2016 was an incredible year, as I mentioned on Monday, and a big part of last year was travel. We traveled over 25,000 miles!!!! That’s absolutely crazy. Of course, two trips back to America from Germany increased our mileage a lot, but visiting new countries was the highlight of my year.
One of the best parts about traveling throughout Europe is just how dog-friendly everything is! Copley, our beloved Cock-a-poo, has been on many adventures with us. She’s traveled across the Atlantic Ocean twice and been to Prague, France, Munich, Switzerland and Amsterdam. We also have flown with her to Florida from Michigan and driven for hours to Wisconsin.
With all of these trips, I have learned lots of things along that way that make for a smooth trip for both you and your pooch. I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about traveling with their four-legged baby.
Prepare your dog for the travel itself
If you are flying, get your dog acquainted with his or her’s airplane carrier about a week in advance. I did a post on how we prepared Copley for her flight from Detroit to Germany, which you can read here.
Since she is only six pounds, she can fit within the cabin, so her bag is relatively small. Be sure to check with the airline for bag size requirements. I put her bag out in the living room and throw treats inside so she can get used to it and associates the bag with a positive experience. I swear that she now knows when that bag comes out that means she is coming with us. It makes us packing a little less stressful for her, too.
If we are driving, there’s not as much preparation involved since she is in the car all the time. I pretty just make sure she gets exercise in the morning to make sure she’s tired for our journey.
If you’re staying at a hotel or an AirBnB, make sure to read the pet policy ahead of time. In Amsterdam, I didn’t do this and was surprised to learn that we weren’t allowed to leave the dog in the room by herself. By knowing the policy ahead of time, you can prepare yourself for how your trip will go.
Pack some favorites
Outside of her normal food and treats, I always make sure to pack a blanket, a favorite toy (Mr. Squirrel) and her tennis ball. This way the blanket smells like home and she feels more comfortable where ever we are staying. Anything to make the travel the least stressful as possible.
Go for long walks in the mornings
Once we’ve arrived at our destination, we make it a point to do a lot of walking in the mornings. We tried in the past to walk for 15 minutes or so before going to a cafe for breakfast and that just doesn’t work. Copley has a lot of energy in the morning, so sitting at a restaurant first thing in the morning just isn’t going to happen. Now we grab breakfast at the hotel or just get a coffee and croissant to go and keep on walking.
A huge positive of this is that we’ve explored so many parks in new cities that we wouldn’t plan to visit if we were alone. And if your dog is anything like our’s, the more walking you do in the morning, the more tired and relaxed they will be in the afternoon and will be much better behaved at the bar when you’re ready for a happy hour cocktail.
The best example was in Munich when we walked over 7 miles by 4 PM and Copley slept the entire time we drank a beer outside at a beer garden.
Have ‘human only’ dinner
The routine that has worked best for us is bringing Copley with us for the majority of the day and then before dinner we run back to the hotel or apartment to get ready for dinner and to let Copley relax. While we get ready, we feed her dinner, play a little fetch or just snuggle with her on the couch.
Since she’s been walking around all day, she is usually pretty exhausted and needs time to rest. This way, too, my husband and I get to have a nice, romantic dinner at least once during our trip and I don’t feel guilty about leaving her alone in the room.
I think my number one tip when traveling with your dog is to set realistic expectations. For example, Copley loves to bark at cars, so we are mindful of where we walk so she doesn’t get overly excited. Bringing your dog with you on vacation is going to be a different kind of vacation.
There will be places you want to visit, like the Anne Frank Museum, that won’t allow dogs. And by being realistic and having a plan, you can schedule your trip to fit your needs, as well as your pup’s. If you want to visit somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs, plan that visit for right before dinner so you know your pooch will be sleeping back at the hotel safely anyway.
Overall, traveling with Copley has been great. Of course there are times when she isn’t on her best behavior, like whining and barking at restaurants, but bringing her along is really fun. We are so lucky to be able to bring her along and to experience so much of the world as a family.
Have you ever traveled with your dog? What tips do you have?