My dog is spoiled... I will simply admit this to get it out of the way. She is a 13 lb Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We left her home for a trip ONE TIME and she was miserable. She wouldn't eat properly, didn't want to socialize and most importantly was VERY angry with me when I got home. This also increased her separation anxiety so I do my best NOT to leave her any more.
So with this all being said she came with us on our recent road trip. This was a first for her so we learned a lot along the way. My last dog, an 18lb Shih Tzu was a registered therapy dog so I didn't have any issues with flights, hotels, etc. I have a huge temptation to do the same training with this one just to alleviate issues in the future but for now this is what we have learned.
1. Check out Bring Fido's website for information on pet friendly hotels, excursions and reviews. We found this site to be extremely helpful along the way because websites for each location weren't always helpful however Bring Fido was amazing.
2. ALWAYS bring more food than you think you need. We feed our dogs Fromm exclusively and have since they were puppies. Introducing new foods in an already stressful environment (traveling can be very stressful for animals) is not going to be a good idea. We had an incident with a squirrel eating our dogs food, there were no stores that offered her type of food nearby... this did not end well for us.
3. Be honest with a hotel when you are checking in about having a pet. Some hotels will kick you out or even charge you in excess of $100 cleaning fee IF you choose to be dishonest and they find out.
4. Ask hotels UP FRONT what their pet fee is. Marriott hotels were charging $75 per pet for their fee whereas Choice Hotels & Best Westerns were $15.
5. Bring a portable water bowl and poop bags. Every stop we made for gas was a great opportunity for our dog to have some water and use the restroom. Don't be THAT pet owner that doesn't clean up after their dogs.
6. Be mindful of the weather and terrain. We live in Tennessee so there is always grass under her feet... Arizona offered zero grass and much hotter temperatures on the ground so we were careful not to let her burn the pads of her feet in the 100 degree + weather.
7. Bring a bed. Whether it's your pets normal bed or one you purchase for the trip it is always nice for them to have a space. We brought her normal bed and unfortunately had to throw it away after camping due to the amount of nonsense that was embedded in it (sticks, leaves, dirt, stickers, etc.). However in every hotel and out camping it was her place to retreat to. If you purchase one for the trip, put it out in the house a week or so before so that they can get the smell of themselves and home on it for their own comfort.
8. Check websites of locations you are going to stop at along your trip. Many are pet friendly and if they are not you would hate to find out as you pull into the parking lot. Please don't ever leave your pet in the car ... a hot car can cause death in minutes.
9. Pack any of your dogs medications that you may need. We bought flea & tick spray for camping as well as ear care. We knew that she would be swimming and that her breed is notorious for ear infections so we wanted to be covered. Additionally, you would hate to have to contact your vet and double pay for a prescription at another vets office if you don't have to.
10. ENJOY YOUR TRIP! Bringing along you pet should not cause stress instead should enhance life. They are a part of your family therefore should be enjoyed as much. Take pictures! We loved including her in all of our pictures and taking some of just her. We were lucky that she indulged our whims. I'm so glad that she came with us. In the long run it was less stress on both of us to be together ... even in 4500 miles across 15 days.