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Embracing the winter getaway

family on beach

Taking a holiday during the winter months no longer consists of jetting off to sunny climes or hitting the ski slopes. Increasing numbers are choosing to stay closer to home and enjoy the British coast and countryside for their out-of-season breaks—and why not, when we have so much amazing scenery right here on our doorstep?

Time to celebrate

Out-of-season UK breaks offer many practical benefits, particularly when families and groups of friends want to spend time together at Christmas or over the New Year. Not only do spacious holiday rentals make it easier to accommodate large parties in terms of bedrooms and bathrooms, the fact that it is a neutral space means that no one has the responsibility—or cost—of being the sole hosts.

Christmas and New Year are popular times for people book UK getaways to enjoy a Christmas Day beach walk, New Year celebration in the local pubs, or simply to relax with family without the stress of hosting in their own home.

We see quite a variation of Christmas and New Year guests. Our large, more spacious properties are popular with multi-generational families or groups of friends, whereas some of our cosier cottages or traditional fisherman’s cottages are ideal for couples. Emily Mercer – Coast and Country Cottages

couple on beach

Avoiding the crowds

One of the best things about heading to popular tourist spots in the winter months is the lack of people! Large stretches of empty beach, pubs with plenty of free tables—even better if they are by a roaring fire—and traffic-free roads… what’s not to love?

Although many people associate the beach with long, summer days, beach breaks are also popular during the winter with visitors who want to make the most of fewer crowds, emptier waters and stunning, undisturbed scenery. Watersport enthusiasts enjoy the quieter waters in the out-of-season months, so you can often spectate surfers trying to catch a wave and people on paddleboards or kayaks exploring the coastline.

The countryside is particularly popular out of season, offering an abundance of walking routes for keen hikers. Many of our holiday homes dotted along the coast path are booked out during the autumn and winter months, with those looking to enjoy a break from city life, or simply seeking fresh air and incredible views. Emily

family playing in the snow

Travelling with pets

A family or group holiday isn’t complete without the four-legged members, thankfully travel companies are recognising that dog owners want to include their pet in the fun and as a result, more and more holiday lets and hotels welcome pets with open arms.

Dog-friendly Christmas escapes—where all members of the party are encouraged to put their feet up—are beloved by couples and families alike. Hotels that cater for all the family—two-legged or four—are particularly popular for those looking for a very special Christmas away. Nicky Burton – All Four Paws

Our team are all dog lovers, so we completely understand the increased demand in recent years to include your pet in your holiday plans. Around a third of our properties now accept pets, and we have found that this can really help to extend bookings out of the traditional peak season. Often couples holidaying with a dog would prefer to visit outside of the school summer holiday period. Emily

hot drinks infront of fire

Embracing the outdoors

Although it can be tempting to spend your break hibernating in front of a roaring fire, getting out and about to explore the local area is well worth the effort. There’s every chance that you will stumble across some unexpected find on your travels, even if that simply happens to be the local pub!

As most beaches lift their dog restrictions from 1st October every year, the golden shores become a haven for families enjoying time with their four-legged friends. There’s nothing more refreshing and relaxing than heading to the beach for a blustery winter walk, before returning to a local pub with a burning log fire.

With so many fantastic pubs and restaurants in the region—several of which are positioned on the coast paths—visitors often see the winter months as a chance to work up an appetite by walking, before indulging in a hearty roast dinner or seafood dish. Emily

dog wearing coat

Prepare your pet

The coast and open country can be susceptible to the best and worst of the weather so make sure you take plenty of layers, waterproofs and sturdy footwear. Although dogs are protected by their fur, they can still suffer from the cold so they will also need to be shielded from the weather with a warm coat. Many dog owners transport their dogs in the boot of the car when venturing further afield, so make sure you create a cosy space for them to cuddle up in while in transit with plenty of dry towels and blankets. A wipe-clean bootliner will help prevent mud, sand, water and dog mess from transferring into the carpet and also prevent the dog crate from damaging the car’s interior.

Country escapes are loved by dog owners in the winter months and our own four-pawed guru Rigby adores a seaside walk, even in the chilliest of conditions—it’s a great way to blow the cobwebs away!

When walking on colder days, invest in a dog coat that not only covers the dog’s back but their chest too. A coat is great for keeping smaller dogs warm while they patrol the long grasses and it will help control any mess they pick up. Make sure you pack lots of cosy blankets and a drying robe to wrap up your dog post-walk to ensure they don’t catch a chill. Nicky

walking boots

A portable boot room

Although exploring the great outdoors is a big part of many UK breaks, holidaymakers also like to enjoy smart meals out, visit local attractions and indulge in a little retail therapy. To avoid having to tramp around in waterproofs and muddy walking boots 24/7 it is worth stashing clean footwear and smarter outerwear in the car for a quick change when out and about. Again, a bootliner can be an absolute godsend for preventing mud, sand and moisture from transferring from outdoor wear into the car’s interior when soggy items are removed. Using the boot as storage space for dirty footwear throughout your stay will also prevent soiling the flooring of the rental property and potentially incurring cleaning charges.

South Devon isn’t just for outdoor enthusiasts during the winter; with a number of renowned health spas, vibrant Christmas markets and boutique shops, there is something for everyone. Emily

car boot filled

Everything but the Christmas fairy

Packing for a break that spans the festive season can be a bit of a headache, especially when all of Santa’s secret goodies need transporting. A roof box is a good way to create more space and a protective bootliner will help luggage and parcels from damaging the boot, and vice versa.

If you are also bringing your own Christmas tree and decorations do not underestimate the mess that will be left behind in the boot. It’s highly likely that you will still be finding pine needles and glitter for the next 12 months—a good reason to invest in a bootliner if ever there was one!

How the right car accessories can save you money and cut costs

car accessories

The only way to legally use a mobile phone while driving is by fastening it into a phone mount and positioning it so that it can be easily seen, without restricting the view of the road. However, this may be news to motorists as our recent survey revealed that only one in ten drivers have a phone mount in their vehicle.

When asked what car accessories they had/used, only 10.5% of motorists said they owned a phone mount. But, more than a quarter of drivers admitted to using a USB port—predominantly used to charge a mobile phone—highlighting that motorists may be unwittingly breaking the law with their phone usage.

The most widely used car accessory was a Sat Nav, with 32.8 drivers relying on the device to navigate the streets. However, with many smartphones having built-in navigation technology, stand-alone systems may soon be a thing of the past. With this in mind, motorists need to brush up on the laws surrounding mobile phone use because using an unsecured phone while in transit—even for navigational purposes—could incur fines of up to £1000, plus six penalty points.

Drivers attempting to sidestep phone laws by wearing a smart watch are equally at risk of receiving a careless driving penalty of £100 plus three points. Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said:

“If you were involved in a serious accident and it could be proved you were on your smart watch, it would be an aggravating factor that would lead to a longer ban or higher fine in court.

