Dogs

Get ready, set and go — Your complete checklist for the ultimate road trip

As John Steinbeck famously said ‘people don’t take trips, trips take people’ which is just one of the many reasons why the lure of the open road appeals to so many holiday makers. Taking a road trip is a great way to experience every aspect of your holiday, and making the most of the journey — rather than focussing purely on the destination — means that your adventure starts the very moment you put your foot on the pedal.

As with all types of holiday, a little bit of pre-planning can make a huge difference to the ease and enjoyment of your trip. This handy road-trip checklist will help ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible…

Get roadworthy

When it comes to road trips, the difference between the trip of a lifetime and the holiday from hell depends largely on the condition of your vehicle. Giving your vehicle a bit of TLC before hitting the road can help prevent any nasty surprises.

☐   Check that all vehicle documents are up to date. Ensure that your road tax, insurance and MOT are valid and will not expire while you are away.

☐   Book your vehicle in for a service. Don’t chance it that you will get a last-minute appointment, reputable garages are often booked up in advance.

☐   Roadside assistance. This could turn out to be invaluable if you break down in the middle of nowhere. It is often inexpensive and the cost is far outweighed by the peace of mind it offers.

☐   Consider hiring a car. Especially useful if your car is prone to being unreliable. If you have problems with it at home it is highly likely that it is not going to last the length of your trip.

☐   Prior to leaving, double-check the following:

☐   Tyre pressure

☐   Windscreen wash

☐   Engine oil

☐   Petrol

Plan your route

Getting lost can sometimes lead to the best road trip adventures, ‘sometimes’ being the operative word. Knowing where you are going and how to get there will eliminate stress and most certainly reduce the chance of navigational disputes!

☐   A recently updated Sat-Nav can be a godsend when travelling through unfamiliar areas.

☐   A trusty map is worth its weight in gold if you lose GPS signal, or if you want an overview of the wider area.

☐   Plan your route via the scenic route. Detouring from the motorways can open up some stunning scenery and views.

☐   Research guest houses, hostels and camp sites along your route in case your plans have to change for any reason.

Pack smartly

How much you pack depends on three elements: how long you are going for, the size of your car and the number of passengers. Packing everything you need while maintaining passenger comfort can be a tricky balance to strike, but the right equipment can definitely help.

☐   A roof box will free up space inside the car and is perfect for storing lightweight yet bulky essentials such as sleeping bags, camping chairs and clothing. It is worth noting cars become considerably less aerodynamic when fitted with a roof box, which may negatively affect petrol consumption.

☐   A protective boot liner fitted to the exact dimensions of your car boot will help prevent the car’s interior from being damaged when packing and unpacking bulky luggage. It will also protect the boot from the mud, sand and wet that inevitably gets transferred into the car whilst out and about.

☐   Pack smartly and make sure that your actual bags and cases aren’t adding on unnecessary bulk to your luggage. Handles and wheels can take up valuable space so think about lightweight alternatives, especially if your luggage is staying in the car or going straight from the boot to your accommodation. Consider using laundry bags for clothing. Stackable, clear plastic boxes are also great for organising general belongings, especially when camping.

In case of emergency

It’s always worth preparing for all eventualities so keep a box of emergency essentials tucked away. If possible, include:

☐   Emergency breakdown triangle

☐   Hi-vis vests

☐   Torch (with working batteries)

☐   Spare tyre/puncture kit

☐   Water and snacks reserved for emergency use

Get comfortable

Sitting in the same position for hours on end can become uncomfortable, so it is important to make regular stops to visit the loo and stretch your legs. Maximising in-car comfort will help make long stretches of the journey more bearable.

☐   Lightweight blankets can make driving at night cosier for passengers and will reduce the need to crank up the heating — which can cause tiredness due to dry eyes, not to mention burn more fuel.

☐   Supportive neck pillows can help passengers catch forty winks while in transit.

☐   Sharing the drive will undoubtedly ensure that all parties enjoy the journey. Make sure all drivers are insured on the vehicle prior to departing.

