If your vacation includes beaches, cities, or woods, it can also include the family pet. Bringing along your canine companion or feline friend can certainly be fun, but it’s also a great way to teach children responsibility. Check out our tips on making the most of a pet-friendly vacation.
HEADED TO THE BEACH?
• To prevent overheating, take your pet to the beach during morning and evening hours. Put children in charge of packing an umbrella and plenty of cool water. Don’t let pets (or kids!) drink salt water, which could cause dehydration.
• Look for pet-friendly, chemical-free sunscreens, and pay attention to areas prone to burning such as the ears and nose. Every time the kids reapply their sunscreen, have them do the same for your pet.
• Consider zipping your pup into a pet-friendly personal flotation device. Look for one that fits snuggly and has a handle.
Huntington Dog Beach, California: Dogs can run free on this 1.5-mile strip of beach along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago: Pups can romp without leashes along Lake Michigan, spray down at dogwashing stations, and grab a snack from a dog-food truck.
HEADED TO THE CITY?
• Pet-friendly hotels are often only dog-friendly, so make sure felines are allowed if you’re traveling with your cat. In the room, have the kids set up food and water dishes, and firmly shut doors and windows.
• Check that the sidewalk isn’t too hot or cold for delicate paws. If it’s uncomfortable for your child’s bare feet, it’ll be uncomfortable for your pet’s too. Think about splurging on pet booties. Just make sure your pet is OK wearing them.
• Encourage kids to keep an eye out for trash or spills that might attract curious pets. Chemicals like antifreeze are common, and licking them can cause serious illness.
Denver, Colorado: The Mile High City and its surrounding area has many pet-friendly trails, plus loads of restaurants and breweries that welcome dogs.
Atlanta, Georgia: Visit the three-acre dog park in Piedmont Park before heading to the annual Braves game for baseball-loving barkers.
HEADED TO THE WOODS?
• Each national park’s website has a page showing where pets are allowed. Before heading out, have kids check the site or talk to a park ranger.
• “Leave no trace” applies to pets too. Explain to children that they’ll protect habitats by keeping furry friends on the trail, discouraging them from chasing wildlife, and leaving plants alone (i.e., no digging!).
• Pack some baggies to clean up after your pet. Explain to kids how waste can cause disease in both people and wildlife, as well as introduce, uh, non-native materials that could affect the habitat.
Congaree National Park, South Carolina: Pets are welcome on all trails here, including the 2.4-mile boardwalk that takes you into swamps and forests.
Acadia National Park, Maine: This coastal park has more than a hundred miles of pet-friendly trails for families to enjoy.