Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, like some of you, I have not gone far from home.
Quick trips to the grocery store have become the norm, and I have gotten used to following the arrows on the floor to get to the essentials.
Church services have been online since March, family movie nights have been enjoyed at home, and there have been a lot of awesome homemade meals.
Read The Winds of Change to find out what I’ve been up to at home.
On a hot and steamy August afternoon I started dreaming of fall weather. I noticed a few leaves fluttering to the ground, looked back at my empty patio, and decided it was time to get patio furniture. The moment had come to prepare for chilly evenings spent outdoors.
One afternoon, I decided to stop by World Market to check out their Friends & Family sale.
The instant I saw a comfortable, oversized patio chair on the sales floor, I knew that it was the perfect piece.
A sales associate approached me and I asked her if there were more chairs in the stockroom. She checked the inventory and told me that even though there weren’t any other chairs in stock, there might be other stores that had the amount of chairs I needed.
Hoping that she would find a store close by, I waited patiently for her return. While she was searching, I also decided to search the World Market website on my phone. When I saw that there was another location with the amount of patio chairs I needed, I ordered them and then let my husband know that we would be taking a road trip to pick them up.
Maybe it was months of being at home that made me willing to drive 6 hours away to purchase chairs for my patio. Maybe it was the amazing deal I was getting on the chairs. Maybe I reasoned that gas prices were at an all-time low and that we probably had enough hotel loyalty points to book a free room for one night to make the journey.
Whatever the reason, I was ready for a road trip.
Not only would this be my first road trip since the start of the pandemic, but it would also be my first road trip with the newest member of our family. Yep, the dog was coming along with us.
I completed my furniture purchase on a Saturday, and immediately started the search for a hotel chain that was pet friendly.
TIP: Using the Google search term ‘pet friendly hotel(s)’ returns results of hotel chains that are pet friendly if you have a service animal. Make sure that you carefully read the details provided by the hotel , so that you don’t book a room that won’t welcome the family pet.
While I was searching, my daughter approached me and brought to memory a past stay at Home2Suites, a Hilton property. She remembered that the hotel was family pet friendly and a quick search on the Hilton website proved her memory to be correct.
Leave it to kids to notice and remember small details.
I remembered that our Hilton Honors American Express card earns an annual weekend night award, and called to find out if it had been rewarded and was available to use.
It was. Cha-ching!
Not only was the free weekend night available, but our status as Diamond Hilton Honors members waived the pet fee that is customary at the hotel.
TIP: Before booking your stay, ask if there is a pet fee. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask if the fee can be discounted or waived due to your loyalty status with the hotel chain.
Leave it to me to find travel related freebies.
After the room was booked, I knew that the main item that I needed to be travel friendly for our dog was something that he already owned.
When I adopted Pomme de Terre (Pomme for short) in June, I purchased a traditional wire crate to train him. The first thing I realized about the crate was that it wasn’t made for travel. I needed something portable and collapsible. I eventually found a soft crate that I could use at home and on the go.
Pomme also owns a foldable mat that goes under his food and water bowls, and it was easy to roll it up and pack it with his things.
When traveling with the family pet, it is going to be up to you how much money you want to spend on travel-ready extras. Because this was only going to be an overnight trip, I decided to use what I already owned.
I cleaned his food and water bowls, and his dog food and treats were placed in storage bags. I also brought along bottled water for him to drink. Everything fit perfectly into a soft backpack.
It was time to hit the road and Pomme was ready to go! This pup loves the open road.
While my husband drives, I navigate, and just like I do when we take a road trip without a pet, I kept an eye out for rest area signs. I was ready for anything that a pet stop might bring because when Pomme started puppy training classes I bought a small, durable crossbody bag that has inside pockets for treats and two rolls of pick-up bags.
Pomme gives us signals when he is ready to go, and if a rest area was not nearby, we took the closest exit and stopped at a gas station. I never noticed before how much green space existed around most gas stations, and letting him take a potty break proved to be very easy.
Before we knew it, the GPS announced that we had arrived at our hotel.
