It had been 3 years since we had been on vacation.  For a family like ours that was used to two or more holidays a year this was quite a big deal.  Ever since we got our dog, Sumo, life had changed dramatically. After 8 years of not having a dog, Sumo was now our universe and every single day was planned around him. We had been very skeptical about travelling since we didn’t want to leave him behind. We did explore the idea of a pet homestay or pet boarding, but the facilities were deplorable and the fact that he would be cooped up in a five by five space all by himself for most part of the day seem horrifying. The first time we considered a short trip, we found  a pet hotel that we decided to leave him in. As we dropped him off, and were about to leave, he started to whine and bark and cry. My heart broke into little pieces as I turned around to see his eyes widened and his little paws clawing at the gate of his kennel. I ran back to him, got him out of the kennel and cancelled that trip once and for all.

That one incident drove us to ensure that we didn’t go anywhere, and in unavoidable circumstances, at least one of us stayed back with him. We were so attached to him that we couldn’t even do movie and dinner and leave him alone, forget a long haul vacation!

It wasn’t until the frustration of not having had a holiday in a while set in, that we decided to plan a vacation. Yet again, the thought of leaving Sumo behind  led us to almost changing our mind. It was at this point that I spoke to the family and suggested we considering taking Sumo along! Needless to say, everyone was against the idea! It took me a while to convince them that this could be done, and finally, they agreed. We were all worried about how we could work this out without causing any inconvenience to Sumo. So we began our research.

A lot of website browsing  and phone calls later, we decided that a quick vacation to Mahabalipuram –  a 50km road trip from Chennai, where we live – would be the best idea for Sumo’s first trip.  Surprisingly, we found a couple of pet friendly hotels online, but weren’t sure, so we had to call the hotel just to double check and make sure they let dogs in.  Twice.  That’s how anxious we were! Eventually we picked one of the two hotels that allowed us to keep pets in the villa where we would be staying

Once the booking was made, it was now time to prepare for the trip.  We weren’t sure if Sumo would do well long-distance in a car.  After all, most of his car rides lead him to the vet, always stressing him out.  So we got him acclimatized to the car a bit well in advance, by taking him for quick trips to the beach, so he didn’t associate the car with trips to the vet.  Before we knew it, it was time for our first pets included vacation! The night before was extreme amounts of anxiety for everyone. All sorts of preparations were being made to ensure a perfect dog vacation happened.

The morning of the trip we loaded the car with Sumo’s water, food, bowls, snacks, his pillow, toys, leash, poop bags and lots of toilet paper.  We lined the backseat with a blanket, got him settled on his pillow and we were ready to go!Surprisingly, Sumo loved every bit of the journey.  We took frequent breaks and ensured he got to relieve himself, stretch his legs and drink water.  We reached the hotel in about an hour plus and got a warm welcome.  Turns out we were more than welcome, and so was Sumo! We checked in and headed straight for the beach.  What a relief! After 3 years of not going anywhere, this was turning out to be the best vacation ever! The highlight?It wasn’t just any holiday, it was one of the best pet friendly holidays ever!
With loads of pet-friendly holiday rentals in a large number of pet friendly destinations to choose from taking that pet friendly family holiday is not as daunting as it seems! ( I learned through personal experience). With a little effort, every vacation can be a “pets included” vacation! I mean, what better way to de-stress than with the whole family!