7 Tips to Pack When Your Dog is Your Co-Pilot 

by Maria Brooks

There’s a reason why dogs are considered as man’s best friend and that’s because they’re the best companions a human can ever have. They stay by your side no matter what and they certainly don’t abandon you when the going gets tough. Don’t believe me? There are incredible and heartwarming humans-rescued-by-dogs stories on the internet that’ll make you weep like a baby.


So, I think it’s just fair that we do the same for our furry companions as well – especially when our dog is a co-pilot during a great outdoor road trip and adventure. When humans prepare for a long drive, dogs, on the other hand, also need some preparations to make the entire journey pleasing and enjoyable. If you think you can just let your pooches get into the car and set off; you’re clearly mistaken. One teeny-weeny distraction can be the death of a fun adventure. So do yourself and your dog a favor and do these top 7 tips when your dog is your co-pilot. 


1. Are Your Dogs Road-Trip Newbies? 


If your dogs are first-timers in long-drive journeys, it’s very important to start small and get them accustomed to the feel of being in a moving car first. Some dogs don’t even know what to do the moment you open a car door. My 8-year-old golden retriever was once this naïve but after 7 years of taking her on short and long drives, she now obediently waits by the passenger door the moment she sees me getting her blankets (melts my heart every time). Get your dogs inside a stationary car first, try opening the windows so they get some fresh air. Then next is to turn the engine on while your dog is inside. Then go for short drives until you see that your dog is comfortable sitting on the passenger seat or back seat (I prefer my dog on the former) and gradually increase the distance once your dog has behaved enough to sit through the entire long journey. 


2. Safety for Your Dogs First 


As I’ve mentioned, one slight distraction from your furry friend like when they jump onto your lap can lead to major accidents. Practice safety for you and your dogs at all times. Here are several ways to secure your dogs in a long drive.


• Strap on a seat belt harness or a zip line harness.

• Put your dog in a crate.

• If you have a small pooch, get a carry box you can hang in the back of the seat.

• Try a back seat hammock.

• Place a barrier between you and your dogs if they’re in the back seat. 

• If your dogs want to move around, place them in the boot but make sure you set up a barrier as well. 


3. Bring Your Dog’s Essentials and Favorites


You want the entire journey to be enjoyable for your dogs and if in case they’re not used to being outside their comfort zones; then make sure to bring their favorite toys all throughout the trip. In addition, never forget to bring enough dog food in case you’re going camping for a couple of days. Of course, you must also bring their water bowls to keep them hydrated especially when driving during the summer. On the flip side, when driving during the winter, don’t forget to bring their space blankets to keep them warm as these blankets retain 80 percent of your dog’s body heat. 


4. Take Breaks Often 


A good rule of thumb is to take breaks after every two hours of driving. If humans need to stretch after prolonged positions, dogs need it too! Let them get out of the car to walk around a bit or take a pee break. How would you feel if you’re holding it in for hours? Not good, right? Always remember that your dog can’t tell you if they need to go and you of all people know your dog’s behavior very well so read the signs carefully.


5. Don’t Feed Your Dog Right Before the Trip


Same with humans, you should never feed your dog a few minutes before a long drive – unless you want smelly poop all over your leather seats. If it’s a short drive, say, an hour or two; wait until you get to your destination before feeding your dog. If it’s a long drive, feed your dog three to four hours before the trip. Even if your dog is potty trained, feeding them right before the trip might make them feel uncomfortable and restless.


6. Check if the Location is Dog-Friendly   


Check if the destination allows dogs beforehand. The last thing you want when reaching your destination is getting shooed away because of your furry companion. If you’re visiting a National Park, there might be restrictions in the campgrounds, parking lots, or even picnic areas. So if you want to chill with your dog a bit after trekking, make sure these areas are dog-friendly. If you’re taking your dog to a public or private beach; ensure that there are no stipulations against walking your dog along the shore. Furthermore, follow rules wherever you are. If your dog is required to be on a leash, then do just that. 