☐   Do not underestimate the power of snacks. Stock up on snacks that are easy to munch on the go, plus water bottles to keep you hydrated. Insulated flasks are great for keeping hot drinks warm, and they can be re-filled at service stations throughout the journey.

☐   In-car entertainment such as portable DVD players, tablets, guessing games and a few good playlists will help while away less scenic stretches of the trip, especially if you are travelling with children.

…and hit the road

A bit of smart planning can make a huge difference to the success of your trip and ensure that the journey is every bit as fun as the destination. So get prepared, get packed, get comfortable and get going!

Is your lifestyle reducing the future value of your car?

As the costs of motoring increase, fewer people are now in a position to buy a new or nearly new car outright. Instead, many motorists choose to opt for the tempting Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) deals offered by car manufacturers.

Unlike a hire-purchase agreement — where the customer owns the car once payments are complete — PCP allows motorists to pay lower monthly instalments over a shorter period of time. Then, at the end of the contract, they can simply hand the car back to the dealer and swap the expired deal for a fresh one on another new car, or purchase the car at its agreed Guaranteed Minimum Future Value (GMFV), which is specified in the initial contract.

As with all seemingly ‘win-win’ situations, there is a catch. Namely, how guaranteed this future value price actually is. Because it has been known for motorists to be financially penalised if their lifestyle subjects the vehicle to more wear and tear than the T&Cs allow.

To find out more about what motorists assume will affect the GMFV price on their car, boot-liner manufacturer Hatchbag ran a survey asking the UK public “What parts of a car do you think are likely to cost you money at the end of a lease?”  

Here’s what the survey revealed:

The results

As expected, motorists were most worried that damage to the bodywork would affect the GMFV when they returned the car to the dealer. Bumper scuffs, interior and window damage were also cited as being potential costs.

Surprisingly, the area that attracted the least amount of consideration was interior boot trim — the area of a vehicle that arguably receives the highest amount of daily wear and tear. With only 14.7% of respondents expressing concern, it highlights that the remaining 85.3% are at risk of facing financial penalties due to the state of their car boot.

Why is the boot such a key area for damage?

The primary purpose of the car boot is to transport larger bulky items, such as luggage, pushchairs or sports equipment. The very nature of these items means that they’re likely to rattle around in transit, potentially knocking or scraping against the interior of the boot and tailgate, not to mention the potential damage to the bumper that could be caused getting them into the boot in the first place.

The boot is also used to store items that might otherwise permanently stain the upholstery in the main seating area of the vehicle — such as muddy boots, wet coats and bags of food shopping— despite the fact that these items are equally likely to soil the interior of the boot. This also presents the additional risk of mould spores that become ground in to the boot lining if wet items aren’t removed immediately.

Boot damage can be a problem in any leased car; however, it is more of a risk in cars belonging to young families, pet owners and sport lovers.  Here’s why…

Families

More often than not, the primary requirement for a family car is size. It’s not rocket science to discover that larger cars generally come with a larger price tag, making families the ideal candidates to opt for a budget friendly PCP option.

Unfortunately, young families are also the sector who are most likely to subject their car to an excessive amount of wear and tear — possibly jeopardising their chance of receiving the car’s full ‘future value’.

This is because the car is often used for the following purposes:

Family holidays – A time when the boot is invaluable for storing lots of luggage and possibly camping and outdoor equipment. Factor in sandy buckets and spades, deckchairs, wind breaks, muddy tents, dirty walking boots and the obligatory wet swimwear and towels, and you have a boot full of items that are likely to deposit dirt, sand and water. There is also the added risk that a boot packed with assorted holiday items could scrape the interior walls and tailgate.

Kiddy gear – Young children notoriously come with a lot of equipment, from every-day items such as prams and strollers to activity equipment like bikes, scooters, roller skates and football kits. All of this gear has one thing in common – dirt, be it mud, grease or oil.

Shopping - Although this isn’t a problem exclusive to families, multiple shopping bags accelerate the risk of delicate items becoming damaged in transit and subsequently spilling out of their packaging. A leaked bottle of olive oil, juice, tomato sauce or red wine can wreak havoc on the boot interior, which no amount of scrubbing can completely remove.

