The Ins and Outs of Pet Travel


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We’re planning to take Bow on vacation later this year, so we figured a road-test to San Francisco was a solid start.

The trip was like the city: ups, downs, wayward and wacky, great sport.

The drive went well, for the most part. And that other part? Bow’s bladder and bowels cared not a whit about our best-laid plans, which called for three breaks at rest stops off the 5, 152, and 101. At those stops, she was as suspicious as a CSI detective. Her wingman—me (or was I her assistant?)—would have to be as patient as an elephant.

And flexible. Can’t go at Coalinga? We’ll try 30 miles up the road.

Photo courtesy Reagan Cheong

In the Bayshore neighborhood where we stayed, Bow warmed up to a Rottweiler named Toby and a 13-year-old Papillon who was as charming as your favorite granddad—and just as hard of hearing.

At Fisherman’s Wharf, Bow was a living, breathing vacuum. We used the “Leave it” command about 212 times. Maybe more. Nearby Ghirardelli Square proved a better option. It’s a little fiefdom of dogs. There’s a YAPS store that sells dog clothing, accessories and harnesses, among other items. And folks rave above Fairmont Heritage Place hotel, which allows two pets per room for a fee of $75 per stay.

The main lawn of the Presidio inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a social hub for pups. From there, we walked the California Coastal Trail, which offers sweeping, stunning views. If you’re interested in native wildlife, the Tennessee Hollow Trail might be a go-to. And other flourishing trails and stop-in-your-tracks views can be found all along the Pacific’s edge.

John Steinbeck’s golden city, with its “evening fog rolled like herds of sheep coming to cote,” was grimacingly cold. Days in the low 50s, nights in the low 40s. We made sure Bow was warm and dry after outings in the wet winds. For more on keeping your pet warm on those chilly evenings at the beach, see our “Winter Beach Tips,” on page 7 of our winter 2023 issue:

Bow’s potty paranoia persisted throughout the trip. We didn’t get much sleep and I’ll leave it at that.

It was a lively three days.

We’re planning another getaway in July.

Our first thought: a cruise to Alaska—but that’s not going to happen. There are some pet-friendly cruises, but, for obvious reasons, there aren’t many pet-centered options in that travel genre.

So we’re not going west. East of our home in Orange County is desert. South is Mexico. The compass has made its general point: North it is! The possibilities are endless.

Pet travel is evolving. More hotels, restaurants and the like are building pet-friendly services into their business models. People and their pets are trekking around the country—even the globe—in a way we’ve never seen. Pet-friendly vacations are a thing, and they’re here to stay.

If you’re a pet owner, you’ve got more opportunities than ever. You’ll find many useful resources online at, such as, “Safe Travels: Road Tripping With Your Pet.” Another useful site was Both give practical tips on RV traveling, retreats with elderly pets and pet-friendly cities, like Bend, Oregon, home of the famous wiener dog races.

Photo courtesy Reagan Cheong

There’s something to be said for the warmth and good routines of home, among the hills and horsetails of Fullerton. But it only lasted so long before we started talking about our next adventure. British Columbia? Seattle? The Oregon Coast? We settled on Half Moon Bay, sandwiched between the place we’d just been and Monterey.

Earlier this year, the Bomb Storm whipped up 50-foot waves at Mavericks Beach, but things have settled. Dogs are allowed on Poplar and Surfers Beaches. There’s an 11-mile, dog-friendly coastal trail for hiking. There’s a dog park. Plenty of restaurants offer patio dining that accommodates pets. And why not give Bow the continental treatment at the Ritz Carlton?

Longer term, we’ll travel the country. Rural outbacks, towns no bigger than the Hollywood Bowl, and Depression-era diners with no-nonsense waitresses.

It’s what Steinbeck did in 1960. In a three-quarter-ton truck. We’ll take a minivan. He took Charley, his French poodle. We’ll go with Bow, a 64-pound labradoodle. He said, “A dog, particularly an exotic like Charley, is a bond between strangers.” I’ll never write anything that poignant, but I know the bond, and how seeing and experiencing new things together strengthens it.

Travel Tips

• Secure pets in a crate or use another restraint option, like a pet seatbelt.

• Always secure them in the back seat—the front airbag can be deadly.

• Do not allow your pet to hang out the window. Debris could hit and injure them. They could also fall out or, if you stop suddenly, it could result in a severe injury.

• Do not turn around or reach behind you to pet or interact with your pet.

• If you suspect your pet is experiencing a pet emergency, pull over, park, and then tend to your pet.

• Prevent choking accidents by saving the treats and toys for after you reach your destination.

• Map out rest stops so that your pet can stretch out and do their business.

• Always secure your pet with a leash before leaving the car.

• Designate luggage/bags for your pets. It’s easier to find what they need, and less likely to get lost along the way.

Brady Rhoades
Brady Rhoades
Brady Rhoades reports from Orange County on the escapades of PCMs four-on-the-floor correspondent, Bow, a 2-year-old labradoodle. Bow enjoys morning massages, all things ball-related and play-dates with her BFF, a malanoise mastiff named Ryu. Look on our website for her adventures at parks, businesses, beaches, hiking trails and other spots.



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