Traveling with Pets: Part II

A big decision has been made, and we’ve decided to move to Colorado. This is a HUGE change and adventure for Canadians who have never had a ‘home base’ outside of Canada.

Once everything was set up, the biggest challenge was to drive 3,000 km with a Siberian Husky in the car!!

We ended up getting a Thule roof box so we could pack things away for the journey, leaving room for the dog crate and overnight luggage in the car.

We travel with a crate for two reasons, really: 1) so the dog is not climbing over everything, and 2) most importantly, to keep the husky fur contained! Whenever Loki shakes, moves, breathes, she leaves a pile of hair behind! Especially this time of the year!

Because of this, there are a few traveling doggie ‘must-haves’ that we bring:

– individually packed meals in ziploc bags (makes it simple at feeding time)
– collapsible bowls for food and water
– a leash long enough to tie Loki to picnic tables/lamp posts etc
– lint brushes! (everything gets a roll-down whenever we stop)
– our Dyson hand-held vacuum (to vacuum the crate and the hotels rooms as we depart)
– treats (of course)
– full roll of poo bags! (we keep ours in a container attached to her leash)
– grooming tools (toothbrush, nail clippers, comb/furminator etc)

We scouted out ‘pet-friendly’ hotels along our route and booked rooms each day in advance as some hotels only have a limited number of rooms designated for pets. For me, ‘pet-friendly’ is a hotel that does not charge an additional fee higher than the nightly room charge. A $100 non-refundable deposit a) isn’t really a deposit, and b) exists to discourage travelers with pets from staying there.

Our faves in the U.S.:

1) La Quinta (pets stay free!)

2) Choice Hotels (Quality, Comfort, Sleep Inns etc – check rates first – $10-$20 per pet)

3) Drury Inns (pets stay free!)

4) Red Roof Inns (pets stay free!)

Another thing we made an effort to do, was scope out dog parks in the towns and cities where we stopped.  All hotels we stayed at had free Wi-Fi and we were able to check out the next town in advance and find a place for Loki to run. This allowed us to have uneventful drives the next day while the dog sleeps in the car.

The real challenge when travelling with dogs is eating.  We search out restaurants with take-out and/or outdoor tables and chairs so that we can eat with Loki.  We never leave her alone in the car, and take turns going in to buy groceries/food and use the rest rooms. If it’s raining, we eat in the car.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Loki has handled the journey like a champ.  I think we could definitely travel with her more often and choose vacations that she can take part in.

Any hints, tips or best practices for travelling with your pets?

 

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Loki loves the Red Roof Inn. Laminate floors and minimal fabrics. VERY dog friendly!

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Napping in the hotel, but do it by the door so the boogey man can’t get in!

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There are fenced in dog parks in many cities and towns across the U.S. and Canada. Scope them out and stop by to stretch some legs!

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Newly renovated Sleep Inns have great rooms AND pet-friendly!

Travelling with Pets: Part I

As a whitewater kayaker, I often travelled across the US with fellow paddlers who had dogs.  Living off the grid, near whitewater is a lot easier to do with a pet than visiting cities and towns. Sleeping in the back of your van or truck and paddling through the wilderness has created a pet-friendly living environment.  Some rivers, the dogs would follow us along the shore, while others, we left the dogs in the campground or RV.

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Me watching Black Dog in Vail, Colorado while her owner competes in a down river race

When we discovered that we would be unable to travel for a while due to work and courses, we bit the bullet and adopted a sweet little Siberian Husky named Loki.  When Loki was almost a year old, we decided it was time to bring her along on some of our excursions!

The May long-weekend was the first test to see how well she could travel with us. I did a lot of research online to see what we could do for one weekend with the dog.  My husband was away on a course, so I would be picking him up on the way.

We decided that the Bruce Peninsula would be a great option. Hiking, camping and relaxing for a long weekend would work well as a first trip.  We didn’t have our camping gear readily available, and since DH was at school, we decided to do it in some form of luxury.  We ended up staying at the KOA in Owen Sound, owned and run by a lovely German couple.  We rented a small “Kabin” with a double and bunk bed and brought along Loki’s bed and food.

Loki made friends with everyone, and we were amazed at how well behaved she was when kids went running past our site or other dogs started barking. Lucky for us, we don’t have a “barker”!

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Loki resting in the shade after a long hike!

There were a lot of sections of the trail nearby for hiking, so we spent our days away from the campsite, exploring nature.

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Hiking the Bruce Trail

Loki got her first experience with water (she was born in July last year and too young to learn to swim before it got cold); we let her play in a stream, and then on the second day at Kincardine, a dog-friendly beach.  The water in Lake Huron was still very cold, so the swimming part would have to wait until later.  Loki just didn’t like it at all.

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Loki playing in the stream.

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Not liking the cold water so much.

We cooked on the firepit in the campground and spent the evenings drinking beer, sitting outside, and chatting with neighbours.  The cabins were great for us. Loki’s bed fit nicely in the corner and after each day’s activities, she was out like a light!  It was a great first experience travelling with her and now we’ll have to find some other ways to bring her along.  Next time, we’d like to do some hiking camping with our tent and sleeping bags and bring the dog along.  After a full day of hiking, our normally rambunctious Siberian Husky is pretty subdued! We thought about Algonquin Park and do some real hike-camping, but DH is worried about wild animals and how she might fare in a tent.

It was a great weekend.  We got to spend our time outdoors, and got to bring the dog along.  We don’t feel comfortable staying in hotels with a dog, and know that many don’t even allow them to begin with.

I think Loki was the most pooped after the whole weekend and she completely crashed on the 6 hour drive back to Ottawa!

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One pooped puppy!

I hope to do this much more often in the future.  It makes for an inexpensive vacation, and the whole family gets to come along! Does anyone have any great resources for travelling with pets?  I’ve found a few websites that list “pet-friendly” hotels/motels/parks etc, but I’d be interested in knowing how others fare.