In the very near future, I will embark on an adventure of a lifetime. I’ll be leaving Japan after almost five years and moving back to the U.S. And to add to the excitement (also known as stress) of quitting my job and starting a new life somewhere brand new, my puppies Hambone and Lulu are coming along for the ride, and it’s a long one. I’ll be driving from Seattle all the way to the East Coast. It’ll take about a week or so (I have a few stops planned); I figure I may as well do a little traveling and see a few great things along the way. The only thing is… I’ve never traveled with my pups before. Or at least I hadn’t before this week.
To prepare for The Great Adventure (that’s what I’m calling it), I decided to take a practice trip. A short, five-day mini vacation to the beach just a few hours away. It’s far enough for me to see how the dogs do in the car for a few hours and the perfect way to find out how they behave and adjust to staying and being in a place that isn’t home, which was (and still is) my biggest concern. I travel a lot for work. But I usually have a friend stay at home with them or drop them off at the kennel. Routine is important, so I really try to make sure they have one. But when you’re traveling that’s not always possible. I tried to keep our schedule as close to normal as I could during this trip. We went for walks each morning and evening like we usually do, but I didn’t walk them at the exact same time (I’m on vacation. I’m sleeping in!). It didn’t seem to make a huge difference, though. I also made sure they ate around the same time they normally would, which I think helped.
Another challenge when you’re traveling with pets is planning. Yes, planning. I’m a bit of a last-minute traveler. I don’t usually book hotels, tours or activities very far in advance because I like to take things as they come. I don’t like to be on a schedule. I like to do things when I’m in the mood for them. But when you’re traveling with dogs, it’s not that simple. I booked this trip the day before I left, which is standard for me. But this also left me with only a handful of places to stay (I only had three options). Hotels that had vacancies didn’t allow animals, so I opted for an Airbnb. What I learned is that places that allow pups charge more (or have a non-refundable pet fee) and you may not find one in the exact area you want to stay. We ended up getting a small studio apartment in a decent location; it was on the second floor, which isn’t ideal (Lulu struggles with stairs), but we made it work. There was a really great park only about a kilometer away, which was a bonus. While it all worked out alright in the end, I’ve already started looking for places to stay for our upcoming voyage. I’d originally planned to drive until we were tired of being in the car. But because there are far fewer places that allow pets, and I don’t want to end up having to sleep in the car, it’s best to start looking now. I’m going to try to plan out how far we drive and where we stay in advance so that that doesn’t happen. But we will see.
I selected Shimoda for our road trip rehearsal because I read it was a pretty dog-friendly town. Many cafes and restaurants welcome pups and a few of the beaches allow them as well. I’d never taken my monsters to either, but they did great. Neither liked the beach all that much (they kept running away from the water), but they didn’t have any accidents or cause any drama. That scene from Marley & Me, when Marley pooped at the beach played over and over in head. I just kept saying, “Please don’t poop. Please. Don’t. Poop.” They didn’t. They chased tiny waves and laid in the wet sand unimpressed with the whole water thing.
Overall, it was a pretty successful holiday. A lot of what made this trip so easy is that both my dogs are housebroken, they like to socialize, and are pretty laid back. We walked all over town exploring the tiny streets and little shops, visited several parks, went on many long walks and hit the beach a few times all without incident. The drive was successful, and our accommodations worked out well. This trip has definitely eased my concerns about our cross-country voyage.
I’ll be posting all about our adventures during the trip, as I’m able, so stay tuned. If you have any tips, suggestions, recommendations, or anything that you think could help, please let me know in the comments. I’ll take all the help I can get.