After more than two months of social distancing and quarantine we’re all getting a bit of cabin fever. Maybe you’re dreaming of a getaway. Maybe you’re interested in doing more than dreaming. With flights mostly grounded you might be thinking of a road trip with your dog. I’m here to give you tips based on our experience—we travel full-time and are staying on top of all travel regulations and restrictions.
Stay in Your State
The point of social distancing is to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. You can still do a lot to help even if you plan a trip this summer. One way is to stay in your state. There are beautiful parks, state and national, in every state. Remember to check ahead though as many open spaces are experiencing closures and limited openings, some facilities may remain closed and you may need to make reservations ahead of time.
Many readers will be from Ohio—you have beautiful open spaces so it’s worth checking back. For example, Hocking Hills State Park’s main trails are now all open (as of July 2) but there are new one-way protocols in place. Accommodations may be more limited than normal due to COVID-19 safety measures. (Check out this article for tips on hiking with your dog.)
Pet-friendly hotels have many benefits but with limited travel some are closed right now and others are only open to medical professionals who need to quarantine away from home. That’s not to say you shouldn’t check your hotel options. We’ve had success so far with Airbnb, but be aware that many owners aren’t being allowed to book short stays (less than 30 days) based on state regulations.
Prepare Your Own Fun
If you can find accommodation with a backyard that will be ideal. Most dog parks are open but other states may have them closed. Bring cards, puzzles and other activities. Recreational businesses in many states have not been cleared to open. But watch your state’s regulations closely and contact businesses to see if they have been allowed to reopen or if they are choosing to remain closed.
Camping might be a great way to get away, safely, for less cost. The activities available to you will be similar whether you are in an Airbnb, cabin or tent. Check with small towns about their availability as many are discouraging travel to them due to limited healthcare facilities for their existing residents, especially with the current upward trend of COVID-19 cases.
Support Local Businesses
Many breweries, wineries and restaurants are open for takeout and delivery if they are not yet open for in-person dining or have limited seating. Money that you might have spent on doing activities like museums, water sports or amusement parks, could be funneled into the local economy where you’re staying. Get take away growlers, splurge on several meals a day and order dessert from local bakeries. It’s still fun to try new foods and places and you get to enjoy it in your PJs!
Keep Expectations Realistic
While it is enticing to plan a vacation like you would have last summer, the global pandemic we are faced with is affecting all aspects of life, including travel. That’s not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t plan as much fun as you can but be prepared for changes to your usual experiences. You can still use it as a time to get away. But things may open or close with short notice so stay flexible and spend extra time with your pet away from your daily life to make it as refreshing as possible.
Pet Travel Specifics
Most services have been affected by COVID-19 and that includes vets and groomers. Keep that in mind when you travel with your pet. Make sure your pet’s vaccines and medications are up-to-date with their local vet before you travel as many vets are not taking any new patients right now. Find the information for the nearest emergency vet in the area which may be your only option while traveling with your pet this summer.
Encourage social distancing from your pet. It’s so hard, and believe me Truffles has been heartbroken, but discouraging petting is the best way to keep your family, the other family, and your pet safe.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 print edition of CincyPet Magazine. Some of the content has been updated to reflect the current situation; however, as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase things may change at a moment’s notice and many places have new rules and regulations in place to keep people safe. Always call ahead to make sure that your intended destination is open or if they have any new operational procedures (such as making reservations or requiring face masks) that you need to be aware of beforehand.
Full-time dog mom and traveler SHAE PEPPER is on a five-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.