"Driving requires your complete attention so any distraction from a smart watch could be fatal.”

inside car

It’s all about the gadgets

The survey showed that technical gadgets are by far the most commonly used car accessories, with a further 10.1% of motorists using dash cams for additional peace of mind.

Surprisingly, products designed to keep the car interior clean and clutter-free such as back seat tidies and bootliners were less popular, indicating that motorists aren’t considering the future value of their vehicle.

Figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) revealed that 91% of new private cars sold between April 2018–April 2019 were purchased on a finance deal, many of which on a ‘PCP’ arrangement where the vehicle will need to be returned at the end of the term. With this in mind, maintaining the condition of a car’s interior with a protective bootliner is essential to ensure that the vehicle commands the highest possible trade-in value.

Which of these car accessories do you have/use?

Sat-Nav
32.8%

USB Charger port
25.9%

Phone mount
10.5%

Dash-cam
10.1%

Backseat tidy/tablet holder
7.8%

Bootliner
5.9%

None:
4.3%

Other:
2.7%

Family Festivals Guide – Part 2

Making the most of your festival experience with children

kids at festival

Image source: Tunes in the Dunes

In recent years the UK festival scene has grown and grown. So much so, there are now events happening in fields, castles and beaches across the country throughout the entire summer. With the diverse range of acts on offer, there is something for everyone—not least young families.

With the right planning, festivals can be a relaxing rather than chaotic experience. They are also a great chance to spend time with friends and family. In Part One of our festival series, Jack Keery from Deer Shed festival and Tommy Job, founder of the Tunes festivals, shared advice on what to pack and what to expect. Here, they share more top tips on making the best of the experience with a young family.

Family-friendly festivals

Historically, the thought of taking small children to a festival would have been laughable. However, the increase of child-friendly events has put festivals on the calendar for families. Jack believes that festivals should be fully inclusive for little ones: “Say no to ‘children’s areas’. Kids aren’t zoo animals, and the best family-friendly festivals will ensure their whole site is safe and secure, so your kids can run wild!”

Tommy shares his advice on taking kids to a festival:

  • Decide on a meeting point once you arrive, or make note of where the box office is. In the unlikely event of your family getting separated, you’ll all know where to meet one another.
  • Youngsters can get tired out pretty easily at festivals. Pull-along wagons can come in handy after a long day exploring the festival grounds.
  • If the weather is hot, it’s important to seek out some midday shade.
  • Most of all, festivals are magical events for families— embracing the atmosphere, listening to brilliant music and relaxing together is what it’s all about.

Pitching up

Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the festival spirit and can be great fun, especially as a group. A few small things can make a huge difference to the camping experience, such as:

Top tips for festival camping

  1. Arrive nice and early to pick your plot. There is nothing more stressful than trying to squeeze a tent into a crowded field, and there’s a reason why there is a big empty space downwind from the portaloos!
  2. Ask about family areas. Designated zones are often a bit quieter and more child-friendly.
  3. Choose your pitch carefully – stay away from toilets but within sight of a recognisable landmark. Try to keep away from the main thoroughfares unless you want to be kept awake all night.
  4. Identify your tent with a flag, bunting or a sign—in a sea of tents it can be tricky to identify which ‘blue one’ is yours. Or, you could invest in a remote control tent finder, which lights up to help you spot your tent in the dark.
  5. If you are with a group, position tents to face each other and pitch them close together to ensure no one else can squeeze into your spot, and make sure to leave enough space for guy ropes. You could always create a boundary with windbreaks or tape to prevent revellers from wandering through your ‘camp’. This is also a good way to deter thieves.
  6. It may seem sensible to lock your tent but this actually has the opposite effect and highlights that you may have belongings worth stealing. The simple rule of preventing theft is not to take anything of value with you.
deer shed

Image source: Deer Shed

Something for everyone

Aside from the music, many festivals cater for younger visitors with quiet zones, science tents, movie areas, bubble parties and even group bath-times. With so much on offer, it can be difficult to work out how to fit everything in. These tips should help:

How to make the most out of the festival experience

  • Have a good look at the music line-up and the children’s events to create a schedule that keeps everyone happy.
  • Prioritise your preferred acts and try not to overschedule the day—you don’t want to risk a dreaded meltdown just as your favourite headliner is about to start.
  • Keep in mind that festivals can be tiring for little ones­—factor in plenty of down-time between events.
  • Once you have identified which acts will be playing when and where, think about how long it will take to travel between stages. In larger festivals, this may involve a hike across a field or two, which can be tiring for little legs.
  • Lightweight strollers are great for napping on the move but can be very difficult to push across a muddy field. If possible, bring a buggy with all-terrain tyres or consider a sling or backpack-style carrier for smaller children.
  • Although festivals are great for trying different types of food, some children may prefer more familiar flavours. Bring some favourite snacks from home just in case. Packets of dried fruit and pureed fruit pouches are a good way to squeeze in a couple of the five-a-day.
family at festival

Keeping clean

It’s no surprise that festivals generally involve getting dirty, which for many people is part of the fun! Pre-planning can help keep the grime at bay, as Tommy advises: “Make sure you have lots of water, toilet roll, (biodegradable) face wipes and baby wipes. Also, come prepared with bags to put rubbish and dirty clothes into.” 

Jack suggests looking out for festival eco-hygiene packs, which contain everything you need to keep clean at a festival without hurting the planet.

Puddle suits, waterproofs and wellies are a must for small children, plus plenty of lightweight layers to adapt to the unpredictable British weather.

If you have access to your car during the festival, the car boot is a great way to create additional storage. A wipe clean bootliner will stop your car’s interior from getting wet and muddy, especially when it comes to packing up your filthy tent and belongings. Keep bin bags in the car ready to stash soggy clothes and muddy boots. 

Festival safety

Every parent’s nightmare is their little one getting lost in the crowds. It can be very tempting for them to wander off with so many exciting things catching their eye. The following precautions will help ensure that they are safely reunited:

Six top tips for keeping children safe at festivals

  1. Make sure that children have your contact number with them. If possible, include the numbers for a couple of the members of your party in case phone batteries die or signal is poor.
  2. It is well worth investing in a secure kids ID bracelet before you go. Waterproof, personalised wristbands are available online and will reduce the possibility of details getting rubbed off.
  3. Explain to your little one what they should do if they get lost—find a police officer, festival steward or a ‘mummy with children’.
  4. It’s also a good idea to point out a recognisable spot to head to, such as a particular food stall.
  5. Dressing your child in bright, distinctive clothing will make them easier to spot and also to describe to others.
  6. Kiddy backpacks with integral reins can also be useful for keeping tiny tots close.
rubbish at festival

Keeping the outdoors great

A big problem for festival organisers is the vast amounts of litter left behind once revellers have departed. With this in mind, think about bringing reusable bottles or cups for drinks and make sure you leave nothing behind when you pack up.

