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The Dog Lover’s Guide to Summer Travel

Learn how to keep four-legged family members happy and safe when you hit the road—and save a few dollars, too.

Did someone say “road trip”? Bringing out the suitcase often causes many dogs to unleash full-body wiggles in anticipation of joining their favorite people for a travel adventure. Where or for how long doesn’t matter to them; they’re just excited to be your travel mate!

As more than 70% of people take their dogs—and yes, even some savvy cats—on road trips, the travel industry is increasingly catering to four-legged travelers with pet packages that include bowls, special treats and comfy bedding. In addition to traditional pet-friendly hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns and time-share condo rentals are now putting out the welcome mat for well-mannered pets.

Here are eight ways to make your next trip a doggone great success:

  • Select hotels that don’t take a big bite out of your wallet. With more than 435 locations in 40 states and the District of Columbia, Red Roof Inns never tack on a pet fee. And, as an NEA member, you can enjoy a 20% discount. Check out Red Roof’s pet policy, and visit its official RedRoofLuvsPets page on Facebook for more details.
  • Pack with a purpose. Keep pet travel essentials in your vehicle. My must-have list includes a water bowl, bottled water, extra leash and collar with identification tags, poop bags, an old towel, pre-moistened wipes, a basic first-aid kit, necessary medications, a copy of health records, bedding, treats, one or two favorite toys and at least a three-day supply of food.
  • Park your pet while you drive. Don’t let your dog ride in the front passenger seat or in your lap, and don’t allow him to stick his head out the window. An unrestrained 50-pound dog becomes a 1,500-pound projectile in a sudden stop or an accident at 35 mph. Depending on the size of your dog, fit him in a pet-safety harness securely clipped into a seatbelt in the middle seats or place him inside a pet carrier that’s fastened in place.
  • Purchase pet insurance. Nothing takes the fun out of a vacation like an unexpected expense or injury. Treating a broken leg can cost more than $2,000. Pet insurance helps you prepare for the unexpected. Pets Best Insurance, for example, offers NEA members a comprehensive plan that typically covers 80% of a veterinarian’s bill for covered services, with plans starting at less than $1 a day.
  • Tap into technology. With the swipe of your finger, you can get instant access to your pet’s medical records, locate the nearest emergency veterinary hospital, and receive step-by-step audio and print instructions for pet first-aid by downloading the PetTech PetSaver App ($4.99). You also can outfit your dog with the Pet QR Tag, a new generation of dog ID tag that you can update with your dog’s info online (starts at $14.95).
  • Dine at odd times. First, exercise your dog with a brisk 30-minute walk before dining to help calm him down. Try to dine at pet-permitting restaurants and outdoor cafes during off-peak times, such as mid-morning or late afternoon. Weekdays usually are quieter than weekends. Use a 4- or 6-foot leash to securely tether around one of your chair legs to keep your dog from disturbing other diners. Request a table in an out-of-the-way corner. Dogs like to have a view in front of them as well as behind them to keep people from sneaking up on them.
  • Pick memory-making activities. Got a confident, socialized dog up for new adventures? Consider booking a ferry boat to Peaks Island off Portland, Maine, with Casco Bay Lines or taking a scenic ride in a gondola up Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes, California. Check with your hotel concierge for any local pet events that are being held during your stay.
  • Paw it forward. Set a good example for the next person traveling with his or her pet. Instruct your dog to sit and stay when you’re checking in at the front desk. Abide by the pet rules, and always leave a generous tip for the housekeeping staff—especially if you have a shedding dog. These gestures create a positive impression that will benefit other pet lovers.

Final tip: Be sure to pack your camera and video camera so you can share your tail-wagging adventures with your pet-loving pals.

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