty often with the dog and kids. I try to look at our route ahead of time and find fun places to stop. Even if only for a couple of minutes. It makes the road trip part of the vacation. Also, don’t be afraid to pull of an exit on a whim if you see something that catches your eye. Some of our most fond memories from vacations are from these spontaneous stops.
Finding a place to eat can be a chore, but most restaurants where you can walk directly to an outside table without going inside thru the restaurant will let you have a dog at the table. Dogfriendly.com is a good place to start looking online before your trip. Remember it is sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Just plant yourselves at a table, and have your dog sit nicely next to you. It is awfully hard for someone to say no to a cute well behaved dog. We have always had great experiences eating out with Tucker, and usually find the people at the tables around us are smiling and pointing at Tucker.
Personally, there is nothing better than having our dog with us on vacation. I love meeting all the people that come over to pet Tucker, and listening to their stories, about dogs, other pets, or simply that they had a bad day and needed to touch a friendly dog.
Elizabeth and The Lab Crew says
The dogs and kids will love the trip..
For the kids, if you have a laptop that plays DVD’s get a car adapter and take a selection of kid movies. It is a life saver. The games and colouring only go so far.
For the dogs I am sure you already know most of the things. I travel with three labs and I take at least a half hour before we leave and give them a good run, not a walk but a good ball playing session to get some of the energy out..
Look for safe dog friendly spots to stop and take a ball and ball chucker with you if the dogs will chase one. I always take 100ft leads that I made myself just in case we can’t find what I consider a safe exercise spot.
Use seatbelts and never open a door unless the dogs are either on a leash or in the seatbelt. Which I am sure you already know, but I just have to say it..
Since you are going to be at a lake, take your ear drying solution of choice and use it every night on both of them, it will help prevent ear infections from the nasties in the lake water.. Trust me on this one…
Hope this helps.
If you don’t like road trips you probably won’t enjoy this one, but giving your dogs such a treat will probably offset the pain. If you have room (i.e., a third seat) I love my pet tube for the car. See it here: http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Tube-Carrier-Kennel-Size-Large/dp/B0007OASY2/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top My dog goes in and goes to sleep and sometimes doesn’t want to get out when we get where we’re going.
I love taking our dogs on roadtrips, but they are a bit smaller so it makes it easier. I usually find a La Quinta since they are notoriously pet friendly.
As a kid I took roadtrips all the time with my Mom (Given, they were usually about 9 hours) This was far before the portable DVD-player times. But I had a lot of fun. They were the best memories I had, piling me, my sister, and our dog in the car.
Not There Yet says
I have three dogs and I just completed a 15 road trip last week. We did an 18 hours road trip with them last year as well. The dogs were great – no motion sickness and they slept for most of the time – anyway. Not much difference between the rear car seat and the couch in the living room for them.
A great online resource is bringfido.com. They have all the pet-friendly travel info and will even make the reservation for you!
I agree with another reader – just make sure you have the space in the car.
Good luck – hope you all have fun.
I used to be a big flyer/trainer until we got our dog Alice and I didn’t feel comfortable flying with her to visit my folks for the holidays. Someone recommended that we rent a car and drive, and we’ve been road tripping it ever since. We’ve had Alice a little less than two years and she’s already been to 15 states, including trips from our home in DC to Western Michigan, down to Southern Florida, and all the way up to Rhode Island. She’s been fantastic every time– admittedly, she’s more agreeable than I am on long car drives.
It’s been surprisingly easy to find dog-friendly hotels, even without reservations. Only once we had to camp out at a rest stop, but we were in College Bowl Country on New Year’s Day and there just weren’t any rooms available anywhere, period. We’ve had good luck with small bed and breakfasts, Super8s, Holiday Inns, and Homewood Suites, and I wholeheartedly agree with Allison– La Quintas are fabulous about pets. We stayed at one just last weekend and I’m sold on them.
My partner grew up taking road trips with his big family and two large dogs, and he recommends that if you have a smaller car, rent a mini van and take out the back seats. Everyone was happy and comfortable.
