Do you dream of exploring with your four-legged friend and no one else?
If so, a solo holiday with your dog could be perfect for you.
It’s a way to spend precious time with your pup, discover new places, enjoy walks in nature, and relax and unwind.
Having a canine companion trotting by your side is far more serene than being in the thick of chattering people or feeling like you have to fit in with their plans.
Instead, watch your dog enjoy a new environment, spend time outdoors, and have a mindful experience while bonding with your best friend.
What’s not to like about that?
In this blog post, I’m sharing everything you need to know to enjoy a solo break with your pup, plus what happened when I holidayed alone with my dog, Patch.
What is a solo holiday with your dog?
It’s where you go away, just you and your dog! No other humans.
There are so many options now for dog-friendly travel.
One is hiring a camper van for a road trip – two of my friends Becky and Kerry have done this and I will link to their experiences at the end of this post.
Then there are the super dog-friendly hotels and holiday cottages, yurts, shepherd’s huts, glamping pods, bell tents, or you can pack a simple tent.
Dogs are happy wherever they are, as long as they’re with you.
Benefits of spending time with your dog
Seeing your dog happy and having the best time makes you feel happy too.
A study by the University of British Columbia in 2020 found time with dogs had the following benefits.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Students who spent time with therapy dogs reported significantly reduced levels of stress and heightened positive emotions, particularly toward the end of the academic term.
- Boosted mood and happiness: Interacting with dogs can trigger the release of the feel-good hormones – oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in the human body, leading to improved mood and happiness.
- Improved physical health: Regularly walking or playing with a dog is considered an easy way to maintain a consistent exercise routine. It can lead to better cardiovascular health and physical fitness.
- Social connection: Dogs are typically seen as natural conversation starters. Walking a dog can provide socialisation opportunities, which help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Improved cognitive ability: Spending time with dogs can also help boost memory and cognitive function. The study found interacting with dogs can create avenues for mental stimulation, boosting creativity and problem-solving.
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate: Physical contact with dogs, such as petting, is shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in a calmer and more relaxed state.
No wonder dogs are our best friends!
Signs a solo holiday with your dog might be for you
If you’re comfortable in your own company (and your dogs) and you enjoy time alone, a solo holiday will be ideal.
Or, if you’re active and outdoorsy and love adventure with your furry friend and if you enjoy keeping fit on holiday.
If you’re the silent type and you love the solitude of being with your dog and having no one to talk to (that’s me!) you’ll love it.
And if you’ve been feeling anxious or stressed, being in nature with your dog will be just what you need.
Remember, dogs are conversation starters, so if you are craving a chat, then going out and about with them is a surefire way to find someone to talk to!
Signs a solo holiday with your dog might not be for you
A solo holiday with a dog may not be ideal for everyone, and here are some indicators it might not be for you!
If you love luxury travel and things like spa treatments and being pampered. There are amazing luxury dog-friendly places, but your dog will need entertaining too!
If you enjoy visiting cities. Often these are too hectic for your dog, and lots of galleries, shops, museums, or indoor attractions don’t allow pets.
If you like to plan your day from morning to night. You need to take into account your pup’s needs too.
And if you would rather simply recline and relax. That’s perfectly ok to recharge, and I love this kind of holiday, but Patch would be bored senseless!
Planning your solo trip
You might already have an idea of where you want to stay, but if you’re stuck there are lots of dog-friendly directories you can browse for accommodation.
Also, asking for recommendations on social media is helpful too.
Before you go, have a browse online for places to eat, visit and essentials like pet shops and vets.
You’re going to be exploring new places, and I found the AllTrails app really useful.
You can put your destination in and it will suggest walks according to distance, difficulty, length, and suitability plus attractions like waterfalls and views.
When you arrive, you can search the area, and, once you’ve chosen your route, there’s the option to have Google or Apple Maps take you to the start point.
Then, when you start the walk, it guides you around, and if you go off track, you get an alert so you can go back and follow the path again.
This all happens within the app and it’s really simple to use – and I have NO sense of direction.
Solo dog holiday essentials – What to pack
Here’s a list of things to consider taking, for you and your dog.
For your dog:
Spare leads, collars, and harnesses as they might get wet in the sea.
Dog food for your trip, or check the local pet shop stocks their food.
Bowls are often provided, however, bringing your own could be more comfortable for your dog.
Dog bed – some cottages provide them but your dog might prefer its own.
Toys and treats.
A walking bag and accessories like water bottles or collapsible bowls. I love Barking Bags as they fit in all you need.
Sunscreen for pale-skinned dogs.
A first aid kit.
Vet records in case of emergencies.
Ensure that their microchip information is up-to-date.
Walking boots, trainers, possibly wellies!