7. Bring a First-Aid Kit 


Mishaps can happen anytime during an adventure with your dog. So always be prepared and bring a first-aid kit. A basic first-aid kit should include the following:


• Cohesive bandages 

• Non-stick bandage pads

• Muzzle

• Adhesive tapes

• Antiseptic wipes

• Cotton balls and swabs

• Gauze rolls

• Hydrogen peroxide for wounds and to induce vomiting

• Portable cold pack

• Rubber gloves

• Thermometer

• Scissors 

• Tweezers

• Sterile saline solution for wounds

• Antihistamines 

• Antibiotic ointment

• Oral syringe 

• Splints 

• Vet’s contact number

• A dog first-aid book


Making your dog as your co-pilot can be the best bonding moment between humans and animals. This is one way to get to know your dogs better and not to mention delight in cuteness overload. These simple tips will guarantee that the whole experience will be seamless and if in case you experience some bumps along the way, then you know you have a first-aid kit to handle the issue properly. 


Author Bio: Maria Brooks, a certified pet first aid, CPR and safety instructor, frequent traveller and a passionate blogger, loves to write about pets, pet diet and pet care. She frequently blogs at qcpetsitting, which offers the best dog walking and pet sitting services in Charlotte. 

Don't take your friend's advice.

 Personal Crowd Silhouettes Human Group Of People

So, you wake up one day, you look in the mirror and you ask yourself…Does this shirt make me look fat?

(I mean, who really does that right?)

Well the truth is.. it might! But who knows? So maybe you’ll just log into Facebook, send a quick pic to your bestie, and illumination will come from the heavens to help unravel this mystery.

A few minutes later your phone buzzes a few times and the holy grail is yours for the taking.

This shirt DOES make you look fat! Corrections are in order, changes are to be made. This is a moment for the ages. So off it goes. Thrown into the closet and everything is right with the world again.

But…something doesn’t quite sit right, there has to be more to this story.

I mean c’mon, you only asked for one friend’s opinion. Maybe you should ask 3 friends. That’s right, you are having thoughts, you need a second opinion so you pop back over to messenger and send the same message to 3 other people.

Boom. Two no’s and a yes.

Wow, this is getting very confusing.

What was a simple decision just became a complex one. Now you have 4 pieces of advice (points of data), and they are all telling you conflicting things.. Even broken clocks are right twice a day right?

Now let’s ask a different question. This may seem like its totally off point but just stay with me.

If we roll a six sided dice, it is obvious that it has a 1 in 6 chance to land on any given number right?

So, theoretically if I roll it 6 times I should get 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6..just not in that order, right?

well…maybe not.

It might be be a 2, 6 times.

It might be two 3’s, and 4, 2’s


But..if you roll the same dice a million times? Guess what.. You will get very close to the factual mathematical truth that each number is hit very close to 16% of the time.

This, is the power of having enough data.

Now, how does this apply to our little problem?


Well, they might, but what you like isn’t important here. They know what they like. They have biases, life experiences, and ideas on how things should be.

Besides, wouldn’t a good friend just lie to you to make you feel good? This advice is the probably faulty in the first place.

Let’s play another little game.

Let’s ask 1 million people if they think this shirt makes you look fat.

The results depend on a lot of factors. They depend on how pretty you are, how much these strangers like your appearance and identify with your struggle as an individual. We could probably include some backstory that your parents just died and make them feel sorry for you so they say no.

People just aren’t reliable when asked a direct question right? Not when asking a bunch of strangers, probably when asking a few friends, but a few friends just isn’t enough data.

So…lets try a new way of asking.

Instead of asking if the shirt makes you look fat or bad or whatever. Let’s just give a million people a choice.

Shirt A

Shirt B

Shirt A is the shirt in question, and shirt B is some obviously ugly shirt that you hate.

This is a simple A, B test.

Now we can ask a million people which one they like more, by asking them to click the one they want.

The results will be far more accurate to the truth than your one friend, or even 4 friends you asked.

Sometimes you ask for a second opinion, but in the world of data science you would need a million opinions to find the actual truth, and how exhausting would that be?

Data scientists use this all the time these days to help them determine if a product is good or bad. They create facebook or google advertisements. If you click it, you like the shirt, if you don’t click it, you don’t.

If they want to compare two shirts they make two ads and see which one gets more clicks. Easy right?

