Tips for Traveling with Dogs
Do you like to bring your pet family members when you travel?
I have prepared a packing list for your dog, a list of things to do on your pet vacation and good advice on pet-friendly lodging. If you enjoy traveling with your dogs you will find this post helpful.
Packing List for Your Dog
Pack ahead of time. Here is a list of items to pack to ensure your dog enjoys their vacation.
Food– You won’t want to change their food on vacation. A change in food could upset their stomachs. A sick dog isn’t going to be fun. Pack enough food for the length of their trip.
Treats– Travel can be stressful for your dog companions. Give them something to make them happy and focus on. I always bring their favorite hoofs stuffed peanut butter when I travel. If I have to leave them in the hotel room, the hoofs keep them pre-occupied. Go to a pet store and get a box of cookies, dental chews, and some bones. Use the bones when you leave them in the hotel room.
Favorite Toys– Bring their favorite toy from home. It helps a Dog to have some familiarity and provides comfort. Dogs like routine and get stressed out in new environments. Does your dog love to retrieve? Pack a frisbee or tennis ball.
Medications– Don’t forget to pack any meds your dog takes. Our old man has Tramadol for big play days and I always incorporate big dog play days when they travel. After all, they are on vacation too. Then they are worn out once they get back to the hotel giving you time to enjoy a nice dinner away from the room.
Blanket or Dog Pillow– Bring the pillow they sleep on into the hotel room so they have a good night’s rest. Our dogs are trained to sleep on their designated pillow spot. Labrador Retrievers shed like crazy. I feel bad leaving the hotel room with so much hair to clean up from the carpet. Bringing their pillow helps have comfort from home and a place they will feel more comfortable. It also makes less clean up for the hotel staff. Some hotels may provide dog pillows but I think our dogs prefer the ones from home more.
Poo Bags– They are must when traveling! I usually keep a box of scented lavender poo bags in my car. That way, we are always ready for the next trip. Always pick up after your pet on hotel grounds and parks. Bring wet wipes to wipe your hands too.
Dishes– Don’t forget your dog’s food and water dishes! Some luxury hotels may have them but other hotels don’t. Pack a jug of water with you. You can re-fill it during your travels so your pet always has fresh water to drink.
Leash– When you travel with your pet, you will always need your dog’s leash to walk him in the hotels. You will be taking him to dog parks and places he’s never been before. Don’t forget their leash!
Medical Records– You may want to carry a copy of your pet’s medical records. Check with your Vet regarding an App you can install on your phone. I have Petwise and my dog’s medical records are located on the app. These apps are great especially if you need to visit another Veterinarian when you are out of town. Make sure your dog is current on all shots. You will need a kennel cough shot if you want to take him to doggie daycare or a boarding facility.
Other Items– may include dog brush, ear cleanser, and cotton balls if you are taking them swimming, dog cologne, dry shampoo, dog sunglasses, dog pack for hiking, portable dog water dish, and dog sweater, handkerchief or clothing if you like to dress up your dog.
Fun Things to Do with your Dogs
Jacob Loose Memorial Park, Kansas City
Take your Dogs to the Local Park or Find a Great Hiking Trail
Research dog parks in the area. You can easily google parks online. I use Yelp.com to find local dog parks. Are there any off-leash dog parks in the area? Let them roll in the grass, meet new friends, and walk around the park. Instead of a city park, go find a dirt trail in nature. Go have fun with your dog and take him to a park every day. It’s their vacation just as much as it is yours.
Take your dogs to a Dog Beach
Shawnee Mission Dog Park -Kansas City
Find a dog beach on a lake or ocean beach. These locations usually will have designated dog beaches or allow dogs off season or on the beach at certain times. Pacific Beach in San Diego will allow dogs off-season in the early morning before 9:00 am or in the evening after 4:00 pm on a leash. Some parks with lakes have specified dog beaches like Shawnee Mission Dog Park in Kansas City. Vacations to a lake or beach are great vacations for a dog that loves to swim.
I always wanted a dog when I lived in San Diego. Ocean Beach was a favorite place to go just to get a dog fix. It was a bucket list travel item to take my dogs to Ocean Beach, CA so they could swim in the ocean. It was an amazing dog vacation!
Utilize Pet Services
Some luxury pet-friendly hotels offer dog massages, treats, dog walks and more. If your pet is lucky enough to stay at one of these hotels then utilize the pet services they offer. If your hotel doesn’t offer any services check into a pet daycare or grooming service. Pets are like us and like to be pampered too. Recently, I stayed at The Hutton Hotel in Nashville, they offer a furry friend room service menu! How posh is it to order room service for your dog?
Take your Pet to a Dog Store
Don’t you like to shop on vacation and buy a souvenir from your trip? Most pet stores let your dog in the store. Take your dog to a pet store and buy him a treat and let him pick out his own souvenir on your vacation.
Find pet-friendly restaurants, bars, or shopping centers to take your pet
Try traveling to places that are super pet-friendly. I have found pet-friendly shopping centers in Kansas City and St. Louis. Stores had water dishes outside their doors and offered treats too. Some restaurants will allow pets on leashes on their patios and decks. Most restaurants have been fine with leashing my dogs to the fence railings or chairs.
The Blue Duck, Washington, MO
Take your dog on a picnic
If you can’t find a pet-friendly restaurant take your dog on a picnic to a scenic place in the area. I’ve had picnics in parks, on a hiking trail, and even a winery with my dogs.
Stone Hill Winery, Hermann, MO, we had a picnic outside with a bottle of wine. They ate cheese with us.