Dog owners

Cars with larger boot spaces are also popular with dog owners, and are often used to transport dogs to and from muddy countryside walks. Inevitably, pet hair and mud will quickly become ingrained in the fabric lining of the boot, something that is difficult to prevent even with the use of dog cushions and blankets.

There is also the consideration that pets may become travel sick or have an ‘accident’ in transit. These stains — and their subsequent odours — can be particularly difficult to completely remove from a fabric boot lining. Some dogs also like to chew or scratch at the boot interior, causing irreparable damage.

Sport lovers

Larger cars aren’t exclusive to those who need to transport additional people or pets; sports lovers often opt for a car with lots of boot space to carry their equipment back and forth. It’s not unusual for boots of the neatest looking cars to be filled with golf clubs, fishing equipment, mountain biking and climbing gear, alongside football and general gym wear. Again, many of these items can create muddy or oily stains, plus scratch and scrape against the boot interior and possibly even rip the fabric lining.

Damage limitation

As there is such a grey area around what counts as ‘normal’ wear and tear on a vehicle, it pays to take precaution and protect your car from any potential damage where possible. External scratches to bodywork are often unavoidable; thankfully it is much easier to prevent internal damage. 

It is relatively easy to valet the front and back seats and footwells as you go to prevent stains appearing; with boot space it is generally better to take a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach.

One great way of ensuring that your boot is not subjected to damage is to fit a boot liner. Rather than throwing down a protective sheet — which is likely to bunch up or slip around, leaving areas of the boot lining unprotected — it is possible to purchase a wipe clean, padded boot liner designed specifically to fit the exact measurements of the make and model of your car. This secure fit means that every inch of the boot lining is protected from any potential damage.

By protecting the boot lining — and inside tailgate if necessary — there is no need to worry about how your lifestyle may be affecting the future value of your car. Instead, you can maximise those family outings, muddy walks and outdoor activities — the very reasons why you may have chosen that particular car in the first place.

Top 5 Dog Breeds in England

As you may have all realised by now, we love our four-legged friends here at Hatchbag. Thus, we were interested to find out, which dog breed is the nation’s favourite. So, in this blog, we have compiled the top 5 dog breeds, as well as some interesting facts about each breed: Number 5 – English Springer Spaniel The English Springer Spaniel is friendly in character, as well as having the ability to learn quickly. With their happy-go-lucky nature, getting on with both children and other household animals, they make great family pets. Springers do tend to choose one person within the family to be 100% loyal to and they rewuire a lot of exercise and activity to keep them entertained. If you are often away from home then springer spaniels are not the dog for you, as they cannot be on their own for too long. Number 4 – Pug Due to their small size, cute factor and squishable faces, the pug has become a firm favourite breed within the UK. They are charming in nature and are eager to please their owners, often following them about as they crave attention and affection. They make great family pets, as they are good with children. And depending on what you are looking for in a four-legged companion, pugs tend to be very lazy and like to sleep a lot. Number 3 – French Bulldog In recent years, the french bulldog has climbed the top dog breeds in England and is a strong contender for knocking the number 1 dog from its spot. But for now it sits at number 3. The french bulldog rarely barks and is good with children and other dogs, so, again making it a firm family favourite. They do not require too much activity and a few short walks a day will suffice. However, french bulldogs crave attention, so, they shouldn’t be left on their own for more than a few hours. And, you will need to get your french bulldog friend a jacket for winter, as they get cold easily. Number 2 – Cocker Spaniel The cocker spaniel is kind, smart and an all-round happy dog. They get on great with children, dogs and other pets. So, another great pet for families. They do tend to bond to one particular person in the house and that person tends to be the one who gives them food. Plus, it is important to bear in mind that they don’t like loud noises or being on their own. So, if you are a particularly loud person or are often not at home, then the cocker spaniel may not be for you. Number 1 – Labrador And the number one top breed in England is the kind and friendly labrador. Labradors have a strong sense of smell and are often used by the military, the police and as guide dogs. They are highly intelligent dogs and love company. They get along great with children and other dogs, so, make great family pets. They don’t tend to bark a lot, so, are very quiet in nature. But, you do have to be careful when it comes to food with these pooches, as they love their food and don’t have a switch-off button to stop eating. It is fair to say that all us Brits love our four-legged friends and now we want to see your doggie photos. So share your snaps with us on Instagram @thehatchbagcompany, Facebook or Twitter @HatchbagCompany. We wish you and your pet pooches a lot of fun together!