Aside from general litter, a surprising amount of tents are left behind at the end of festivals. Contrary to belief, discarded tents are not donated to charity and will generally end up as landfill. A main reason people leave their tents is because they don’t know how to pack it up properly, so make sure you practice beforehand. If you do plan on leaving yours behind, ask the organisers about drop off points — but the tent must be in good condition and complete with all parts.

To help combat waste, festivals such as Deer Shed are championing Drastic On Plastic, an initiative where food and drink traders are prohibited from selling single-use plastic bottles, cups straws, cutlery and serve ware. Instead, traders only serve meals with compostable cutlery and trays. The Tunes festivals have even incorporated beach clean up events into their schedule, ensuring the festivals create no environmental damage to the coastline.

Family Festivals Guide – Part 1

Top tips from the experts on what to pack, plan and expect

kids at festival

Image credit: Deer Shed

For many families, the festival season can be the highlight of the year, and for good reason! Fresh air, great music and the chance to chill out together can be a welcome escape from the restrictions and routine of ‘real life’.  

Revelling in the great outdoors, however, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. One of the main reasons why people shy away from festivals is the thought of getting wet and muddy. This was confirmed in our survey of the British public, which revealed over 54% of people would be put off visiting a festival because of bad weather.

Although we’ve all heard ‘horror stories’ of other people’s camping disasters and festival washouts, these are few and far between in comparison to the thousands of families who enjoy a wide range of festivals year after year.

It’s all in the planning

As any veteran will tell you, the secret to a successful festival is in the planning. Arming yourself with the right equipment, knowing where (and how) to pitch up and having a good idea of the acts and events on offer will make a huge difference to your experience.

There are three golden rules to festival packing:

  1. Don’t take anything that you would care about losing/ruining.
  2. Don’t over-pack; you’re unlikely to use it all and it can be a long walk from your car.
  3. Take a tent at least ‘one man’ bigger than you need—two man literally means two people with no room for belongings—and practice pitching and packing it away before you go.
people at festival

Advice from the experts

To find out more about what to pack, plan and expect from different types of festivals we decided to get some advice from the experts: Jack Keery from Deer Shed festival and Tommy Job, founder of the Tunes festivals.

Read on for their expert tips on ensuring that you have the best possible festival experience—come rain or shine:

What to pack for a field-based festival

People attending a field-based event need to come prepared for the possibility of mud.

Jack Keery from Deer Shed Festival shares his top ten packing essentials:

  1. Reusable water bottle and reusable hot drinks cups. Check if the festival runs reusable cup schemes at the bars and hot drinks cups (at Deer Shed you pay £2 on top of your first drink but take home a branded cup as a festival memento) and top up at fresh water standpipes around the site.
  2. Earplugs/ear defenders:Protect the kids’ hearing! Quality music at festivals can really blow you away, but that doesn’t mean it has to blow your eardrums.
  3. Eye mask:People always pack warm layers in anticipation of chilly British summer nights, but often forget that the sun blazing through a thin tent wall can cause quite a rude awakening at daybreak. You need your beauty sleep, after all.
  4. Torch:Vital for those midnight toilet visits.
  5. Sunglasses and sunscreen:It’s great to soak up the sun but make sure that you protect your skin and eyes - even at British festivals!
  6. Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, anti-bite cream and insect repellent:People sometimes forget about the presence of pesky bugs at festivals so keep them at bay with a handy spray and treat any bites as soon as you can. Wet wipes and hand sanitizers can be a godsend, too.
  7. Cooler box for food and drinks:Keep your snacks and drinks fresh and cool.
  8. Gas stove:Providing it adheres to event restrictions (cylinders at the Deer Shed Festival, for example, must be less than 2.7kg in gas weight). There are lots of local and international food traders at most festivals, but it can be nice to have bangers on the campsite for a change.
  9. Sling:For carrying the really little ones around, so you can remain hands-free.
  10. Poncho/anorak and wellies:Just in case, obviously! Every year we pray for no rain. Sometimes our prayers are answered…
festival

Image credit: ‘Tunes’

Top packing tips for a beach festival

Tommy Job, founder of the Tunes festivals suggests packing for a beach-based festival in a similar way as you would for a general beach trip. Here are his top tips…

  1. Swimwear is a must, along with sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses and towels.
  2. Reusable water bottles are great for keeping hydrated.
  3. Don’t forget a picnic blanket, plus buckets and spades for little ones.
  4. Dress in brightly coloured clothes and wear eco-friendly glitter so you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd.
  5. As British weather can be unpredictable, bring waterproof ponchos in case of summer showers.
  6. Although most festivals have card machines available to make purchases, it’s always handy to have change, especially when there are so many amazing food traders serving a variety of tasty treats.
  7. Last but not least, lots and lots of (biodegradable) baby-wipes to help keep little sticky fingers clean! 
car surf board

Everything but the kitchen sink

Once you’ve got your tent and have stocked up on camping essentials, there is the small matter of deciding what clothes to pack. The unpredictable British weather can make packing for a festival a bit of a dilemma—especially when trying to pack light—and as our survey suggests, the idea of spending a weekend feeling cold and wet is less than appealing.

Layers are key for the UK weather, with decent footwear and a good waterproof coat in case of a downpour. Try to resist the temptation to pack for a month and leave anything you don’t want to get ruined or that is tricky to get in and out of—such as playsuits and dungarees—at home. Biodegradable glitter and bright coloured accessories will help embrace the festival vibe—not to mention make it easier to spot other members of your party in the crowds.

To make things easier, our comprehensive packing list covers everything that you could need for your festival trip: [download here]

Festival Essentials – Downloadable Packing list

Essentials

    Festival tickets! Print them out in case your phone dies.

    ID

    Phone and charger/battery pack

    Enough cash to stash around your person (plus a money belt or bum bag)

    Credit/debit card

Camping

    Tent

    Folding chair

    Sleeping bag, roll mat and an empty pillowcase (pad it out with a hoodie)

    Blanket for wrapping up in when sitting out at night

    Earplugs— the only way to guarantee some sleep

    Sleep mask—essential if you don’t want to wake up with the sun

Toiletries

    Wet wipes and antiseptic wipes

    Toilet roll and hand sanitiser

    Paracetamol, hayfever tablets, any personal meds, bug spray and a small first aid kit

    Toothbrush, toothpaste and chewing gum

    Towel (microfiber towels dry quickly and don’t take up much space).

