Pet owners know it all too well. A pet’s “so you’re leaving me here” gaze can break down even the toughest, coldest, “most convinced that Snuffles shouldn’t come food shopping” among us. So if your animal can talk (or look) you into bringing them on neighborhood errands, how will you ever leave them behind for that road trip coming up next month? Our guess is that you won’t. But that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to bring your four- (or whatever the case may be) legged friend along on your adventure.
Here at AllTheRooms, we’re experts in all things travel. One of those things is traveling with your pets. From pet-friendly hotel chains to hotel pet etiquette to tips on how to make sure your buddy is comfortable out there on the road, our ultimate pet travel guide has it all.
Research the pet rules of your destination
First things first — are pets allowed? Determining whether or not your destination is pet-friendly is the first step in planning the ultimate trip. Once you have a general idea of the things you would like to do, call ahead to the hotels and activities to make sure your furry friend never has to leave your side. It takes a bit more planning, but it’s worth not having an awkward encounter where your pet gets stopped at the door.
Prepare for other modes of travel with your pet
Traveling from A to B can be a bit more complicated with a pet, but as long as you’re prepared, it’ll be a breeze. If you’re flying, make sure you know the pet policy of your airline. Regulations surrounding pets are far from universal, so be sure to call ahead and get the gist on fees, size limits, and any other limitations they may have. The same goes for traveling via train, metro, ferry, or public bus — do your homework before buying those tickets.
Prepare your pet and pack the essentials
Collar, leash, food, water — the essentials for your pet are second nature to most responsible owners. That being said, it’s important to think beyond the basic requirements. Consider packing your pet’s vaccination records, spare tags, a first aid kit with tweezers, eye wash, and gauze bandages, a portable/collapsible dog bowl, seat covers, and some extra entertaining toys for long commutes.
Your destination will also have a large bearing on what you pack. Heading to a cold climate? Consider snagging some booties for your dog’s feet. Doing some hiking? Grab a mini dog backpack. Heading to a hotel that requires crates? You get the idea. A little brainstorming goes a long way when it comes to packing for a vacation with your pet.
Schedule a pre-trip check-up with your veterinarian
It’s comforting going into a trip knowing that your pet is completely healthy and in tip-top shape. Especially if it’s been a while, schedule a check-up at your local vet before heading out on your trip.
Another challenge of pet travel is making sure your pet (and you) don’t bother other travelers that might not be so thrilled to share accommodation with a furry guest. Here are some tips for avoiding trouble.
Read more: Get Inspired with these Sweet Pets
If your pet is noisy, don’t assume guests are going to be cool with it just because your neighbors are. Most guests don’t want to hear a parrot squawking at 2 am. Maybe it’s a treat or a favorite toy. Whatever the method, plan a guaranteed way to keep your travel partner calm and quiet.
Make sure your pet gets a solid bath before hitting the road. Packing a little air freshener can go a long way too.
Follow leash laws
You might be comfortable with your dog walking around off-leash, but remember that your rules don’t necessarily come with you when you travel. Be respectful of leash laws and other people by keeping your buddy at your side. Buster might be well behaved and he may always come when you call him, but you never know what you might encounter along your trip.
Hiding your animal or sneaking them into a hotel can be risky business. It’s best to be clear and communicate with staff or other travelers you encounter along the way. Communication is a solid way to avoid any confusion.
Tips for the Trip
Whether it’s a cross-country trek or a city weekend trip, making a few travel adjustments for your pet can make a world of difference. Here are a few tips.
The right stop goes a long way
A stop for a hike or a walk through a downtown area will help your pet get their mind off the road. Making the stops routine will give them (and you) something to look forward to — not to mention well-needed bathroom breaks.
Keep your pet calm and comfortable during the journey
Try to make it a first-class trip. Our experts found that placing a bed in the back seat secured by some bags or pillows is far more suitable for an animal than the regular seat. The bed can then serve as a little bit of home on the road.
If you’re traveling in a group, assign one person to your companion each day. When you head out to get food, they can stay behind and keep your pet company in the room.
If it’s just you and your pet, drive-thrus can be lifesavers. You never want to leave your pet unattended in the car and bringing them into a restaurant is usually not an option. The drive-thru saves you all the trouble.
Watch your pet’s diet
With a likely change in schedule, scenery, and types of activities, it’s important that your pet maintain the same consistency in what they eat. Just because you’re looking to try new takes on street meat and local delicacies (or fast food) doesn’t mean it’s great for your dog. Keep the kibble handy, and try to keep an eye on everything they eat.
Enlist in the latest pet resources
There are a few apps that make traveling with your pet extremely convenient. With the click of a button, apps like Rover and Wag provide you with a slew of resources for your pet from anywhere in the country. Planning on doing some sightseeing and need someone to watch or walk your dog? Hiring a pet sitter has never been easier. Scroll through user reviews and leave your pet with someone trusted (and even professional). Make sure to keep these resources in mind if you’re stuck in a pinch while on the road.
Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations
Imagine spending all day on the road only to arrive at your hotel in the evening and find that the hotel staff is not so happy at the prospect of your furry (or scaly or slimy) friend staying the night. You have to do a last minute search in an unfamiliar town for a pet-friendly hotel. Far from ideal obviously. For a little help planning ahead, here’s a list of pet-friendly hotel chains that are known for being especially welcoming to animals.
If you need luxury for your pet, the Four Seasons has a reputation for going the extra distance for your furry companions. Dogs and cats can get water bowls and beds so they won’t feel left out of the five-star experience. Not all locations allow animals, but the brand is increasingly known for being the top luxury option for all species of traveler.
If convenience is more your priority, La Quinta fits the bill. With over eight hundred locations nationwide and a two animal per room with no extra charge policy, La Quinta is well-deserving of a spot on our list.
Another animal-friendly option, Loews provides a welcome package including a water bowl and treats. Some hotels even offer dog walking, sitting and spa services if the road has been rough on your pet.
With over 1,600 locations welcoming dogs with open arms, Best Western is a go-to option. The maximum charge is only $20 per day and that’s good for two animals in the same room.
Side note: To find somewhere to stay, whether it be hotels, apartment, hostels, etc., use our accommodations search tool to see the widest selection of options. Make sure you check the “pets ok” box under the “Amenities” tab. The search results will then give you plenty of options for you and your buddy. Also, if you’re planning a long distance trip and need to find dog-friendly hotels in your stopping locations, check out Pet-Friendly Hotels, a website where you can search pet-friendly hotel options by city.