Category: Travel with pets

Travel idea: Camping at Dog Friendly National Parks

More than 40 million people in the U.S. go camping each year, and about the same number have at least one dog, as much a part of the family as the kids. When summer arrives, schools are out, and it’s vacation time for many families across America. Camping, a tradition since the late 1800’s and even before, became more popular by the 1930’s as Americans found the pleasure in exploring nature and spending time in the great outdoors. Visiting a national park sounds like a great idea, always educational and fun for the whole family, but dogs love a camping adventure and want to go too. Fortunately, most national parks permit dogs on a leash, 6′ or less, at all times, subject to Federal regulations and individual park rules and restrictions

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine was the first national park established east of the Mississippi. There is a wide diversity of the environment from mountains and forests to lakes and shore within the group of islands which form the 45,000 acres of the park. Dogs will love camping at Acadia where they are allowed on more than 100 miles of trails, as well as on the 45 miles of historic carriage roads. They are restricted, however, from beaches, lakes, steep hiking trails, and trails where peregrine falcons are nesting.

You can camp with your dog at Blackwoods, open 1 May – 31 Oct, or Seawall, late May-Sep. There are approximately 300 campsites, restrooms, running water, a dump station, and shuttle bus service, but no hookups at Blackwoods. One vehicle, two tents, and up to six people are permitted at each campsite. Entrance fee – $20/night for 7-day maximum.

The Seawall campground on the western side of Mount Desert Island, the largest part of Acadia, is about a 10-minute walk to the ocean. Each of the 122 campsites allows tents and RVs up to 35′ long. Seawall has drinking water, flush toilets, campfire rings, and a dump station, with free showers and camping stores about a mile from the campground. Shuttle bus service is also available. Entrance fee – $14-$20/night, 14-day maximum.

Duck Harbor (Isle au Haut) is a one-hour ride on the ferry from the mainland. Although dogs are not allowed to stay in the Duck Harbor campground, it might be fun to take him along for a day trip of exploring. A $25 special permit is required to go to Duck Harbor.

(Note: Campsites are specifically marked.) Campground reservations – 877-444-6777

Visitor Centers:

Hulls Cove – 15 Apr – 30 Jun, 8:30am to 4:30pm; Jul & Aug, 8am to 6pm.
Park HQ – Open year round, 8am to 4:30pm; Apr – Oct, Mon thru Fri. (Winter camping hours vary.)
(Note: See for more information.)

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is simply awesome. With a spectacular panorama of color at sunrise and sunset, an amazing variety of plant and animal life, and incredible scenery, it is truly one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The South Rim is open year round, subject to fire danger restrictions, weather conditions, and road closures. You and your dog are welcome to check out the view along the two ½ mile Greenway trail along the Rim. A well-behaved pet can go along with you on the 3/4 mile guided Geology Tour. Dogs are restricted, however, from park buses, lodging areas, and trails along the North Rim.

One of the most popular campgrounds that allows pets is Mather, located within Grand Canyon Village. Mather, about a mile from the South Rim, offers 327 camping sites among the Ponderosa pines for tents and Rvs. Mather can be crowded and is usually full by noon. Each campsite has room for up to three tents, a fire grate, and picnic table, with drinking water, dump station, and restrooms on the campgrounds. Laundry, showers, bank, pay phone, and other amenities available at the Visitor Center, a short distance away. Summer hours 8am-5pm. Campsites – $18/night, 7-day maximum. Reservations Required: 877-444-6777, or online at

Desert View has 50 campsites for tents, small Rvs, and travel trailers, for a 7-day camping limit. Each campsite permits up to six people, two tents, and two vehicles or 1 RV/trailer, and your dog. Be sure and include water with your camping equipment and wood or charcoal for cooking on campsite grills only. Only certain types of firewood can be used, “certified” wood is sold at the Visitor Center. There are only two water faucets, no hot water, and no hookups. Showers are available for a fee at Mather campground, 25 miles away. Overall, you can consider Desert View offers very basic camping.

Camping fee – $12/night/7-day maximum. ATM machines are conveniently located near the campground restrooms. Reservations not required, so come early.
Entrance fee – $25/vehicle for seven days. Visitor Center – 8am-8pm (summer hours)
(Note: See

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited and one of the largest in the U.S., encompasses more than 522,000 acres of forest, mountain trails, and an amazing variety of plant and animal life in this part of the Southern Appalachians. Free entrance to the park.