    Dry shampoo, towel off body wash (no water required)

    Tampons and deodorant

    Sun cream, glasses and hat

Eating and drinking

    Refillable water bottle

    Non-perishable food—e.g. dried fruit, bread, pot noodles, nuts and biscuits

    Small cooking stove and pan

Clothes

    Light, waterproof rain coat or poncho

    Jumper or hoodie for the evening

    Quick-drying legwear – avoid jeans

    Wellies, comfortable shoes/boots

    Spare socks and underwear

    Completely dry set of clothes in a watertight bag

    Decent rucksack (don’t bring a suitcase, they are heavy to carry and won’t wheel through mud)

Extras

    Flash light, preferably a head torch

    Bin bags for wet/dry clothes, sitting on, rain protection and for under sleeping bags

    Duct tape for tent mishaps

    Noise reducing earphones for kids

    Disposable cameras (don’t waste your phone battery)

    Picnic blanket and toys for a beach festival

    A sledge, trolley or wheelbarrow to help transport your gear to your pitch

And what NOT to pack

  • Glass—if your festival permits you to bring your own refreshments, choose cans or plastic.
  • Gazebos won’t make you very popular with other campers and are heavy to transport.
  • Candles, Chinese lanterns or fireworks can be incredibly dangerous in a festival environment.
car boot fully packed

Travelling to and from the festival

For many families, it is easier to travel to a festival by car, not least because of the amount of luggage you will need. If you have access to your vehicle during the festival, your car can provide a useful space for keeping belongings dry—just make sure anything of value is kept out of sight.

Our top tips for taking your car to a festival:

  1. Make sure you have enough fuel for the journey there and back. You may find yourself stuck in heavy traffic when leaving the festival, so don’t rely on being able to fill your tank as soon as you leave the site.
  2. Keep bin bags ready and waiting to fill with muddy clothes and camping gear.
  3. Invest in a wipe clean, padded boot liner to protect the car’s interior from mud, water and scratches from lugging bulky camping gear in and out.
  4. Have a set of clean, dry clothes and shoes in the car so you are comfortable on the journey home.
  5. Leave extra snacks and water for welcome refreshments.
  6. Keep a phone charging lead in the car -- your battery will almost certainly need a boost.
  7. Entertainment for tired children will help while the journey away.
tents at festival

And finally, what to expect when you get there

Many festivals—especially family-focussed ones—are jam-packed with activities alongside the performances. Before you go it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the itinerary and work out what is on offer and when. Don’t forget to factor in travelling time between stages and attractions as some festivals can sprawl over a vast area. Often festivals have an app that allows you to check the acts to want to see and avoid any clashes. Some die-hard festival-goers have even been known to devise a spreadsheet to ensure they make the most of every minute!

Tommy Job, advises festival-goers to take a much calmer approach:

Make sure to leave plenty of time beforehand so you don’t feel stressed upon arrival. It can be overwhelming karting many bags and camping gear along, especially with little ones tow, so the more you can prepare at home the better. Pack something small that will keep them entertained if you do have to queue at the box office. If you’re camping, pitching a good distance between the bathrooms and main entrance is beneficial. The Tunes camping grounds are relatively small, so it’s easy enough to navigate your way around. Check on the performance times before you get there so you don’t miss your favourite acts.”

Something for everyone

Aside from the headlining acts festivals often have areas designed purely for children, as Jack Keery explains:

It’s hard not to give information overload when you’re talking about what’s on offer at Deer Shed because there is so much to do for every member of the family! The festival site is a plethora of performances, activities, spectacles and good vibes. Visitors can experience magical and immersive theatre, walkabout performances and art installations or even attend a baby bubble rave before taking your tot to our group bath time.”

For more top tips about making the most out of your festival experience, read Part 2 of our festival guide here…

Top tips on transporting gardening equipment without ruining your car

dirty boots

Gardening has become an increasingly popular pastime for people of all ages, with little wonder. Aside from the feeling of satisfaction that a beautifully maintained space provides, ‘growing your own’ is also a great way to get fresh produce at a fraction of high street prices—with the added benefit of eliminating unnecessary packaging and chemicals.

Whether you are a weekend potterer, allotment fanatic or a full-time professional there is one element that all gardeners can agree on—it can be a very messy job. No matter how careful you are it is almost impossible to prevent dirt and mud from soiling everything you touch, not least your car.

Transporting plants, soil, wood chippings or gardening tools—not to mention the inevitable trips to the recycling tip—can make a real mess of your car boot. Soil can quickly become ground into the carpets and sharp tools, twigs and brambles can easily tear and scratch the interior and bumper as it’s being loaded in and out.   

Expert advice on protecting your car

To find out how the experts manage to keep their cars in tip top condition while driving between jobs, we spoke to professional gardeners Jane Hicks and Tim Taylor.

Do you find that your car boot quickly becomes dirty due to transporting tools and plants?

Jane: Yes, I’m a garden designer but like to plant up the gardens I design. I tend to alternate between having surveying equipment or planting tools such as spades and garden forks with compost and the odd plant in the boot, so practicality is the key for me. The main requirement when choosing my recent car was whether I could fit my wheelbarrow in the back!

Tim: Definitely, I am constantly cleaning out loose earth from the boot of my car and wiping it off the backs of the seats. Compost bags can easily split when they are being heaved in and out of the boot, especially if they are pushed in beside tools. Also, if tools are wet as well as muddy they can leave a real mess behind.

Have you experienced permanent damage to your car boot?

Jane: Yes, trying to fit too much into the boot especially when in a hurry has caused soil to spill everywhere, plus scratches and breaks to the interior.

Tim: Unfortunately, yes. Tools have scraped against the walls when I haven’t loaded the boot carefully and timber fence posts have also ripped and scuffed up the carpet.

How about damage to the paintwork/bumper of your car?

Jane: Continually moving things in and out of the boot between surveying equipment and planting tools—especially when working in bad weather conditions—can cause scratches and muddy smears.

Tim: I never store equipment in the car overnight so I have to load my mower, hedge trimmer, tools etc. in and out every day. My boot and bumper have several dents from trying to load tools and equipment too quickly, especially when they are wet and slippy. I learned the hard way so now I always try to ensure it is protected, even when I am in a rush.

car boot with wellies

Do you currently use anything to protect your boot from damage?

Jane: A boot liner, and when the back seats are folded down a mat which fits over this area as well. I bought them both from the car manufacturer so they fit the space properly and they have been brilliant as I can carefully lift the mats out of the car, shake off soil and hose them down as necessary.

Tim: I have tried all sorts of ways to protect the boot—blankets, tarpaulins, etc—but they just slide around and can easily rip. I now have a padded boot liner which is much better, it also covers the back seats (when folded down) and also has a flap that covers the back bumper, which is a godsend when loading and unloading.

If you use your vehicle for both personal and business use do you find it easy to make the transition between the two?

Jane: Yes very easy. The rubber boot mat stays where it is and I just roll the extender bit for the back seats up and put it in the boot. Then I simply put the back seats upright and fit the boot shelf back in place.

