Traveling Solo With or Without your Dog.

The first time I travelled on my own I was 17. I had been accepted into a student ambassador program along with a group of individuals that I did not know for a three week trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland. There was two home-stays during the three weeks and many other stops along the way. I remember the weeks leading up to the trip. I was so nervous. I had never gone anywhere with out my friends or family. And while I was going with a group of people, it wasn’t like I knew these people at all. I remember crying because I was so scared, how was I going to do this. I was shy, I didn’t know anyone, and I was going to be in multiple foreign countries. While I was there I had the best time. I made friends with the people in my group, I explored museums and some small towns on my own, I had my first taste the possibility of traveling solo.

Cut to present day. It’s just about 20 years later and I travel solo (or with my dogs) the majority of the time. The more I talk to people, the more I realize I’m in the minority of people willing to do this. And the biggest thing stopping people (especially women) from solo travel is fear.

Honestly, traveling solo is always a bit scary. But it’s totally worth it because traveling solo doesn’t mean you will actually always be alone. I have a few examples of what I mean.

Last summer I decided I wanted to spend a month in Washington. So I planned, budgeted, researched, and booked a trip. This trip happened to be with my two dogs, and it was a long one. The day before I left my mom visited to make sure that I had everything, cause that’s what moms do, and just like when I was 17, I had a moment that involved tears because my support system was going to be in a different state. Then the next morning, the dogs and I got in the car and started the trek up north. Prior to leaving I had contacted people I knew threw different adventure dog groups and made tentative and set in stone plans to meet up while I was there. This meant that I had time to spend hiking and exploring on my own, people to hike and camp with, and people to go out with or at least local suggestions of places to go. I went to the Space Needle, on an Underground Tour and a Mariners game on my own. I also enjoyed a summer thanksgiving dinner with a friends family and a bbq at the lake. It was such an amazing balance of solitude and company that I would do it again in a heart beat.

Prior to my Washington trip I took a weekend to drive through Utah and Colorado. Which I’ve done a few more times since the first trip. But this first trip. I stopped in Zion and Bryce National Parks on the way up. I got to spend exactly the right amount of time there, I didn’t have to wait for anyone, or hurry along because it was just me. From there I drove to Dillon, CO and had some moments on the drive. Like almost running out of gas. And working myself up to pure panic at a rest stop because this episode of Criminal Minds just kept running through my head. But I made it to my hotel safely. Nothing bad happened. And I’ve done the drive since then. In Colorado I met up with a friend. We went on a morning hike with the dogs. And then I went on my own way to visit another National Park.

I recently went to London for the weekend, I flew out on my own but I had a friend living there for a few months that I met up with. So while in London I was not on my own. However, if I had been I don’t think I would have done anything different. I took her on a Sherlock Holmes geek “tour” then we walked along the Thames, waiting for a walking tour through the East End. On the walking tour we met another solo traveler who joined our group as we went from one pub to another. The next day we took a tour to Stonehenge and Bath. It was amazing. I enjoyed being able to go to these places with someone. But really, I could have gone on my own. If I felt like it I could have talked to the other tourists on the bus with me. Or I could have soaked it all up on my own.

So here are a few of my travel tips:

1. Leave the fear at home. That doesn’t mean not to be cautious. Pay attention to the areas you stay in, be alert when walking around alone, etc. but don’t let fear keep you from living.

2. Find tours that interest you. Chances are there are other solo travelers taking those same tours and you have a chance to make new friends for the tour, the trip, or longer.

3. Sit at the bar and have a drink. Yes, that does mean someone will probably talk to you. That’s okay. Hopefully it’s someone local and you can learn about something cool to do. My favorite bar experience was watching a baseball game with Frankie at this outdoor bar down in San Diego. I think I talked to 90% of the people at the bar because of Frankie. Which was way outside of my comfort zone. But it was also fantastic.