Moral of the story, In God We Trust, All Others Bring Data.

10 Travel Packing Hacks - How to Pack Like a Pro

By Maria Brooks


There's nothing as exciting as going on a trip to some exotic location, enjoying yourself and getting to know a different culture. But the thing about traveling is you'll have to do the heavy lifting and by heavy lifting, I mean packing. So many questions pop in your head about what to bring, what to leave behind, what if this and what if that, should I bring this just in case? The number of scenarios that flash through your mind would be enough to give you analysis paralysis. But have no fear, I am here and I come prepared with these 10 travel hacks that are sure to make you pack like a pro.


  1. Keep a List


As a frequent traveler myself, I keep a list of all the essential things I always need to bring with me when I'm traveling. These are basic things like clothes, toiletries, med kit, socks, sunblock, and others. I keep it on my phone and when I get back from a trip I check to see what needs refilling. On my next excursion, all I got to do is pull out the list and start throwing stuff into my bag. It has trimmed down my packing time from half a day to a mere hour.


  1. Packing Cubes are a Life Saver


Yes, I do own several of these. I can honestly say these have been a God-send. My favorite bag to use on a trip is a large backpack with only two compartments so as I travel, stuff is moving around. By the time I open it, it's a mess. These packing cubes keep everything organized and prevent stuff from moving around inside the bag. I generally use 3 or 4 on a trip. As a bonus, you can use these as a day bag as you go around exploring the new place.


  1. Roll Them Up


Roll, don't fold. I can't even begin to tell you the amount of space that's freed up in my pack once I started doing this. It just makes more sense to roll. It will minimize creasing and it's a lot easier to take out clothes this way. An extra tip, plan your outfits and then roll them together. It will save you time by not taking everything out just to look for something to wear.


  1. Tape Those Liquids


I've had my fair share of spilled liquids when I travel. Whether it's due to running around the airport and getting into taxis and buses, or the fault of airport staff, I don't know but the point is no one wants to get to their destination only to realize all their clothes are soaked in shampoo or lotion. A great hack is to seal those bottles with tape and seal them tightly. Bring an extra roll of tape for the trip home, too.


  1. Sarongs for the Win


I always bring a sarong with me. For those of you unfamiliar with this versatile item, it's a piece of tube or length fabric that's wrapped around the waist. This is very common in South and Southeast Asia. The budget airline is too cold? No problem, you got a blanket. You need to change clothes but there's no dressing room? Use the sarong. I've even used it as a towel to dry off once or twice. It is such a versatile material.


  1. Keep a Separate Cabin Bag


I personally try to avoid checking my luggage when I travel that’s why I decided to get one of the best backpacks for my travels. I travel light and it is just faster and more efficient if you take everything with you on the plane. But the rare times that I had to check a suitcase in, I always have an extra pack I take with me on the plane. These contain things such as snacks, some toiletries, an extra shirt and underwear, and socks. I also have a book in there as well as my noise-canceling headphones.


  1. Separate the Shoes


This is pretty self-explanatory. Do not ever mix your shoes with the rest of your stuff without some sort of barrier. Shoes are dirty and you don't want the rest of your things getting soiled. Those laundry bags hotels provide are perfect shoe bags. They prevent dirt from spreading in your pack and it's breathable so you won't be pulling stinky shoes out when you're ready to use them.


  1. Invest in a Good Bag or Suitcase


I don't like spending money on expensive things when I could get a similar yet cheaper one. But choosing the best backpack or luggage is the exception. Your bag or luggage will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in your travel. Like it or not, it will get mishandled by you or by others. Invest in one that can take a lot of beating while keeping everything inside safe and secure.


  1. Travel Box


What's a travel box, you ask? A travel box is where I keep extra soaps, toothpaste, travel shampoos and conditioners, and the like. It makes it easy to grab a couple when I'm low on stock. I also make it a habit of collecting soaps, shampoos, and conditioners and other free items in hotels where I stay or ask them from friends who don't want it.