Tim:  It’s not too bad, I try to keep the mess restricted to the back and the boot so when the seats are folded back in place it’s pretty clean. I wipe down the liner and give it a quick vacuum once a week.

plants in car

What do you find creates the most mess in your car?

Jane: Plants that fall over and spill soil everywhere are the worst but if I’ve been working in the rain, it’s very difficult to keep anything clean with sticky mud covering tools, waterproofs, gloves and boots.

Tim: Loose compost, it gets everywhere! At the end of the day, mud is part and parcel of the job so it’s all about damage limitation.

Top tips for transporting gardening equipment

  1. Keep shallow plastic storage boxes in the boot for when you are transporting plants. This will keep them upright and contain any leaking water or soil. Tim
  2. Use a hose to clean off muddy tools and boots before loading the car. Jane
  3. Protect the rear bumper of your car when loading and unloading bulky tools by using a bootliner that has a bumper flap. Tim
  4. Leave mud to dry before vacuuming it up. Jane
  5. Wrap the head of dirty spades, forks etc. with old towels to help contain the dirt and stop sharp edges from causing any damage. Tim
  6. Transport single plants in a bucket in the foot well of the back seat; if you have several plants use a crate or a cardboard box lined with plastic to stop them falling over. This will help prevent damaging the plant and spilling soil everywhere. Jane
  7. Keep an empty plastic trug in the boot to store muddy boots, gloves and outerwear while in transit. Pop in a pair of clean shoes for a quick change. Tim
rubbish in boot

Why holidaying with your pet is now easier than ever

dog with ball on beach

No family holiday is complete without the dog, which is why almost a third of owners choose to take their pooch with them when they go on a UK break. This was revealed in a survey we carried out among dog owners to find out how their canine companions affected their holiday decisions.

Sadly, 19% of people who responded admitted that they rarely went away. This isn’t altogether surprising—until recently, the availability of decent-quality pet-friendly accommodation had been extremely limited. Leaving your dog in the care of boarding kennels or a pet sitter can significantly increase the overall cost of the trip, not to mention fill you with shame! A survey carried out by Mintel found that almost four in 10 pet owners feel guilty about leaving their dog when going on holiday.

The best of both worlds

Thankfully, the days of compromising on the standard of your accommodation in order to include your pet are becoming a thing of the past. Holiday providers are finally realising there’s much demand for high-quality, pet-friendly accommodation, and the number of premium hotels and holiday homes welcoming four-legged friends is growing rapidly.

Nicky Burton, founder of All Four Paws, specialises in finding the very best pet-friendly venues for holidaying with your pup. Here she explains why taking your pet away with you has never been easier:

“The rise in ‘pet-friendly’ holidays has meant there are so many wonderful destinations to enjoy together, from hotels to eateries and many adventures beyond. Travelling with your dog may feel a little daunting at first but ultimately they love being by your side and you'll have a wonderful time exploring new surroundings and making new friends together, of both the human and hound variety!”

pet friendly hotel

What to look for in dog-friendly holiday accommodation

With an abundance of pet-friendly destinations available, it can be difficult to know what to look for. Finding somewhere that welcomes—as opposed to merely tolerates—your dog will make your holiday so much more comfortable, as Nicky explains:

Venues that truly welcome dogs are vital to us. They should welcome every member of the family with open arms so that everyone is at ease, can relax and have a wonderful time together.”

Here are our top tips for what to look out for when selecting your holiday venue:

1. Do your research

There are lots of pet-orientated blogs dedicated to travelling with your dog. Learn from other pet owners’ experiences—they will be able to offer unbiased advice on the places that claim to be pet-friendly and the ones that actually are.

2. Filter your search to meet your needs

Specialist pet travel websites such as All Four Paws have already done the legwork and can recommend places that will suit your whole family’s needs. Alternatively, mainstream holiday sites let you tailor your search to include only ‘pet friendly’ or ‘pets allowed’ options.

3. Call ahead

Get a better idea of what you’ll find when you arrive at your destination by calling the hotel or person responsible for the accommodation directly and asking a few questions. For example:

  • Do you have any restrictions as to the size, breed or age of dogs allowed?
  • What’s the policy for bringing more than one dog?
  • Do you charge extra for dogs? Are costs per night or per stay?
  • Are there any areas in which you don’t allow dogs?
  • Are there any rules about where the dog can go to the toilet?
  • Can we leave dogs in the room/property unattended?
  • Do we need to put our dog in a crate overnight?
  • Do you provide any pet extras, such as bowls, bedding, towels etc?

4. Research the surrounding area

Once you’ve found the perfect pet-friendly accommodation, it’s well worth checking that the surrounding area is equally accommodating. Being near pet-friendly beaches, pubs and restaurants means you can thoroughly explore the area with your pooch by your side.

5. Distance to the venue

Keep in mind that long journeys may be stressful for dogs and they’re likely to need several stops along the route to stretch their legs, go to the toilet and have a drink.

Winding country roads can make dogs travel-sick, so always research your journey to find the smoothest routes with plenty of available stop-off points. Nicky agrees:

“Regular stops are good all round—we certainly need them too! Make time to let your dog stretch their legs, have a sniff or two and a comfort break. If it’s a long trip, we try and make sure our dogs have had a good walk first, then they’re ready to hunker down and have a snooze—perfect for a car journey!”

6. Think seasonal

Many beaches don’t allow dogs during the summer months. Out-of-season breaks, however, mean you can enjoy long walks on the sand with your pet. You may also find that venues are more accommodating to pets in the quieter months.

dog in suitcase

Top tips on what to pack

Whether you’re off on a short trip or a longer break, packing smartly will ensure your dog has everything they need to settle into the new environment. Here are our suggestions:

Eating and sleeping

Dog food and bowl—Take enough of your pet’s favoured food and treats (particularly if they require a specialist diet) to last your entire stay. A plastic mat to go beneath the bowl will help keep flooring unsoiled.

Basket/bed—Bringing your dog’s own bed will add a touch of familiarity, as Nicky explains:

“We find that dogs like to have some familiar smells and some beloved items with them to help them relax in their new surroundings. Our spaniel guru Rigby loves to have a taste of home with him, whether that’s his bed, the blanket he loves to snuggle in or his favourite toys.”

Dog crate—If you transport your dog in a crate, it can double up as a bed for when they go to sleep at night. This will also stop them from getting up to mischief if you leave them alone in the accommodation for a short time.

Packing list

Eating and sleeping

Food, treats, bowls and mat

Dog bed/basket

Familiar toys and blankets

Dog crate

Out and about

Collar/name tag

Leads (long and short)

Water bottle and bowl

Wipe clean bootliner

Poo bags

Dog seatbelt or harness

Towels

Dog spike

Precautions

Medication

Old sheet

Fabric stain remover

Brush

Pet insurance

Out and about

Collar with name tag—If you lose your dog, it’s essential people can return him or her to you. For this reason, put your current mobile number on the dog’s tag and fasten it securely to the animal’s collar. It may even be worth getting another tag marked with your holiday address as an additional precaution.