4. Try new things. I’ve taken paddle boarding lessons, archery lessons, etc. on my own (or with my dogs) these lessons are a great way to be social while traveling by yourself.

5. Just go. Yep. That’s it. Just get out and do it. Yes it’s scary. And exhilarating. And nerve wracking. Honestly, even on a trip where things just didn’t go as planned. I’ve never regretted taking the trip. So really just do it.

If you have questions about traveling solo with or without dogs, let me know.

How to Plan a Short Vacation with your Dog

I travel a lot. It’s not always for long. In fact some of my favorite trips are weekend getaways. But I definitely pick up and leave the normal working world often, at least once a month, and most of the time I do it with my dogs.

I still remember planning my first trip with Frankie. I saw photos of people stand up paddle boarding with their dog. And I just had to do it. But I didn’t even know where to start. So to the internet I went. Trying to find somewhere I could rent a board and take Frankie paddling with me. I found a place in San Diego, and from there the idea of going out of town with Frankie was born. But really, the question was how do I travel with a dog? I had never done it before. And I happened to have a human only activity in San Diego that weekend. So the planning started.

For this trip, really any trip, I start with what my budget for the trip is going to be. This is important because it determines where I’m going to stay. Do I need to find dog friendly campsites? A budget hotel? Should I go the Airbnb route? Or am I splurging on a fancy place to stay.

Once my budget is in place I start my research. And I am a research nut. I want to know anything and everything about where I’m going. This means dog friendly restaurants, activities, beaches etc. For this trip I knew I wanted to go paddle boarding and I need a doggie daycare open on a Sunday to watch Frankie while I went to Legoland. I also wanted to take Frankie to an off leash beach before paddle boarding so she would be a little tired before we went out on the water.

Some of my favorite websites to look for dog friendly things to do and places to stay are BringFido.com and DogTrekker.com (California only). Starting with websites like this. It can lead you to some great ideas of places to go with your pup. Especially places to eat. Which in California can be tough. It is normally too hot to leave your dog in the car for even a short amount of time. So you want to find places that allow dogs. Once you find the places that interest you. Check out their websites to make sure they really are dog friendly. If the website doesn’t list it, I suggest calling them to confirm. I’ve found some of my favorites restaurants this way. Also, be prepared to spend all your time eating outside.

For this trip, Frankie’s first weekend away, we stayed at the Hotel Indigo. We stayed on the weekend and this hotel is a really high end hotel. Especially for a super dog friendly hotel. I picked this hotel because they had a package that included doggie day care, a dog bed, and dog cupcakes on arrival. I was definitely splurging on this trip. There was also a dog friendly bar on the 9th floor. It overlooked Petco Park. So Frankie and I hung out at the bar one night watching baseball on the television as the game was going on across the street. The bar was amazing. The staff and patrons all loved Frankie. There was an artificial grass yard there for the dogs. It was a great experience.

My advice for anyone traveling with your dogs is this.

1. Plan a budget.

2. Research, research, research! Not only do I look at what is dog friendly, I look at all the reviews. Whether it’s a hotel, restaurant or dog park. The reviews are crucial to my decision making process.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things. I personally love paddling with my dogs. As well as going to bars or pubs with them. Frankie and Storm are instant conversation starters so it challenges me to be more social.

4, Plan out your stops on the road if you are going to need them. Since it’s hot where I live I love Petsmart and Petco for bathroom stops.

5. Bring items from home to keep your dog comfortable. I like to bring chews and my blanket.

6. Have fun!

Hopefully some of my process is helpful in planning your next trip. Soon I will describe how I plan longed trips with the pups as well. If you have questions, I am happy to answer them.

Arizona Meet Up

One of the things you might have noticed reading through our posts is that I reference other Instagram accounts a lot. That’s because on all of my dog based travels (and some non-dog travels) I meet up with different locals that I met because of Instagram. This past November, right before Thanksgiving some of my regular Instagram friends arranged a huge group camp in Arizona. We, and by we I mean the 15 plus humans and 20 plus dogs from at least 5 states, met up at a free primitive campsite that had room for all of our cars. Whenever camping somewhere remember to get the appropriate permits. We did need permits. But they were free and there were quite a few “experts” who could tell use what we needed.