  1. Ziplocks are the Best


When all else fails, ziplock it. I swore by ziplock and I think it's the greatest invention since duct tape. Its use far extends out of the kitchen. It is where I keep my wet clothes as well as using it to double pack my toiletries to avoid spoilage. You can use it to pack for shoes and my towel and it's a great way to store electronics to prevent liquid from damaging them.


Author Bio: Maria Brooks is a passionate travel & outdoor blogger who loves to travel and write about her experience. She spends her free time hiking, swimming, camping and spending time with her family. She also blogs at GearJunior which is a site filled with outdoor tips and guides.

Minimal travel hacks and tricks

There are times when you are traveling that you need a special tool to solve a problem but don't have it available.  So improvise!

 Dollar measuring tape:

A United States Dollar is 6.14 inches (155mm) long, and 2.6in (66.2mm) high.  Knowing this you can use a dollar end-to-end as many times as you need to measure whatever you wish.  It should also be noted that if you know your foot size you can use it to measure a space (like an apartment).

Approximate:  there are approximately

  • 1.8km to a mile
  • 4 liters to a gallon
  • 2.5cm to an inch
  • three feet to a meter

So a dollar is a good suggestion but you can use anything that has an easy to find constant size (like your iPhone) or a sheet of 8x11 paper or a credit card. 

Open a beer with anything

Obviously it's best to have a nice high quality bottle opener, but sometimes you need to improvise.  Here's a quick video of how to open a beer with anything - pen, lighter, cd, you name it!

  • Forgot a your wall charger?  Many flatscreen tvs have a USB port.   

Your phone is the best notepad ever

Pictures aren't just for divas.  Your phones camera is the best note taking device ever.  

  • Take pictures of street signs to remember where you left your car or where your hotel is
  • Take pictures of phone numbers to remember them later
  • Take pictures of maps, cooking directions, and tour information to remember them later
  • Take pictures of business cards so you don't have to carry them around with you
  • Take pictures of your passport, drivers license, medical insurance documents and email them to yourself.  You will never lose your documents again!

The Brown Extension Cord Is Your Best Friend


You know those cheap $2 brown extension cords?  They are the best thing to bring with you on your travels.  You can immediately turn one foreign power converter into 3, and also give your chargers some much needed distance.  You can also bring three prong converter if you have gadgets that require it.  You can also know that if you have a 6 foot cord, its 6 feet long.  This is another good measurement device!

Minimalism: Less is More

Travel is about freedom, and how can you fly like a bird with a 50 pound suitcase chained to your leg?


I am here to tell you that "Less is More".  

The secret to this philosophy lies in the fact that everything is related, everything is connected.  If you have a cluttered home, you will have a cluttered mind.  If you have an overfull suitcase or backpack, you will have an overfull mind.  This is where stress comes from.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:  "I need these shoes to go with this outfit, and this outfit to go clubbing, and that outfit for the beach"- stop, just stop!   You probably won't end up wearing half of your hardline preparations, and you will pay dearly for lugging them around.  The more you have, the more you have to lose.  

The cost will be the freedom to go where you want to, and more importantly, the stress of:

  • having to be at the airport an extra hour early,
  • pay extra for checkin,
  • freakout when they lose your bag,
  • double freakout when someone steals from your bag,
  • protect and load your too-big-for-coach foreigner suitcase under a bus to cross the country.  

Anddd The list goes on.  The old mantra of traveling was "be prepared for anything", the new mantra is "improvise for anything".  You will be so much happier if you only have a few outfits to lug around, clean, and manage.  

We did Asia for 4 months with five shirts, two pairs of pants, five pairs of socks, five pairs of underwear, and some swimming gear.  That was it!  There was also room to buy a few cool new outfits in Thailand in Vietnam  Most of it was quick dry, which made it small and light, and very easy to clean in a sink.  This is a great way to travel.  

No stress, if I lost my possessions I would just get new ones (except the laptop - I protected the macbook like a child).

Thats all there really is to it.

Now when I travel, I only take what fits in the Rolo, anything more is too much.  This doesn't always work of course.  Sometimes we need formal attire, or winter gear.  These things won't fit in a Rolo, but lets use the trusty 80/20 rule as a basis for improvement.

Do you have any tips for minimal travel?  Post them below!