Long and short leads—While your pooch may enjoy walking on a long leash, in some areas (such as national parks) you might be asked to keep them on a short leash.

Water bottle and bowl—Carry a water bottle in your bag at all times to keep your pup hydrated. Collapsible bowls are great for feeding on the go.

Wipe-clean bootliner—Holidaying with your pooch provides plenty of opportunities for muddy hikes and long walks along sandy beaches. Unfortunately, sand and mud can make a real mess of your car boot, so investing in a wipe-clean bootliner lets you thoroughly enjoy messy day trips without worrying about soiling the car’s interior. Bootliners will also protect the car from scuffs and scrapes if you transport your pet in a crate.

Poo bags—Just like at home, it’s essential to clear up any dog mess when out and about.

Dog seatbelt or harness—Make sure your dog is suitably secured while in transit to prevent them suffering an injury if there’s a motor accident. Not only will this keep your dog safe, it also means you’re following car insurance guidelines.

Towels—Pack a few old towels to give your four-legged friend a good rub-down after they’ve been playing in the water or mud.

Dog spike—If you’re planning on picnicking or pitching up on a beach, dog spikes are great for keeping your dog restrained on a long leash.

Precautions

Medication—Pack any regular medicine that your dog may need.

Large sheet—An old sheet will help stop dog hair getting on carpets or upholstery.

Fabric stain remover—Just in case of accidents.

Brush—A good brush after a wet walk is a useful way to stop fur becoming matted.

Pet hair roller or lint brush—Many holiday homes ask that you leave them in the condition in which you found them. A quick tidy round with a roller will remove all trace of pet hair.

Pet insurance—Arranging this is always a worthwhile precaution. Keep details of your policy on you in case your dog needs medical assistance while you’re away from home.

You can download a free printable packing list here.

Why your car interior becomes damaged and how to prevent it

No matter how well you look after your car, it’s inevitable that the interior will start to show signs of wear and tear through day-to-day use, not least if your passengers include small children or pets.

Simple measures—such as removing muddy footwear, avoiding messy snacks, and taking litter with you when you leave the car—will help prevent mess from accumulating. Regularly vacuuming the upholstery and footwells and wiping down surfaces will also keep the interior in prime condition.

While it’s easy to keep on top of the passenger areas of the car, it can be a lot harder to keep the out-of-sight areas—such as the boot—clean and damage-free.

The very nature of the boot means you might use it to stow bulky, dirty items such as prams, bikes, luggage, sports gear or camping equipment. All of these can transfer mud, oil and other stains to the interior, and sharp edges can damage the carpeting or inner tailgate.

And while the boot is also a safe and practical area of the car for transporting the family dog, again there’s the risk of stains and potential damage from chewing or scratching.

bags of rubbish

The main causes of interior damage

To find out more about how car interiors suffer damage, we ran an independent survey asking the public: “What causes the most damage to your car interior?” Here’s what we found out…

Spillages—from either groceries or car maintenance items such as motor oil—attracted a combined 32% of the votes, highlighting that simple, day-to-day accidents can cause considerable damage to a car’s interior.

Children’s equipment and pets also proved to be common causes of damage, collecting 25% and 22% of the votes respectively.

Tools and sporting equipment were the main source of damage for 13% of people.

Holiday luggage was cited as a cause of damage for a further 8% of those surveyed.

What you can do to prevent it

This is one area where prevention is most definitely better than cure. Protecting your boot before you fill it with items that are likely to spill or scuff will undoubtedly reduce the damage caused.

You can do this by putting rugs and blankets down. However, they may slip and slide in transit, or moved or chewed by pets. They are also unlikely to contain any liquid spillages.

The best way to fully protect your boot is to install a made-to-measure, wipe-clean bootliner that fits securely to the walls and floor of your boot, covering all surfaces.

vacuum car

What to do if the damage is already done

If the boot is already soiled or damaged, you may be able to restore it to its former glory with a bit of TLC.

Obviously it’s important that you don’t create further damage by using the wrong treatment for the stain. With this in mind, we turned to the professionals in the car-cleaning world for some expert advice. Russ Chadd from CarcleanseUK.com shares his expertise in removing common stains from a car interior:

What do you find causes the most damage to the interior of a car boot?

Liquid spillages such as milk, paint and fuel are probably in the top-five items that cause serious damage. Also, any heavy objects such as bikes, tool boxes etc. will eventually damage the carpet.

What methods would you use to clean the following spillages from a car boot?

Oil—Any oil-based spillage usually ends up damaging fabrics and plastics one way or another. It’s near impossible to remove every single trace of oil that has been spilt into a carpet and therefore we advise to replace boot carpets rather than try and clean them.

Mud—Dry mud can be easily removed from fabrics and carpets using a brush to loosen the soil and a cylinder vacuum cleaner to collect it.

Food spillages—Light food spillages can be removed from carpets and upholstery with a cloth or towel. However, if the spillage is heavy, dairy-based or likely to cause an odour, I would definitely recommend seeking professional attention.

Pet fur—Remove pet fur from carpets and upholstery using a rubber brush specifically designed for this purpose—simply brush the surface and then vacuum. If you don't have a rubber brush, rubber gloves will also work well.

Pet mess—Remove as much of the spillage (if solid) as soon as possible and keep the windows open. Apply an anti-bacterial spray to the areas and rinse using a damp towel.

If the pet has urinated, you will need to blot up the spillage and treat the area to prevent odour and bacteria. In this case, the best option would be to bring in the professionals.

Do you have any tips for helping to protect the car boot from damage?

A good-quality, purpose-made bootliner will no doubt shield the carpet from wear and tear. I can definitely notice a difference to the condition of the car boot when boot protectors have been used.

How would you suggest repairing a ripped boot lining?

This will depend on what it’s made from. If it’s moulded plastic, an epoxy resin or flexible filler may work well. If it’s thin plastic, the cheapest way to fix a tear would be using a good-quality adhesive tape.

Find the perfect colour for your Hatchbag boot liner

If you’re not sure which colour to choose for your new Hatchbag boot liner, this guide will help you decide. The pictures below will not only show you what our boot liners look like when they have been fitted, but also how the colour could suit your vehicle and personal preferences.

Due to the large volume of vehicles we provide for, the pictures shown are only generic ones. This means the pictures will not match your vehicle exactly but should give you a good indicator on how the boot liner could look in your vehicle.

