Wynston and I travel a lot, and it’s rare that we take a completely flawless trip. Granted, I’ve learned how to adapt to any sort of change in our travel plans, so I’ve become a pro at improvising. However, it can be stressful when something doesn’t go as planned. Whether your flight gets cancelled, it’s raining at a destination where you planned to partake in outdoor activities, or your dog has a medical emergency, I have tips (all from experience) on how to handle the situation.
How to Adapt to Changes in Your Dog-Friendly Travel Plans
Since rescuing Wynston in 2012, we’ve traveled over 40,000 miles together. We’ve stayed at more hotels than I can count, we’ve flown on an airplane several times, and we’ve faced some pretty stressful challenges. All of those experiences have given me the ability to work through drastic changes in my travel plans with very little stress or anxiety. So when you read all of these tips, keep in mind that they came from personal experience!
A Cancelled Flight
Cancelled flights are stressful – especially when it’s 10pm, you have no idea where you are and you don’t have a clue as to what to do next. I’ve experienced several cancelled flights, and a couple of them have happened at the airport. But this was the worst experience:
It was April 2018. I was headed to San Angelo, TX. Wynston and I had a smooth flight into Dallas, where we were to pick up our connecting flight. Well, it was raining and we had to take one of those small commuter planes to San Angelo. So what happened? Our flight was cancelled due to weather, and the next available flight was about 24 hours later. What was I supposed to do? My luggage was ON the airplane. I didn’t have food for Wynston. I didn’t have my laptop charger, and I had to work the next day. That was the first time I had ever truly panicked while traveling.
I ended up taking an UBER to a nearby hotel for the evening, while my friend drove 4 hours from San Angelo to come get me. (No one would rent me a car going one way). Here’s what I learned from this experience:
- Always have your dog’s necessities, including food, in your carry on luggage. If you check your luggage and your flight gets delayed or cancelled, you won’t have access to those items.
- Have all of your electronic chargers on your person.
- Don’t panic. Seriously. It makes everything 10 times worse.
- Take advantage of airport accommodations. Many airports have potty areas for dogs, as well as comfortable lounges and restaurants that will welcome you, even if you have your pup.
- Use the dedicated customer service phone number for your cancelled flight. If your flight is cancelled and you need to re-book a different flight, there is a priority phone number for you to call. The gate agent will be able to provide that to you. And be kind – I know you’re frustrated about your cancelled flight, and probably upset, but if you’re nice to the customer service agent, I guarantee they will help you out. (Possible seat upgrades, travel vouchers, etc).
I’ve also been stuck in an airport for about 6 hours with Wynston for a delayed flight, and you can use the same above tips to get through it. Often times you can get a sooner flight if there are others going to your destination. Simply CALL customer service, even if you’re at the airport. Another quick story:
I was in Dallas (with Wynston of course) and we were heading back to Phoenix. We had been stuck in the air for a while, so we missed our connecting flight. They automatically put us on a later flight but when I checked the departure screen at the airport, I saw another flight heading to Phoenix that we’d be able to catch. I called American Airlines, and they were able to get us on that sooner flight (which literally took off 30 minutes from that time) AND they put us in business class! Be kind, and proactive!
A Medical Emergency
A lot of you may remember when Wynston broke his foot in 2017. We were traveling at the time, and it was a huge fiasco. We were in our hotel room when Wynston jumped off a chair and completely annihilated two of his foot bones. After getting in at an emergency vet, Wynston had pain meds and a temporary cast to last us a few days until we arrived home. Here’s what I’d suggest to prepare for a medical emergency:
- Plan ahead. Whatever your final destination is, do some quick research to look up emergency vets in that area. Have their info handy so it’s ready to go when you need it. It can be upsetting to try and find an emergency vet when you’re already panicking about your dog.
- Always pack your dog’s vaccination records, or any other necessary health information. This will be a big help at the vet when you’re traveling.
- Pack a first aid kit. If you’re camping or you’ll be in an area far from a veterinarian, pack a first aid kit with essentials. A first aid kit will help get your dog through until you can reach a vet.
In hindsight, it ended up being a blessing that Wynston broke his foot while we were away. At the time I had two other dogs, so being in a hotel alone with him allowed us to rest uninterrupted. Always try to see the beauty in things!
Finding Dog-Friendly Restaurants & Activities
Some cities are incredibly dog-friendly, while others are…not so much. I always suggest doing research on dog-friendly places at your travel destination before even leaving your home. I have tips on how to do that here. Basically it comes down to this:
- If you’re staying at a hotel with your dog, the hotel staff will be able to give you dog-friendly recommendations. Otherwise, they will know where you can find out.
- Call a local restaurant to see if they are dog-friendly. If not, I bet they will know some places near you that do allow dogs. (You’re definitely the first person who’s asked!)
- Food delivery or pick up is always an option. If for some reason there aren’t any dog-friendly restaurants at your destination, you always have the option of getting food delivered to your hotel or residence. Most restaurants also a have a “pick-up” option, so that’s a good choice too! You can also order room service if you’re hotel offers that service. We live in a world of convenience – take advantage!
If you’re driving to your destination, pack plenty of snacks for you and your dog! It will save money and time.
Dealing With Potential Catastrophic Disaster
Sounds bad, right? Anything can happen. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with any true catastrophic disasters, but in the moment it may seem like all hell is going to break loose. Like when you watch a puppy vomit roundworms and your friend refuses to take them to a veterinarian so you have to go get a hotel room to protect your dog…
When you travel, make sure you always have the following items:
- Your dog’s recent vaccination records or a health certificate
- Updated ID tags
- Updated microchip
- An extra leash
- Collapsible food and water bowls
- A carrier
- Your dog’s medications
- Extra water
Some potentially disastrous situations could be:
- Car accident
- Natural disaster (flooding, tornado, hurricane, earthquake)
- Car break down
- Car broken into
- Stuck in traffic for an extended period of time
- Having to move hotels or destinations at last minute
Luckily it’s easy to prepare yourself when you travel with your dog, especially if you’re driving. You can throw additional items in your car, such as extra water, canned dog food and more.
If you ever want to travel with your dog, expect some changes in your plans, whether minor or major. Remember to take deep breaths and keep your focus on your dog. They will help you get through anything you’re faced with. I always say that as long as Wynston is healthy and safe, we’ll be fine no matter what situation we face!
Do you have upcoming travel plans with your dog? We have a lot of helpful blog posts for you to enjoy!