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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: riotnerd on October 04, 2013, 12:18:22 PM

Title: Advice for Long-Term Road Tripping with 2 dogs
Post by: riotnerd on October 04, 2013, 12:18:22 PM
Hi everyone! 

A bit of background:
My wife and I are in "pretty good" financial shape (about $500K in net worth including home equity, stock investments, car value, cash, etc.).  Our only debt is our crazy San Diego mortgage (owe about $425K on a home currently valued around $675K) and a few grand  left of very low interest student loans that should be paid off within the next year.  At the moment we both earn Software Engineering salaries currently about $190K annually combined before taxes.  I telecommute, so have the ability to work anywhere with wifi.  My wife is looking to change careers and will be leaving her job next month, so we'll soon be down to only my $105K salary.  We have decided to take advantage of our newfound freedom of location and take a year to travel...we'll spend about 9 months driving around the US with our 2 medium/large dogs, and 3 months in Europe...while my family takes care of the pups for us.  We are not planning on leaving until late February/early March.

Aside from the obvious benefit of seeing lots of cool places and meeting cool people along the way, the trip is also doubling as a long "scouting mission" for where we might want to live long term, as I'm becoming more and more convinced that California is not the right place to be able to afford Financial Independence anytime soon.

How can we make this trip as mustachian as possible without delaying our Financial Independence too much? 

We are already planning on renting the house out (mostly) furnished for the year.  Our main requirements for lodging along the way are wifi (so I can telecommute), pet friendliness, and access to a kitchen.  We've been checking out airbnb for our first few planned stops...and there don't seem to be as many pet friendly options as I would like.  Craigslist might have some better options but not that far in advanced...and I'm a "planner" who likes to have everything mapped out far in advanced.  Couchsurfer might be an option too but their website interface wasn't the greatest when I was playing around with it yesterday.  We have friends/family to stay with for a couple stops, but not too many. 

Any advice for how to find cheap/free lodging with pets?  Any other general advice for the trip would be most welcome!

Title: Re: Advice for Long-Term Road Tripping with 2 dogs
Post by: riotnerd on October 04, 2013, 02:07:25 PM
Awesome.  I had never heard of KOA before.  Checking it out now.  Prices for Cabins seem competitive for the first option I looked at (Flagstaff, Arizona area).  Thanks!
Title: Re: Advice for Long-Term Road Tripping with 2 dogs
Post by: gimp on October 04, 2013, 02:16:21 PM
Camp when possible; avoid hotels if you can. (This also means that warm weather is a good idea.)

And of course you know this already (and it's not money-related), but take pleasure in the journey, not just the destination. The drive will be beautiful - do not allow yourself to be bored by the thousands of miles of desert, corn, and gently-rolling-Rockies-with-jutting-peaks (I don't know the proper term, but it describes Utah and Nevada quite well.)
Title: Re: Advice for Long-Term Road Tripping with 2 dogs
Post by: MakingSenseofCents on October 04, 2013, 02:18:08 PM
This came at the perfect timing. We are wanting to do a road trip with our two dogs as well. I will be following along :)
Title: Re: Advice for Long-Term Road Tripping with 2 dogs
Post by: Heather on October 05, 2013, 07:46:48 AM
We often travel with our dogs.   We have a 4 dog trailer, which is essentially an aluminum shell with four snug secure doghouses, each with individual doors.  There is a built in fan and ventilation system, and insulation, to keep them cool in moderately warm weather, and warm in the winter.  We put in a very small electric heater for winter. In winter we fill the four boxes with straw so they can nestle in and keep warm.  The dogs love their boxes to the extent that if I open one at home for cleaning, a dog immediately jumps in as if to say "let's go on an adventure".   They are used to their little houses, and they sleep soundly in them.

This is definitely not an inexpensive solution!, but there are ideas here that might be useful to you:
1. We can stay anywhere: motel, hotel or somebody's house, and not worry about whether it is dog friendly.
2. The cooling fan runs off the car battery, so in most warm weather we can safely leave the dogs for a while in the trailer if we need to go somewhere they can't go, like a grocery store or a museum.  In winter the insulated straw filled boxes keep them cozy down to at least -15C (they are shorthaired dogs), and we can plug in the heater if we're parked on a very cold night.  You can't leave dogs in a car in warm weather or very cold weather.
3. If the dogs see something exciting outside the car, their excited paws can't do any damage.  They can't steal your baguettes either.
4. If you need to, you can use all the luggage and passenger space in the car. 
5. Don't have to endure dog farts while you are driving :-)

The upfront cost of ours was too high to consider this a money saving device, but it has saved us thousands of dollars in dog boarding over time.  Very few people are set up to accommodate three big dogs as house guests, so without the trailer we would have to board them at Christmas, etc.
We still promote a dog up the the car if we want a little canine company some times during a trip.

We have friends who have modified a van to include a dog kennel section at the back, adding battery powered cooling fans and secure crates.  That gives many of the same advantages.

For a more Mustachian take on this, you might consider building dog boxes into the  back section of your car.  I had this setup in my Element before we got the dog trailer.  Make it so you can leave the back hatch of the vehicle wide open when you are parked, to give the dogs lots of air circulation.  If you are expecting winter travel, insulate the boxes.  If you're expecting summer travel, add fans to create continuous airflow. 

People who haven't seen dogs in a setup like this before, are sometimes surprised at how much the dogs like their boxes.  I was at first.   I guess it is like always having your own home bed with you wherever you go.  But I also think it must be because of some sort of den instinct; that the low roof and long shape pleases them.   The dogs love to travel and have adventures, but there is something about the way they hop back in their boxes that makes you realize it gives them a real sense of security.   

Title: Re: Advice for Long-Term Road Tripping with 2 dogs
Post by: riotnerd on October 06, 2013, 10:59:38 AM
Hmm....leaving the dogs in the car would definitely be an adjustment...for them and for us.  Right now they sleep right next to our beds.  Something to consider though.  Thanks.  Keep those suggestions coming. :)