A checklist is one of your best tools if you’re planning on traveling with dogs this holiday season. And what you do with your checklist after your trip is what turns it from a scrap of paper to a compass for future trips.
Nothing is worse than interrupting the fun to find a pet store in a strange town to get forgotten item. When traveling with dogs, you want to keep your life simple — and you certainly don’t want to add stress to your dog. A checklist helps keep you focused and frees your brain for other details and preparations.
Building your traveling with dogs checklist
What your checklist needs to include depends on:
- How many dogs are you traveling with?
- Where are you going?
- How long will you be away?
- What kind of transportation are you using — airplane, car or train?
- Will you be staying in a hotel or at the home of a friend or relative?
A good way to start your traveling with dogs checklist is to create categories such as:
- Food and water: Canned or dehydrated food? Do you need kibble? Bowls for water and food are important. Will you need to bring bottles of water so your dog can stay hydrated while traveling? Measuring cups? Stirring spoons?
- Transportation: If you’re traveling by air or train, your dog may need to be in a hard-sided crate. Check the carrier’s requirements in advance. Even in a car, it’s important to restrain your dog to avoid injury in an accident.
- Bedding: A familiar nest or bed helps a dog feel safer and more secure.
- Weather protection: Are going some place cold? Wet? Hot? A coat, blankets, a towel or a cooling mat can be useful depending on your route and destination.
- Everyday gear: These things –leashes, harnesses, identification and poop bags — are so obvious, they are easy to forget.
- Medicines and supplements: If your dog has prescription medications, it’s best to bring them in the bottle they come in from the pharmacy. A dog that gets car sick or anxious while traveling, may need medications from your vet. A small dog first aid kit is always good to have when traveling with dogs.
- Documents: Proof of shots, license information and prescriptions are important to bring. They can be a lifesaver if your dog needs to go to a vet during the trip or needs to spend time in doggie day care. It’s also important if your dog gets excited and nips someone. Don’t forget to bring your dog’s chip information as well.
Helpful checklist formats
You can create your checklist on paper that you can copy for future trips; on the computer using software such as Evernote, Microsoft Word or Excel or any of a number of list-making applications; or in the cloud using Google Docs or DropBox, where you can get to it even without your own computer. Be sure to note the dates and itinerary of the trip for future reference.
It’s important to be able to check items off as you pack them so you don’t overlook anything. But it’s also important to keep the list both for future trips and to tweak it over time. Saving checklists will make it easier if you go to the same place at the same time of year in the future.
What will really transform your checklist into a power tool is sitting down after the trip and looking for improvements:
- What was missing?
- What did you take that you didn’t need?
Building on past experience with a checklist in hand makes traveling with your dog virtually painless.