To lighten the load, we switched to soft-sided crates in the hotel-especially helpful when you have to trudge the stuff up the outside staircase to a second floor room. These are really worth their weight in gold-but like gold, they can be expensive, too. Remember the old PVC pipe soft crates that were made with maybe $20 worth of materials but cost $100 and were tall and ungainly and the dogs tipped them over? Then came the streamlined aluminum-poled 'Cabana Crates'and the 'It'z A Breeze Too' models, also expensive but lightweight. So imagine how happy I was when WallyWorld started selling the PetNation Dog Port-A-Crate! YES! That's what we need-soft crates at Walmart prices-Yeah! The WSS-sized (32"-Large) is about $34, and you can have it shipped right to the nearest store for pickup. The 36"-Extra Large crate runs you about $45. Are they as lightweight as the more expensive models? Nope. But they are sturdy, allow you to put stuff on top of them in the hotel room, and cost 50% of the aluminum models.
Now, I just store them in the Gray Lady, and pull them out when we pull into the hotel. Oh, and a word to the wise-remember to load the soft crates and the overnight bag somewhere EASY to reach in the van, so when you pull into that first-night-on-the-road hotel parking lot late at night, you don't have to unpack the entire van to get your pajamas out and set up the crates...been there, done that. Now, if we could just figure out why we still pack as much stuff for a 4 or 5 dog trip when we're only taking two dogs?