Most popular colours: Black & Grey

Hatchbag boot liner in black Hatchbag boot liner in grey

Unsurprisingly, most of our customers tend to choose black or grey for their liner. Black is what you would expect it to be, often complementing the existing darker colours of the boot. The grey can best be described as a battleship grey. An added advantage of the grey is that it shows the least marks over time.

Most vibrant colours: Red, Orange & Pink

Hatchbag boot liner in red Hatchbag boot liner in orange Hatchbag boot liner in pink

If you’re looking for something more colourful then look no further. If you are the kind of person that likes to stand out with brighter colours, take a look at our red, orange and pink liners. They will certainly jazz up your cars’ interior decor and make your boot stand out from the crowd.

Great alternative colours: Blue & Brown

Hatchbag boot liner in blue Hatchbag boot liner in brown

Our final two colours may not be the most popular or vibrant, but they do have a charm of their own and may suit your car perfectly. The blue is a royal blue, whereas the brown can be described as a milk chocolate brown. Brown is also very popular with customers ordering for cars with beige interiors.

Hopefully this guide has given you an idea of what the Hatchbag boot liner will look like in each colour. Now it’s time to go ahead and customise the perfect boot liner solution for your needs.

Black Friday is back at the Hatchbag Company to kickstart your holiday season

hatchbag 10% off discount promotion

Black Friday Sale

Black Friday marks the start of the holiday season and here at the Hatchbag Company, we are excited to keep up this autumn tradition with a 10% discount on our entire range of products from November 23rd to 26th.

The term Black Friday was first coined in the 1950s in Philadelphia and has become an almost global sensation since then. It’s the day consumers like to make the most of lavish discounts and get a great deal on that product they’ve had their eye on for some time. Let’s look at the range of products you can save money on with our Black Friday discount.

If you are looking for a tailor-made liner that will cover and protect your car boot, then the Hatchbag Company has you covered. We sell over 400 different boot liners for a range of car models, with a host of accessories to take care of your every need.

Hatchbag products on offer

Our standard liner, made of high-quality pvc will become a second-skin for your boot, protecting your vehicle from muddy paws, sharp edges, or heavy goods. If you require more space, you may wish to upgrade your liner to either the rear plus or rear split version. The rear-plus liner allows you to fold down the back seat altogether. If you want to fold down your back seat down individually and altogether then the rear seat split option may be the one for you.  Please note, when you fold your seats down there will be a small gap at the top and side of the seats left exposed. You can cover this in one of two ways, rear seat flap or boot liner extension.

The rear seat flap attaches to the top of the liner and flaps over the headrests. If you order a split liner, the rear seat flap will also be split. The boot liner extension protects the back of the front passenger seat and driver seat and attached to the boot liner folded on the second row of seats. For dog owners, the bumper flap could also be a perfect addition in protecting your bumper from scratches. Finally, the tailgate cover offers protection to the inside of your boot door.

On top of our boot liners, we offer several mats to fit on top to suit a variety of needs. The Hatchbed mat has a carpeted surface that will provide a comfortable surface for your dog to lie on. The odour mat contains an activated carbon that can absorb and eliminate any bad odours, and our rubber mat is a perfect addition for extra protection for your car boot floor, especially from heavy goods or sharp edges.

Hatchbag discount

With a 10% Black Friday discount on all our products from November 23rd to 26th, we can customise your order specifically to your needs and send it direct to your doorstep. You don’t even need to worry about a discount code. The offer will be automatically applied at the checkout. So, save money off your Hatchbag boot liner this Black Friday and start your holiday season with a smile.

How car journeys can risk your dog’s safety and add points to your licence

dog sitting in car boot

Once a four-legged friend joins the family, it’s only natural that you’ll want them to join you when you’re out and about. But because not all trips can be made on foot, it’s often necessary to transport dogs by car.

Taking a dog on a car journey, however, isn’t as straightforward as simply letting them jump in and sit on a car seat. Allowing a dog to sit unrestrained in a moving vehicle can be incredibly dangerous, both for them and for other passengers in the car. It can even mean the driver is breaking the Highway Code, which states:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you have to stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."

Driving without due care and attention because your unrestrained pet has distracted you can see you fined up to £2,500 and given nine penalty points. What’s more, your insurance policy is unlikely to cover any damage caused.

To find out whether people are aware of this regulation and to determine just how safe dogs—and their owners—are when travelling by car, we surveyed the British public.

Here’s what we discovered…

Alarmingly, 45% of dog owners admitted that their dog roamed freely in the car, either on the back or front seats, in the boot or in the footwell.

labrador sitting in back seat of car

Of those who restrained their dogs in transit, using a dog guard in the boot was the most popular method, taking 29% of the votes. Not only does this comply with the guidelines set out in the Highway Code, it also ensures that the dog is safe, comfortable and unlikely to cause the driver any distraction.

TOP TIP: Ensure that your dog doesn’t soil or damage the interior of your car boot by fitting a wipe-clean bootliner—perfect for after muddy walks and essential if your pet is prone to chewing or travel sickness.

A further 24% of the public chose to secure their dog in a harness during transit, again complying with Highway Code guidelines.

TOP TIP: If using a harness for your pet, never secure them to a front seat whose airbag is activated. If you were to crash, the airbag could cause your dog considerable harm.

Another popular way to transport dogs is in a crate in the boot, a method favoured by 13% of those surveyed. This helps ensure the dog is comfortable and in familiar surroundings, especially if you also use the crate as the dog’s indoor bed.

TOP TIP: Again, a bootliner will help protect your car’s interior when lifting the crate in and out. Some models can even be configured to protect the car’s tailgate.

Meet the experts

As well as surveying the public, we also asked pet care experts for some top tips on keeping dogs safe and comfortable in transit. Here’s what they had to say…

ryan white

Ryan White

Managing Director of We Love Pets

we-love-pets.co.uk

We Love Pets is an award-winning pet care business, offering professional dog-walking, pet-sitting and boarding services.

Ryan has been teaching animal care and behaviour for eight years and has 25 years’ experience of working with dogs.


louise self

Louise Self

Dog care coordinator at Barking Mad

barkingmad.uk.com

Barking Mad is the UK’s number-one dog home boarder, offering dog sitting and home boarding.

Louise is an experienced dog owner and trainer and regularly hosts dogs in her own home, as well as arranging suitable matches with other families.


gemma harrison

Gemma Harrison

Owner of Walkies with Marley

walkieswithmarley.com

Walkies with Marley is a family-run dog-walking and pet care business based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Fulfilling a lifelong desire to work with animals, Gemma (along with Marley, her four-year-old Border Terrier) provides a personal pet care service, making the most of the fabulous walks on offer around the Peak District.

How would you advise transporting a dog on a car journey? Does this differ according to the size of dog/number of dogs?

Ryan: Definitely! People often assume that larger breeds are more difficult to travel with due to their size, but actually small dogs could be just as much of a hazard in a moving vehicle as their bigger counterparts.

