After coming back from our 5 day trip to Los Angeles at the end of August, we thought we would dedicate a separate post to sharing some travel tips that we gained from this experience. Read about our trip to Los Angeles here: Part I and Part II)
Consider your travel destination and/or itinerary and decide if it's best for your dog to come with you.
I say this because not all travel destinations are dog-friendly. And even if it is, perhaps your itinerary is not dog-friendly. Be realistic and think from your dog's perspective whether the travel would be pleasant or stressful for him/her.
For example, on our trip to LA with Humphrey, there were a lot of things we wanted to do that we couldn't do. For one, I really wanted to eat at a Korean restaurant but as I couldn't find any that had outdoor seating which would allow dogs, I gave up on this (which is a big sacrifice for this Korean girl!). My theory is that if I'm going to bring Humphrey with us, it needs to be a vacation for him, too. (I really need one of those "If my dog can't go, I'm not coming" t-shirts). We literally brought Humphrey everywhere with us on this trip, and even as obsessed as I am with Humphrey, it was more challenging to travel with than without him.
In December my husband and I will be traveling to Seattle, which is a very dog-friendly city. However, we're leaving Humphrey behind as we will be attending a wedding there and will be going to places which Humphrey cannot come to. We know that he'd much rather be having a "sleepover party" while boarding at his daycare with his friends than having to spend time alone (even if it's for a few hours a day) in an unfamiliar place or at a local daycare.
TL;DR: My theory is that if I'm going to bring Humphrey with us, it needs to be a vacation for him, too. Consider whether your travel destination and/or itinerary is accommodating for your pup.
"If my dog can't go, I'm not coming."
Choosing the right hotel
So you've committed to making the trip an enjoyable one for your pup as well. Great! Now, let's start planning. Finding the right hotel can be tricky. The first obvious filter is that the hotel has to accommodate dogs. If you're traveling to a dog-friendly city (which I hope you are!) then this should not be difficult to find. However, even among the dog-friendly hotels I'd read up on reviews to see what others have experienced. Another great option is to look for homes on Airbnb that allow dogs - if they have a backyard then it's a bonus! When you are searching, filter your search by checking the "Pets allowed" box under "House rules."
If you are booking a hotel, ask for a room that is at the end of the hallway as opposed to right by the elevator. We did not consider this and had the closest room to the elevator, which meant a lot of noise right outside the door even at late hours. We joke that Humphrey learned to bark on this trip as he would bark at 3 a.m. at the noise of people walking past our door. Even though it was frustrating as it woke us up, we had to keep in mind that Humphrey was not in a familiar place and therefore more alert. (Read on to the CBD Oil section for how we handled this situation!)
TL;DR: Do research in advance to ensure you will be staying at a dog-friendly hotel. Reviews are helpful. In some instances, Airbnb might be a better option as it is more spacious and has easier access to step out for a quick walk or potty breaks. If booking a hotel, ask for the room at the end of the hallway that gets the least foot traffic and noise.
"Did you tell them I'm coming, too?"
What to bring
Oh boy, where do we even begin. If you saw our luggage you would have thought we were traveling with a baby. But Humphrey is our baby and considering this was our first big trip (we had only done an overnight trip once before within the Bay Area), we decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
Here are some things we packed that we thought would be helpful to share:
Food - Humphrey is on a raw meat diet, which is not the most travel-friendly as it requires to be kept frozen and then defrosted in the refrigerator. Luckily, the brand that we use has a freeze-dried version of the same formula, which we brought with us. This was much easier as all you need to do is break into little pieces and add water! See video by clicking on the image below. We wanted to demonstrate just how simple this is.
Click to watch
Portable (Collapsible) bowl - Although most dog-friendly hotels will provide dog bowls, bring a portable bowl (some great cheap ones here and here) for when you're out and about. Keeping your pup hydrated is so, so important! Also there were some days when we had plans through the evening, and we'd bring his dinner with us so we didn't have to stop by the hotel just to feed him (another advantage of the freeze-dried raw food). This ensured that we could feed him on his usual schedule which was important for us to keep to his daily routine as much as possible.
Water - Very obvious yet very important. Have water at all times, especially when traveling in a hot climate.
Treats - We probably gave him more treats than usual. But calories don't count when you're on vacation, right? Jokes aside, this was actually because we wanted to make every new experience a positive one for him. And as Humphrey has a high food drive, treats are a great way to keep him happy.
Toy- We brought one of his favorite toys with us, so that he had something to play with. But not only that, it was one of his old toys so it probably smelled like home and helped him to feel safe.
Stroller - This was honestly a huge game changer for us. Having a stroller meant we could bring him in to shops, restaurants (outdoor seating), and also gave him a place to rest or sleep when he got tired from walking. It was also easier for us at times, to push the stroller than to walk him on a leash, too. So it worked out for all of us. This is the stroller we got - we especially liked how compact it was when folded down.
Weather-appropriate clothing - Since we were headed to Los Angeles in August, we prepared for the hot temperature by packing a cooling vest (thanks to Bark Industry for sending Humphrey a cooling vest). If we were traveling to a cold climate with snow, we would pack waterproof boots, etc. It's important to do some research as to what your dog may need to adjust to the local climate when traveling.
"I might be the coolest pup here."
Eye Rinse / Ear Cleaner - This is especially the case for Frenchies and other sensitive breeds. Traveling usually means you will be going to a lot of places. So much to see, so much to sniff. On this particular trip to Los Angeles we went to the beach, and within the first half-hour Humphrey was already covered in sand everywhere. I was glad we brought the eye rinse and ear cleaner.
CBD Oil - We've been hearing great things about cannabidiol (aka "CBD") oil for dogs when traveling (among many other use cases), so we brought it with us just in case (thank you to our friends at VETCBD for providing one for Humphrey to try), although I thought we wouldn't really need it as Humphrey is usually a happy camper and not very sensitive or fearful. As expected, he was fine with the long car ride. But as I mentioned above, late at night he would start barking at the noises outside our hotel room. This is when the CBD oil came in handy as it helped him to stay calm and release any tension and anxiety. CBD oil for dogs is a fairly new thing -- some are skeptical about it, and some rave about it.
Questions or comments on CBD? Leave a comment below or email us at email@example.com
Probiotics - This is something we did not pack that I wish we did. Unfortunately, the first couple days Humphrey had diarrhea (sorry if this is TMI) - this could be due to the switch in food (although the same brand, going from raw to freeze-dried raw could have made a difference), and overall change in environment and rhythm.
Car seat for your pup - If you are going to be driving a lot, or if you are planning a road trip, a car seat for your pup is strongly recommended for his/her safety. The one we brought was gifted by the brand a while back (link here if interested). Here is another one that many of our friends have and they rave about.
First aid kit - This is another item we did not pack, but would recommend especially if your trip includes a lot of outdoor activity, such as hiking.
Cute accessories - For the 'gram, obviously.
I hope this helps plan your next trip with your pup! If you have any questions or if you have your own travel tips to share with us - leave a comment or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.