WHEN WE FILLED OUT OUR application to adopt our dog from a miniature schnauzer rescue organization nearly three years ago, one of the desired traits we included was a dog who would travel well — not a surprise when one of the two of us is a travel journalist. A week after we adopted Scout (just shy of her eighth birthday), we packed up the car and took off on our first road trip. A few months later, she earned her wings on her first flight when we traveled to Maine for a stay at the dog-friendly Inn by the Sea. Since those first trips, Scout travels with us whenever possible.
We are not alone in adding a furry member to our family. According to the 2017–2018 American Pet Products Association, Inc. National Pet Survey, 68 percent of all U.S. households have pets living in them, or 84.6 million homes. Within those homes live nearly 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. With so many pets in our homes, it comes as little surprise we want our four-legged family members to join us when we travel, and the travel industry is listening by offering more ways for our pets to accompany us.
Flying with your pet can make traveling to your destination quick and easy, but there are some things to keep in mind. If your pet is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, she can join you comfortably in the cabin. However, if he’s a bit bigger, he will likely need to be checked as cargo. While that can be a bit worrisome for us pet parents, Delta Cargo put our minds at ease when it recently announced an exclusive partnership with CarePod, a pet technology startup that developed a new standard of first-class safety and care for pet air travel. One of the ways CarePod provides safety and care for pets — as well as peace of mind for their families — is with real-time GPS tracking service for pet shipments.
If you plan to fly with your pet, check with your airline ahead of time, as each has its own set of guidelines to which you will need to adhere, including health requirements and documentation. There is likely also a fee for bringing your pet along, so ask about that as well. Through our research we found one-way domestic carry-on fares range from $9.98 (on Silver Airways, which donates a portion to local animal shelters) to $125; checked and cargo fares may be higher.
Nearly two years ago, Amtrak made its pet travel program permanent on most of its routes, inviting dogs and cats of up to 20 pounds to travel with their people on trips of up to seven hours; the fee is $26. Just as with airlines, Amtrak has its own set of guidelines and health requirements for pet travel.
When the permanence of the program was announced, Joe Boardman, president and CEO, Amtrak, said, “We are excited to bring this service to more of our passengers throughout the country who want to travel with these cherished family members.”
In South Florida, Brightline provides rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with expected expansion to Orlando in the coming years. It offers a terrific option for pet families since Brightline welcomes pets on board. While the company is working on an option so you can reserve a seat next to you for your four-legged friend, in the meantime you may bring one cat or dog on your train trip for free, as long as she stays leashed and in her carrier.
Oftentimes, travel involves renting a car, but what to do if you are traveling with your pet? Simply check with your preferred car rental agency ahead of time about its policy. Many agencies allow pets to ride in cars without additional fees, as long as he doesn’t make a mess or tear anything up. If that does happen, you will be responsible for charges associated with cleaning and repair.
Hotel brands such as La Quinta Inns & Suites long welcomed furry guests (of canine and feline descent) of any size to its hotels, free of charge. There are some restrictions, so call ahead to be sure you are squared away for your stay before you arrive. Another choice, Kimpton Hotels, welcomes all pet guests, whether furry, feathery or scaly, no matter their size, weight or breed, all at no extra charge. As its website says, “If your pet fits through the door, we’ll welcome them in.”
More and more hotels open their doors to pets, but inquire about associated fees, which can vary greatly depending upon the hotel you choose.
In Florida, Boca Raton Resort and Club introduced its Paws in Paradise program for its four-legged guests last year, and they’re lapping it up. In addition to meeting Hays, the resort’s Canine Director, dogs will relax in a luxury dog bed and have bowls to use so they don’t need to bring their own. Paw parents can even rent a nanny cam to keep an eye on their pup while they’re out of the room.
When the St. Gregory Hotel in Washington, D.C.’s DuPont Circle recently finished remodeling, the hotel added a pet program to welcome fourlegged guests. Upon check-in, your dog will receive a comfy pillow bed; food and water bowls; and locally made, organic, all-natural treats. A list of nearby dog parks and pet-friendly restaurants and stores will help you plan your time together.
The recently opened Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis invites dogs to stay with their people. When making reservations, you and your pet can choose your room by emotion: green for rejuvenation, yellow for happiness, blue for tranquility or red for passion. When you arrive, you will be greeted with your dog’s amenities (dog bed and bowl) to match your room’s color scheme, and she’ll enjoy a special David Burke treat just for her. When it is time for a walk, the Ellen Clarke Sculpture Park a block away offers a fun space to explore.
You and your pet can live the West Coast life at Hotel Palomar Los Angeles – Beverly Hills. When you check into the design-driven hotel, start planning your L.A. getaway with the concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, parks and pet boutiques.
Your pup can choose from seared tuna and bloomed quinoa, Schmitz Ranch beef and barley, and Mary’s chicken and rice from the Canine Delectables menu when she joins you for lunch or dinner at Bardessono’s Lucy or Lucy Bar in Yountville, Napa Valley. In your room, she’ll have her own bed to curl up in.
Back in Maine at the Inn by the Sea, Scout enjoyed her own specially prepared meal with us on the deck of the Sea Glass restaurant. The next time we visit, we may have to make time for a pet massage.
Aside from hotels, HomeAway offers more than 300,000 pet-friendly vacation rentals around the world, according to Melanie Fish, HomeAway travel expert. “With amenities like fenced-in backyards and extra space, vacation rentals are comfortable for the whole family, even the furry members.”
For more ideas on traveling with your four-legged family member, visit BringFido.com, a terrific resource for traveling with pets, to find not only pet-friendly destinations but also attractions, restaurants, hotels and even events, all around the world.
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