Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
When you plan your vacations, you don't have to spend part of your budget to board your dogs or find a house sitter. There are dog-friendly vacations to be had, and if you love sharing new experiences with your dogs, it's something you can manage, even as a solo traveler.
My dogs are not convenient to take on long trips, so I usually reserve the luxury of vacationing with them to trips that are no longer than three or four hours by car. I have 3 dogs total - and they range in weight from 50 pounds to 90, so it's not like I can throw them into a carry on bag that will fit neatly on a seat. Oh no. My dogs take up more room in the car than I do. Yes, it would be far more sensible for me to have some sort of SUV, but I make a sedan work. The arrangement usually falls out like this - the smallest of the dogs ends up in the front seat, curled up like she owns it, and the larger two each take post at a window in the back.
I always plan ahead for the dogs, just like I do myself. Before I go to any park or vacation spot, I make sure that the walking trails are dog-friendly. Not all of them are. I also make sure that my dogs' identification tags are legible. Over time, they show their wear, so check yours before you load Fluffy into the car. Speaking of the car, I keep water and a soft-sided bowl in the trunk, and stop at least once along the way so they can stretch their legs, get a drink, have a cookie, and take care of anything else (during the summer, I stop more frequently so they can drink). This also requires taking things to clean up after them. A roll of paper towels and a handful of plastic grocery bags usually suffice. Most every rest stop has a pet area, and I take full advantage of them. It also lets me get out, stretch my legs, and meet some new people. Dogs are a great accessory for that!
I keep the leashes below my feet on the driver's side so that I have quick access to leashing them when I do get out. I think it's also critical that you teach your dogs to sit and stay when getting out of cars, so they don't rush the door.
For safety purposes, if you're in a sedan or an SUV, get a barrier to keep your dogs from traveling back and forth from the front to the back seats. They're inexpensive and well worth the investment. I also highly recommend seat covers specific to your dogs, so your car doesn't incur any damage.
So the next time you hit the road for your local vacation, take your best four-legged friends with you!