Located on both sides of the North Carolina and Tennessee state lines, the main entrances are at Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC. There are nine designated campgrounds including Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Campsites have individual fire grates, picnic tables, and restrooms on the campgrounds, but no showers, hot water, or hookups. Fees vary from $14-$23/night at each campground. We will look at two of the largest, Cades Cove and Elkmont, with individual campsites for up to six people, two vehicles, and tents. Both require reservations for a maximum of 14 days and permit motor homes up to 40′ and trailers up to 35′. Both have food storage lockers and dump stations onsite or nearby. There are specific restrictions on firewood, but bundles of “certified” firewood can be bought at Cades Cove and Elkmont. Keep in mind this is bear country, and all food must be stored in your vehicle or storage lockers.

Cades Cove, in eastern Tennessee, is an ideal choice for viewing wildlife with more open areas in this part of the park. You can find everything you need at Cades Cove Campground Store from groceries, souvenirs, and camping supplies to a variety of express food and beverages. Hours – May-Jul, 9am-7:30pm. Aug, 9am-7pm. Sep-Oct, 9am-6:30pm.

Elkmont campgrounds, 8 miles from Gatlinburg, date back to the early 1900’s as a summer resort in the Appalachians. The 220 campsites range in price from $17-$23/night, 7-day maximum, and reservations should be made in advance for this popular campground open until 29 Nov. Limited selection of camping essentials available at the campground concession.

Your dog cannot be left unattended at the campsite, and he is allowed on only two trails in the park, the Gatlinburg and the Oconaluftee River Trail. The first trail follows the Little Pigeon River about 2 miles through the forest from Sugarlands Visitor Center to the edge of the town of Gatlinburg. Sugarlands is an interesting part of history, which you may want to explore further. Check at the Sugarlands Visitor Center if your dog can go along, or if any kennels is available. Visitor Center Hours – Jun-Aug, 8am-7:30pm. Sep & Oct, 8am-6:30pm. The Oconoluftee trail through the forest is about a mile and a half walk beside the river to the town of Cherokee. Visitor Center Hours – Jun-Aug, 8am-7:30pm. Sep-Oct, 8am-6:30pm.
(Note: Detailed information at

Surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, camping is healthy, inexpensive recreation. Whether it’s the shore, the forest, or the mountains, you’ll escape those hectic travel arrangements and the stress of everyday life. Leave behind the modern conveniences, and inconveniences; your dog will enjoy it as much as you!

Sharon L Slayton

Which countries are best for travelers with furkids?

My wife and I consider our two dogs our babies. Usually they are lower maintenance than real babies, except for incidents like last night, when Libby managed to get peanut butter all over her snout. Since she hates getting her face cleaned, pulling peanut butter out of her fur and washing her face involved a few tooth marks and a little blood.

Anyway, Korea wasn’t the most dog friendly country to live in although we could travel a little bit and stay in dog friendly pensions, which are independently owned motels usually situated in rural areas. We were always impressed in Europe though. In Switzerland we saw dogs inside restaurants. In Finland we saw dogs on the bus. In South West England they have a big network of dog-friendly self-catering holiday cottages. We always thought stuff like that was pretty cool.

In England, where luxury dog hotles are a thing and one doggie can win a $73,000 holiday package, furkids are normally allowed on buses although there was a big controversy a few years ago when passengers were not allowed to board with dogs when a Muslim driver or passenger was on the bus.

So usually you can take your furkid anywhere in England. The dog friendly cottage network I link to above has some ideas for dog friendly vacations:

Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset boast some of the best beaches available to dog walkers in the UK. I’m not sure what percentage of beaches are dog friendly in the US and in England, but I know I’ve turned down several press trips to beaches in the southern US because they were not dog-friendly. We did find St. George Island, which isn’t too far from me here in Tallahassee, to be a nice dog friendly beach. Plus in September, while the weather is awesome, the crowds are gone.

Exmoor and Dartmoor supply hundreds of tailored walks… I’ve written about some nature trails and things in a few travel plans for England. This website makes sure to mention that in addition to rolling hills, mystical woods, stunning reservoirs, and hundreds of miles of moorland, you also get to stop at numerous furkid friendly pubs. How friendly is dog friendly though? Are dogs allowed inside like in Switzerland or do they need to remain outside, which is the definition of dog friendly in America and Korea?

So which countries do you think are the best for dog owners, especially when it comes to domestic travel?

Anyone tried

DogVacay aims to be an alternative to kennel-caged boarding for people traveling without their dogs and a way to make extra money for people staying in town and want to sign up to board dogs in their homes. So the idea is that your dog goes to a home instead of a kennel if you’re going away. Or, if you want to make a little extra money and play with some dogs besides your own, you can sign up to host dogs for a small fee (starting at $15 per night). Then you take care of the guest dog and send the travelers photos of their dog’s vacation.

