Last week, Dan and I returned home from our main summer holiday – our trip to Pembrokeshire with Ted. It was only our second holiday with Ted, following our weekend in Woodbridge back in May, and although I had done it before, I was still a little nervous to take him away from home for such a long time, and at such distance. However, we had a brilliant time, and I’m already thinking about our next big trip (considering the Cairngorns or Loch Lomond in Scotland). That being said, it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing, and I’ve learnt a lot about travel with a dog, so if you are considering taking your furbaby on a holiday but not sure where to start, read on.
Pick a dog friendly location
I cannot stress the importance of this first tip. It will destroy your holiday if you visit a location with limited dog friendly eateries and attractions.
Unfortunately cities are not your friend as a dog owner, so stick to areas that are more rural. Pembrokeshire was fantastic for us, as there were only a handful of places we couldn’t take him. I’ve heard great reviews of Devon, the Lake District, and the North York Moors, but do your research. We found that the Cotswolds aren’t as dog friendly as I initially thought. Aim to find at least five dog friendly attractions, and don’t forget to add places to eat too.
Pick dog friendly accommodation
There is no way on Earth you are going to be able to smuggle a dog into a no pet accommodation, so unfortunately you’ll have to pay the premium price. We stayed in hotels, B&Bs, pubs, and self catering cottages, and the cottages were by far the most convenient for us and Ted.
As well as there being no other dogs to distract or rile up Ted, we had access to a fridge, freezer, a sink, washing up liquid, and a door direct to the outdoors, which was especially pleasant in comparison to the top floor rooms of the pubs we stayed in. A good tip is to check if the garden is enclosed. Ted can’t be trusted off the lead; he needs to be in a fully enclosed garden to be allowed to roam freely.
Calculate food, and expect some wastage
The most nerve wracking part of the trip to Pembrokeshire was coordinating Ted’s food. We feed him raw, which means we need access to a fridge and freezer when we go away. Let me tell you, that is not straightforward.
As well as staying in the cottage for a few days, we bunked in a hotel and a couple of pubs. I took the initiative to call in advance to check that we could use their chilling systems for Ted, and all agreed. However, it was slightly inconvenient to have to ask staff members to take food out of the fridge for us twice a day, especially when we were desperate for Ted to eat a full meal, just in case we had a tragedy and all the food went off.
We also had to consider the process of transporting boxes of food from one end of the country to the other. Dan and I invested in a cool box, and a few of those blue freezer pods. We also used all our tupperware to create blocks of ice to use during the drives. For the most part, the food stayed chilled, but we struggled to keep it frozen. We had to dispose of the defrosted food in the box when we were travelling between locations, and we did need to stop off to buy some more from a stockist on the way to and from Pembrokeshire.
My biggest tip for travel with your dog is to make sure you check where your nearest food stockist is, even if it’s just a Pets at Home or Tesco! You never know what could go wrong while you’re away, and can’t have the pups going hungry.
Only take the essentials
The first time we went away with Ted, we loaded the car with almost everything he had. Obviously, we barely touched any of it. This time, we only took what we knew we would need. Instead of taking all of Ted’s toys, we took four of his favourites; we had one bed for him to sleep on; and only the treats that we know he likes to eat. That way, we were able to pack all his gear into one bag, rather than three.
Remember that you’re on holiday! Enjoy your time exploring new locations and having new experiences with your dog. Memories are more valuable than any object, so don’t hold back. Get booking; get packing; get travelling.