Thanks to this series, I was able to pull off a successful, surprise birthday trip for my husband from the Chicago area to Saugatuck, Michigan with our two dogs: Indy (our adopted mix) and Tessa (our foster-to-adopt bully mix).
Since we have a small hatchback, we didn’t really try dog seatbelts, but I think we will next time (or some other contraption -- taking suggestions). After a few different configurations, the dogs finally settled down in the car … in very strange places.
We will be the first to admit that we are coffee snobs, so we were very happy to discover that Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck had a doggie-walk-up ordering window and allowed dogs in their outdoor seating area where we met new (and incredibly giant) dog buddies, who are also from Chicago!
After a short trip, we were on our way home and in the car, yet again. Although Indy and Tessa became traveling nap champions, and probably would have slept the whole way home, we planned another halfway stop at Grand Mere State Park. We walked the wooded trails, climbed the dunes and played in Lake Michigan for the first time (for the dogs, not us!).
1) Packing portioned bags of dog food (from Reggies’s post) was brilliant! I would have never thought of this on my own. But since we do have one picky eater that hardly ate on the trip (probably from all the excitement), I would pack a couple of cups of microwaveable rice and a few cans of wet food next time to entice him to eat.
2) Bring all of your dog’s vet work with you in a binder. You may never know when you will need it. We ended up putting the dogs in a local doggie daycare for one day, and the binder made everything so easy!
3) Since we were staying in a rental where a security deposit was necessary, I brought an extra bed sheet from home to cover the white (eek!) sofa with since I had nightmares of muddy and sandy paw prints all over that pretty white upholstery by the time we left! Clearly, we are failing still working on the no-dogs-on-furniture rule.
4) If you have larger dogs, don’t be shy about dressing them up a bit in a new town. We learned from Mr. B and Ms. M that a few accessories go a long way in the eyes of strangers. From what we saw, Saugatuck had many small dogs and designer dogs, and we got a few nervous looks from passersby when we were walking the town. Some even avoided us by crossing the street, or sanding in the grass as we walked down the sidewalk. Once we added the magical bandanas, we were getting compliments nonstop on how polite and sweet our dogs were, which were very refreshing responses!
5) If you are new to traveling with your dog like us, we would suggest traveling on off days. We went up to Saugatuck on a Monday and came home on a Wednesday to avoid the heavy crowds.
Thanks again to everyone who did make this series a success!
In case you missed them, you can also read our other Tourist with Your Dog posts showcasing Memphis, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, The Bay Area, Milwaukee, Upstate New York, New York City, Austin, Florida, Portland, Richmond, Seattle, Kansas City, Nashville, Alaska, and Chicago. And you can read about roadtripping the 7 Wonders of Illinois with 4 large dogs, boating to the Bahamas with a pit bull, specific tips for roadtripping with a large dog (NYC to rural Tennessee), Chicago Dogs' Sidetrip to Harbor County, and Destination "Dog Mountain" in Vermont.