Being an independent female, I often hit the open road with Dexter The Dog and no other people. Don’t get me wrong, there are times Dexter and I travel with our family or friends, but I would say the majority of our dog-friendly travels are just Dexter and me. I love these trips because I can focus on strengthening my connection with Dexter and going where the road takes us.
However, there are some precautions that I take when I travel alone to ensure I am being as safe as possible. Here are some travel safety guidelines you too might consider employing.
- Research the Route: Once again researching your travel route is important. Check for any road construction or detours you need to be aware of. Most smartphone apps or internet maps have an updated time of arrival and traffic map.
- Book Your Reservations: If you are intending to stop in various cities on your road trip, book your dog-friendly accommodations prior to leaving. The last thing you want is to be frazzled at the end of a long drive trying to find a safe, dog-friendly hotel that isn’t booked. Being stressed or tense is not conducive to safety.
- Share Your Itinerary: Make sure you share your travel plans with a family member or friend. Provide them with your route and addresses and phone numbers of your destinations.
- Call or Email: During your trip, message your family members or friends who are not traveling with you. Let them know you’re safe and where you are on your journey. This way, if you don’t check in at a reasonable time, they can worry.
- Potty Breaks: Remember, you and your dog need to get out and stretch. Being a solo traveler can take a toll on your body and mind while driving.
- Where to Stop: This is no time to put your big girl pants on and stop in the “hood.” If you are traveling on a route that has well-lighted travel plazas, these are great spots to stop for a stretch. Park close to the building and make sure it is brightly lit. When walking your dog, stay close and don’t wander too far. If the dog potty area is far away or dark, don’t go. Sorry, I always try to abide by doggy rules, but if my safety is at risk, I won’t. Of course, don’t forget to pick up after your dog does his business and don’t let him pee on ornamental flowers, gardens, or seating.
- Leaving Your Dog: I know, a no-no. But, if you are traveling alone, you too have to relieve yourself. When I have to leave Dexter alone in the car, he is in his travel crate with a light blanket over the top and a lock on the crate door! If it’s hot outside, I make my potty break swiftly and pack my food or hit a drive-thru. I also have a dog travel fan on Dexter’s crate. I am thinking of purchasing a portable car air conditioner to help even more for my 3-5 minute potty breaks. Yes, I timed myself!
- Dress Down: Not only will you want to be comfortable, but you don’t want to stand out in a crowd and have “tourist” written all over your back. Wearing comfortable shoes and clothing can go a long way if you ever feel the need to walk quickly away from a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Money and Credit Cards: When I travel, I stash my money in various spots throughout the car and on my person. Money belts (under your shirt) that are thin are a nice addition along with a few 20s in your pockets and even in your shoes! I typically don’t carry a purse or wallet when driving, and if I do, it doesn’t have much money inside. Never would I suggest pulling out a 20 to pay for something and flashing a wad of cash – that’s just not a good idea.
- Be Observant: I am always hyper-aware of my surroundings. As I’m driving or even pulling up to a travel plaza I am looking at the cars, the people walking around, and the truckers, and I park accordingly. When I’m walking from my car to the plaza or taking Dexter The Dog for his potty break, I know who is around me at all times. I do not keep my back to one spot; I am in an open, well-lit area, and I move around. If I feel someone is coming my way, I casually move to another direction. If someone tries talking to me and Dexter, I’m polite, but keep my distance and I do not allow them to close the gap between me and them.
- Keep Doors Locked: I drive with my doors locked and the moment I’m in my car, I lock the doors. I continue to be aware, even in the parking lot with my doors locked.
- Safety Devices: I am a fan of having things like an air horn, pepper spray, and taser gun on me when I’m walking Dexter. This is doubly true if I’m traveling. And don’t forget, you always have your voice.
- Self-Defense Classes: If you are a solo traveler, taking a self-defense course wouldn’t be a bad idea. I personally haven’t done this yet, but maybe in the future. Not only will a good coach teach you valuable skills, but it certainly would be a boost for your confidence.
What are some of your travel safety tips? Let me know in the comments.