“Does she like to travel?”
That’s always the first question we’re asked when people find out we travel full-time with our dog, Truffles. The answer is yes and no. Truffles spent the first four years of her life with a fairly normal dog routine—three walks a day (average 1-2 miles each) with her dad who worked from home, plenty of space and time to play ball, couch snuggles and treats. That all changed on January 1, 2018, when we left on our 5-year, 50 state road trip.
While there are a few predictable things in her life, Truffles now has a lot more adventure, which she loves. But she’s not a big fan of moving day— when we pack up and move to a new hotel or location between 2-6 hours away. We do this approximately every 7 days. We have some strategies in place for moving day, but it’s still a more stressful day for her than the others.
Here are Truffles’ travel items:
- Vet records
- Leash and harness
- Insta-worthy suitcase
- Actual suitcase with all her toys, meds, shampoo and outfits
- Wet and dry food with sprinkles (Forti-Flora which enhances the flavor of her food and helps with digestion)
- Food and water dish (and her portable versions for hikes)
- Bed with a towel that smells like us for when we are out of the hotel room
- Den, a canvas crate that folds up flat and fits nicely in our car (the best investment of the trip)
- Backpack for longer hikes or to go into some locations like the Luray Caverns, Wizard of Oz Museum, or the National Mustard Museum.
Here’s what an average day in the life of a full-time travel dog looks like.
8-9am: Truffles wakes up and is taken out to the bathroom. She’s provided a small offering of breakfast meat from the hotel breakfast (by her dad) for going into her den nicely while we are out of the room.
9-11am: She may have some breakfast. Truffles free-feeds. She doesn’t have a set food time—we provide her with food when she’s hungry and she stops when she’s full. When she was a puppy she was on a schedule, but as she self-regulates we allow her to guide feeding times as an adult. She plays ball in the hotel and barks at the housekeeping staff that walks by the room with the vacuum.
11am-5pm: We go out and do something. She’s an avid hiker and has been known to do up to 10 miles on her little paws. Our average hike is 3-6 miles. We pack a picnic lunch for us all and eat during the day.
Sometimes she has to stay behind in her den, but we try to do outdoor and dog-friendly things whenever possible. If she stays in we try to take her to a dog park, a longer walk at a local park, or even out to the pet or home improvement store to get sniffs on cold or rainy days. She gets out at least once a day or every other day depending on the weather and our workload.
Two days a week we work from the hotel. Stephen is a travel writer and I’m an online teacher. Truffles naps and plays like most any dog on those days and gets her 2-3 walks in depending on the weather.
5-6pm: She goes out for a walk and may have some dinner.
6-11pm: She plays ball or wrestles with her dad or snuggles with me while we watch TV or work in the evenings. Some evenings we go out to a dog-friendly bar or brewery where she gets ample pets.
11pm-Midnight: She goes out a final time with her dad for another walk before bed.
Midnight-8am: Playing, itching, licking, snuggling with me, standing on my hair, barking at the occasional hotel sound in the hallway, grabbing a drink or a nibble of food and, at some point, sleeping.
As I mentioned above, 1-2 times a week we move locations. We try to cover as much of a state as possible and average about 5 weeks per state. As such, we move every 5-10 days depending on the number of activities in the area, our budget and the season (we stay longer sometimes at Christmas and other holidays).
The stress of moving day for Truffles starts the night before when the suitcases are packed. She plays ball during this time and we oblige her to help alleviate her anxiety.
She has her typical morning routine. Then we spend an hour loading the cart, getting final photos for hotel reviews, packing the car and checking out.
We try to keep our drives to 4 hours or less for everyone’s sake. Truffles sits on the floorboards but doesn’t sleep during our travels. She also doesn’t eat a lot on moving day. She does drink water and usually has a small lunch.
We always try to visit a dog park or find something fun and dog-friendly to break up the drive and stretch our legs. Roadside America is our favorite resource for finding funny and quirky things to see on our drives.
We arrive and it takes about an hour to unload the car, check-in, get pictures for hotel reviews and unpack. The first thing we unpack at our new hotel is Truffles’ food and water dishes, bed and toys. She makes herself at home by rolling on the bed and floor and does a perimeter check of the room. We all check to see if she can get under the bed. She loves that. We do not.
She may eat more food and play for a while, but without a nap during the day she usually snuggles in early on moving day. This is often when we get the cute puppy snores and dreaming. Sometimes she sleeps through the night, other times she wakes up after a few hours to play and resume her nighttime routine.
Overall, Truffles has a very good life for a dog. The slight upset of moving day is outweighed by all the hikes, pets, and experiences she has a full-time travel dog. If you’d like, you can follow Truffles Travels on Facebook and Instagram.
How does the life of a travel dog compare to your own pet’s daily life? Share in the comments below.
Full-time dog mom and traveler, Shae Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with her husband, Stephen Pepper and their dog, Truffles. You can follow their adventures on their website, No Home Just Roam.