I take my dog Bella everywhere with me. If I can. Travelling with a dog is not for everyone. Dogs have different personalities and not all enjoy travel either. Bella is very adaptable and as long as she is with us, she will go anywhere. Planning is essential and many things need to be considered before hitting the road such as Transportation, accommodation, food and drink, bedding and accessories. What places do I want to visit? Where to eat? Is it dog friendly? Also, what time of the year are you travelling? Is it warm or cold?
Where and when to go?
There are many hotels, hostels or B&B’s that offer rooms for you and your loyal canine. It is important however to book in advance if you want to secure accommodation. I have tried them all and personally prefer to rent an apartment, cabin or even camp as we have more independence. We have a big dog so it makes more sense to us. Depending on the time of the year we need to prepare for the Season as some dogs are more sensitive to temperature changes than others. My flat-coated retriever does not enjoy the heat at all. When travelling in the Summer, we tend to drive in the very early hours or later in the night. If you have never travelled with your dog and would like to, take little steps. Go for longer rides. Maybe a beach or a mountain or woodland a bit further than usual. It can also be the next town or city. Make sure you build up towards the trip you are wanting to make. If your dog is not used to travelling, it might get stressed. Some pups really enjoy their routine, just like people. For my family and I, we know that plans can change and are ready for adaptation as anything can change when travelling. This obviously includes Bella.
What to bring?
We always take bedding for Bella so she always feels she has her space. I like to leave the accommodation as I received it and depending on the season Bella can lose a lot of hair, even after being brushed. Her bowl and water bottle I leave it at the bottom of the seat so it is readily available. She does not eat kibble, so we prepare home-cooked food in advance and freeze all except for what she will eat on the day. All her food is kept in a cooler until we get to our destination and kept in the freezer. We also take extra fruit as treats to keep her hydrated during the trip. My dog loves fruit but if your dog is not used to it, introduce it gradually to not upset their digestive system. Also bear in mind that while different fruits are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they also need to be given in moderation due to high sugar content. Just remember the fruits that you need to avoid: Grapes, including raisins and currants; these are toxic and can lead to kidney failure. Avoid citrus as the citric acid can affect the digestive system. Some dogs, however, do eat a piece of orange now and again. Bella’s favourite fruit is apple, raspberry, blueberry and strawberry. I cut a few pieces and store them in a container for the trip.
Make plenty of stops
So how often should you stop? It is recommended by The Highway Code to take a break of a minimum of 15 minutes every two hours. It all depends on the length of travel, the temperature, on how you are feeling and what you are used too. I tend to do more regular breaks to stretch the legs, have some coffee and for Bella to do the same (except instead of coffee, the water of course). It is important to keep hydrated. If driving in the middle of the night I might drive the full two hours as everyone is sleeping anyway.
Best places to stop
“Not everyone can pull in, walk 5 minutes and go for a swim.”
Let’s face it. Not everyone can pull in, walk 5 minutes and go for a swim. Most of the stops made were near a petrol station. Most of them have a green area to walk around. Some are better than others with mature trees and a small walk. Our last road trip was pretty warm, so we decided to take a longer break. We found a road into the woods nearby and decided to go for a short walk. We saw two men in wetsuits and decided to follow them as they seemed to know where they were going. After just 5 minutes we had this amazing view of a loch and decided to stay awhile. Once refreshed it was time to hit the road again. Bella had a very good sleep after.
Sleeping away from home
Every time we arrive in a new place to stay, the following happens. As we enter the new accommodation, our dog sniffs every corner of the rooms, the furniture, toilet and kitchen. Once satisfied, she observes us bringing in our bags, keeping our food, putting her food in the freezer and finally laying her blankets. That is the moment she looks at them, sniffs again and lays down. She understands that it is our temporary home and relaxes. Depending on how energetic we are feeling, we tend to go to the local park to go for a walk and play some ball or go for a swim. It is not always possible but we try to book accommodation near a big park, beach or woodland so we don’t have to go very far when needing to go for a walk. Once we are settled in, we just do what we would at home. If we can take the dog we will but if we are going to a museum or concert she stays. This is also the case in very hot conditions as it is not safe for our dog.
- leash: long and short
- ID tag and collar
- copy of vaccination card
- waste bags
- harness, muzzle or halti
- food and drink
- blankets and toys
- crate or dog seat belt
- hairbrush and Towels
- first aid kit for dog and human
- tick removal tweezers
Make sure to plan your trip ahead. If you are not travelling in a van, campervan or are not planning to camp, accommodation that allows pets might be limited if not booked in advance. Make sure you make a checklist. If your dog is not used to travelling, introduce it to drives slowly by doing shorter trips and extending the length each time. Keep you and your dog hydrated and have snacks as necessary. Stop to stretch and rest at least every 2 hours and make sure everyone had a toilet break. Also, be aware of ticks in the Summertime, don’t forget the tweezers. And most of all enjoy the trip, as you will new adventures and memories together.