This summer, I went on a small road trip for three days with my dog for the first time. There were a few things that I hadn’t thought of before that come with traveling alone with your dog. Like how do you go to the restroom during the ride without having to leave your pet in the car? I will share my experience and some tips!
First of all, my dog Jimmy is a six-year-old border collie. He loves going for hikes and traveling by car, and that’s why I decided to go on a road trip with him. He will always jump in the back of the car when you open it and will stay here until you command him to get out. Maybe it’s because he’s afraid that someone is leaving by car and leaving him at home. But by the look on his face while driving, the reason must be that he just loves being in a car and going on an adventure ;).
The trip & taking breaks
The first day, we went from Lelystad to Landgraaf, a small place in Limburg near the border of Germany. The second day we drove to Essen in Germany and the third day we went back home to Lelystad. By the time we went traveling, it was around 30 degrees Celcius outside. This made the trip a bit more difficult because Jimmy couldn’t walk outside for a long time. Luckily, I did have good airconditioning in the car. I planned to make a stop every one to two hours, but because of the heat outside, it was wiser to stay in the car for longer. When we did stop, I made sure it was at a place that had water where Jimmy could go for a swim to cool off.
One thing that you’ll have to do when traveling alone with your dog is to strategize your restroom breaks. You don’t have anyone with you who can stay with your dog and it’s never a good idea to leave your dog in the car alone. What I did was stopping at eating places that allow dogs inside. Here, it was okay to bring my dog to the restroom. I advise looking on the internet beforehand for places that allow dogs, so you don’t have to stop unnecessarily.
I didn’t have a lot of trouble finding eating places. On the road, most restaurants have a place outside where you’re allowed to sit with your dog. Fastfood restaurants mostly allow dogs inside. Other dining options are ordering fast food at a drive-thru window, ordering room service at your hotel, calling in a take-out order or bringing your own food.
Dog-friendly sleeping places
The first night I stayed at a guest house and the other night at a dog-friendly hotel. I would say staying at a hotel with a dog is more relaxed than a guest house. Firstly, because it’s less noisy. Every dog is different of course, but especially at night, Jimmy is very alert to noises and could go bark if he feels like something is wrong. During the first night, Jimmy was quite restless because of the noises of other guests, for instance when someone would walk past our door or walk down the wooden stairs.
Also, at a hotel you don’t need to share facilities like the bathroom. This was something that I didn’t really think of before. This also depends on your dog, but I can’t leave Jimmy alone in a room at other places than at home. He often would go bark or sometimes he would even chew on furniture… So, I had to bring him into the bathroom everytime I would go there. This wasn’t that big of a problem, but of course this isn’t ideal because of hygiene reasons.
Besides, especially while traveling during the summer with higher temperatures, a hotel usually has better airconditioning than a guest house. My room of the guest house where I stayed in didn’t even have a window to open, so the temperature was too high for Jimmy during the night. Actually, I would get a different room that did have a window to open, but this room was on the first floor of the building. The reason that I couldn’t get this room, was because Jimmy couldn’t walk the very steep stairs. So this is another thing to think about; if your dog isn’t used to walk stairs, make sure your room is on the ground floor. Because most hotels have an elevator, this is also a reason why I advise staying at a hotel rather than a guest house or B&B.
Essentials that I brought
There were a few items that I brought which I recommend when traveling with your dog. I brought a foldable, lightweight water bowl that is easy to bring during a walk. I also used this as a water bowl in the room of the guest house and hotel. For the car, I brought a rear back seat blanket for dogs that you can easily attach to the head of the seats and protects your car against scratches and dirt. One day, me and Jimmy took a break at a place with a lake and sand and the entire blanket got covered with sand. You don’t want all that sand between your seats. To fasten Jimmy in the car, I used a dog- seat belt that you attach to your dog’s harness and click into the safety buckle of the seat belt.
I also brought a clothing roller for when Jimmy would accidentally sit on a couch or a blanket and leave his hairs everywhere.
Tips for traveling alone with a dog
Plan your restroom breaks
If you haven’t traveled with your dog before, go to a dog-friendly hotel
Be aware of pet fees (since almost every accommodation have them)
Make reservations, so you don’t run into trouble finding a place to stay after a long day behind the wheel
Check the weather forecast and align the number of your breaks and the places where you’re going to stop
Get a foldable water bowl to bring on your walk, in the car and at your room
Altogether, it was a really nice little trip. Everyone with a dog should go travel together at least one time! I think every dog is an explorer and would love to go travel with their owners.
Questions: have you ever traveled with your pet before? Also, I’m wondering if and how people who don’t own a car go travel with their dog. Maybe by train or bike? And, because I’m planning to buy a motorcycle in the future, wouldn’t there be a way to bring your dog with you on this vehicle? 🙂