Air BNB & VRBO
Having a large fenced yard is perfect for a pet vacation! We rented a house in Pacific Beach, San Diego on VRBO. Java and Polar Bear enjoyed the small yard and large deck. I think they enjoyed the people watching just as much as we did.
In Kansas City, we rented a small home with a huge grassy lawn and our dogs liked to chase the rabbits and visit with neighbor’s dogs. There was a local dog park within walking distance.
Try renting a home instead of booking a hotel. They are great for longer extended stays. Just check pet-friendly in the filter and find a perfect dog home.
When booking hotels I use my favorite website TripAdvisor first. I filter pet-friendly lodging and traveler ranked to find the best hotel choices.
Then, I call the hotel ahead of time and book direct. If I see a lower rate I will ask the hotel if they can honor it. If not, I tell them I will book with that site and to ensure a pet-friendly room. I have never used Hotwire when I travel with my two dogs since some hotels have weight restrictions and limits.
Here are the Hotels I have used and would recommend when traveling with your pet.
Kimpton Hotels– I love Kimpton Hotels! They are all pet-friendly and they don’t charge pet deposits and non-refundable dog fees. They don’t have weight restrictions or limit on dogs. It’s hard to find a hotel that will take two 70-85 pound dogs! Believe me, I know.
I stay at Kimpton Hotels when I am traveling without my dogs too. They are usually boutique hotels which I prefer. The Karma Rewards of Raid the mini-bar is a $10 value and free internet make me a Kimpton fan.
When we stayed on Christmas Eve at the Hotel Monaco in Denver. The front desk was super welcoming with our two big boys. We spent Christmas morning with our two dogs by the fireplace. If there is a Kimpton Hotel on your dog vacation destination, I highly recommend. Your dog will be in luxury with pet beds, dishes, treats, and they are welcome to attend the wine reception.
Java & Polar Bear on the Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco in Denver.
Best Western Hotels– Best Western Hotels are pet-friendly. On a road-trip, they are my choice because they are located along most interstates and their prices are good. They take my two large dogs. They have an 80-pound limit but I’ve never had a problem although one of my Labs is closer to 90 pounds. I’ve had to pay an extra $20 a night at some Best Western hotels. They take a pet deposit but you get it back as long as there isn’t damage to the room. Always call the hotel and let them know you are traveling with a pet and make your reservation directly with them. Some hotels have a limited amount of pet-friendly rooms. I like the Best Western Plus Hotels.
Staybridge Suites– I like the Stay Bridge Suites because they have kitchens and suites. When my dog is on vacation he likes to put his nose in my face to wake me up early to go play. I prefer to have a one bedroom suite so I can shut the door and sleep in. They have nice pet areas with grassy lawns to play a game of fetch. There is a non-refundable pet fee and dogs are not allowed in the common areas of the pool or courtyards. They may have weight requirements for dogs. A simple phone call may help if your dog is over the weight limit. The Chesterfield, Missouri location has a weight limit of 80 pounds. They didn’t have an issue with my big 90- pound Labrador. Join the IHG loyalty program!
Some Holiday Inn’s are pet-friendly too and you can earn rewards with IHG. (I didn’t write about Holiday Inn’s because their pet weight restrictions or fees didn’t work for me) It will vary by locations.
La Quinta Hotels– They allow 2 dogs at no extra charge. La Quinta’s are also frequent along major highways and interstates. They are not my favorite hotel chain but I have booked La Quinta’s before when traveling with my two dogs. We stayed at the one in Moab, Utah.
Marriott Hotels– I have not personally stayed with my dog’s at a Marriott property. When I was at the Ritz Carlton, Beaver Creek I was amused at dogs sitting on couches in the great room by the large fireplace. There are 1,684 Marriott pet-friendly hotels in the US. Different Marriott chains have different rules when it comes to weight restrictions and pet fees. We stay at Marriott hotels frequently and I have been close to booking Marriott properties with my dogs like the Towne Place Suites in Denver. All Marriott pet policies differ on location so call before booking.
The Elms Hotel and Spa, Excelsior Springs, MO- They charge a $50 non-refundable fee a night but we wanted to stay since it was Memorial Day. One advantage of staying here is the resort feel and they have huge grassy lawns to walk your dog. The staff got to know our dogs and were surprised at how well-behaved they are. As long as no one complained they were fine with our dogs hanging with us in the common areas. We enjoyed a one bedroom suite at the Elms Hotel and Spa. There are parks within driving distance and one has a big lake too. This is a historic hotel with a spa. You may hear some ghost stories too.
The Hutton Hotel, Nashville, TN- I recently stayed at The Hutton Hotel and I was impressed by the pet-friendly amenities they offer such as room service, a Hutton bandana, and leash. They were ranked in the top 10 Best Pet-Friendly hotels by USA Today. I didn’t have my dogs on this trip but if I take my dogs to Nashville, I know where to stay.
There are other pet-friendly hotels such as Sheraton, Hilton Hotels, The W properties, Loews Hotels, and Four Seasons. I have never stayed at these properties with pets before. Traveling with two large breed dogs make finding a hotel difficult sometimes. In my experience, I always call the hotel directly to find out their pet policies. The hotel chains I wrote about are the ones I find most appealing due to hotel price, loyalty programs, weight restrictions, and pet fees.
I’ve enjoyed taking my dogs on vacation with me, especially if it’s a destination I know they would enjoy. They have been on camping trips to Utah, Colorado, lake trips to Wyoming, and Nebraska. We rented a mini van and went on a road trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Disney Land, Lake Havasu, and San Diego. I find that beach, lake, and mountain destinations are the best for dogs.
I think they preferred the mini van over the convertible road trip.
Have you traveled with your pets?
Are you planning a vacation with your pet?
I would love to hear from you.