“You must be mad!” – That is the kind of reaction I got from some of my family and friends when I told them that we were planning on taking our dog, Heidi, on holiday with us.
If you’ve read any of my posts about what a handful my pooch can be, you’d be forgiven for thinking the same. Alas, our ‘pet lady’ who would normally take care of Heidi and our guinea pigs whilst we are away on hols was already fully booked for the summer. We decided to brave it and go ahead and book a family holiday in South Devon, dog and all.
I can honestly say it was a fantastic break away and having our beloved furbaby with us only enhanced the trip. If you’ve ever thought about taking your dog on holiday with you but have been put off by the hassle of it, here’s some tips for holidaying with your dog, that might make you change your mind…
NB. Whilst some of this may apply to taking your dog abroad with you, I am talking specifically about holidaying in the UK as that is what we did on this occasion.
Accommodation, planning and packing:
Finding somewhere to stay
Your first task will be to find suitable dog-friendly accommodation in your chosen location. We wanted self-catering accommodation in Torquay and after a quick search I managed to find something that was perfect for us. A self-catering apartment just a few minutes walk away from the seafront and town centre, dog friendly and plenty of room for Jasmine’s cot. After a few e-mails back and fourth with the apartment owner we had booked our accommodation, a week’s stay for £235 (in the height of the summer holidays too) – absolute bargain!
Make a list
Before packing for our holiday I wrote a list for each member of the family including Heidi (because who doesn’t love writing lists?) This just made it easier for me to remember everything I needed to take for her, such as her bowls, bedding and leads etc. It also ensured I didn’t leave anything behind when it was time to pack up and come home.
Research, research, research!
Soon after booking our holiday, I set about putting together an information pack about the local area. The last thing I wanted was for us to get there and have nothing to do or nowhere to go. I found out which local attractions allowed dogs, which of the beaches were dog friendly all year-round, places to eat and also emergency contact details for the local vets. Armed with this information you will hopefully get a lot more out of your holiday rather than wasting precious time looking for things to do whilst you’re there.
Having said all that, we found Devon to be extremely dog-friendly and never had to go very far to find a pub, bar, chip shop, tea room or restaurant that welcomed our furry family member!
Invest in a good well-fitting harness so that your dog is secure whilst you’re on the road. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the temperature inside the car, dogs can’t regulate their body temperature as well as humans and will easily overheat.
Stop regularly to allow your dog the opportunity to have a drink of water and a toilet break. Some of the bigger service stations even have large grassy areas specifically for walking dogs. Don’t forget your poop bags!
Whilst we were on holiday I was surprised how easy it was to get around with a dog in toe. Pretty much anything goes and Heidi experienced travelling by both stream train and ferry! Don’t assume it’ll be free though, we got told off for not paying the £2 fare for Heidi’s steam train journey. Oopsie!
Whilst you’re there:
Use local knowledge
If you’re staying in dog friendly accommodation then the property owner will be one of the best people to ask about places to visit. The lady who ran our apartment pointed out several local pubs where dogs were welcome – always useful information! ;)
Don’t be afraid to approach local dog owners too – most of the time they will be only too pleased to share their favourite dog walking haunts with you.
Don’t expect too much from your dog
What I mean by this is, if for example, your dog’s daily walks usually involve a quick walk around the block don’t then expect your dog to be able to walk for hours and hours on holiday. We made this mistake on our first day and walked for about 10 miles and by the end of it poor Heidi was exhausted. We made sure to take lots of regular breaks in between walks for the rest of the holiday.
Have a plan B
To me, the only downside of taking Heidi on holiday with us is that it limited where we could go. Most indoor attractions were of bounds and thus we were really relying on the weather being good. Fortunately, whilst we were away we had fairly decent weather but we did still have one very wet morning, so out came my emergency stash of Disney DVDs. We opted for a snuggly movie morning until the sun came back out. Definitely pack something to keep you occupied indoors in case our rather unreliable British weather lets you down!
I would definitely consider taking Heidi with us on any future holidays as it really wasn’t much hassle at all. I hope that if you’ve thought about taking your dog with you on a UK break then this post will give you the push to do so. You won’t regret it!
Have you ever considered holidaying with your dog in the UK?
Or do you have any other tips for holidaying with your dog?
This post was first published on the 19th August 2014.