Living in California, AZ is not far from me. So I took off later then I should have, the way you do when you under estimate the amount of time it takes to get somewhere. I took the turn off to the campsite right around sunset and drove down the 2 mile dirt road until I saw the mass of cars parked out in the middle of nowhere. It was a little rough on the dogs arriving late. Mine were hyped from being cooped in the car, and getting to a location with sooo many dogs that they didn’t know that well, but it all worked out. One of the important things to realize is that all dogs have different comfort levels. Mine like to play loud and rough. Which puts other dogs on edge especially in the dark. So the husky click that developed stayed away from the dogs that just weren’t digging the noise. It may not look like it. But these two loved playing with each other. Silly huskies and their teeth.

We hiked the Peralta trail in the morning. Storm went off with one of her favorite people, Dave from @longhaultrekkers, and Frankie stayed with me. The trail itself was challenging for me and super rocky. So, Frankie and I ended up way behind the group, not making it to the top. Luckily we had the company of a new friend @gypsygyrl and her pup. I’m sure Frankie could have made it to the top. But it wasn’t going to happen, the views all along the way were gorgeous. So, it didn’t feel like we really missed out. It’s super important to listen to your body when hiking and not risk injuring yourself out in the wilderness. For this trail my ankle just couldn’t hang, and I thought better be safe rather then sorry.

We went back for a bit of a rest at the campsite after our hike. The car ride back demonstrates just how tired the pups were after our drive, camping and a hike.

Well Storm was sleepy. Frankie was still ready to go. As always.

With that in mind we trekked to the Salt River with the group right around sunset. The views did not disappoint. Arizona sure knows how to put on a show at sunset.

Look you can see our friend Gretel, from @youdidwhatwithyourweiner basking in the golden glow of sunset with Frankie and Storm.

If you are ever looking to bring your dogs to Arizona, especially the Superstition Mountains, check out our friends in Instagram @trustyourtrail and @remdawg.the.tripawd. They definitely made this large dog meet up possible.

Colorado Rockies, Part 2

My first trip to Colorado in the fall was also my first trip with two dogs. Storm was new to the family and just under 3 months old. I had just finished a project and decided to take my time getting to Colorado.

We spent the night in Las Vegas, just off the strip at the super dog friendly hotel chain, La Quinta. Seriously, I can not say enough good things about this hotel chain. I’ve stayed in a La Quinta in 7 different states. And it’s always a pleasant stay.

The next morning we got up early and headed to Zion National Park, with my handy America the Beautiful pass, and a list of dog friendly trails (one trail) we found our way to Zion and walked the bike trail that allows dogs. Pa’rus Trail.

We then made our way to Bryce National Park to walk the along the top. Again the only dog friendly trail. But the three of us loved it because it got us out of the car on our long drive to Dillon, CO.

From there we hauled it to get to Dillon, having a bit of a scare when we couldn’t find a gas station for hours. But we made it safely to our destination around midnight. To get up early the next morning to meet our friends at the Old Dillon Reservoir.

This trail is just so nice and easy, yet stunning in the fall. We met up with our friends @one.chaotic.pack and had some adorable puppy playtime when both Storm and Norway were super adorable puppies.

Definitely one of my favorite photos of Frankie.

Adventuring together from the beginning.

A swimmer from the beginning.

The pups love hammocking. After they figured out it was safe.

Puppies, such adorable puppies. From here we hit the road at went to the super dog friendly national park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We went on three or four short trails there. All of them with spectacular views. If you ever want more formation from our travels please email us at pupventurepack@gmail.com.

Colorado Rockies in Autumn – Part 1

For the past two years I’ve gone out to Colorado around the end of September. And I’m pretty sure I want to make this an annual tradition. I have to say the fall foliage on the majestic mountains is just breathtaking. Since I went two different years, I want to post about each trip, starting with 2017.