Distraction could increase the risk of an accident, which is why an appropriate safety harness that fits correctly or a cage to secure the dog is paramount. Where is the dog? Exactly where you left it—there’s no need to keep checking. The dog is safe and so are you and your passengers.

If you have more than one dog, each dog needs to be restrained in a safe and appropriate manner, no different to that single dog. It’s important to ensure that any equipment is fit for purpose. If it’s too tight, it could rub and cause discomfort, making the dog unsettled. If it’s too loose, it may cause the dog to free itself and startle the driver, causing a distraction. If the dog is in a harness, it’s important that long leads aren’t draped loose as this could cause the dog to become tangled and lead to injury.

Louise: There are many ways to transport dogs. My preferred favourite is in a crate in the rear of the car as the dogs can move around and have space to change their positions for maximum comfort. When you have more than one dog, it eases stress as the dogs remain together all the time.

Dogs don’t have to wear seatbelts, which can aggravate some, particularly if they’re not used to wearing a harness and being restrained. Never attach a seatbelt to a dog’s collar as it can cause a neck injury or potentially strangulation. They also tend to be damage-limitation in the form of preventing the dog being thrown forward in the event of a collision and don’t really offer any protection to the dog.

Gemma: You must restrain your dog when travelling in a motor vehicle—failing to could invalidate your insurance if you have an accident, and land you an additional fine. Personally, I’d strongly advise using a crate, especially for younger giddy dogs, or where this isn’t possible, a doggy seatbelt. As a dog walker, I use multiple crates in the back of my van and on the whole have each dog crated individually. I do have some larger dogs that I’m unable to crate due to their size, so I have them attached to a short dog seatbelt to keep them in place, safe, and at no risk of getting tangled.

dog in seatbelt

Do you have any tips to help dogs suffering from travel sickness?

Ryan: The most important rule is to always plan your journey! Make sure you don't feed the dog immediately before or after as it may cause them to have an unsettled stomach.

Frequent short journeys are best and try to avoid lots of windy roads and roundabouts where possible. The most important thing in preventing travel sickness is enabling the dog to gain balance. The dog needs to feel secure. Lots of deep bedding will support the dog and allow it to feel far safer. Once the dog starts to realise it can regain balance with the movement of the car, you can start using less bedding.

Louise: If a dog suffers from travel sickness, it can help for them to travel in the front passenger seat provided they are well secured. I’ve found that driving particularly smoothly helps—for example, if stopping at traffic lights etc. brake slowly in anticipation and don’t pull off suddenly. Also ensure that the dog doesn’t eat for at least two to three hours before they travel. There are various medications or stress remedies on the market but I’ve never used them, finding the above combats all but the most serious car sickness.

Gemma: I’ve found that, like people, dogs can be travel-sick when they can’t see out of the window, usually when they’ve been positioned in low crates. Elevating the crates to enable the dog to see seems to help! Also, don’t give your dog a big meal before travelling—feed them literally nothing if you can help 

What problems (if any) have you encountered transporting dogs?

Ryan: I’ve never encountered any problems personally. I’ve worked with dogs for over 25 years and it has always been instilled in my mind to always expect the unexpected and have mitigations for every unexpected incident. Fortunately, prior planning has always prevented any incident. All of our franchisees we recruit have training at Wiltshire College and gain a City and Guilds qualification, which prevents any mistakes or misjudged acts. All of our franchisees and their teams follow our health and safety policy and training guides that we put together at head office, which dramatically reduces the likelihood of an incident occurring. In the unlikely event that an incident occurs, all of our team are pet first-aid trained, which means they can deal with emergencies swiftly and confidently.

Louise: I’ve never encountered any problems transporting dogs. I find they like the radio or music on and soon relax and enjoy the journey.

Gemma: No major problems to report.

dog eating outside car

Would you approach taking a dog on a long motorway journey differently to a local journey?

Ryan: I would always exercise and toilet-break the dog before any journey—long or short. If it was a long journey and the dog was fit and active, the exercise prior to leaving would be more significant. Feeding a dog before a journey or letting them drink lots of water could lead to complications. Whether the journey is long or short, a dog would benefit from not having a full stomach.

Louise: I would take more items to entertain a dog on a long journey, particularly if they do tend to find travelling stressful. Something for the dog to chew would be helpful as this both occupies them and helps relieve stress. Also if they have a favourite soft toy or blanket that gives them comfort, put that in the crate with them.

Gemma: On longer journeys I’d make sure that they are comfortable with a soft towel or a blanket on the seat or in their crate. If using a doggy seatbelt on a long journey, you obviously need to ensure your dog is safe, and on a leash which is not too long but long enough for them to relax and lie down and sleep. Ensure you break up the journey for a leg-stretch and toilet stop and bring plenty of water.

On shorter journeys, especially when I’m working, I still put towels in the crates to make the dogs more comfortable. It also helps to dry them off a little when transporting them home again. I always have water, which is especially handy on warmer days, but to be honest we generally go where the dogs can have a splash and a drink in the rivers.

Is there anything you could recommend to help ensure the dog is as comfortable as possible in transit?

Ryan: It’s always really important to ensure the car is well-ventilated on a hot day with either air conditioning or open windows, especially on long car journeys. No air flow and warm weather can be detrimental to a dog’s health.

Louise: Open the window slightly to let in some air, drive carefully and be responsive to the dog’s needs. A comfortable full-restraint harness if travelling on a seat and your dog is happy with this.

Gemma: In the summer, keep them cool and hydrated, and in the winter keep them warm and comfortable. The problem with crates is that the majority have a plastic bottom, so without a towel or a blanket dogs can feel like they’re slipping about. Also ensure you buy the correct size of crate for your dog, especially for longer journeys.

Has transporting a dog ever damaged the inside of your vehicle? How have you prevented this?

Ryan: Restricting a dog and not allowing it to roam freely in a vehicle will immediately reduce this risk. I’d always advise if you have a dog on a harness on the back seat that the dog is already familiar with the harness. Wearing the harness supervised within the house and normalising it will prevent the dog from chewing it. Dogs can get bored easily and release anxiety by chewing so don't leave the dog unattended for a long period of time.

Plan your route with suitable areas to exercise the dog and allow it to have a toilet break as this will help settle the dog. Familiarisation is key for dogs—new things can cause excitement or anxiety and both of these behaviours can trigger chewing.

Acclimatise your dog to the car by starting with shorter journeys closer to home before you start with longer journeys. Always look out for signs that your dog may be stressed such as panting, barking, fidgeting or panting heavily.

Louise: I’ve never experienced damage to the interior of my car due to the dogs being in a crate.

Gemma: I’ve used a material seat liner in the past that attaches to the front seat and then straps onto the back seats. Liners are a great idea, as they help to protect the seats then just lift out so you can shake them off and give them a clean.