6 Activities You Can Enjoy With Your Dog

If you’re a regular visitor of our blog, you’ll know we’re somewhat enthusiasts when it comes to our four-legged friends. After all, like Frederick the Great of Prussia once said, “a dog is a man’s best friend”. But, did you know just how much a dog can benefit from activities carried out with us humans? There are many activities that can help a dog. For example, dogs that regularly exercise are less likely to become bored. Dogs that suffer from boredom are more inclined to carry out destructive behaviour in the home or worse still, suffer from mental issues. At Hatchbag HQ, we’ve shortlisted 6 great activities you can enjoy with your pet pooch.

Dog parks  

Parks that allow dogs to roam free are becoming increasingly popular, especially in cities or built up areas. For the most part, parks are securely fenced, have safety signs posted with park rules and require you to pick up after your dog if it makes a mess, so be sure to carry doggie bags with you. Dogs that are sociable enjoy meeting other dogs, and you might even make some new friends too? 

Doggy Day Care

If you work long hours or if you have just one dog that often spends long periods of time on his/her own, it might be worth looking into a doggy day care service. Doggy day care can best be explained as a short-term boarding service for dogs. Usually, dogs will stay for the day, and the whole experience differs from kennels and boarding facilities. The whole day is centred around play, activities and exercise, keeping the dogs entertained rather than simply providing accommodation.

Fetch 

Playing fetch is a win-win for your dog. After all, dogs love both playing and pleasing their humans, and playing fetch involve both of these things. Some dogs instinctively understand how to play the game, realising the need to retrieve the ball in order to run again, however, some don’t. So, you might need to do a little training with your pooch. Here’s a great blog post that can help you train your dog to be a fetching pro.

Hiking

From moorland to canal towpaths, coastal walks to mountain peaks, the UK boasts a variety of stunning walks to enjoy with your four-legged friend. Better still, if you come across a National Park, you’ll more than likely come across rare wildlife too. Check out the National Parks website to find a great route near you.

Holidays 

Gone are the days when you’d need to banish your beloved pooch to the kennels when you go on holiday. These days, dog-friendly hotels are aplenty, with some even offering pet services such as walking & playtime, just for dogs.

Go for a drive

For some dogs, a car ride can be the highlight of their week, however, not all dogs love the car. For some dogs, a car ride is one of the most nerve-wrecking experiences that leaves them shivering and tense. If your dog does love the car, then be mindful that they might appreciate the ride if you’re just planning on going for a short drive. Note: Please don’t ever leave your dog in the car alone and make sure you bring water, food and their lead just in case you do end up needing to stop anywhere. Whatever activity you end up doing with your doggies, we would LOVE to see. Send us a snap or tag us in your picture by finding us on @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram and The Hatchbag Company.

3 reasons why you should treat your pooch to a boot-liner this Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many of you will be thinking ‘what to buy’ the beloved pet pooch in your life? With countless ‘heart shaped gifts’ available, have you thought about the benefits a boot-liner has not only to your four-legged friend, but also to you as a car owner? We’ve shortlisted our favourite reasons why your doggie needs a Hatchbag item this Valentine’s Day.

Your dog can’t be blamed for muddy stains

The Hatchbag Company creates boot-liners specially designed to fit more than 521 cars, acting like a second skin within your boot so that no dirt, grit or fur can sneak through any gaps. This is perfect for those post- walk scenarios where your dog is covered head to tail in mud. Simply pop him/her in the boot where your trusty boot-liner is fitted, and wait until you get home to give them a wash. The best part? You won’t find a spec of mud in your boot, all thanks to your boot-liner.