Photo by our friends @tuckerleo_da_huskies on Instagram.

This trip was pretty last minute. And I was lucky enough to have my mom come with me. We left at 1pm on Friday and drove 14 hours plus stops to get to Dillon, Colorado. If I hadn’t had a driving partner there’s no way this trip could have happened. When I planned our hiking meet up, I forgot that Colorado is on Mountain Time. So instead of getting in at 3am, it was 4am by the time I got to go to sleep. Plus it was raining/snowing. Causing me a bit of concern for our hiking trip planned with our friends the next morning at 8am. But all was well, and on 4 hours asleep the dogs and I packed in to the car to hike Mayflower Gulch. A 4ish mike trail that has a waterfall.

Just look at the coolest doggo band in town. Chilling on a mountain top. You can see Frankie’s long lost brother Leo in the photo and his pack of dogs. They were super cool to hike off leash with, a freedom I grant my dogs in very rare circumstances.

photo by @tuckerleo_da_huskies

But as you can see the dogs were on their best behavior for our hike. And look at all those lazy huskies.

photo by @tuckerleo_da_huskies

This was not the end of our day with our friends. After a nap and lunch we met up again. And once again the weather threatened, in fact it downpoured. But stopped right as we got together for a little bikejoring.

It’s important that your dogs be old enough to before you start this sport so they don’t injure themselves in the long run. But it is a great sport. And one that all dogs can do.

There’s some basic commands your dogs should know. Like halt or stop. And right and left. And the best one. Leave it.

And you can see how happy they are. And the gorgeous fall colors.

It snowed that night. But in the morning the skies were clear so the dogs and I went on a short trail to the old Dillon Reservoir. It’s a super easy trail with the most amazing views.

And a lake for Storm to swim in.

And Frankie got to run around.

And then of course pose for photos.

From this hike we started the drive home. We found snow.

And some amazing fall foliage.

And then in Utah we stopped briefly for the views.

Even with a 28 hour total drive time and just about 28 hours in Colorado. This trip is always worth it.

San Diego County Safari Style

This past September one of my bffs and the pups packed up and headed out to the Warner Springs area for a midweek glamping trip, you read correctly, glamping. For those of you that don’t know me all that well, I camp begrudgingly. I’m learning to appreciate it for the necessary evil that it is, but for me it’s more about the hikes I can go on from there that I enjoy, not the actual camping itself.

But glamping, that’s something I can get behind. It takes my developing love for the outdoors and combines it with some pretty rad creature comforts. Which is why I booked this safari cabin through the Glamping with Pets website. It’s kinda like Airbnb for glamping.

Now isn’t this one of the neatest places to stay. The owners built this tent, and yes it is a tent in the strictest sense of the word, out of reclaimed wood and of course canvas. It had a jacuzzi, a kitchen and a claw foot tub in the bathroom that looks out over the hills in the area. There’s a ceiling fan to help to keep it cool and a heated mattress to keep you warm at night. Plus it’s completely fenced in so the pups can run free.

Doesn’t the bed look so cozy.

I had been planning on enjoying the clawfoot tub during my stay. But this rather scary looking insect had claimed the tub for his home, and I wasn’t going to displace him. It was a definite reminder that this is still camping, just camping with fantastic amenities.

Both nights we enjoyed gorgeous sunsets. Eating dinner on our little patio that my friend cooked up from my Hello Fresh box for the week.

Frankie really enjoyed the yard. Frankie and Storm ran around the yard constantly when we were at the tent. I swear they wore a track into the dirt.

Both the pups enjoyed the sitting area of the tent as well. Relaxing with me as I read a book for the first time in ages.

It was such a nice escape from the work world. Incredible relaxing, just what was needed.

As you can see Frankie agreed that it was a perfect trip.

And this view with this sunset truly made it spectacular.