Pomme de Terre was very excited to exit the vehicle and stretch his legs.
I mentioned earlier that I had a free night available at any Hilton Hotel, but that wasn’t the only benefit that caused me to choose Home2Suites as our hotel.
Another reason I chose a Hilton property was because of the introduction of a cleaning and sanitization process launched in June 2020 called Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection.
In partnership with the Lysol brand, after the cleaning and disinfecting process in a room is complete, housekeeping places a CleanStay seal at the door of each room, indicating that no one has entered the room after the cleaning and disinfecting process is complete.
When I entered the lobby of Home2Suites with my mask on I immediately noticed that the floor was clearly marked with social distancing markers. After being warmly greeted by someone at the front desk, key cards were issued to me.
The room I chose was influenced by travel with a pet. I chose a room on the first floor because Pomme is still a puppy-in-training, and the exit was close by for access to the outdoor green spaces.
When we reached the door of the room, my husband immediately noticed that the CleanStay seal was missing. I returned to the front desk and requested another room, and I was immediately issued keys for a nearby room.
An unbroken Hilton CleanStay seal was present on the door of our new room and I entered to check things out.
Not only was the Hilton CleanStay seal present on the door, but there was a CleanStay sleeve on the TV remote control with an alcohol wipe next to it. Another CleanStay seal was present on the bathroom mirror indicating that high touch surfaces were properly cleaned. There was also an alcohol wipe available next to the telephone in the room.
I felt very comfortable knowing that the room that my family and pet would be staying in had been carefully cleaned.
The collapsible portable dog crate that I brought on our trip for Pomme de Terre fit perfectly under an empty section near the front of the room and there was enough room for his feeding mat, food, and water bowl.
We all felt at home at Home2Suites.
One of the things I planned ahead of time was limiting my contact points because it was the first time I was traveling with my family since restrictions were put in place in my state.
The products that I purchased for pickup were located in another state and I had already arranged for curbside pickup. After I checked in and Pomme sniffed out his new territory, everyone jumped back into the car to drive a few minutes away to pick up my new patio chairs. I parked in a designated spot, called the phone number on the sign, and a World Market employee in a mask brought my purchase to the car.
When we returned to our room, I was impressed with how easy it was to find pet pick up stations equipped with bags and a trash can around Home2Suites. One station was located right outside the exit door on our floor.
One of the changes with travel during COVID-19 is the way breakfast is served to guests of the hotel.
When I stayed at Home2Suites in the past, the small open breakfast area had different cereals, muffins, breakfast sandwiches and beverages for guests to choose from. This involved a lot of high contact areas, something that is discouraged during this pandemic.
I went out to the lobby to pick up a prepackaged paper bag with a muffin, fruit, a granola bar, and a bottle of water. Coffee was available in a nearby area.
Oatmeal and cereal were alternative breakfast options.
I ate my breakfast in the room with my family and it wasn’t long before we were packed and ready to head home with Pomme de Terre.
The journey home was similar to the one that we had on the way to our destination, and I found that rest areas were clean and masks were required in indoor spaces.
Within a few weeks of coming back home, I purchased a travel bag for pets. It was inexpensive and has plenty of space to hold Pomme’s water bottles, bowls, toys, and snacks. It also has outside pockets for additional space. The inside is insulated and can be wiped clean with a soft cloth.
Storage bags served their purpose on this quick trip, but it was easy to see that future travels would require a more durable carrier and a more manageable way to keep all of Pomme’s food, water and toys together for easy access.
This was a short, overnight trip and even though it was exciting to think of packing up and heading out onto the open road, the decision to travel was one that I made with much thought and careful planning. The health and safety of my family (four-legged friends included) is paramount.
I would like to hear from you about any travel you’ve completed when travel restrictions were lifted in your state or country. Whether you traveled locally or hours away from home, tell me about it!
- Where did you go?
- What mode of transportation did you use to arrive at your destination?
- Did you choose your accommodations and/or transportation based on a disinfecting or cleaning plan outlined by the provider?
- Based on your travel experience, would you travel the same way again?