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Saturday, August 19, 2017

If I could, I'd take my dog  everywhere. Unfortunately, she isn't welcome everywhere even though she's small and better behaved than most children.

When we travel, we usually leave her at home with my mom, but if we road trip it, chances are pretty good that she's going along for the ride. (See what I did there?) If your furry best friend likes to jump in the car and take a vacation (even a short one), here are some great tips to make it friendly and fun for them as well.

Look at this spoiled doggo

Keep cool - So, its pretty hot in the car and in the summer. Our car doesn't have that fancy dual a/c switch to control the front and the back separately (I have a Kia Rio, it's not THAT big), so to keep the dog cool while driving, we basically have on Max AC and point the vents all at the ceiling so the air gets to her and we freeze our faces off. Another great idea is a Kool Collar. We just bought a new one and it simulates evaporation sweat - because dogs can't do that and wear fur coats all the time - by using ice or their fancy ice packs. We use it at home, we use it at the beach, we use it at the park. No panting. My dog loves it.

Hydrate! - Just like you, dogs need to keep hydrated. If you don't have one of those non-spill bowls that are all the rage for travel times, stop for water breaks for everyone, but mostly for your pup, because they don't have thumbs for opening a water bottle.

Yes, my dog has a bag to ride in, because she's not a good hiker.

Make pit stops - Your dog also can't let you know they are dying for the potty. All that extra water has to go somewhere. Check out the rest areas along your way and plan to stop every few hours to let them do their business and stretch their legs. If you also have kids, you're probably doing this anyway. Then you won't be driving 19 hours straight and swear off road trips forever like that last time.

Rikka is nothing if she's not a great car snorer when she's been a passenger for most of a day.

Comfy up the car - Make sure your dog feels comfy and safe in the car, especially if they get nervous like mine. We bring her bed so we can also bring it inside wherever we stay for the night. She also has her own car seat that allows her to see out the window, be contained and also take a nap.

She likes the bed, but can't jump up or down, so we made her own little version on the floor when we left.

Make their crate awesome - I'm not a crate person, but only because my dog spent much of her life in one her first three years and I was sad for her, so I gave her the choice. She spent less and less time in there, so we put it in the garage. If your dog loves their crate, or it's the best way to travel with them not climbing all over everyone and getting in the way, make sure it's comfortable enough to spend hours at a time in. Get them a cushion or blanket so it's soft and inviting.

My dog likes to sightsee too...and duck under railings meant to keep people out.

Bring home with you - Just like I like to have a little bit of home with me, dogs feel comforted by something familiar. Bring along a gave blanket/pillow/bed and some toys and they'll be happier.

Jerky's the best...even when you're away from home.

Stay on schedule - If you feed and walk your pup on a schedule, try to keep as close to that timetable as possible (even if you're giving extra walks and treats -because exercise makes you hungry). It'll keep them from getting confused and feel more normal even in a different place.

Look at me...in a mining cart.

Do some research - Make sure you know where you can take your dog and where you can't. Find the number of a vet near where you'll be staying. Just in case. Look for dog parks and pet-friendly dining establishments. Many people bring their dogs to the Oregon beaches, so a lot of stores don't mind you shopping with a well-behaved pooch.

Plan ahead -- Make sure you're prepared for all the things you're going to do or. Might happen while you're away from home. Here's a list of what to plan for:
  • bring an extra collar/leash, because you never know when one will get broken or lost.
  • their fave food is obvs to some. Don't take this as an opportunity to have them sample new cuisines. It'll just make them sick.
  • Invest in Doggles. We have a pair of Doggles sunglasses for Rikka to enjoy sitting out in the sun. If your pup likes to stick their head out the window, a pair of dog goggles are good for protecting their eyes from flying debris and might save you a trip to an unknown vet.
  • Going hiking or somewhere hot? Get your pup some shoes. Their paws are pretty sensitive, so you gotta protect them, just like your own feet.
  • Pack a carrier. My little one gets tired fairly easily, so when she starts to lag behind we scoop her up and carry her in a doggie sling (see above pic). She can rest and still be part of things. It's also good for when we head into some shops.
  • Download some phone apps to find dog parks, rest stops & dog-friendly restaurants. I like iexit and dogfriendly.
  • Things happen. Look up your route along the way and find emergency vet addresses and numbers to have on hand just in case.
  • Don't forget meds/supplements if your dog normally takes them. You can always keep them in the cooler with your snacks and beverages.

How do you like to travel with your dog?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Happy Blogaversary! STC Turns 7

I can't believe the day is here (well, a few days ago)! This blog has been running for seven whole years now. It's been fun, it's been hard, but I've also learned a lot and I hope you have too. 

