With summer now in full swing, the limitations on movement we’ve been experiencing feel all the more restricting, as this prolonged cabin fever edges into the time we would normally be indulging in our summer travels.
Yet our yearning to reset and refresh from a vacation or change of scene does not dwindle. Today, many of us are looking for trips that allow us to see new places in a safer way, and with dog ownership on the rise, jumping in our cars and embracing a close-to-home pup-friendly getaway has never been more appealing.
As part of our #Microtravel Challenge, we have seen three seasoned travel experts from London, Berlin, and Seoul get out on the road in the Kona Electric, the Hydrogen Fuel Cell NEXO, and the SONATA Hybrid Sonata to celebrate the beauty of the countries they each call home – and all while only travelling up to 200km from their respective cities. Two experts from our trio brought dogs along for the ride.
“I suggest starting with sitting in the car, with your dog, with the engine turned off, offering plenty of treats and praise to help create a positive association. I would then trial a very short 10-minute drive with plenty of reassuring verbal praise for your dog’s calm behavior. If your dog reacts well, then you’re good to go, but if they don’t, you may need to spend a little more time creating positive associations before considering a longer drive.”
If you’re inspired to do the same, one thing’s for sure – you’ll want to make the most of your microtravel adventure. These handy tips and tricks will help make roadtrips with your dog relaxing and fun.
The joy of microtravel is having the opportunity to bring the most important family member on holiday – your dog! Dogs need breaks just like humans, but can experience different stressors to us.
Therefore, consider ways to make the journey more comfortable – and safe – for your canine companion. It’s a legal requirement in many countries for dogs to be securely fastened while travelling, so purchase a dog seatbelt, dog carrier seat, or opt for a suitable secured crate for your trunk. This should be a recurring spot that the dog will regularly return to and feel familiar in – so try not to switch up this area, and add a favorite blanket or toy for a familiar, comforting scent.
Some dogs may need more reassurance than others, so ensure you can offer your dog eye contact (which could be in a mirror), and praise and reward any good, calm behavior. Consider buying anti-anxiety travel sprays that release a stress-preventing scent that will help keep your dog calm.
Sensible stop offs
Consider pet pit-stops in environments that will feel more familiar to your dog. If you come from a rural area, this may mean seeking out a grassy spot with trees. Generally, consider choosing quieter, less urban stop off points, that will mean your dog doesn’t get stressed by unfamiliar noises – whether it’s reversing vehicles or car alarms. Crowded areas, with other animals around (including sheep, horses, cows, and other dogs), may overstimulate your dog, so try to avoid these if possible. Microtravel encourages you to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, so consider making your stop offs functional as well as scenic.
Just as we like to cool off with the air con up or the windows down, it’s important to ensure dogs are kept cool on the journey with cooling pads. It’s possible to buy large pads for your dog to stretch out on, or you may opt for specialist pad collars that wrap around their neck. If that’s not an option, consider using a small towel which has been dipped in cold water and wrung out, and add sun shades to your car windows. And of course, even if your Microtravel Challenge is a very short distance, give your dog frequent water breaks.
This may sound cliche, but rushing while exiting from a vehicle is one of the most common ways that dogs are able to run away - and it happens frequently. When you arrive at your destination, make sure your pet gradually gets out of your vehicle as a new place can overwhelm him. If your dog has been secured by a crate or seatbelt, ensure a leash and collar are on him before any car doors are open – your dog may experience the same excitement from a mini vacation as you do, and could be keen to dash out and explore. It's a good idea to calm your pet before letting him out if he looks stressed or nervous.
Other car preparations and considerations
There are certain practicalities to consider with roadtrips, no matter what the distance, or who you are travelling with. Most importantly, make sure you have your refueling plan in mind — whether that’s electric car charging points, hydrogen fueling pumps, or traditional gas stations — and check your tire pressure, windshield wiper fluid, fuel levels and brakes before your journey.
In light of Covid-19, a couple more tips include having your car ‘wear a mask’, by pressing the recirculation button on dusty days, just as we would now routinely wear a mask. Also, consider turning off the air conditioning and pressing the fresh air mode for three minutes before arriving in your destination, to prevent moulding in the AC. This can be the kind of habit that can become part of your routine, just like washing your hands for 30 seconds when you return home.
For more helpful safety considerations during your trip, check out this video: