It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. It was a busy holiday season, personally and at work. We traveled back and forth to parents and in-laws a few times in December and January. Now that we’re no longer down the highway from my in-laws, and now twice as far from my parents, visiting for holidays (or just because) is a bit of an ordeal. Arranging a few days where my husband and I both have off work. Packing up and driving anywhere from four and a half to eight hours (one way). Sleeping on a couch or strange bed for a couple nights. Of course it’s worth it, getting to see our families. It can be tough enough, though, with just the two of us. I’d never want to have to deal with even just that little bit of traveling with a small child. You have to worry about:

  • Packing all the kid’s stuff, too. Clothes, toys, supplies.
  • Potty breaks before, during, and after the car ride
  • Potential car sickness
  • Car safety and comfort – proper seats/belts/harnesses, blankets, pillows
  • How your kid will get along with other kids/adults/pets where you’re going

Whew! Glad I don’t have to worry about all that…. except, wait… I DO!

It struck me during one of our trips that traveling with our dog is exactly like traveling with a small child. We have a three-year-old dachshund. She’s small like a baby, and also has similar needs. I think at least half of the stuff we had to pack for a trip belonged to the dog. Maybe more than half. We had to worry about:

  • Packing all her stuff – blanket, bowls, treats, doggie steps (so she can get up on the couch without skidding out on the hardwood floors at both our parents’ houses), a bottle of water so she can have a drink during the ride, her leash
  • Potty breaks before, during, and after the car ride. Once or twice we’ve had to pull off to the side of the turnpike in those little emergency stopping shoulders because she either wouldn’t go before we left, or had to go again. And that was slightly terrifying.
  • Potential car sickness. She’s only gotten sick in the car once, after gorging herself on treats and another dog’s food the day before. But it required cleanup and created more laundry to do later.
  • Car safety and comfort – She likes to burrow, so we pile her king-size comforter in the back seat so she can snuggle in it. We have a special harness she wears for the car ride that we hook the seat belt through to make sure she doesn’t distract us while driving and is secure in the event of an accident. She still manages to pull a Houdini now and then and get out of the harness and jump up front with us.
  • How she’ll get along with my parents’ two dogs, or my father in law’s dog. She’s familiar with them by now and it’s not a huge worry, although she still has issues with food around other dogs. She eats fine at home, but put another dog in the house and instead of eating right away, she decides she needs to hoard her food and defend it from the other dogs. And also eat the other dog’s food. Yeah, she’s a little neurotic, but we love her.

Why can't I ride in the front seat on your lap? It's only an eigh-hour drive.

I end up turning around to pet and soothe her several times during the first 45 minutes or so, just like you would a fussy child, because she doesn’t settle in until we get away from the stop-and-go traffic of the city. Going from the house to the car and vice versa, I often stash her regular harness, leash, and sometimes her bone in my purse for easy access. During the last trip to my see my parents, I realized my purse has become a doggie diaper bag!

Traveling with pets (at least mine!) feels like it requires as much energy as traveling with kids. It’s a wonder just how much having the dog has reinforced our thoughts that we just don’t want to have kids. I understand kids will eventually grow up and be able to pack their own bags, be responsible for going to the bathroom before a long car ride, and be able to tell you to pull over before they puke all over the back seat. But that brings with it a whole new host of irritations, which I won’t go into in this post. Traveling with a spoiled dachshund is enough for me. I couldn’t deal with a human baby on top of that.

If you’re a parent (of human or fur babies), what traveling tips or tricks do you have to make it easier?

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2 responses »

  1. Debbie says:

    Dogs are a lot of work, but dogs are still way easier than children. Dogs don’t need a lot, and they never say no. On a car trip, you don’t have to entertain dogs. Pretty much all you have to do is make sure they don’t puke or shit on the upholstery.

    I’m sure kids on a road trip require much more planning than dogs. Kids are people, and dogs are simple.

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