Eight years ago, I brought home a tiny, squirming cockapoo puppy named Lola. She had — and still has — the most soulful brown eyes I've ever seen, and a personality that's truly twice her size. In the years to follow, my relationship with her has become one of the longest standing friendships in my entire life. We do everything together: we curl up in bed with our favorite things at night together (a book for me, a stuffed toy duck for her), and we even go on early morning Starbucks runs together. She knows my schedule and even recognizes my moods; if I'm ever tearful, for instance, she'll jump in my lap and put her paw in my hand. As a single woman living in New York City, my bond with Lola is priceless, and something that I cherish every day. But there's one thing we haven't done until now — and that's travel together. Last fall, I finally took my dog on a vacation, and I'm proud to say that it was the best trip either of us has ever taken.

If you're a dog parent considering taking your fluffer on a fun adventure but are feeling apprehensive about it, rest assured, I totally get your concerns. For starters, my Lola rarely spends a night sleeping outside of my apartment. How would she do sleeping in a strange place? She's also a bit of a hall monitor, and she tends to bark whenever she hears an unfamiliar sound in our hallway. If I were to take her to a hotel, would she make a lot of noise and disturb other guests? And what about any unpredictable accidents? There are a lot of questions a dog parent asks themselves before taking their dog on a trip, and in my case, it took me a long time to feel comfortable that Lola would be comfortable enough to go on vacation with me.

But, we both stepped out of our comfort zones recently, and took a weekend road trip from our home in New York City to Newport, Rhode Island, a New England beachside town that's about three hours away. Not only was the car trip actually super comfortable for both of us — Lola had her own space to stretch out and enjoy the ride, and the vehicle served as a home base throughout our entire vacation — but it even helped us bond more in ways that I didn't think possible. Before the end of the weekend, I was already searching for other pet-friendly vacations for 2019 right from my hotel bed!

If you're thinking about taking a little road trip with your furry bestie, here are the best tips I learned from my trip with Lola...

Text and photos by Jada Gomez. 

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