Warm clothing for the winter season/cool for summer.
Waterproofs for rainy times.
Rucksack for carrying your essentials.
Login details for your favourite TV channels.
Books and magazines or a kindle.
Food, drinks and snacks.
A sense of adventure.
Things to consider on your solo holiday with your dog
We all look for different things for a solo holiday. You might prefer something that’s bustling with lots of activity, or a more remote place.
This will influence where you stay, so be sure to check the area around the venue. Is it near a town or local amenities?
Will there be other people or dogs around for you to chat with (or not!) or for your dog to play with?
For example, if you have an anxious dog, you might want to go away and for it just to be you, so choosing a remote cottage would be perfect.
But if you want the buzz of other people around, a caravan park or busy village might be more appealing.
Other things to check include dog restrictions on beaches, and if there are any attractions like dog fields or dog shows taking place that you might want to check out.
My solo dog holiday experience at Letheringham Mill
I’m writing this as I’ve just come back from a solo dog holiday at The Wood Shed, a one bedroom holiday cottage at Letheringham Mill in Suffolk with Patch.
It’s the second time I’ve stayed there, and you can read my first review which has loads of information about dog-friendly Suffolk and the property at the end of this post.
For this trip, I wanted some time on my own after a challenging year. I lost my god-father in May which was hugely emotional and wanted some time to rest.
I often struggle to switch my brain off and drift off to the laptop or social media, but being alone with Patch helps me see that he needs to be my priority.
Letheringham Mill is perfect because it’s so tranquil and peaceful. It’s a gorgeous set of holiday cottages in Woodbridge in the Suffolk countryside.
Owner Jacqui has three dogs, Teddy, Amber, and Lola who wander around, and there are other dogs in the cottages who your dog can meet if they like.
When we stayed, the neighbouring cottages all had guests, doggy and human, and we had a pleasant greeting, but I tended to keep myself to myself (I know I sound really anti-social)
During the day, I’d take Patch out exploring and we went for days out to Aldeburgh – a gorgeous seaside town, and Thorpness, which has a stunning and very quiet beach.
The app was so handy, and I find being in nature so calming, and really made the effort to appreciate my surroundings.
When my mind started to wander towards work stuff – I support people in the pet industry with content marketing and visibility – I’d try to think about what Patch might be thinking.
I visited friends for lunch and dinner, had a hike at nearby Ufford, and spent lots of time reading on the decking outside of my cottage and relaxing.
Usually, my holidays with Tommy involve big walks and lots of eating and drinking in the pub! But I love being able to sit and read.
And once Patch has had time to explore, he’s happy to cuddle up or relax in his bed and catch some rays, so it was perfect.
Capturing memories of your dog-friendly break
Ok so if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that photography is not my strong point, but you can never have too many dog photos, can you?
I took loads of Patch on woodland walks, on the beach, at the cottage, and one of the two of us!
You can capture your memories in writing too. This year I’ve started journaling, so I wrote about each day in my notebook.
Again, this gives you an appreciation of where you are, what you’re doing, and, of course, your lovely dog or dogs.
Returning home and reflecting
It’s always bittersweet going home after a brilliant trip, and I found writing this and reflecting on the time Patch and I shared made me feel very thankful.
This gratitude is good for us, physically, emotionally and mentally.
While I was away, I read Brene Brown’s book Atlas of the Heart, which is just amazing.
It contains this summary of the benefits of gratitude from Robert Emmons, ‘the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,’ from the University of Carolina.
He said: “Gratitude makes us appreciate the value of something, and when we appreciate the value of something, we extract more benefits from it. We’re less likely to take it for granted.”
Robert added: “Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness.”
And that’s why I’m doing this post, celebrating the time I had, and I hope this will encourage you to do the same.
Has this inspired you to go on a solo holiday? I’d love to know!
Send me a message on social media – here are my pages.
Connect on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thepawpostuk
Or chat on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThePawPostUK
Want to learn to take better photos of your dog? Get expert tips from Kerry Jordan Kerry Jordan on why she founded National Dog Photography Day
Thinking of a trip to Suffolk? Read Letheringham Water Mill: Dog Friendly things to do in Suffolk
You can book directly with Jacqui on her website here: https://letheringhammill.co.uk/
Did you know I have a dog-friendly holiday cottage in Robin Hood’s Bay? Find out more: A dog owner’s guide to Robin Hood’s Bay and Sunnyside Cottage
Becky from K9Nation talks about her paws on tour solo holiday: K9Nation founder Becky on her mission to find the UK’s most Dog Friendly place
Kerry talks about her month away in a van with her Whippets: https://www.furandfables.com/a-solo-uk-van-adventure-with-the-whippets/