Pet Friendly Vacation and Travel Plans
Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life often gives us the boost we need to come back to our normal lives relaxed and ready to deal with the daily grind again. Planning a pet-friendly vacation doesn't have to be stressful and, in fact, can be a lot of fun for the whole family.
Should My Pet Come With Me?
You may have already firmly decided that you're going on vacation, and no matter what, you're going to be taking your pet or pets with you. If you haven't yet decided if bringing your pet along for your vacation is better than leaving her with a pet-sitter, start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Does my pet enjoy traveling? Some pets love hopping in the car and hitting the road, while travel stresses others pets to the point where they need medication to help them stay calm. Under which category does your pet fall?
2. Will my pet be alone during most of the vacation, or will she be with me? Planning a pet-friendly vacation means your pet is going to be spending the majority of the time out and about with you. If you have your heart set on going to Washington D.C. and spending hours every day exploring the city's museums, for example, consider leaving your pet at home where she'll be more comfortable.
3. What is my pet's personality? Is your pet calm, friendly, and well-behaved? Or, does she make a lot of noise, something that would annoy other travelers, especially at accommodations? If your pet is noisy and requires a lot of attention, will you be able to give her what she needs while on vacation?
4. Is it going to be exceedingly hot or cold at my vacation destination? Unfortunately, many pet-friendly accommodations require that someone be in the room with the pet at all times. Will you be able to take your pet with you everywhere you go without leaving her in the car? Leaving a pet in the car when it's hot or cold is far too dangerous to risk.
Deciding whether a pet should accompany you on vacation, ultimately, is a very personal decision. However, be sure to consider what is best for your pet. If you think she would be happier staying at home with a pet sitter, consider leaving her at home.
Finding Pet-Friendly Accommodations:
Fortunately, more and more hotels, motels, and other types of accommodations are realizing the popularity of people traveling with their pets, and as a result, more are adopting pet-friendly rules.
Finding pet-friendly accommodations is becoming much easier. Often, all you need to do is go online and search for "pet-friendly accommodations" in your destination city or cities. Keep the following in mind, however, when you make reservations and arrive at your accommodations:
1. Verify that the motel, hotel, or other accommodations you've decided to book is indeed pet-friendly. If you're making your reservation online, make sure you print out your confirmation form, including documentation that confirms that the property is pet-friendly. If you plan to make reservations over the phone, ask the person taking the reservation to confirm the property is pet-friendly. You may also want to ask him to fax you a copy of your reservation that includes documentation that the property is pet-friendly.
2. When you arrive at your accommodations, remind the person who checks you in that you have a pet with you. Some properties require a pet deposit; others charge a per-night pet fee, and some have no fees for pets.
3. Most properties require that someone be with a pet at all times. Talk with the manager of the accommodations. Explain that your pet is well-behaved, and ask if she can stay in the room by herself at times. Some motels and hotels will allow pets, especially small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, to stay alone in the room provided they are in a cage or carrier.
4. If you plan to leave your pet in the room alone – whether you have a dog, a cat, a bird, or some other type of pet – make sure she is in a cage or a carrier. Do not leave her unaccompanied and free. Make sure you inform the front desk that you're leaving your pet alone in the room while you go out.
5. Ask the person at the front desk to tell you where the pet-friendly areas of the property are: Is your pet allowed poolside? Where do pets go to eliminate? Knowing where your pet is allowed is essential to ensuring a stress-free stay.
6. Never allow your pet to run loose in the room until you do a thorough inspection of the room to check for dangers like rat poison. If you're uncertain, ask the front desk.
7. Always clean up after your pet – both inside and outside of the property.
Choosing a Pet-Friendly Destination: Pet-Friendly Cities
Pet-friendly cities across the United States are plentiful. The key is to find the destination that suits your interests best. Following are just some of the pet-friendly cities in the United States:
Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia
One of the biggest selling points of Washington, D.C., as a vacation destination is the fact that so many of its attractions are free, including the national monuments and many of the museums, such as the Smithsonian and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Washington, D.C., and neighboring Northern Virginia are also famous for being pet-friendly. In Old Town Alexandria, for example, pets are welcome in many of the stores that dot the historic corner of Northern Virginia. Pets are also welcome to explore, with their owners, the National Mall, the Jefferson Memorial, and the grounds of Mount Vernon. Or, you might want to hop aboard one of the Potomac Riverboat Company's canine cruises.
