I recently packed up my apartment in Dallas, Texas, loaded up my things and my dogs in a Uhaul and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida at the drop of the hat. I'm a bit of nomad... or gypsy... or whatever you want to call me. I like to travel and explore and see the world. It's about 1,126 miles total or 16 hours in a typical car. I didn't realize how often I would have to stop for gas in a Uhaul and also wanted to give the dogs a chance to stretch their legs so I decided to break into a little gulf road trip.
We stopped a few places in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to explore along the way. This is the first time I have done a move or road trip with both dogs. I've only had Oak for a little over a year but I've had Aspen since she was a puppy. She has been all over the country with me, including moves from Oklahoma to Utah, Utah to Dallas and now Dallas to Florida. She's also road-tripped with me from Salt Lake City to Southern Utah, Oklahoma to Myrtle Beach and more so we have a lot of experience road-tripping, traveling and moving. Honestly, both dogs did so well. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly it went in the Uhaul with both of them for such a long trip. I've had a lot of questions from followers on Instagram about the process with dogs so I wanted to give a few suggestions when moving with pups.
1. Make sure they have plenty of their own space in the vehicle. They're going to be there a while so you want to make sure they're comfortable. I drove a Uhaul on this move so Aspen sat in the smaller middle part of the bench seat and Oak sat in the passenger seat. Aspen is about 20 pounds and Oak is about 35 pounds for context. Sometimes they switched spots and sometimes they crammed together in one spot but most of the time, they laid in their individual seat.
2. Make frequent stops for quick walks and potty breaks. Honestly, I didn't realize how often I'd have to stop for gas in the Uhaul but it worked out well with having to stop and let the dogs stretch their legs and use the bathroom. I looked for parks, lakes and other things that were near the highway that made for quick but r4efresjing stops. And let's be honest, it was a great little refresh and break for me as well. On the second day of the trip, I wised up and looked for lakes or parks that were right off the highway or within 3 miles of an exit. The fresh air and walkability was great for all 3 of us.
3. Find hotels that are pet-friendly along your route. I tend to be spontaneous and just stop in random cities along the highway but that can be a little more complicated with pets. Not all hotels are pet-friendly. Many hotels don't allow dogs, even if you pay a fee. Make sure you pay attention to whether or not they allow pets or not. If you're using a platform like Expedia, or another booking site, there is a filter option you can click that will notate whether it is pet-friendly or not In Louisiana, we stopped in Alexandria, Louisiana and then Mobile, Alabama before continuing into St. Petersburg, Florida. We didn't have many options in that part of Louisiana but thankfully we found a great Wyndham Garden in Alexandria. It doesn't look like anything fancy on the outside but the rooms have been remodeled and they are great. The manager was also fantastic and they only charge a $35 pet fee. We went from basic to boujee real quick though. In Mobile, we stopped at probably one of my top 10 favorite hotels. I have a love for boutique and the Admiral Hotel in Mobile has all of the touches I love. It's part of the Hilton Curio collection and they've thought through almost every detail. However, as with most higher-end hotels, you're looking at a higher pet fee. This particular hotel was $100 which is pretty standard in this class of hotel. We were in Florida when I made our reservation for a hotel in St.Petersburg, but to be honest I was exhausted and not paying attention. I got to the reserved hotel and found out it was not pet-friendly. I was exhausted when we arrived because it was like 11pm and I had been driving a Uhaul all day. I might have had a mini melt down in the parking lot. I had a lot of stressful things happening in my personal life and I was exhausted. Thankfully, I hopped on Hotel Tonight and found a quick solution. If you've never used Hotel Tonight and you travel often and are spontaneous, I cannot recommend it enough. I had 2 days until I could move into my new place. I ended up at the Sirata. While it's not the fanciest it's fantastic. It's very clean. It's convenient. We received a great deal, it's pet-friendly, it's on a gorgeous area of the beach, it has great amenities and exceptional staff.
4. Bring treats. You are putting your pups through change and a little bit of uncomfortability. Make sure when you stop at a hotel you reward them with a treat for being such troopers. Our favorites are bully sticks or Chewnola granola sticks. My best friend Tiffany got my pups addicted to this when we road-tripped from Dallas to New Mexico to visit her and her beautiful family.
5. Show them affection. Dogs need a balance of structure, physical activity, affection and more. A whole dog is a happy dog. Even though you might be stressed during the drive make sure you make time to give your pup some much-needed affection. They're going through a big change they don't understand so give them some love. The more calm you remain, the more calm they will remain. When you're stressed the last thing you may think about is showing them affection but it is beneficial for them and it will also help you relax. Dogs feed off our energy and take cues from us, so take care of yourself too.