Do you feel bad leaving your dog behind when you set off for a vacation? No matter how well-qualified your pet sitter, it’s hard to shake the guilt when your four-legged companion can’t join you. But you don’t have to feel that way, because you don’t have to leave your dog at home. When you take your dog on vacation, you’ll still get all the great mental health benefits of a vacation, and you’ll get to do it with your dog by your side.
If you’re questioning whether you need a vacation at all, consider this: Time off relieves your stress, improves your mood, helps you concentrate, boosts your creativity, and even reduces your odds of dying from a heart attack. According to Take Back Your Time, an organization that advocates for leisure time for American and Canadian workers, vacation is so important because it gives your mind and body a break from stress and its negative health effects.
Making the most of a vacation means ensuring it’s as relaxing as possible. For that reason, it’s wise to skip the overcrowded urban destinations and instead choose a place you can truly kick back. When it comes to letting your worries wash away, few destinations can compete with the oceanside. Not only does a beach vacation combine outdoor adventure with all the amenities of a city, but lounging by the water makes your vacation even more restorative — researchers at Michigan State University have discovered that viewing the ocean is linked to better psychological health.
Bringing your dog just adds to the benefits: Spending time with pets improves heart health, reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes socialization. So when you bring your dog along, you’re making it easier to let go of stress and focus on enjoying the present.
Websites like BringFido and Go Pet Friendly make it easy to find hotels and resorts that welcome dogs. If you’re looking for a low-budget vacation, dogs are usually permitted at campgrounds, which can run you less than $20 a night. But the real trick to planning a pet-friendly vacation is finding daytime activities that your dog can attend. Most of the time, that means choosing a destination with lots of outdoor activities to enjoy.
The beach just might be the perfect destination when you need to destress, and it’s also one of the most dog-friendly places to vacation. Restaurants in oceanfront towns are known for their patios that offer incredible views and pet-friendly seating. And while not all beaches permit dogs, it’s not hard to find pet-friendly beaches in many U.S. coastal towns and cities. Leashed dogs are permitted on all Dauphin Island beaches, a gorgeous destination just outside of Gulf Shores, AL, or in the resort community of Fairhope, Alabama on Mobile Bay. You can even find designated dog beaches where your four-legged friend can run around off leash, including St. George Island and Bayview Park in Pensacola, FL.
Even when traveling in a dog-friendly town, there might be things on your itinerary that you can’t bring your pet to. Maybe there’s a museum exhibit you want to see or a hip cocktail bar with no outdoor seating. Rather than leaving him in the hotel room all day, consider booking a day at a doggy day care center instead. Your dog will spend his day playing and burning off energy so you can enjoy yourself guilt-free.
Ultimately, planning a dog-friendly vacation isn’t much harder than any other trip. Plus, you’ll be able to spend all the money you saved on expensive dog boarding on fun activities instead. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next getaway today.
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