We recently returned from Cooper’s vacation!
We’ve done this almost annually since Emmett’s youngest days with us. We pack our bags and head to a cabin in the woods somewhere for a long weekend of pet-approved activities: hiking, napping, snacking, whatever!
It’s super fun to plan a trip around your dog because… well… let’s talk vacations for a minute first.
We ALL need to step away from time to time. Even the most KonMaried among us carry stress, and vacations provide the opportunity to get out of the grind and recharge. Dogs? Well, they don’t have the same daily burden. (Thank goodness, right? It’s one of the things that makes dogs so magical!) But lotsa dogs get bored. And even if your dog never gets bored, your dog loves you and loves the opportunity to bond and play!
One caveat: This is about planning a vacation around YOUR dog. Back in 2006, we could take Em anywhere, and he loved nothing more than sitting on a pet-friendly patio and getting showered with attention and food. He could tour a winery as easily as he could hike a trail and be just as happy doing either. If your dog is like that, that’s GREAT! You can do just about anything for your pup’s vacation!
Cooper, though… Coop isn’t like that one iota. Public places stress him out. Each time I’ve taken him to a cafe patio to train, he’s been so anxious that he wouldn’t take any treats, even if I ordered him his own plate of something yummy like scrambled eggs! That type of vacation would simply not be a fun, enriching, bonding experience. However, he loves exercise. He loves to run. He loves to hike. He loves a physical challenge, and we haven’t been able to do much of that since Violet came along, so we decided for Coop’s vacation this year, we’d take him on some longer, harder hikes than he’s had in a couple years.
So, we found a pet-friendly cabin rental near the park we wanted to hit, and off we went!
If this idea intrigues you and you might want to take your dog’s vacation, here are a few things that have (and have not) worked for us that might help get you started!
How to go on vacation with your dog:
- Plan everything. Obviously you can’t really, truly plan everything, and you do want to allow for spontaneous stops along the way, but once you pick your destination, spend a chunk of time googling everything pet-friendly you might want to do along with the city names. Here are a couple examples: pet-friendly cafes in Indianapolis, or dog-friendly wineries in Nashville, or whatever. We love GoPetFriendly.com for this, too, since we only ever road trip with Cooper. Have a list of places saved in your phone so you’re not stuck trying to find somewhere your dog can go and losing precious vacation time! BTW, don’t forget to plan down time to snuggle your pup!
- Book pet-friendly accommodations. Don’t be that guy who sneaks your dog in. It ruins it for the rest of us. We strive to book cabin rentals or AirBNB-style places to stay because it’s usually quieter with a more home-like vibe, which Coop strongly prefers. Plus, they usually come equipped with everything you need to prepare all your own food, which is a necessity if you’re traveling with a dog like Coop who just can’t do outdoor restaurants, or if you’re traveling in a season where you can’t eat outside, or if you’re simply trying to save money. This time around, we found a perfect spot just by googling: pet-friendly cabin rentals in Brown County, Indiana.
- Pack for comfort. OK, we’re not talking a backpacking trip here (that requires a whole other mindset, of packing for necessity). In this case, pack what makes your dog comfy: his regular bed, a special blanket, food, of course, and treats, a bowl and water dish, toys, and so on. We bring a cooler since Coop eats The Farmer’s Dog, and I always bring a stash of chew toys. I always bring an extra leash, too, just in case, far more pickup bags than we could possibly need, a flashlight for night-time potty breaks, and seasonally-appropriate apparel. Honestly? Not counting food, Cooper’s bags outnumber ours every time! But, it helps him to settle into a place if he has his home comforts!
- Pack for safety. In addition to the comfy items, when you travel with your pup, bring a pet-specific first aid kit, a tool to remove a tick, your preferred paw treatment, and anything else that’s appropriate to the season, location, and adventures you have planned. There’s no worse feeling than driving around an unfamiliar place trying to find the right item in the right store when you have an emergency. I’d also highly recommend storing your pet’s vet records on a jump drive you can toss in your glove compartment along with the name and number of a pre-researched vet that is near where you’re staying. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, it’s helpful to have that already on hand.
- Have fun! Don’t stress about timetables or hitting must-see spots. Your dog certainly isn’t, and this is his time with you! Focus on fun. Find things to do you’ll both enjoy, especially that much-needed downtime. This is vacation, after all!
Planning your vacation around your pet simply means that you get to do fun stuff together away from home! 🙂 It’s an awesome way to build your bond, to enjoy some time away, and to go on a new adventure. You’ll love the memories you make together, and you’ll have a great time–all that really matters!
Have you ever taken a trip for your pup? Do you typically take your dog on vacation? Would you consider planning all or part of a family vacation around your dog’s preferences and personality? Let’s share in the comments!