Dog comfort in the car

A car boot-liner not only provides aesthetic value to your car, it can also help to keep your furry friends safe and comfortable while they travel. With a secure fit, the liner will hold in place while the car is in motion and your dog is sat in the back. Why not upgrade your boot-liner by adding on one of our Hatchbed mats, recommended by vets and pet care professionals alike, to provide your four-legged friend with extra comfort during their car trips. A HatchBed mat is designed and tailored to fit inside a Hatchbag Boot-liner. It has a unique non-slip ribbed rubber backing to fit comfortably and securely in your boot. IMG_3325

No doggy smells

We offer tailor-made odour mats to fit on top of your boot-liner, or, if you want an odour mat to use in a dog bed or on the car seat , then why not opt for one of our pet odour mats which come in three standard sizes. Not only to they provide comfort to your furry friend due to their quilted material, but, they also trap unwanted odours both around the house and in the car. The full range of Hatchbag odour mats can be found here. Whatever you end up doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, we would love to see pictures, especially if they include your pet pooches. Send us your snaps to @HatchbagCompany for Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company for Facebook.   Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

5 reasons why we love dogs

If you know the team at Hatchbag, you’ll know we’re crazy about dogs. With a plethora of films, books and websites now devoted to all things canine, we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the best things about our four-legged friends. weimaraner-puppy-dog-snout-97082 (2)

1) Endless love

If you own a dog, you’ll know the excitement and love you feel when you’re reunited with your pet. Whether it’s walking through the door after a long day at work or when a loved one brings the dog home after a long walk. They’ll dance at the door and become deliriously ecstatic to see you.

2) They’re the perfect exercise partner

Living in a world where we’re often strapped for time, it’s easy to fall into the couch potato mentality when we get home from work. One look at your dog’s little face, however, will have you reaching for the lead and marching out the door, trainers on feet ready to burn some calories. What’s more, dogs need at least a half a half-hour walk most days, which is great for both us and them.

3) Dogs are the cheapest shrinks around

When you need a shoulder to cry on or a friendly face to offload to, you know you can always turn to your four-legged companion. With most dogs loving nothing more than a good cuddle, you’ll feel instantly uplifted as they rest their head in your lap, reminding you that their love is endless.

4) A dog is a (Wo)Man’s best friend

No matter whether your dog is at puppy stage or within the regality of its later years, a dog will ALWAYS be there to supply you with love, support, happiness and gratitude – all the qualities we look for in a best friend.

5) Protection

A dog will always look to protect his/her owner & loved ones. It’s within a dog’s DNA to protect their territory, and from puppyhood, you can see a dogs desire to watch and be aware of anything coming into sight that might harm either them or their owners. Just talking about dogs makes us excited to see ours. So, if you, like us, are planning to take the dogs out soon, be sure to pack your Hatchbag boot-liner to ensure that no unwanted stains or marks land in the boot of your car. Also, if you do get out walking, let us know what you guys get up to by sending some snaps in. Check out @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram or @HatchbagCompany on Twitter.  

Why is a boot liner perfect in keeping your boot clean from a new puppy?

