Who could leave this face behind? In the first installment of her new column, PBS travel expert Colleen Kelly gives you the inside scoop on everything you need to know to plan a trip that's perfect for your family—and your four-legged friend.
Our cocker spaniel rescue, Gracie, is truly a member of the family, which is why we love it when we can take her on our vacations. It's a blast seeing her experience new things along with us—plus, we don't have to miss her while we're away! Although pet travel is becoming more popular, it definitely requires extra planning. Here are some of the ways we've made traveling with Gracie easy and fun:
Choose Accomodations Wisely
Although many big hotels now offer pet-friendly rooms, it's often easier to stay in a rental house or a motel-style room with a door to the outside. Elevator rides and walks across a lobby for bathroom trips are just asking for trouble! Also, always be up front about what animal you're bringing and her size, and be sure to ask about fees. (Just because it says "pet-friendly" doesn't mean it's free!)
Take Care When She's Alone
If you do decide to stay in a traditional hotel, the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests letting the front desk know you're leaving your dog in the room and giving them a number to reach you if there are any problems, like barking. (Then hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door so housekeeping doesn't accidentally let her out.) And consider putting on the TV, which can help soothe your pet and drown out hallway noise that may trigger her to bark.
Plan Pet-Friendly Activities
Remember that it's a vacation for your pet too! It's most fun to bring the pup along on trips where she can participate in some of the activities. My personal favorite is to take Gracie to the beach—you can literally see the joy on her face when she chases a ball in the sand or runs into the waves.
Woof on the Web!
These online resources will make it even easier to hit the road with your pup:
Bringfido.com Search for petfriendly lodging, restaurants, and attractions by region.
Dogpark.com Find local spots where your dog can enjoy some off-leash fun.
Vetlocator.com File this under "just in case": a directory of pet emergency services nationwide.
Get More From Colleen! Check local listings for her show, Family Travel with Colleen Kelly, on PBS. Or visit her online at familytravelCK.com or on Twitter @familytravelCK.