Each year I try to share something interesting and fun on my birthday/anniversary post. For this, my 7th year, I want to talk about my next 7 (hopeful) vacations. We won't count Vegas, because you all know I am there several times a year. I post a lot of cheap eats and awesome activities, since it's ever-changing. You'll see those posts and, in fact, a few are coming up soon. For now, let's go beyond :

1. St. Thomas USVI

We just bought our plane tickets for this exciting destination. It's time to kick back and relax, but also go shopping, snorkel, eat conch fritters and drive on the wrong side of the road. The U.S. Virgin Islands are celebrating 100 years and I'm all over that. I didn't plan my trip to coincide with their centennial, but it just happened to work out that way. We'll be visiting during their "rainy" season (surprise, surprise), but I anticipate that will just add to our adventure. I'm looking forward to the sky gondola overlooking the island, encountering marine life in the wild and at Ocean Park and appreciating butterflies at the Butterfly Farm. I may or may not be working on a St. Thomas wish list post as we speak.

2. Philadelphia

Well, we thought about doing that whole down the East Coast deal where we hit Boston, Salem and other cities, but now we've put that on hold and settled on spending the week in Philadelphia during Harry Potter weekend, getting in on all the history the rest of the week and also a quick visit to Hershey and Hershey World. I'm working on my costumes already, because I'm going to do all the Harry Potter things dressed up and hit the town (probably) in street clothes later on. Accio CityPASS! I'll be posting a Philly wish list at some point.

3. Idaho

I know this doesn't sound exciting, and it may not be, but I'm excited for it anyway. We have tentatively planned a short 4-day road trip to Idaho next May which will include a stop in Wallace, a spin around Coeur d'alene, and a visit to Silverwood Theme Park during their anniversary weekend. Why then? Because kids are still in school and admission is under $20 a person. 

Anyway, Wallace is the Center of the Universe (per their mayor, so please don't tell me I'm making that up. He made it up, but there's a plaque and everything.), has huckleberry yummies and is the seat of silver mining in the Coeur d'alene area. I'm guessing it'll be a lot more fun when things are open. Not like when my mom and I stopped in to let the dog potty at the park and then learned all sorts of mining stuff there, but then couldn't do anything else, because it was late Sunday afternoon.

4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Eric's cousin is getting married! In 2019. That's cool though, because it gives us the chance to save our pennies and make that celebration into an awesome vacation. We've never been, but I think this is going to be a fantastic way to get in some sightseeing with family that we rarely see. I've already got a Pinterest wish list running for this too. I mean, castles! Also, Guinness...and haggis. I tried it once. I liked it. I wish to try it in the homeland. From there we are going to take the overnight Megabus (to save money on a hotel room) to our next destination:

5. London

OMG, I can't even tell you how excited I am to be going back to London. It calls to me. It's probably only going to be a week, because I have to (sorry, get to) split it with Scotland, but I'm already planning a return trip to the Warner Bros Studios. I also have a lot of cafes I want to try and I want to go to all the markets. Plus, I'm going to go on a different Harry Potter walk and also frolic in Hyde Park and take tea at the Orangerie at Kensington Palace. We might even find ourselves on a day trip to Manchester. Maybe....probably. It's happening, people!

6. Orlando

My BFF's daughter is going to graduate in 2020 and her pick for her graduation present trip was Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. They asked if we would come along. Heck yeah! There's not much that can keep me from Diagon Alley...plus there'll be a new ride (or rides and/or food) and I need a new wand and a reason to run around in a quidditch costume. I mean, really, who doesn't need that with a side of Butterbeer?

photo credit

7. Toronto

I'm not sure if this is going to happen, but #7 is pretty much a wild card. I have been dying to go to Toronto. Is that weird? That's okay. I'm okay with being weird. I don't know that much about it, but they have something like a Space Needle and different foods and they have a Harry Potter-ish themed bar called The Lockhart. That's not Mt main draw, because I rarely drink, but I wouldn't be opposed to checking it out. Anyone been to Toronto? I need tips. We also want to go to Iceland, so that may happen first.

So, that's what we have on our plate for the next 3 or 4 years. I'm really excited about it. If you have any suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them. Let's end with a few of my achievements since last August:

  • I was published in a magazine. It's true. I have been waiting for quite a long time for this to happen and I even have hardcopies of said magazine to prove that my name is in actual print. It's a business to consumer magazine, so you can't actually get it on newsstands, but that's okay with me.
  • I made 10Best's list of Budget Travel Blogs. Yes! You all helped me make that #6 spot for 2017 and I'm so grateful! You can see the full list here.
  • Feedspot added me to their list of 100 Budget Travel Blogs and I was very honored to be among some really large company blogs, as well as travel blogs I follow myself. You can see the list of the other 99 here.
  • I contributed to a Forbes travel article which gained me a lot of eyes on the blog. If you want to read it, you can find it here.
Now I want to hear from you. What future vacations are you most looking forward to, or have you added to your travel wish list?
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