Both D.C. and Northern Virginia have a plethora of outdoor restaurants where pets are welcome, and there are dozens of dog parks where dogs can run and play off of their leashes.
You can learn more by visiting the Official
- Vacation Site of Washington, D.C
or by going to to learn more about travel in Northern Virginia.
Historic Boston, Massachusetts, is so pet-friendly that dogs are allowed on the famous T (subway) during non-peak hours, making traveling around the city easy for both you and your dog. There are several dog parks – including Fort Washington Park and Cambridge Dog Park – that allow dogs to run and play without their leashes.
You and your dog can also get a bird's eye view of Boston by taking a pet-friendly horse and carriage ride or hopping on a cruise. Pet-friendly, outdoor restaurants are also bountiful in Boston.
Learn more about all that Boston has to offer at their official
Boston travel and tourism Web site.
Undoubtedly, Orlando, Florida – with its many theme parks and attractions – ranks as one of the top child-friendly destinations in the world. But, it's also great for families with pets. Dozens of hotels in the area are pet-friendly. The Disney attractions do not allow pets in their hotels, but they offer air-conditioned kennels for pets, where pet parents can visit and walk their dogs throughout the day. There are also several local RV parks and campgrounds that allow pets, including Wekiwa Springs State Park and Kissimmee KOA.
If you need a break from the parks, you and your dog can head to the pet-friendly shopping area of Winter Park and dine at a pet-friendly restaurant.
To check out all that Orlando has to offer, visit their official Orlando tourism Web site
Named one of America's Best Big Cities, Portland, Oregon, is also a hot destination for those with pets. In addition to dozens of pet-friendly hotels and motels, Portland also offers pet-friendly walking tours (Portland Walking Tours) and more than a dozen dog parks.
Visit in October to experience Dogtoberfest, where your dog will enjoy a luxurious bath while you can enjoy a cold beer, all in the name of charity. Portland is also ripe with outdoor restaurants and pet-friendly parks the whole family can enjoy.
Portland's official tourism Web site.
San Diego, California
Heading to the beach? San Diego's the ideal beach destination for those with dogs. Several beaches allow dogs either on a leash or off of the leash, and San Diego Kayaking Tours allows dogs on their tours. If your dog doesn't like water, head to one of San Diego's numerous dog parks, then enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the city's popular outdoor restaurants.
San Diego is also home to myriad pet-friendly hotels, motels, campgrounds, RV parks, and vacation rentals.
San Diego's official
tourism Web site.
Deciding How To Get To Your Destination
Once you've picked your pet-friendly vacation destination, you must decide how you're going to get there: Will you drive, or will you fly? Unfortunately, even though there is cross-country train service in the United States, Amtrak does not currently allow pets on their trains. Only service pets are allowed.
If you opt to fly to your destination, be sure to make reservations well in advance of your travel date. Most pet-friendly airlines allow only a certain number of pets in the cabin per flight, so booking early is essential. Additionally, if you want to check your pet as baggage, you may not be able to in the summer. The majority of pet-friendly airlines have restrictions on pets traveling as baggage and cargo during the hot summer months.
If you decide that driving is the best way to get to your destination, make sure your pet is used to taking trips in the car. If she isn't, start getting her used to it now to ensure a stress-free ride later. Make sure you always carry enough fresh water in the car with you when traveling.
Packing – What To Take
Don't forget to pack a suitcase for your pet. She'll need everything she needs at home and a little extra. Be sure to pack her suitcase with food and water bowls, an extra leash (if applicable), toys, a blanket or her bed, a photo of her (in case she should get lost), and her medical records.