Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Road trip with the dog

So, remember that trip I blogged about before? Well, it's coming up fairly soon, so I thought that maybe it would be a good time to start making some plans for it? So we are working on mapping out an itinerary and picking out pet-friendly hotels that don't charge exorbitant fees for having a dog in your room.

Seriously. I sort of understand the point, since they shed, but our dog is much less destructive than many children. She sleeps in a crate and doesn't bark and yes, she sheds a little, but wouldn't they be vacuuming the room anyway?

Though I have to say it's amazing what extremes some hotels take the whole pet thing to. For example, one place informed me that they had a mandatory $300 pet deposit upon check-in, and $100 of that is non-refundable. But! It's OK that you're paying $100 for the privilege of giving your dog a place to sleep, because she gets a basket of treats and chew toys, PLUS her very own doggy down bed! Hooray! Because that makes it SO worth it.

But actually, we've managed to find some decent, affordable, pet-friendly places and I think this is all going to work out very nicely. And doing all this legwork actually makes me feel very accomplished.

It is different, though, traveling with a dog. We've done it once before, but only for a weekend. Not only is your choice of hotel severely limited (no longer can we do what we did when we drove from DC to Denver, picking hotels at random and negotiating for low last-minute rates), but you have to plan everything differently. What places are dog-friendly? How far from a non-dog-friendly attraction is the hotel, so you can make sure you're not leaving her alone in her crate for too long? Does the restaurant have outdoor seating so you can tie her to the patio railing? And so on.

I can only IMAGINE how much tougher it is to travel with children. Although, in some respects, it's probably easier, because children are welcome in a lot more places than dogs are.

But yeah, my point here originally was that I am getting super excited for this trip. We really need a vacation and it will be so nice to just take our time, drive to places we want to see, not have a rush or an itinerary, and just check things out on our own time. It will be nice not to think about work or responsibilities, and just get to enjoy the time and the setting and each other (and the dog). And also, we tend to have some of our best conversations in the car, and I imagine that this trip will be no exception.

I am definitely going to have to do some legwork in advance, though, and have a list of places we'd like to see, parks we'd like to visit, hikes we'd like to take, shops we'd like to check out, restaurants we'd like to try, and of course the dog-friendly status of all of this. Luckily there are some really great resources out there for traveling with dogs, but this is definitely not the kind of trip where we can just fly by the seat of our pants and assume that everything will work out. And really, I'm OK with that.

In fact, I'm enjoying the planning phase. It makes me feel accomplished, and so excited about this trip.

Have you ever traveled with a pet? If so, what was it like and did you learn anything useful? If not, would you ever consider it?


  1. Alison (your favorite sister)Wednesday, September 16, 2009 7:05:00 AM

    to be fair to hotels, and to people who are allergic to dogs, vacuuming the hair is one thing but making sure there are no remnants/dander anywhere in the room is quite another...

  2. As you know, we just took a long road trip with our dog. And that wasn't our first. We've used in the past to find places to stay. On this most recent trip, we also found luck using search terms like "pet friendly b&b [insert location]"

    One thing to remember is when you're checking in, remind them you have a dog. Some places require you to fill out an emergency form for the dog; others make you enter through a separate entrance to avoid having dogs in the main lobby; etc. Also, pretty much EVERY place we stayed had rules stating you could not leave the dog alone in the room ... so, you'll want to double check that before taking off to sight see without Montana.

    One thing that we changed drastically is how we eat meals. Instead of stopping at an oasis with tons of food options, we now opt for rest stops with big grassy areas to walk the dog. We tend to pack a cooler full of sandwich supplies so we don't have to worry about stopping for food. And we bring a few gallons of water, so it's easy to give her a quick drink.

    Also, shopping completely changed on our trip. One of us had to stand outside with the dog while the other shopped (though we were surprised at how many places invited us to bring her in).

    We don't regret traveling with SoMi. She is a part of our family and it makes us happy to bring her along. But, the way in which we travel has most definitely changed. An adjustment, for sure.

  3. I think their concern has more to do with the damage dogs can do to the room, like peeing and worse, less than the hair. I mean, I shed and I don't have to put down a deposit to stay in a hotel.

    Oh, and, I love planning a trip almost as much as the trip itself.