I’d definitely recommend giving driving a shot. Are there more posh ways to travel? For sure. But having your pet with you makes the trip and the destination far more fun.
I was coming in to say La Quinta is very pet friendly, with no fees! But someone beat me to the punch, so I will 2nd it! We traveled from Ohio to MA (12ish hours) a few years ago for Thanksgiving with Akira. She was only 5 months old at the time, so not as big as she is now, but she was a great road tripper and the La Quinta was a great place to stay. (we would have traveled straight through without her) We stayed at the same La Quinta back and forth and they were nothing but great, and they were the only hotel I could find along our path that didn’t charge any fees for animals. Loved em!
Jennifer C. says
I think you may find this website very useful if you decide to take the whole family: http://gopetfriendly.com/RoadTripPlanner.aspx
It is a Road Trip Planner for use with pets and you enter your starting address as well as your destination address; you tell it how many miles you want to travel per day and it will find hotels, etc. within your route.
No question, I’d take them with! 🙂
If you let me know where in northern California, I can look in my book for dog friendly accommodations (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Many motels these days are great about dogs. Just check with the ones that allow them as they often have a small size limit that you don’t know about until you call.
Days Inn is one we have often used with our large dog.
Definitely take them 🙂 I just finished a 12 day road trip with my mini-doxie and he was great!! We drove through Canada and the US Mid-West. If you have bully chews and are prepared to stop twice a day for pee breaks, it’ll be great for the dogs. The kids will be great with something to keep them busy too 🙂
I say go for it…it will be a great trip with the whole family there! Have fun!!
Well, it seems like everyone’s saying exactly the opposite of what I would. We took Summer on a road trip last year up to Seattle, and she did… OK. She really seemed to find it a bit stressful and didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have expected. We camped along the way, but none of the campsites we went to allowed dogs off-leash. She wouldn’t eat very well and was obviously a bit anxious the whole time.
Truth be told, I’m not sure I would do it again. It wasn’t as much fun as it sounded.
That said, Cerenia is very good.
Fiona patel says
The trip would be long with 2 kids & 2 dogs, but the lake and the dogs & kids enjoying the same might be worth it. I can recommend a hotel!! I stayed at the best Western in canyonville oregon which isnt far past the state line when driving the same route as you. its right on the highway, allows pets, has a nice walking area seperate for the dogs, and a decent restaurant next door, free breakfast in the hotel. reasonable prices too. its not the ritz, but it was clean & convenient & best of all, pet friendly. Just as a funny side note: my GPS which speaks in an aussie accent calls Canyonville Can-eye’-an-ville. confused me jusst a tad. lol
I’m all for traveling with dogs. Blade was a great companion in the car. I love road trips though and I’m always in a rush to get there. Whenever I had Blade though, I’d take my time and stop more for him and get to see things I normally wouldn’t see.
As long as everyone is comfortable in the vehicle, I’d totally go for it!
At the start of this post, I was all ready to tell you to jump in and go for it. Then I saw ‘motion sickness’ ‘two days with a hotel in the middle’ ‘don’t like road trips’ and ‘only five days at the lake’.
Nothing is ever perfect, but you’ve got a lot going against you here. I think something of a smaller scale would be a better first time learning experience.
I routinely travel 15-20+ hours one way in the car with any where from 5-17 dogs in the car (when I go to field trials, I take everyone else’s Dachshunds, too, since the closest field trial to here is 1000 miles). Of course, they are in crates, but it’s easy peasy. They just sleep. When I stop at rest stops, they go in exercise pens to potty. But with only two, you can easily just walk them. It’s all relative, but if I only traveled with 2 dogs, it would be so easy….now, the kids would be a different story for me. lol.
personally, i love road trips and i love travelling with my dog – it’s the only way i can completely relax and not worry about him. but i like the driving and the adventure of it. my dog is great in the car. but with 2 kids, 2 adults and 2 dogs, plus all of the baggage, that’s going to be a tight squeeze. and it doesn’t sound like something you’re excited about. so leave the fur-kids home this time and take them for a weekend away some other time, to some place close by.