Hitting the road with kids and pets:  keep ‘em safe, fed, watered, and amused

Traveling with the entire family—including four-legged members—is big fun but requires a little bit of extra planning. Kids and their furry friends share many of the same needs for snacks, treats, and drinks, along with things to keep them interested. Rover won’t be asking, “Are we there yet? or “How much farther is it?” over and over, but he might want to run a few laps around the rest area!

More and more families are taking pets along on vacation. This past February Wyndham Vacation Rentals posted “Why Traveling with Your Pets Is Therapeutic,” by Candyce H. Stapen. The article noted that “Some 53% of respondents in a TripAdvisor survey said they take their pets with them on journeys.” It goes on to cite some of the benefits of bringing them along, which include adding joy, calming anxious kids, teaching kids values that come with caring for a pet, and “adding a sense of physical security.” Sapen quotes Dr. Jeff Bauman, a child and family psychologist in Weston, Florida, who says, “A pet brings along a sense of the familiar and also maintains some of the family’s routines.”

In May the Canidae company, which touts its product as “pet food made by people,” published the blog post “5 Tips for Traveling with Pets”. A portion of one of the suggestions is this: “You should bring a comfortable crate to give your pet a piece of home to take on the road. This can be used for safe travel, bedding, and confining your pet when needed.” Another post from Canidae, “Travel Tips for Road Trippin’ With Dogs,” by Laurie Darroch and published just last week, says, “Dogs can sleep during a long soothing drive, but they can also get restless and uncomfortable when they are cooped up for long periods. They need a chance to take an occasional potty break the same way you do. If available, stop at rest stops where your dog can really stretch and explore a bit.”

At petswelcome.com trip planners can quickly and easily search and “fetch” pet-friendly hotel chains by city. An increasing number of lodging options across all price ranges do allow pets with some restrictions and/or fees applied. The article “Who Let the Dogs Inn? Pet-friendly Hotel Chains,” by Charlyn Keating, with the subtitle “Upscale Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains Roll out the Red Carpet for Fido,” cites a survey showing that of the “62 million dog owners in the U.S., an estimated 78% of them consider their dog to be an ‘equal member’ of the family. The same survey also indicated that “Nearly half of the dog owners in the survey took their family dog along on overnight trips, and about 40% of them stayed with their dog in pet-friendly hotels or motels.”

In January, trendy Roulez Magazine published “Upscale, Pet-Friendly Hotels.” Among widely known chains mentioned were Hyatt Hotels and Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts.

Kids can get bored on the road and so can their furry friends. Hardly anything elicits, “Aw, how cute” faster than seeing a dog with his or her head out the car window, sniffing the breeze. But according to a Huffington Post article a couple years back titled, “Traveling With Pets Tips: A How-To Guide on Vacations with Your Cat or Dog,” it isn’t a good idea. The article says, “Keep heads and paws inside. Your dog may enjoy sticking his head out the window, but riding this way could cause ear damage or expose your pet to lung infections, according to the ASPCA.” Among other great tips, it also urges pet owners to “buckle up” their pets “by restraining your furry friend” with a pet barrier, pet seat belt, pet car seat or travel crate,” and to keep them hydrated.

Gearing up for a road trip? Take along Little Scholar© learning tablet for kids 5-7, and watch them have a blast mastering math, reading, spelling, and more, with over 200 preloaded apps, videos, e-books, and songs. Or consider entering the Teach & Treat Sweepstakes with its chance to win a Charlie Plush Toy, Charlie’s Adventure Coloring Book, and Charlie & Company 2-DVD set from School Zone and four bags of Riker’s dog treats which include: 1-lb. bulk pack (variety flavors), 1 4-oz. bag of Apple Honey Bones, 4-oz. bag of Peanut Butter Banana, and a 3-oz. bag of Pumpkin Molasses Training Bits.