It’s almost time for our annual road trip from Kansas to Texas to visit family. The drive takes about eleven hours. Taking such a long trip with two big dogs requires careful preparation and planning.
Why Do We Drive?
An eleven hour trip sounds intimidating. But when you have two big dogs, visiting family for the holidays doesn’t leave many options. Boarding kennels and pet sitters tend to be booked up this time of year. Flying can be expensive, not to mention a very stressful situation for pets that need to ride in the cargo area of the plane. Winter weather can also prevent your dog from being able to fly.
While driving requires several hours of our vacation to be spent on the road, for us it is the best option. I’m not sad and worried about Maya and Pierson because they’re with me. And the gas expense is less than one flight ticket.
PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
Now that we know we are going to drive, we just need to work out the logistics. Is our vehicle in good shape, including the tires? Is a car enough, or should we rent an SUV? Last year we rented an SUV because our friends went with us and four adults and two big dogs just wouldn’t fit in our sedan.
This year it is just my husband and I and the two dogs so we can take our car. We’re not taking mine this year, though. We are taking my husband’s. My car is already fitted with all the dog gear, but it is an older model vehicle and I don’t want to risk it breaking down on the way. So before our trip, I need to outfit my husband’s Camry for Maya and Pierson. The first thing it needs is a seat cover. I will also install the Backseat Bridge because it covers the floor and gives my big pups more room to stretch out for the long trip.
Will we do the entire drive all in one day, or will we stay overnight at a hotel? Most times, we drive straight through. But this year, we are visiting friends in Tulsa and so will stay in a hotel. To prepare, we need to find a pet friendly hotel in Tulsa and make reservations.
Health & Temperament
Maya and Pierson are in good health and so will be fine on this trip. But depending on your pet, you may want to consider his health before going on your road trip. In addition, think about how much or how little your dog likes to ride in the car. If he doesn’t like to ride, you may need to start getting him used to it now by taking short road trips to somewhere fun. You can also ask your vet about possible pet anxiety treatments you can give him.
A week before the trip, I compile a packing list. I add to it as things come to mind so that by the day of the trip, I know everything I need to take. For the dogs, I need their food, treats, food and water bowls, water, toys, blankets, beds, leashes, veterinary records, poop bags, their dog seat belts, first aid kit, and I need to make sure their id tags are secure on their collars. Since we are staying in a hotel, I should think about bringing their pet crates too.
Right Before We Leave
Besides checking off the packing list and making sure our vehicle has gas, I also like to administer Travel Calm to both Maya and Pierson. Maya gets excited in the vehicle and the all natural Travel Calm really helped keep her relaxed and quiet on our trip last year. Pierson sometimes gets car sick and Travel Calm helps with that too.
The next thing we do before we go is let the dogs go potty. And the final thing is to make sure our house is secure. If we didn’t already have someone watching our house, we’d be talking to our neighbors to ask them to keep an eye out. We’d also reduce the thermostat and make sure we didn’t leave any unnecessary appliances turned on.
THE ROAD TRIP
When traveling such a long distance, it is a good idea for us and the dogs to make plenty of pit stops. We stop at rest areas or gas stations to stretch our legs or use the restroom. For the dogs, I make sure their leashes are secure before letting them out of the car. It helps that they are already secured in their dog seat belts. All I have to do is attach their leash, then release the buckle that keeps them secured.
When I take them to go potty, I make sure they only go in designated pet areas. And I always pick up after them. If we’re in a public area, I am careful about not imposing my dogs on other people. I keep control of them as much as possible for both their safety and for the sake of others.
While it would probably be much more convenient if we could travel without having to worry about the dogs, I really enjoy taking them. For me, the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without my Maya and Pierson. If you’re traveling by car this holiday and taking your best friend with you, consider our preparation plans and apply them for your situation. And send us pictures! 🙂
Dawn with Maya & Pierson