Pets are great teachers. And traveling together provides a unique opportunity for them to share some of life’s most important lessons.

Black and Tan German Shepherd dog with a big smile sitting in purple flowers

Traveling With Pets Can Make You A Better Person

Traveling with pets isn’t just fun. If you watch them carefully, your dog or cat can actually make you a better person! These are some of the lessons our dogs have taught me over the miles.

Roll With It

When things go sideways – and they will – you can choose to let it ruin your day. Or you can see it as an opportunity for a new adventure.

Buster and Ty at the Pass

Pets are all about the journey, never the destination. Where you go and how many sights you see along the way … it’s all irrelevant to them. They just want to have fun!

If you embrace your pet’s mindset, every rainy day, closed attraction, and lost reservation becomes a chance to be spontaneous.


Slow Down

To a dog, nothing is more important than thoroughly sniffing the tree before them. They’d never consider rushing on to the next tree, and the one after that, before they finish with the one in front of them.

Ty and Buster at Boston Commons - Boston, MA

When you’re traveling with pets, plan to take your time. Trading in your hustle for a mosey allows you to really experience the places you go rather than just checking them off the list.

Sit on a bench and watch the waves. Listen to the birds chirp. Smile and say hello to a complete stranger. Have a picnic rather than hitting the drive-thru. Stop to watch the sunset. The only moment you have is the one you’re in. Savor it rather than rushing on to the next one.

READ MORE ⇒ The Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip

Joy is Contagious

There is nothing in this world that fills my heart like watching my dogs when they’re happy. Buster’s tail swinging in full circles as he ran down the beach with a stick. Ty’s sweet smile as he dashed between Rod and me, collecting a treat at each stop. And Myles’ full-body-wiggle when he meets a new buddy on the trail.

Buster on the Beach - Cannon Beach, Oregon
Four Paws Kingdom - Rutherfordton, NC
Brindle puppy and Husky dog playing on a pet friendly trail

It doesn’t take a lot to make pets happy. They can find joy in the simplest things. Many times, a break from driving to stretch our legs has turned into the highlight of my day.

But if you’re not watching for them, these joyful displays are easy to miss. It might require a small shift in your awareness to turn a chore into a precious memory. If you can do that, the joy will pass from your pet to you, and from you to everyone you meet.


Look At Things From A Different Perspective

When traveling with pets, you have the opportunity to experience things from their perspective. If you want to truly understand the old saying, “It’s the simple things in life,” attach your dog’s leash and follow him around for a day!

Buster and Ty at Cape Flattery, WA

We humans get so caught up in our routines and ways of doing things. It doesn’t even occur to us that there might be another approach. And because of that, we can miss so much.

Squat down to take photos of your pet, and you’ll appreciate how different things look from their level. Follow your nose (or theirs!) instead of your vision, and you might discover a wonderful bakery or delicious burger. Let go of your idea of how things are “supposed to go” and see what shows up!

READ MORE ⇒ Hotel Chains Where Pets Stay Free

Don’t Be So Serious

Our dogs would never sacrifice an opportunity to be goofy for fear of what other people might think of them. They seem to grasp that laughter is the best medicine, and their comical ways often have us in stitches.

Ty and Buster - Portland, ME

Keeping things light and funny can help diffuse a tense situation. And traveling away from home is the perfect time to let your silly side show! Really, what are the chances you’ll ever see these people again?!

Traveling with pets also quickly teaches us that no one is perfect. We’re all just doing the best we can. So forgive yourself and everyone else quickly, make an effort to do better next time, and then let it go.


When The Going Gets Ruff, Keep Going

As Ty and Buster got older, things started getting physically harder for them. We could have stopped traveling. No one would have blamed us for settling into the proverbial rocking chairs and letting our elderly dogs snooze on the porch. But that’s not what they wanted.

Instead, we got Ty a bright red stroller …

Florida's Top Pet Friendly Attraction: Fort De Soto Park and Dog Beach |

and Buster a wheel chair … so they could keep going.

Buster the German Shepherd in his Walkin' Wheels Dog Wheelchair at Lake Guntersville State Park in AL

When the boys passed just 4 1/2 months apart, things were as hard as they’d ever been. We could have stopped. But that’s not what Ty and Buster had taught me.

And then, a few months later, Myles showed up.

Puppy in a red harness standing on gravel path in San Antonio, TX

There’s nothing wrong with opting for the path of least resistance sometimes. But, remember that there are also rewards for sticking with something, even when the going gets “ruff.”


Try New Things

The most poignant lesson my dogs have taught me, through their passing, is that life is short. When I reach the end of my time here, I want to feel I’ve lived each of the years I received, rather than repeating one year over and over again.

Black and white photo of a German Shepherd Dog and a woman smiling at each other overlooking a lake

If we don’t try new things, are we really living? Certainly sitting on the sidelines means missing the chance to surprise ourselves by how well we might do. And we’d deny our pets the opportunity to impress us with their natural abilities or how much they’ve learned.

You can do more than you think you can! Keep trying new things. The painful alternative is to sacrifice the chance to feel proud – both of yourselves and of your pets.

These are some of the lessons I’ve learned from traveling with Ty, Buster, and Myles so far. And I’m sure there are oodles more to come!

What lessons have your pets taught you about life?

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  • I travel with my pets whenever I can. I actually enjoy them more than some ppl. They never argue about where I want to go. I may have missed a museum or 2 or had to make accomodations but the memories are priceless

    • I completely agree, Virginia! The places we’ve missed because they weren’t pet friendly over the years are nothing compared to the memories we’ve made with our dogs. Waggin’ trails to you!

  • Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: RVing With Pets