If you visit now, they have a little sweepstakes that should pop up at the top of their homepage – enter your email and have a chance to win a one week stay somewhere for your dog + $250. I entered without reading the terms and conditions so I can’t tell you much. I haven’t used the site yet, but it seems like I probably will one day so I’m curious if any readers here have an experience to share.

Dogs doing well in Canisvill pet hotel

I’m very impressed with the level of personal attention our dogs (and us) are getting from the pet hotel (Canisvill near Incheon Airport). The owner speaks some English so that’s the first plus.

The second plus is that she gives us frequent updates in words and pictures. For example, we’re starting day 2 of our vacation and our dogs have this little dedicated gallery so we can see that they’re OK. There is a camera in the room but the recent floods and things in Korea knocked out some internet server somewhere so we can’t actually see our dogs on the webcam yet.

For 25 days or so we’re paying about $800 for the 2 dogs in a private room. I think this includes a significant (maybe 50%) discount for the long term stay but that’s exactly what we need – our vet doesn’t offer any discount for longer stays.

Pre-vacation dog-sitting decisions

Taking lengthy vacations was much easier when we had family members willing to watch our dogs. They are now retiring from dog-sitting so we’re left with the vet or various pet hotels and things.

To complicate things our older boy started showing symptoms Thursday night and has been diagnosed with a displaced bladder (muscles have atrophied and can’t hold the bladder where it belongs anymore). This is not his only health problem – just he latest. We chose to leave them in a pet hotel near Incheon Airport. Our two dogs get a suite all to themselves and daily walks.

The downside is that there won’t be anyone keeping an eye on them at night and that there’s no 24 hour vet nearby anyway. None of our dogs currently known health conditions are likely to lead to an emergency so it’s a gamble we’re willing to take. To get the 24 hour vet access we’d have to leave them in a cage at our vet.

Next time I think we’ll be vacationing separately (like when my wife went to Hawaii) so that one of us can stay home and watch the dogs, though I suppose a shorter trip (like when we went to Tokyo for a week) isn’t out of the question.

Anyhow, I may have time for another blog before getting on the plane or my next blog entry might come from Finland.

Safe travels on Memorial Day weekend (with your pets)

I know many Americans are traveling for memorial Day weekend. Please be happy and safe. And if you’re traveling or staying home with pets, please keep in mind this safety advice from the ASPCA:

Give your pet access to plenty of fresh water at all times. Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat.

Avoid lathering your pet with any insect repellent or sunscreen not intended for the four-legged kind.

Keep your pet away from matches, citronella candles and lighter fluid, which if eaten can irritate the stomach, lungs and central nervous system.

Be cool near the pool. Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool, lake or high waters – not all dogs are expert swimmers!

Never leave your dog, cat or any other animal friend alone in a car! The inside of a car can heat up very quickly – even with a window open.

Be prepared! From tornadoes to floods, we’ve seen the devastation severe weather has brought to pets and their families these past few weeks. Develop an evacuation plan well ahead of time in case you’re forced from your home in an emergency.

Traveling with a dog from a high rabies country

As I wrote last time, I’m going to Estonia this summer. We thought about bringing one of our dogs (one is anti-social but OK being left behind while the other would enjoy traveling and hates being left behind).

Anyhow, the problem is that Korea is on the high rabies list:

# Afghanistan

# Bahamas

# Cambodia

# China

# Costa Rica

# Dominican Republic

# East Timor

# Georgia

# Ghana

# Greenland

# India

# Indonesia

# Iran

# Iraq

# Israel

# Jordan

# Kazakhstan

# Korea (North and South)

# Kuwait

# Laos

# Lebanon

# Libya

# Maldives

# Mongolia

# Myanmar (Burma)

# Nepal

# Omar

# Pakistan

# Palestine

# Panama

# Papua New Guinea

# Philippines

# Qatar

# Saudi Arabia

# Serbia

# Seychelles

# South Africa

# Sri Lanka

# Sudan

# Syria

# Thailand

# Turkey

# Ukraine

# Uruguay

# Uzbekistan

# Yugoslavia

# Vietnam

# Yemen

It’s still possible to bring a dog to Estonia but you need to plan things out well in advance because sending a blood sample to an EU approved lab takes 6 or more months according to our vet.

The vet added that 3 out 4 dogs he’s seen go to Australia died in quarantine there (3 months). Along with the bad news, pet owners were not allowed to visit and slapped with hefty veterinary bills. I believe England is also bad in terms of long quarantine times. Bringing a dog to America, on the other hand, was easy as pie. I still joke that getting a dog into the US is far easier than getting my wife into the country. Except it’s not really a joke.

Traveling to buy / adopt a dog or other animal?

Yesterday I saw in the news that Usain Bolt adopted a cheetah. He was in Kenya and got to meet the animal he was adopting while Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga cuddled two lion cubs that he adopted.

What does it take to meet a baby cheetah or lion? If you spend $10,000-$15,000 to adopt one do you then get to go to Nairobi’s Animal Orphanage and play with them? Or do you have to be famous and adopt?

Either way, sounds like a memorable vacation and great publicity for Usain Bolt.

Moving away from the charity aspect, what if you wanted a family pet? The Today Show talked about Tibetan Mastiffs going for $600,000 in China but in the US $2,000 or $3,000 would be enough. Considering the price difference what’s stopping Chinese people from getting their dogs in America?

I wonder about other animals too. Do people travel to buy rare / exotic animals? I’m sure they must but does anyone here have any information on that sort of thing?

Dog road trippers: advice needed on car sickeness

Reader question: We recently found out that our dog gets car sick on any rides more than 15 minutes, and especially if there’s a lot of stop-and-go involved. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to help the pooch deal with the car sickness? Is it just a matter of not feeding her till we get where we’re going or is there something we can do for her to make car rides more pleasant? She does enjoy riding in the car, but I would imagine it’s not fun to have that queasy feeling.

1. Many people report that keeping a window down helped:

We keep a window down and keep her calm during any car rides and that seems to do the trick. If the window goes up, so does her dinner. However please don’t let your dog hang its head out the window if you’re traveling in excess of 40 MPH. It’ not good for them and the potential for a high speed impact with a bug it increased.

2. Dramamine – Some vets actually recommend this and you’ll want to talk to one anyway to get an idea of the dosage you should be using:

The vet told us to give the dog Dramamine prior to car rides (for sea/motion sickness). I would consult your vet and see what they recommend in terms of medication/dosage. I would break up the pills so as not to give too much. This in addition to keeping the window down should help.

3. Ginger – it works for people who get seasick so why not dogs who get car sick?

most professionals recommend 1 100 mg capsule per 25 lbs of dog every 8 hours. Giving ginger cookies or ginger snaps is also effective.

4. Benadryl – One of my friends has a vet who suggested Benadryl and says he has been using it for years.

same time, I don’t like the idea of throwing off her routine by withholding her morning meal if we have a long car ride ahead of us.

5. Start them young

I’m picking up a puppy in GA This weekend. 650 mile ride home. He’ll be in the truck with me constantly for the next 3 months. Never had a problem over 30 years crossing the country. Just get them used to it right off the bat.

Pets and pre-vacation stress

I’m just curious how many of you have pets and if those pets cause you stress before vacation. My wife is leaving for Hawaii tomorrow but she’s not sure she’ll be able to relax and enjoy it.

Yesterday we took our dogs to the vet for checkups because one was eating slower than usual. That’s the stray I mentioned a while back by the way. The vet found what looked like a gall bladder stone in the other dog, a 13 year-old Yorkshire Terrier who seems fine.

So today we cancel plans for lunch with some friends and head to the vet to get this thing thoroughly checked out. We end spending all afternoon out and at 5:00 or so learn that there’s a relatively large stone in Minky’s gall bladder.

My wife starts crying and we decide not to do surgery. The poor little guy has been having surgeries pretty regularly the past few years and we have a bad feeling this time. The risk of not having surgery is that there is a 20% chance the stone dislodges and causes a serious problem like seizures and vomiting. If that were to happen when no one’s home it would most likely be fatal.

So that’s a pretty stressful thing to learn the day before you go on vacation. And 2 years ago, before we went on the Alaskan cruise, the same dog fell on his head (my wife says I dropped him but really he tried to jump into my hands as I was bending down to pick him up – he fell over backwards, never making it into my hands) and started convulsing. He wasn’t breathing.

Our plan had been to get both dogs in the car. Our other dog, the little girl who used to be a stray, was going to the vet and getting some screws in her back legs. She would spend our entire vacation there. After dropping her off we were going straight to the in-laws’ house to drop of our little boy.

We got him to the vet in 2-3 minutes and the vet saved Minky but he was obviously messed up and my wife wanted to cancel the cruise. Instead we left him with the vet as long as possible, drove to the in-laws to drop him off (midnight to 4:00 AM) then flew back to Seoul at 7:00 AM for our flight to America that morning. That flight was especially bad because we were worried about the little guy. Plus we knew the little girl was getting worked on too.

The winter after that we were on vacation in America when Minky got sick at the in-laws’ house. That stressed us out while we were on vacation. Then last summer we got a checkup before going on vacation and he ended up needing surgery on a bladder stone. Both dogs stayed with the vet that entire vacation (they have a kennel too). We actually prefer leaving them with the vet now because if something did go wrong the vet would be right there.

This time, of course, I’ll be home to watch the little guy when I’m not teaching but I know it will affect my wife’s vacation…