Tuesday, June 21, 2016

BLOGPAWS2016 Here Come The Pet Bloggers!

Wow it feels like yesterday when we were all together in Nashville at BlogPaws2015!  Now here we are, headed to BLOGPAWS2016, the Pet Blogger event of the year, in Phoenix, Arizona!

This will be my third BlogPaws conference and I'm still as excited as I was the first time, only now I'm a bit more knowledgeable about what to expect and how to navigate around the conference.



My BlogPaws2015 experience was  super and I'm so excited for BlogPaws2016!  Networking with the BlogPaws Team, the pet blogging friends I've made, and meeting the sponsors is so much fun and really informative.  There is nothing like meeting everyone in person and spending time together, even if only to chat for a few minutes and exchange business cards.  When you see your blogging friends in person there are hugs, squeals, selfies, laughs, and exchange of blogging stories, tips and ideas. 
Phoebe with one of the reps from Pedigree at BlogPaws2015
When you meet the sponsors you learn even more about the company and what they are looking for in the pet bloggers they work with.  They'll talk about their latest products or upcoming campaigns. They want to get to know us as much as we want to get to know them!  I'm so looking forward to seeing the sponsors whose campaigns I've worked on, and I look forward to meeting some new sponsors as well!

Icy and Phoebe at BlogPaws2015
At this point many blog posts have been shared about the great value of attending a BlogPaws pet bloggers conference, so what I really want to talk about today is the Phoenix weather and traveling to the conference.  That's what seems to be on everyone's mind right now.  It's all over the news that it will reach around 114 degrees in Phoenix the week of the conference and some folks are concerned.  There's also lots of chatter about traveling to the conference with pets, be it a road trip or flying.  So let's talk about it.

CONFERENCE WEATHER:
Summer in Phoenix is a bitch, I'm not gonna lie about that.  We've lived here for 9 years and honestly for the last several years we leave by end of May for the East coast and don't return until mid September.  However, we've spent a lot of Summers in Phoenix and prior to living here I traveled to Phoenix on business a lot, often in Summer.   Business doesn't stop just because the weather's HOT.

Summer in Phoenix isn't easy on the days where temps reach 110 degrees or more, you have to be more careful and limit time outdoors, especially in the middle of the day, and especially with pets!  Here are my tips for dealing with extreme Phoenix Summer heat:

Limit outdoor activities to sunrise hours or after sunset hours.  Don't plan to walk, hike, horseback ride or bike ride, but if you must do those things please do them only during these hours, especially with your pets!   Even a 30 minute walk in this kind of heat will take a toll on you and your dog.

Always have water with you and keep yourself and your pets hydrated.  Even when driving in the car have some water with you, we always do.  Never, ever leave your dog in the car!  Even left in a car for 5 minutes in this heat can seriously harm your dog, it will heat up dramatically, and lightening fast!

The weather in Phoenix is quite different than in Northern Arizona.  If you want to make a vacation out of your BlogPaws2016 trip to enjoy outdoor activities, head North to Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, or Sedona.  Even Sedona isn't very cool when it's 114 degrees in Phoenix, it will only be around 10-15 degrees cooler up there. However, early morning and evening hikes will be spectacular in Sedona and evenings cool down considerably.  Flagstaff is even cooler and the hiking is wonderful. It's easy to get to these places, just jump on I-17 and head North!  Flagstaff and Sedona are 2 to 3 hours from Phoenix and very dog friendly.  The Grand Canyon is about 4 hours from Phoenix and restricts where dogs can go around the canyon somewhat, but it's so breathtaking and so worth it!  Check out my Pet Travel tab on the blog Home page for travel posts that include Arizona.

Speaking of evenings, when the temperature hits 110+ it doesn't really "cool down" all that much in Phoenix, it's just less hot.  Yeah we have misters that cool the ambient temperature, but when it's this hot it can only help so much.  It will, however, frizz your hair up real good!

As for swimming in extreme Phoenix heat, the pool water feels like warm bathtub water.  It's not cold.  It will be cooler in the deep end of the pool, the water doesn't heat up as much where it's 8 or 10 feet deep.  Another weird thing about swimming in Phoenix is that you don't really cool off when you jump into the water, but due to the dryness of the air you feel the coolness when you get out of the water.  That was so odd to us when we spent our first Summer in Phoenix.  You jump into a pool to cool off, right??  Nope, you'll feel cooler when you get out!

OK, enough about the weather.  Let's talk about getting there.

TRAVELING WITH PETS BY AIR:
If you fly with your pet, you'll find nice potty areas around Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, like the "Bone Yard".  Just look for the signs.  The airport is pretty dog friendly, although dogs must remain in their crates when inside.   Make sure you have the required health certificates for your airline!

If you fly your dog in cargo, be aware that the weather has to be acceptable on both ends of your trip for airlines to allow your pet to board.  It can't be above a certain temperature when you take off or land, so this can become an issue on the Phoenix side due to the heat. Contact your airline and make sure they'll allow your pet to travel in cargo that day and have a Plan B if they won't.  I'm not a fan of putting my dog in cargo, I just don't do it.  We either drive or I fly Phoebe in the cabin with me.  Read more about flying with pets in my Tips For Flying With Pets blog post.

TRAVELING BY CAR:
This is how we like to roll!  It's a lot easier and more fun to road trip with Icy and Phoebe.  We've had such great adventures during our cross country road trips between Phoenix and New York.  I've compiled a few tips on hotels and rest stops.

