My Kerry, Deidre Rhiannon Bluestockings, aka "Nips," loves to travel. Nothing makes her happier than to jump in the car to accompany me on errands. These are easy journeys with few preparations. However with summer fast approaching, many of us will be planning a vacation with longer, even multi-day trips with our Kerry's requiring forethought and preparation.
How to Travel: Fly or drive?
Flying is certainly possible and not terribly expensive although you will need to familiarize yourself with the specific airline's requirements. You will definitely need current health documentation and a hard-sided crate large enough to accommodate your dog. Flying out of the country or even to Hawaii may require significant paperwork or even quarantine. Become familiar with the requirements and restrictions of your destination. Check with your preferred airlines to learn their specific requirements, including any possible pet-travel blackout dates
Driving the family car or SUV
If you are traveling in a car, you may want to travel with a crate. If your Kerry is not used to a crate, the prep-time needed may not be worth it. A word to the wise: not all cars and SUVs will accommodate an assembled crate.
A Doggie Seat Belt is essential.
This is for the protection of your dog, yourself and your car: imagine a 50-pound weight hurling through your car if you suddenly stop. The consequences can be devastating.
Another essential are an identification collar with your name and contact number, and an identification micro-chip. (See the story "A Tale of Travel Terror...") Also consider that you will need to be flexible and plan for frequent water and walking stops.
Where to Stay
There are four options for where to stay: relatives, camp grounds, hotels/motels or home rentals.
One question to ask your self: Will they really welcome your Kerry as warmly as they will welcome you?
Hotels and Motels:
Of the several web sites that list pet-friendly accommodations, one inclusive site is www.bringfido.com This site lists pet friendly destinations, accommodations, activities, restaurants, and so forth. It also lists services, restaurants and activities in your travel location that are pet friendly or specifically for pets. This being said, there are at least two considerations be fore you book. First, many hotels have weight limits for the pet you are bringing. Unfortunately 20 pounds seems to be a popular upper weight, with two pets with a total weight under 50 running a close second. Most hotels also limit the number of dogs you may bring. It will take some searching find a hotel/motel that will accept a dog the size of a Kerry.
Secondly, most hotels require an extra payment for your dog ranging from $10 to $75. When you find a hotel online, call the hotel to confirm that the information on the web is current and the hotel continues to receive pets. Some hotels offer doggie pampering inducements, such as doggie beds, treats on their pillows, dog sitters and dog walkers (at an extra cost for the last two).
Another option is to rent a pet friendly vacation home. Two web sites that specialize in this are www.vacationhomes.com/pet-friendly-vacation-rentals and www.vrbo.com
You can search specifically for "Pet Friendly Rentals" in both of these sites. A vacation home rental is often pricey plus there is usually a separate charge for the dog plus a non-refundable cleaning fee in addition to the regular rate. However the added convenience of having a "home" base may make it a good investment.
Taking your Kerry camping is a great way to go since the Kerry originated as an outdoor dog.
There are several web sites that list camp grounds that accommodate pets. For example, www.bringfido.com lists 2,741 camp sites that allow pets, most with no extra charge for the pet. The camp sites range from primitive camps to upscale RV camps, and so the costs vary accordingly.
A standard rule is 'Clean up after your pet." My family finds that the standard generic gallon plastic bag works well for this purpose;
Although the Kerry is quite capable of finding her own activities, it is best to plan where and what you want to participate in with your dog. For example, if you are planning a beach vacation, will your chosen beach allow pets?
How about dog-parks?
If your Kerry is not already accustomed to and has not learned dog-park etiquette, an outing to a dog park could become a disaster.
How about dining out with your Kerry?
There are numerous listings on the pet-friendly web sites of restaurants that allow pets to accompany their families. Other dining options include drive thru dining, room service, eating in shifts, or leaving your Kerry in the room/house alone-not something encouraged by hotel owners.
Be prepared to deal with any health related emergencies by finding the contact information for destination veterinarians. Ask your local doctor for recommendations or use the web to find the local clinics. It is important to check on health risks in the areas that you will be traveling in like ticks, heart worm and Rocky Mountain fever. If you come from an area where these are not found, you will need to proactively protect your dog before you arrive.
If you have a dog with chronic health issues, you may want to take along relevant medical information to share if needed.
Food is a subject for serious consideration. Changes in routine and the familiar can easily cause stress in your Kerry, which can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite and even more serious consequences. Stock up on your Kerry's favorite brand of food and treats.
Do not assume you can get your preferred brand across the US or Canada. Changing food brands is always tricky and must be done gradually.
Water is an easier matter when you pack a portable water dish or other drinking device. Consider taking her favorite sleeping rug/bed. If your dog is a crate sleeper, you may be all set.
If you are staying in a hotel that allows pets, do not assume that she can sleep on the bed. If she is used to this and you have not made certain that the places you are staying allows it (and will charge you if they discover you have broken their pet guidelines), you will need to get her ready to sleep out of-bed.
Some Kerry owners take along a queen size blanket which goes on the bed as soon as you enter the bedroom to protect the motel/hotel property.
And don't forget your Kerry's favorite toys! You are taking your Kerry on vacation with you to have fun and familiar toys are an important part of the trip.
A trip with your Kerry could result in a stress free and relaxing time away from the worries of the work-a-day world. Planning ahead by considering these suggestions can help to ensure that your vacation actually is, at least, a reduced-stress vacation.