  4. We have yet to travel with Casco mostly b/c the pet friendly websites (and the hotels they feature) scare me. Excited to hear your trip review!

  5. My mom stayed at one hotel with her dog and the room was a smoking/pet room which made it kind of gross. Hopefully you will find better accomadations.

  6. My parents have been in the hotel business for years so I have a slightly different POV. They do allow pets and charge a small fee per day, but people often take advantage by letting their dog poop and not cleaning it up, leaving the dog in the room ALL day and/or uncrated so the maid can't go in and it barks all day and disturbs other guests, and of course some dogs have accidents and shed everywhere. They do have designated pet rooms for that reason.
    Unfortunately, a few irresponsible pet owners ruin it for those, like you, who would never dream of behaving like that. :(
    We've only traveled with our dog once, and we did stay in a motel, but I can't remember all that much about it. It was a cheap place and we were literally only there for sleeping. With 3 kids there's no way I'd attempt traveling with the dog too. We already have to stop 5million times for potty breaks. lol

  7. We've had a lot of luck traveling with our dogs. The problem we had was finding places that would accept large dogs, particularly since we had. Lots of places would take dogs up to 15 pounds. Funny - that's just a snack for my boys. I realize some people take advantage and are asshats about what they let pets do to a hotel room, but I have to believe most people are better than that.

    Baymont Inns (last I knew anyway) took dogs any size for no extra charge. There were so awesome. As you said, there are many great internet resources now to be able to map your journey. I hope you all have fun. I loved taking the dogs with us into a hotel, but I have to admit it felt funny walking them down the hallway. It was just weird. Also, one of our dogs got a little freaked out by the fact that people walked by right outside the door. He went into protective mode at first, but then he got over himself.

  8. We travel with the pups all the time, for two weeks straight, even. We look for pet-friendly hotels, and we find kennels to keep them if we need to be away from them for a full day or more. Many kennels will let you come and go, which is nice. Then, they have someone keeping an eye on them for a the few hours we need to be away.

    Always carry water and a dog dish. Bring more food than you think you will need, and extra treats in case there are stressful situations.

    Bring lots of towels, too. Traveling can be stressful for the pup, and there may be an accident.

    It can be a bit stressful every now and then, but for the most part it is fun. The dogs love it - so many new things to sniff!

  9. Man, I need to get my act together with commenting.

    I also have a small car cleaning kit that I put together. A spray bottle with water/vinegar solution, a couple of microfiber cloths, extra plastic bags for trash/poop, etc. I bring this in to the hotel with us in case the dogs have an accident. They never have, but I can't imagine not doing my best to clean up after them if they did.

  10. It was hard traveling cross country with our 75+ pound lab mix when she was still with us. I recommend double checking BEFORE leaving to verify that the places you have chosen to stay are indeed dog friendly and double check the weight limit. I recommend taking some bottled water from home to minimize the chance of upset tummy. Take sheets to cover the bed if you plan on allowing Montana on them to minimize any hair transfer. Also, if you haven't used a flea treatment on her, do so. The of the only time we ever had to deal with fleas was while traveling. I firmly believe they were picked up at a rest area. I wouldn't recommend leaving Montana alone in the room, even crated as she may bark being in a strange environment and disturb other guests. And PLEASE pick up after her (and others if you find it.). It only takes one bad apple to ruin it for every other responsible pet owner. Enjoy your trip!!!

  11. Interesting post!

    We travel with our dog everywhere. He's been to over 12 countries and about as many states. It does take extra time in planning and researching before the trip, but luckily there are a lot of pet-friendly hotels and businesses nowadays which makes it a bit easier.

    We've found the La Quinta hotel chain to be very pet-friendly. There's varying rules about allowing pets to be left unattended but pets are free, which is good! The chain has locations everywhere which makes it a good choice for road trips.

    I run a pet travel website, as well as am a pet travel specialist. If you need any help with planning your next trip with your pet, please don't hesitate to contact me. Also, I have a checklist on what to pack for your pet for your next road trip on the website which you may find useful.

    Happy Travels!


  12. As a general rule, cats are not the travelers that dogs are. The only time I traveled with my cats was during moving. I did a short practice trip before, just went out and drove them around for an hour and went home, and they were baffled! Ran from room to room, trying to figure out what changed.

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