Spring weather means temperate weather, fields of wildflowers—and growing wanderlust. As the weather warms, we always feel ourselves tugged by the urge to travel with our dogs, including great day trips close to home. We love exploring back roads, parks, and dog-friendly destinations of our region—a day’s vacation for often no more cost than the expense of a tank of gas.
Just as if you were planning an extended vacation with your dog, though, it pays to do some pre-trip planning for your day trip as well. We keep a backpack stocked with day trip items so we can hit the road with Irie and Tiki at a moment’s notice. Our daypack includes:
Cleanup essentials. A roll of paper towels, a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and plenty of poop bags make up our cleanup kit. We also keep an old towel at the ready for muddy paws and for drying off after a swim.
Our dogs’ food and treats for the day. We typically feed our dogs a very light breakfast on the day of a trip so we carry along the remainder of their breakfast for a picnic. We also pack their favorite chews for a snack break. With both food and treats, we only use brands the dogs enjoy on an everyday basis to avoid tummy troubles on the road.
A water bowl. We keep a silicone water bowl in the car with the dogs. It can also be rolled up and carried in our backpack with a water bottle on hikes.
Car harnesses. Both Irie and Tiki always wear Kurgo harnesses in the car, regardless of the length of the trip. (We all know that most accidents occur close to home!) The harnesses attach to the seat belts so the dogs are secure in the car in case of a sudden stop. It’s also great knowing the dogs are safely buckled in the car when we reach our destination so, regardless of any distractions, we can leash them up and take them from the car one at a time.
ID tags. We’re in the “better safe than sorry” mode when traveling so our dogs wear three tags: their everyday ID tag with our home address, a clip-on ID tag with our cell numbers, and a GPS tag we can track with our smartphones in case they’re lost.
Vet records. We keep a copy of our dogs’ immunization records in our pack along with our veterinarian’s phone number and our Trupanion policy number.
Emergency kit. We keep a basic dog first aid kit packed to handle minor emergencies. Also, before each trip, we look up emergency veterinary clinics along our route.
Most of all, we pack our spirit of adventure. Our dogs have shown us the delight that the simplest visits to the park or roadside stop can bring.
Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the publishers of DogTipper.com and the authors of over 30 pet and travel books including the new DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs (Open Road Guides, distributed by Simon & Schuster).