Top 5 Travel Apps


Smart phones have become a fundamental part of traveling, and they can be both a blessing and a curse for those who use them.

Technology appears to be everywhere.

Technology appears to be everywhere.

Lets go over a few tips that you should keep in mind while using a smart device while traveling.

I won't even mention the obvious ones like Google Maps or Facebook.

Google Translate

Google Translate

Google Translate

Of course, of course! How many times have you thrown your arms around like a drunk clown trying to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language?

We have all been there, and while its fun it can sometimes be frustrating. Google Translate is free, and will allow you to translate dozens of languages easily - wherever you are.

The only downside is it requires internet to work. If you are going to be traveling without wireless internet I suggest 7-in-1 Offline Photo Translator with Voice by Skycode. It an iOS app, but works offline - which is huge. The number of languages is rather limited - mostly European languages, but have a look if you are going to Europe where 3G internet is too expensive to be worthy.




Skype is an app that lets you make phone calls over the internet. You can make free phone and video calls to other Skype users wherever you are on the planet. If you want to call a real phone number it costs a little bit of money, but its not too bad. 

It works over 3g so if you can get a good 3g plan it is an easy and worthy replacement for real phone minutes. A nice to know secret trick with Skype is they have subscription plans. You can sign up for a Skype subscription for your home country for something like $10 a month for unlimited calling to that country. This is very nice if you are traveling abroad and need to do a lot of business in the US. Skype has very low per-minute prices but connecting a call can be expensive. Available for iOS and Android.

Trip Advisor



Trip Advisor is an international review website and App. Its a holy grail of things to do, attractions, best restaurants, best hotels, and walking day tours. If you are ever questioning the food in an area you can usually ask Trip Advisor for some much needed advice.

It should also be noted that Trip Advisor offers another amazing app called Trip Advisor City Guides. This secondary app lets you download entire cities to the offline store of your smartphone, giving you walking tours, directions, and real time information about the city without having internet. Very good for Europe where 3G just costs too much





Whatsapp is an amazing chat app that will completely replace SMS messages. It requires very little internet and can also run on 3g. The best features are the ability to send picture messages and location pins very very easily, and also chat with groups of friends. Try it out.




If you have a smart-phone chances are you are going to be taking some pictures. Aviary is a free photo editor with a ton of features. It gives you filters to stylize your photos, the ability to do minor edits like draw lines and text, and the ability to sharpen and fix Red-Eye. This is my goto toolkit for photo editing on my iPhone.

Some Other Important Tips

  1. 3G is key. If you want Google Maps, Translate, Trip Advisor, Skype, and Whatsapp anywhere and everywhere you will need to purchase some 3G internet. In Asia its cheap and accessible (approximately $5 dollars for a simcard, and $10 for 1.5gb of internet), South America kinda but coverage isn't so good, Europe no - very expensive. Try to get it where you can, if not then you can just use Wi-Fi.

    Please note: Your phone must be UNLOCKED to use foreign sim cards. If you don't know what this means google Unlocking your phone (Unlocking does not mean jailbreaking). You must do this before you leave on your trip or you will be very sad. :(
  2. Invest in a nice waterproof case to protect your phone. Its impossible to purchase certain models in other countries, especially authentic unlocked and in your native language. This is an asset you must protect at all costs, because losing it is like losing your passport. I highly recommend this one: DRY PAK DP-46 Cell Phone, GPS, MP3 Waterproof Case, Blue Not only does it protect your phone from total submersion underwater. It also protects it from dust, sand, and impact.  The attached carrying rope can be affixed to your belt also offering effective theft protection while moving around.
  3. Photographs are SOOOO good for remembering things. Photograph all of your travel documents, medical documents, flight schedules, and addresses of places you are. If you have a scuba cert, photograph that too. Photograph business receipts, and motorbike rentals. The camera is absolutely an extensible tool that can and should be overused for everything.
  4. Put a number lock on your phone. Even if its easy. If your phone is lost or stolen make sure your private data can not be stolen off of it. It is also good to use services like Apples Find My IPhone or remote wipe.
  5. Watch your phone. These things are worth hundreds of dollars and are very common targets for pickpockets and common thieves.