A new member has joined the family albeit they may be small, hairy and full of beans, when the question pops into your head, how are you going to keep the car boot clean with a puppy on board. One things for certain your boot will end up being full of dog hair and dirt, which means you will have to spend a lot of your time either hoovering or cleaning it or the hair itself will end up getting entwined into the boot carpet making it nigh impossible to remove. So, here is where Hatchbag’s boot liners come in. And to see how well our boot liners suit a new puppy, we have Eddie the Westie, an eight month old puppy, who is very active and lively to be our tester. His owner has a Citroen DS4 and has chosen a red boot liner with a rear plus, which allows her to fold the backseats down all together should she wish. This is the perfect way to protect her boot from little Eddie. Image 1 Puppies are very nosy and always want to look and touch everything around them. So, if your puppy is like Eddie and enjoys putting his paws on the back of the seats to peek outside the front window then it won’t be too long until the back of the seats are covered in doggy hair or dirt from mucky paws. But this can all be protected with a boot liner. image 2 Or it may be that after a long stroll in the park your little furry friend wants to take a rest by nestling his bum against the backseats and therefore, you want to protect your boot. Image 3 Our boot liners also suit puppies who travel in a dog cage. As a dog cage is open at all sides then I can guarantee that in a matter of seconds of your puppy being in the cage in the car, their hair will end up getting everywhere – it is astounding just how much a little thing can spread so much hair. But with our boot liner you will not need to worry and your pooch can shake away without you thinking, oh no I am going to have to clean my car boot again! Image 4 So, as you can see our boot liner is a perfect match for a puppy, Eddie himself has given us the paws up, in keeping your car boot clean from dirty puppy paws and puppy hair. And your little nosy four legged friend can roam around the boot or rest his bum on the sides of the boot without making a mess. So, why not go and find your vehicle here and choose the perfect colour boot liner for you and your furry friend!

Give Your Pooch The Food Nature Intended

If you are looking for an alternative to dried dog food, a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet (BARF) could be a natural solution. The whole concept of raw feeding is based upon a dog’s natural instinct. Adopting a raw diet for your four legged best friend can reap a whole host of benefits as illustrated by our friends at sure4pets: sure4pets poster sure4pets are a family run business that specialise in supplying natural foods, treats and toys for dogs. Their products have been given the lick of approval from the dogs here at Hatchbag HQ; we highly recommend you treat your four legged friend to a bowl of their natural, tasty treats. For more information about sure4pets and their products, click here to visit their website.

Walkies!

Last year, the RSPCA raised an impressive £60,000 through their fabulous “Big Walkies” campaign. Involving more than 3,500 dogs, 6,000 people and 750 volunteers, Big Walkies is all about raising awareness and money to aid in the protection of animals from cruelty and neglect. This year, Hatchbag would like to ask all its dog loving customers to get involved with this fabulous event! I don’t know about you, but the dogs at Hatchbag HQ go crazy when they hear that magic word… “walkies”…. We don’t even have to finish the sentence “who wants to go for a walk?” and their tails are happily wagging and those paws are dancing with excitement. But not all pooches are as lovingly pampered and need a little helping hand. The RSPCA: Big Walkies campaign is a series of sponsored walks aimed at raising awareness and money to aid in the protection of more animals from cruelty and neglect. The events are a little bit more exciting than your average walk in the park, involving hundreds of owners (and dogs!) across the country. Big Walkies 2015 had tails wagging all over the country, so much so that the event is set to run in 2016, where there will be even more excitement! Registration is now open for 2016, so get ahead of the pack and don’t let you dog miss out by registering today! Something tells us your pooch might be a little muddier than usual after a day of making new friends, so be sure to pack your Hatchbag boot liner to protect your boot from those muddy paws! For more information about the RSPCA: Big Walkies or to register please click here.

Announcing The New Audi Q7 Boot Liner!

We are pleased to announce the release of the Audi Q7 Hatchbag boot liner! The Audi Q7 is the ultimate luxurious sports vehicle with 4x4 drive, the car is designed to provide its passengers with the utmost comfort and ease of drive. The Audi Q7 has all the benefits of a larger vehicle with 7 seats and a spacious interior. It also has the ability to cruise along motorways with ease whilst maintaining the stylish sports vehicle look. Now your Q7 can have the ultimate protection with a custom fit boot liner, allowing the boot upholstery to remain flawless no matter how much use the car gets. The Hatchbag Audi Q7 custom fit boot liner has been specifically created to perfectly fit the shape of the Q7 interior, making sure that not the slightest bit of dirt can get to your carboot. Our bespoke boot liners come in a range of colours, so you can protect your Q7 in style. Get yours here today: http://www.hatchbag.co.uk/audi-q7-2015-onwards-3rd-row-seats-folded-flat