Traveling with Pets

by Susan Barnes

Nov 1, 2016
Features

According to the ASPCA and American Pet Products Association, between 70 and 80 million dogs and between 74 and 96 million cats make their homes with us. It comes as little surprise, then, that when we travel we want our fourlegged family members to travel with us — and travel in style. In fact, more destinations and hotels are opening their doors to our animal family members, and airlines are offering more options for our traveling pets. United Airlines, for example, boasts an award-winning PetSafe animal transport program to ensure animals too large to travel in the cabin with their owners arrive safely and comfortably to the destination.

Last year American Airlines raised the bar on pet travel with the introduction of its first-class pet cabin on the Airbus A321T plane, which flies between Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK). The airline’s standard $125 pet carry-on fee can include a reservation in the first-class pet cabin on a first-come, first-serve basis when the pet’s owner is flying in first class, too. The small, ventilated compartment accommodates dogs in their kennels (standard rules apply) for takeoff and landing; your pet can sit with you on your lap or at your feet during the flight.

“American Airlines knows its transcontinental customers’ lifestyles, so we designed the special first-class pet cabin on threeclass A321Ts to make it easier for customers to travel with their jet-setting pets,” said Barbara DeLollis, spokeswoman, American Airlines. “It’s a unique feature, and it’s becoming popular with trendsetters.”

Earlier this year, Amtrak expanded its pet travel from a pilot program to a permanent policy on most train routes throughout the United States. Now dogs and cats up to 20 pounds can travel with their people, taking pet travel to the rails (on trips of up to seven hours).

“We are excited to bring this service to more of our passengers throughout the country who want to travel with these cherished family members,” said Joe Boardman, president and CEO, Amtrak.

If traveling by car with your pet, Milo’s Kitchen has a few tips to get her road-ready. Go for a joy ride — to the park or a friend’s house — so car rides can be associated with fun, too, not just a trip to the vet. Be sure your pet’s crate is a “happy place,” somewhere she feels comfortable, before heading out on the road. Pamper your pup — some hotels offer puppy massage, but you can do it, too. And bring home with you — pets like familiarity, so bring along her favorite blanket and toys so the familiar scents are with her.

Doggy Happy Hour at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Doggy Happy Hour at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants © KIMPTON HOTELS & RESTAURANTS

If your road trip takes you to Washington, D.C., hop over to Alexandria, Va., named one of the top U.S. dog-friendly cities by Animal Planet; there are 150,000 people and 40,000 dogs within the city. The D.C. suburb not only offers plenty of alfresco restaurants with patios on which to dine with your pet but also boasts seasonal, hour-long canine cruises that tour the seaport on board Potomac Riverboat Co. vessels and the VIP Pet Salon, where those with four legs can enjoy hot oil and mud treatments, hydrotherapy, massages and even a blueberry facial that helps with tear stains and odors. To keep Fido feeling frisky, check out Frolick Dogs, a year-round doggy gym that offers day boarding, agility training and much more.

When it’s time to check in for the night, a director of pet relations welcomes furry visitors to the Kimpton Morrison House Hotel in Old Town Alexandria and ensures pet amenities are in place, including in-room dog beds and food and water bowls. In fact, all Kimpton boutique hotels welcome any pet that fits through the doors — whether furry, feathery or even scaly — no matter size, weight or breed and for no extra charge.

Loews Don CeSar Hotel's Pampered Pet massage

Loews Don CeSar Hotel’s Pampered Pet massage © LOEWS

Another hotel brand that welcomes pets through its doors and into its rooms is Loews Hotels & Resorts, through its Loews Loves Pets program. Upon check-in, every dog and cat receives welcome gifts that include a name tag, bowl and treats. A “pet in room” door sign serves as your pet’s “do not disturb” and lets housekeeping know your furry family member is inside, relaxing.

Speaking of relaxing, the Loews Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, Fla., ups the relaxation ante with an in-room Pampered Pet massage from Spa Oceana. The hour-long canine massage was created for the hotel’s VIPs (Very Important Pets) to pamper and rejuvenate, perhaps even alongside their pet parents. After a massage, order a snack for your pet from the specially designed room service menu featuring Bow Wow (tenderloin beef with eggs and brown rice), Cat’s Meow (fresh filet of salmon) or a Veggie Feast (mixed veggies with scrambled eggs and brown rice).

Also in Florida, dogs live the suite life at the W Fort Lauderdale through the resort’s PAW (Pets Are Welcome) program. The Doggie Suite is decked out with an in-room Bark Box filled with goodies, a fluffy dog bed to laze the days away and an in-room menu complete with meals such as an organic salmon filet and steamed asparagus, or poached chicken breast with baby carrots, so you can all dine in, in luxury.

W Fort Lauderdale's in-room Bark Box

W Fort Lauderdale’s in-room Bark Box © W FORT LAUDERDALE

The boutique Madison Hotel in Memphis offers Southern charm and the rock ’n’ roll spirit with its Southern Swag for Southern Wag add-on amenity for dogs staying at the property. Upon check-in, your pup will enjoy the use of a luxe plush bed and doggie bowls (so there’s no need to bring them from home) along with all-natural, customized guitar-shaped treats from Three Dog Bakery.

At the Radisson Blu Mall of America just outside of Minneapolis, the Don’t Forget Fido package welcomes dogs traveling with their people with treats, toys and bowls to use at the hotel and take home with them when it’s time to leave. The hotel also encourages its two- and four-legged guests to get outside on a four-mile tour of the nearby Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge so everyone can stretch their legs.

Aside from hotels, HomeAway features more than 344,000 pet-friendly vacation rentals around the world, according to Melanie Fish, travel expert, HomeAway. “With amenities like fenced-in backyards and extra space, vacation rentals are comfortable for the whole family,” she said.

Yappy Hour — think happy hour with dogs — is gaining in popularity at restaurants and hotels around the United States. Back in Alexandria, Jackson 20 hosts a weekly dog-friendly event with drink specials for you and your pup; and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, Calif., hosts monthly Yappy Hours, as well as other Yappy events, throughout the year. Be sure to search for Yappy Hours wherever your travels may take you and your pup so you can enjoy even more time together.

These are just a few fun ways to travel with your pet. For more ideas, visit BringFido.com, a terrific resource for traveling with pets to find not only pet-friendly destinations but also attractions, restaurants, hotels and events all around the world.

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