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My 10-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer mix, Riggins, and I love to hang out together. I’d much rather take a short break with him by my side than a long trip without him. The problem is that he is a big pup and I’m on a budget, both of which limit our transportation options. To take a timeout from our lives, I have to do some creative thinking on where we go and what we can do.
Here are a few of our favorite quick, easy, and cheap adventures. Hopefully, it will inspire you and your pup this spring!
1. Day hike
One of the best ways to cut down on the cost of an adventure is to have it only last one day. You’d be surprised at how much fun you can stuff into eight to 10 hours if you try. Riggins and I hike the local mountains in Los Angeles almost daily, but when we want a really special trip, we plan a day hike.
The best way to find a fun dog-friendly trail is to ask around. Other dog owners at your dog park or vet may have some great local suggestions. When all else fails, turn to the Internet! HikeWithYourDog.com has an extensive list of parks in the U.S. and Canada with details on which allow our four-legged friends. Many of the best hikes may not be listed, though — for those, take advantage of the crowd sharing information through the site’s “Your Dog’s Favorite” link and its companion Facebook group, “Hiking with Dogs.”
2. Pack a picnic
If you don’t want to expend the energy on a hike but still want to get outdoors, why not head out for a casual meal while sitting on a blanket? Riggins loves food, and I love picnic lunches. It’s one of our favorite activities. Even in our very congested city of Los Angeles, a trip to the local park for a snack and some time in the sun is the perfect getaway.
To help keep Riggins’ calories in check, I pack him some dog-friendly and healthy snacks like carrots and apples. He spends his time between bites keeping an eye out for any squirrels and small children that dare come near us!
3. Weekend camping
I wouldn’t really call camping “cheap,” but it’s a less expensive option compared to other getaways. If you keep the location close, even a short weekend will give you enough time to relax and breathe in the fresh clean air with your pup.
Dog travel sites like BringFido. com and DogFriendly.com can help you find a great campsite near you. I always look for the following:
- No additional pet fee
- Tent accommodations
- Dogs allowed on trails
To help save money, you can rent a tent along with some gear at outdoor retailers like REI. I find a better way to save money on the equipment you need is to put out an all call request through your social media accounts. If friends are reluctant to share, try bartering. One night of babysitting seems like a fair trade for one-night use of the family tent!
4. Head to the water
Riggins doesn’t like water. When he was a puppy, he had a misadventure with a friend’s swimming pool that has scarred him for life. For that reason, we tend to stay away from water, but if you have an H2O-loving pooch, splashing around is probably his favorite activity.
Purchase a float toy for him to play with. Or, if you are watching your cash, I’ve found that a collection of sticks works just as well — plus you won’t get upset if it gets lost. As always, supervise your dog while he’s playing, and take away any item that is being chewed too aggressively.
5. Visit relatives
There is no question that Riggins’ favorite people are my family members. Luckily, I like them, too! The best thing about a day or weekend trip to a relatives’ house is that you know they are dog friendly — and there’s a good chance they’ll feed you dinner!
When it comes to taking a break with your best friend, you don’t have to spend a bundle. You just need to find a place where the two of you can hang out together, away from home for just a few hours.
No Water Bowl? No Problem!
Most pet brands that include a travel line have travel bowl options. These bowls fold up and are easy to store in a suitcase or backpack. Purchasing a specific travel bowl isn’t your only option. Here are some money saving suggestions:
- Plastic bag: A sandwich/ freezer/storage plastic bag can be used as both a con- tainer and serving bowl. Just plop a bag filled with water on the ground and roll the top over so it remains open. In a pinch, you can even use a poop bag. Supervise your pup while he laps up water from this “bowl.” It’s very inex- pensive and a great option if you’re heading out for an impromptu excursion.
- Frisbee: Flip a disc upside down for a shallow water bowl. It’s the perfect solution if you’re at the park or beach.
- Straight from the bottle: you know you let your pup kiss you on the lips, so why are you hesitant to share your water source with him? Teaching your dog to drink from the bottle is as easy as sticking it in front of his mouth and squeezing. you may get a little wet at first, but he’ll soon get the hang of it.
Read more Dogster travel stories:
- Get Out and Go: Tips for Traveling With Dogs of All Ages
- 9 Things Every Dog Lover Should Do in Florida
- 5 Great Things to Do in Portland With Your Dogs
About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.