November 7, 2013

The holidays are right around the corner, and that means many of you will be packing up your pets to head over the river and through the woods. More people than ever are reportedly planning pet friendly vacations, and that means a little extra planning to make sure your trip gets off on the right paw. Here are a few tips to make sure your next adventure is a success.

Dog in Car

Buckle 'em up! Your pets are part of the family, so keeping them safe is a top priority. Whether you prefer a seat belt harness or a secured pet carrier, protect yourself and your furry loved ones from serious injuries every time you get in the car.

Vote with your dollars. Pet friendly businesses go out on a limb to make our pets welcome, and it’s important to repay that kindness by giving them our business. From hotels to restaurants, always choose the pet friendly option – when your pets are with you, and even when they're not!

Don't plan too much. When you travel with a pet, everything takes more time - and that’s a good thing! It helps you remember to slow down and “sniff the roses.” When figuring out the distance you'll be able to cover in a day or the activities you can knock out, be conservative in your estimates. A good rule is to make your list ... and then divide by two. If you accomplish more than that, it's a bonus.

Keep 'em leashed. It may be hard to imagine, but there are people and other pets who would prefer not to meet our dogs. In fact, being approached by an off-leash dog can cause a leashed dog to feel vulnerable and may result in a fight. Whether your pup has the perfect recall is irrelevant, if the sign says leash him – do it. It shows that you respect everyone's right to enjoy the space.

Remember to pick up. We’ve all experienced it, and nothing spoils a day faster than stepping in something nasty. Abandoning your pet’s waste reflects poorly on all pet owners and is the primary reason that parks and other locations chose not to allow dogs. Always carry plastic bags with you and find an appropriate receptacle for disposal.

Prepare for the unexpected. Having your pets' veterinary records with you could be critical in the event of an emergency. Rather than lugging around a large file, pack a paper copy of their current vaccination records and scan the rest on to an easy-to-pack USB drive.

Stay flexible. Weather, events, and other surprises pop up and can require a change of plans. On a recent trip to Boston, we ran into crowds of people enjoying a festival. Walking our dogs amid the throngs was stressful for us all, so we decided to scrap our itinerary and see that part of the city a different day. Anticipating speed bumps allows you to maneuver around them with ease – either by rearranging your schedule or recognizing that some activities might have to wait for your next visit.

Sniff out the fun. Stop by the visitors center or check out websites like GoPetFriendly.com to find all kinds of pet friendly activities ... from dog parks and beaches to wineries, restaurants, and even some golf courses! You can even reach out on social media to get the locals' perspective. With a little digging, there'll be no shortage of entertaining pet friendly options to enjoy.

Waggin’ trails!

About the Author: Amy Burkert runs the award-winning pet travel website, GoPetFriendly.com, which makes it easy to plan a trip with your entire family. Her blog, Take Paws, is an encyclopedia of pet travel tips, pet friendly destination advice, and stories of the adventures she and her husband have as they travel full-time in their Winnebago with their dogs, Ty and Buster.

GoPetFriendly.com Team