We've been attending the Chow Chow Club Inc National since 1982 and have only missed a couple due to conflicts with important family events - we consider ourselves pretty regular attendees on the good ship CCCI. We've never gone on a cruise but have attended many conventions and national dog shows and liken them to what we imagine a cruise to be.
There are many things to do - giving you the all-inclusive experience. You plan your entries, meals, accommodations, travel dates and events far in advance. Often the majority is prepaid and unless you do your research and advanced details are arranged you'll spend all of your time "on the ship". We've used lots of vacation hours to attend and have traveled considerable distances to get there. We are restricted on the amount of 'stuff' we can bring having a finite amount of space to carry things in regardless of the mode of travel. As on the airlines we recognize the 2 bag limit per person and if we are bringing one dog or several there are only so many square feet for the crate(s) and their 'stuff'. Pro handlers have this process honed to a science. Their rigs are configured so everything you'll need is stowed somewhere- making the journey safe and secure.
Once you finally get on the road there are radio conferences on where the best rest area is to walk dogs without prickers or chiggers and if its at night where it is well lit. It's an added benefit if you can refuel and use the rest rooms all at the same place. Oh and we try to go in a caravan to keep everyone in check and arriving safely. 2-way radios are a godsend along with Audio books and MP3 players.
Back to the cruise similarities. The National is so much fun! Early on make an effort to get your Hospitality bag. Read the published agenda start times for formal and semi-formal events, banquets, cocktail parties, dog shows, photo ops, raffles, auctions dog shows, shopping, and lots of friends/new people to meet and discover how much you have in common. The hospitality room invitations, goodies and goodie bag contents are sweet. You might attend theme events, win prizes and be awarded recognition. Leads me right into the expectations... remembering all of the above and putting it in a list in no particular order the dynamics change with all the influence you might expect on a cruise; weather, prevailing environmentals like traffic and seating availability are a couple.
Here's a short list of do's and don'ts -
- DO see as many of your friends and acquaintances as you can - it's life in real time -you can't predict who can't attend the next National. Sit with different people at each casual event.
- DO plan to catch up on your sleep when you get home so add a day for recovery
- DO plan for inclement weather, bring your electronic chargers, SD Cards for your camera etc.
- DO bring a flashlight and pooper bags - we want each hotel management team to give a good reference to the next hotel our club wants to stay in the future
- DO work with your dog(s) ahead of time to see if they get carsick or stressed by travel and take precautions like Imodium or Dramamine
- DON'T forget your business cards or QR Code for quick scans
- DO Bring your normal dog food and plenty of water - changing either of these two staples can be horrific. You can also buy purified water at the local store for when the travel supply runs out.
- DO check on your reservations, bring your confirmation number and be sure to get your entries in before the deadline
- DON'T assume the schedule for anything including your drive time will be in your control
- DON'T forget your hairdryer and some extra towels - hotels frown upon bathing dogs in your room and using guest linens
Another way to maximize your cruise dollars is to invite friends and family to come to the show or dinner - especially if you're within a couple hours drive time. Take in some sightseeing time. There are many events open during the week and not every minute of the day is planned for you. We've enjoyed touring local wineries, parks, museums and historical places and felt like it was a bonus attraction for the area.
The highest priorities are to have fun, mingle, meet new people and be social - whether your on a water or land based cruise.