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My Doodle’s First Vacation: 6 Dog Travel Tips From Our Weekend Adventure to West Virginia

My doodle, Chewie, loves when I go on vacation!  Not because he gets to come along, but because he gets dropped off at his grandparents house until I return.  There, he gets spoiled rotten and lives the life of luxury for the duration of my travels.

This year, I wanted to try something different.  I was inspired by Lori Gullickson Bartoszewski’s advice in her article, 10 Heartbreaking Life Lessons From a Grieving Doodle Mom.

“Take them with you everywhere you possibly can.  Let them experience life and joy with you.  Those are the memories you will cling to most and find peace that you allowed them to experience life with you outside of your home.”

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With COVID-19 making many travel options less-than-ideal, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go somewhere relatively local and focused around outdoor activities…two factors that make dog-friendly travel much easier!

My girlfriend and I decided on taking a long weekend to explore the area around Morgantown, West Virginia!

Related: Top 10 Most Dog Friendly Cities in the US (and Which Cities Dog Owners Should Avoid at All Costs!)

In this post, I’ll share a few highlights from the trip as well as some lessons we learned from our first experience traveling with Chewie.

Trip Highlights

Packing for West Virginia

Do you think we packed enough for a weekend? 😂 Being that it was our first trip with Chewie, we wanted to make sure we were prepared…even if that meant overpacking just a little!

Driving to West Virginia

In the car and ready to go! Chewie has the entire backseat to himself thanks to our car dog hammock, travel harness, and dog seatbelt connector. I highly recommend these items, even for day-to-day travel as they make car rides so much safer for your pup!

Quality Inn Morgantown

Chewie made himself right at home in our hotel room! We stayed at a Quality Inn, which normally isn’t ranked highly as a dog-friendly hotel chain, but this location allowed them.

We booked our room using which makes it super easy to filter hotels by whether they allow pets!

Cranesville Swamp, West Virginia

Cranesville Swamp Nature Preserve in Terra Alta, WV. With easy, dog-friendly hiking trails and barely anyone else there, it was a great way to spend half a day.

Coopers Lake State Forrest, West Virginia

Cooper’s Rock State Forest in Bruceton Mills, WV. While the heavy fog made the scenic overlooks less awe-inspiring than usual, it made for a cool, eerie atmosphere during our hike. The trails here are fairly rugged with lots of rocks to navigate, but still manageable for humans and dogs alike. There were a decent number of other people and dogs here, even on a dreary day!

Cheat Lake, West Virginia
Cheat Lake, West Virginia

Cheat Lake Trail in Cheat Lake, WV. This 4.5 mile rail trail that runs alongside Cheat Lake was perfect for an easy hike with lots of picturesque water views and colorful fall foliage.

Lessons Learned

1. Double Check Hotel Pet Policies

When we booked our hotel, the only pet policy listed was the $15/night additional fee. Only upon arriving were we told that only a few rooms were pet-friendly so we had to be downgraded from a jacuzzi suite to a basic room with no price reduction.

Related: Search Pet Friendly Hotel Deals on

While the hotel is certainly entitled to have any rules they’d like, it would’ve been nice to have them made clear when booking the room and not an afterthought once we arrived. As it turned out, they also had a 45 pound weight limit for dogs which wasn’t disclosed either. Luckily, nobody ever questioned the 70 pound fluffball strutting through the lobby!

Moral of the story is that no matter what a hotel’s website says, always call in advance to confirm the hotel’s pet policies and that your reservation is compliant with them.

Related: Best Dog Friendly Hotel Chains: 50 Well-Known Brands Ranked

2. Master the “Quiet” Command

Especially the first night, Chewie was a bit on-edge in his new surroundings. Every time someone would walk down the hallway outside our room or close the door to their room, Chewie would bark.

Luckily, he’s pretty good at the “quiet” command so his noise was usually limited to one or two barks at a time. Had we not worked on this command previously and his barking continued endlessly, I wouldn’t be surprised if we would’ve been asked to leave.

One thing that helped reduce his barking a bit was putting the TV on at a moderate volume so that it drowned out some of the noises Chewie was hearing throughout the night.

3. Pack Extra Cleanup Supplies

During one of our hikes, Chewie had the unfortunate experience of getting some poop caught in his fur. Had we not had some wet wipes in our backpack, this would’ve made for a very ‘crappy’ day. 💩

4. Do Some Restaurant Research

Just because you’re traveling with your dog doesn’t mean you have to ditch them to enjoy a meal or limit yourself to fast food and pizza.

While if you’re lucky there may be some dog-friendly restaurants, there are also plenty of popular sit-down restaurants that now offer takeout as well. It helps to do some research in advance so you don’t end up frantically Googling while you’re hungry and impatient!

5. Beware of Ticks

Especially if you’re doing a lot of hiking, make sure to be extra cautious about checking your dog (and yourself) for ticks! After every hike, we’d do a thorough check of Chewie and brush him out as well.

Despite our best efforts, we still managed to find one tick in the car. Luckily we saw it before it bit anyone! Had we not taken precautions throughout our trip, it could’ve been a lot worse.

Read More: 10 Myths About Ticks on Dogs You Should Stop Believing

6. Capture Your Memories

We wanted to make sure we got lots of great photos from the trip that we could look back on and cherish. You probably know how hard it is to get good family photos with your doodle, but we found a way to make it much easier!

We purchased this tripod and bluetooth camera remote that works with your iPhone or Android device. While it comes with a ring light for indoor photos, we didn’t use it this time to save space. We simply folded up the tripod and put it in our backpack. When we found spots that would make for great photos, we unfolded it and used the remote control to take all the photos without needing to run back and forth to set up a self timer.

For such a small price, this can really help you capture some memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime!