This week, an 11pm call from a South Texas nursing home where several of John’s elderly relatives reside meant an 8am trip the next day–with both Tiki and Barli. We like to spend the night when we go because the home is nearly a four-hour drive from our house but, like any trip, it involves a certain amount of preparation.
When we’re traveling for guidebook work, we make a lot of lists–packing lists, itinerary lists, photo lists. But those trips are planned out weeks (or longer) in advance. Traveling last-minute is another animal altogether.
Here are our tips to pulling off a last-minute trip, whether it’s for a family emergency, evacuation, or just for fun–with your dogs.
Have a packing list already written.
We have packing lists, stored as doc files, on our computer for a variety of situations: nursing home visits, beach trips, winter trips, etc. with not only our items but a long section for dog-related items as well. For Barli and Tiki, we pack:
- food for each day (plus one extra day)
- medications (Tiki takes Cosequin every morning and evening)
- the Whistle charger for their GPS units on their collars
- *retractable leashes (which we only use for swimming and beach fun)
- *chew toys for Barli
- *a sheet we can also use in the hotel room
- *two silicone bowls (one for the car and one for the hotel room–it’s easier than moving the bowl back and forth since we’re in and out a lot)
- a collapsible silicone bowl for my bag
- my dog walking bag
- *poop bags
- harnesses and leashes
- *paper towels
- *carpet cleaner and a cleaning brush from the dollar store
- *a copy of the dogs’ immunization records
- *emergency contact (our vet, neighbors, etc.)
Have a bag ready to go.
We keep a bag ready to go with many items so we can just add the consumables and the items we use on a daily basis. All the items with an asterisk * on the above list stay packed in our grab and go bag. (We also keep a printed copy of the packing list in the bag so, in case the electricity is out, we can quickly prepare.) In case of an emergency evacuation, we can be packed and out of here in a few minutes.
Make sure your car’s ready for your dog.
Since we take many day trips with the dogs, we keep the car dog-ready all the time. Part of that includes protecting the seats with Plush Paws Products pet seat covers (win yours at Friday’s Twitter party and RSVP giveaway!) so, during free time after our visit, we were able to head to the beach with Barli and Tiki for a swim. We also keep an extra set of leashes and collars in our car, in case of breakage. Because of her arthritis, Tiki uses a ramp to get in our car; that ramp stays in the car, too.
Have a home checklist ready.
Our home checklist includes all the must-check items–thermostat, lights, stove, freezer, etc.–as well as special items for our cats and pet sitter.
Create a dog-friendly hotel list before you need it.
We’ve made this trip many times over the past year so we knew where we’d be staying–and knew a backup hotel in case we got ready to book online and found the hotel sold out. Besides this situation, we also know hotels in the area–in different directions–where we could evacuate with the pets in case of a natural disaster.
Keep a copy of your dog’s immunization records.
Every year, we ask our vet for a printed copy of our dogs’ immunization records. We keep a copy packed in our grab and go bag–and we keep a digital copy on each of our phones.
Having as much as possible ready to go helped make our quick, one-night trip a success this week. We had a good visit at the nursing home, a good stay at the hotel, and even a few hours of happy beach time with a LOT of swimming for Tiki and Barli!