This post is sponsored by Autotrader; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Are you looking for a way to make National Dog Day (August 26) the best day ever for your dog (and for you)? In our house, nothing says a day of adventure better than a doggie day trip. A dog-friendly day trip within a two-hour radius of your home is cheap, involves minimal packing, and is easy on your time and money budgets–all while giving you and your dog a vacation experience!
Planning Your Dog Day Trip
The fun starts before you switch on the ignition–take the time to plan your one-day getaway just as if you were planning a vacation.
- Research local parks. From neighborhood and county parks to state parks, check out local park options in easy driving distance. Check park rules as you make your plans; at many, you’ll find a requirement of a leash no longer than six feet. And, of course, you’ll need to pick up dog waste so pack those poop bags!
- Find dog-friendly local attractions. Make some calls and find out if any favorite local attractions welcome leashed dogs. Irie and Tiki have visited aquariums, pick-your-own produce farms, Halloween mazes, wineries, farmers’ markets, and outdoor malls.
- Check out dog-friendly festivals and special events. If your dog loves meeting people and pets, look into dog-friendly events in your area. From fundraising walks to expos filled with doggie demos and vendors, these special events are a great chance to get out and socialize with your dog. DogTipper Tip: If you’re in the Atlanta area, mark your calendar for Autotrader’s National Dog Day #ParkandBark event taking place on August 26th from 5-8 pm at Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Find a dog-friendly patio lunch. Call around before your trip to find a dog-friendly patio restaurant! Walk and feed your dog before your lunch then settle your dog beneath the table (not in restaurant chairs).
Prepare and Pack for Your Trip
- Make sure your car is ready to roll. To cut down on unnecessary stops (especially in this hot weather), we always gas the car the day before and do a quick check of oil and other fluids.
- Consider pet-friendly auto accessories. Make sure your car is comfortable for ALL your passengers, both two- and four-legged. Pet-friendly auto accessories can help make the trip safer and more fun. These might include hitch steps to make vehicle entry easier and console covers which keep your dog from trying to move up into the front seat. In our own car, we fold down the back seat so Irie and Tiki have plenty of room to stretch out (and enjoy a nap), covering the cargo area then adding memory foam cushions to keep them comfy.
- Pack plenty of water. The night before a day trip, we freeze liter-sized bottles. Filling each two-thirds full, the water will slowly melt on our trip, providing a chilled drink with each stop. We take silicone cake pans to serve as a dog water bowls in the car, and we carry a small collapsible silicone bowl that clips to a belt or bag for drinks on the move.
Hit the Road!
- Safety first! Pet safety is our number one priority–you want to make sure the memories you make from your day trip are great ones. For Irie and Tiki, this means safety harnesses buckled into the cargo area; these keep them secure in the event of a sudden stop but they also serve to keep them from crawling into the driver’s lap (Tiki’s pretty sure she should be able to drive), prevents driver distraction, and gives you peace of mind when you arrive of knowing that the dogs won’t suddenly jump out when you open the door. Although the car AC is going full blast this time of year, when the weather’s cooler we’ll crack the back windows so they can enjoy the scent–but we don’t open it wide enough for their heads to go outside the car. Regardless of how much your dog might like that rushing air, it’s just too risky. And, of course, never leave your dog unattended in the car. Temperatures can soar to dangerous levels during the summer months and, even in the winter, you run the risk of a car thief or dognapper.
- Take it slow. Take the time to stop and sniff the roses…or anything else your dog finds of interest. The beauty of a day trip is that yes, you will pass this way again. You don’t have to pack it all into one trip but can focus on a single activity or destination.
- Don’t rule out small attractions. Near the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and State Park (yes, there are two in one), there’s a large roadside park and picnic area where we stop on just about every day trip to the Hill Country. It’s one of Irie and Tiki’s favorite stops. There’s nothing special about it but they just love going there and walking under the tall pecan trees, sniffing around the picnic areas, and watching the traffic.
- Pack a picnic. Picnics are easy on the budget and fun for all the family. Be sure to pack a treat for your dog! Irie and Tiki’s favorite day trip dessert is a long-lasting bully stick.
- Photograph your fun! Just as if you were taking a dream vacation, be sure to snap plenty of photos of your doggie day trip and preserve those special memories!