Icy loves our road trips!  It's always a fun adventure
My preferred way to drive across the country is to stick close to the Interstates.  I-40 and I-80 are great roads to travel between Arizona and the East coast.  I-81 is good too if you're traveling the Northern route, and it ultimately leads to I-40 around Missouri.  Here are some really good hotels we've stayed at as well as our preferred rest stop areas.

HOTELS:
Along the way, I like staying at places that are outside the major cities; they tend to be less expensive and nicer.  I look for hotels about 30 miles outside a major city.  You can do walk-ins when you're traveling, the hotels along Interstates are used to that.  However, it's easier to make reservations a day or more ahead, especially if traveling with pets.  Many hotels run out of pet friendly rooms!

Phoebe in the car, anticipating our next adventure!
Here are some of my favorite dog friendly hotels that we've stayed in across the country, starting with Sedona, Arizona. 

There are two places we love in Sedona, The Hilton and The Lodge at Sedona.  The Hilton is a larger hotel but really nice and very dog friendly.  It's at the Southern part of town.  The Lodge at Sedona is a beautiful B&B that is a bit pricey but great for a weekend.  They're super dog friendly and will even cook eggs for your dog and serve you all together on their lovely patio!  There's a La Quinta in Sedona too, but we haven't stayed there.

In New Mexico, we stay in Albuquerque, approx. 420 miles from Phoenix, at the Comfort Inn & Suites   It's approx. $65.55 per night at the AAA rate +  $25 pet fee, depending on the time of year.  Address is:  5811 Signal Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM  87113  505-822-1090. 

The roads are so open and the speed limit hits 75 so you can make it from Albuquerque to Phoenix in one day pretty easily.

In Oklahoma we stay in Yukon, just West of Oklahoma City at the Comfort Suites.  It's approx. $90 per night plus $20 pet fee.  Address is : 11424 NW 4th Street, Yukon, OK 73099. 405-577-6500.  It's right off I-40 just outside Oklahoma City.  Exit 143 in the Yukon area has some good places to eat.  The GPS doesn't always work that well in the Oklahoma City/Yukon area, there's been construction for a long time there and it looks like GPS systems haven't caught up to that yet. 

Traveling between New Mexico and Oklahoma on I-40, you travel through the narrowest, most Northern part of Texas.  We stop in Amarillo, TX for lunch or a break.  There are two Starbucks in Amarillo, one at the West end of the town and the other at the East end of town.  We like the one at the West end, it's much nicer and has a dog friendly patio. 

Phoebe relaxing in bed at a really nice La Quinta hotel
There are lots of places to eat in Amarillo, fast food restaurants, a Crackle Barrel and more.  You might want to stop there because between Texas and New Mexico in the West, as well as between Texas and Oklahoma in the East, there's a whole lot of nothing but farmland and rest stops.  Amarillo is a perfect pit stop.
 
In Arkansas we stay in Conway, outside Little Rock at the La Quinta.  It's approx. $80 per night, no pet fee.  Address is: 2350 Sanders St. Conway, AR 72032.  800-753-3757.  It's a beautiful hotel, recently remodeled.   Conway is a lovely town.  There's a nice Starbucks about 32 miles West of Little Rock at 905 E. Oak St. in Conway.  (I-40 to 64 East to Oak St.)
In Tennessee we stay in Cookville, outside of NashvilleWe stay at the La Quinta Inn & Suites. It's approx. $89 per night, no pet fee.  Address is:  1131 S. Jefferson Ave.  Cookville, TN  38501.  931-520-3800.  This hotel is so nice, and recently remodeled.  Cookville is the nicest town!  The people are so friendly.
Alternatively, you can stay at Music City hotel in Nashville, where BlogPaws2015 was held!  It's more expensive, but it's such a nice hotel.  We would stay there again for sure.
 
In Virginia we stay in Harrisonburg at the Comfort Inn.  It's a bit pricier at $105 but there's no pet fee.   It's a great hotel with a wonderful pet walk on the property.  Address is: 1440 E. Market St.   Harrisonburg, VA 22801 (off I-81)  540-433-6066.  Several good rest stops in this area between exits 232 and 263.

REST STOPS:
Love's and Pilot gas stations are our two favorite gas/rest stops along I-40 and other interstates.  Most of them are really clean, nice, and have lots of beverages and snacks for purchase.  Many of them have grassy potty areas and food as well.  We cheer when  Love's or Pilot come into view on the highway!

Lovely patch of trees at the Oklahoma Welcome Center on I-40
The Oklahoma Welcome Center, at approx. exit 6 or 7, is a great rest stop with an enclosed dog run in it!  We love this rest stop and so do the dogs, it's our favorite rest stop on the entire trip.


Dog run at the Oklahoma Welcome Center on I-40
BEWARE: The first rest stop in Texas, right after the New Mexico border is Awful!  It's especially bad for pets, keep going for awhile and stop off at the next rest area.  It's dingy and the grass always has spindly things that dogs step on and get caught in their toes. 

There's a great Love's at exit 96, a few miles East of Amarillo.

You can read more detailed Tips On Road Tripping With Dogs, on my blog post.

I hope you find a few helpful gems in the post.  I wish I'd gotten it out sooner but you know, Shih Tzu happens!  Maybe it will be more helpful on the way home from the conference.

If you're attending BlogPaws2016, please leave a comment below!  I look forward to seeing many of you in Phoenix!!



2 comments:

  1. Oh, that sounds like funs!!! I can't waits to hear all abouts it! Oh, and I hears the swag is to DIE for! BOL!!!!
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

    ReplyDelete