April 14, 2022
It’s a fact of life: Sometimes we can’t travel with our pups. We hate it more than just about anything, but the grandparents might not be dog-friendly or there are too many restrictions on flying with our furry friends. So we often deal with it and find a sitter.
But not if we can help it!
Vacations are more fun when you’re with friends and family, dogs included. That’s where places like BringFido come in handy, so you can find a full range of pet-friendly accommodations at that next exit or somewhere planned on your trip.
As more of us take the family pet along on vacation, hotels increasingly cater to those pampered pooches. Some even provide dog treats, dog beds and water bowls. There are even hotels that provide a room service menu for dogs! National Parks are just waiting for your whole crew. It’s a great time for dog families.
Before you hit the road, here are 15 tips to consider so you and your dog have a memorable trip:
During a recent drive through the Southeast, I did a little homework in advance on one of my stops, in Durham, N.C. It turned out that the Triple-A Durham Bulls baseball team was having one of its monthly Bark in the Park promotions while I was there. So my English Bulldog and I watched the game together on the first-base side, and between innings he hung out with lots of cool pups. Many towns have events like this or other dog-centric activities, so be on the lookout! It made the trip even more awesome for both of us!
Your dog might loooove the back seat of a nice long drive. Some might get nauseous and not handle it so well. Especially puppies! Know their limits when you drive. Make sure to stop enough for bio breaks. You might have a trucker mentality driving forever but you can’t be so sure about the pooch, so just use moderation. Bring towels and supplies just in case, and never forget how hot a car can get inside for a dog if you get out for a short spell by yourself.
Interstate rest areas are for dogs, too, and they usually designate a dog walking area at these. Follow those procedures, even if that one area just looks irresistible to sniff. Keep your dog on a short leash at all times. And obviously keep lots of pickup bags handy.
You’re there! Many larger hotel chains have special rooms designed for dogs – and, fortunately, many of these rooms are on the ground level. It is a good idea to ask for a first-floor room because it is faster and easier to take your buddy for a bathroom break no matter the hour. Also, you will avoid using the stairs or elevator, which freak some dogs out. Try to avoid rooms next to elevators because these rooms are typically the noisiest, which annoys your pet.
Remember how much you’d have to pay to fly around with your pup. A modest pet fee at a La Quinta Inn or Drury Inn isn’t that bad by comparison. Some chains (we see you, Marriott) have outrageous cleaning fees and often aren’t practical. Again, start with BringFido, where you can find all that stuff upfront, filtered by cost and location.
Not telling the hotel staff that a dog is staying in the room is a big no-no. Not only will you probably get caught, but you are also making it more difficult for honest dog-lovers to find a friendly place to stay. Some smaller hotels may have a size limit and do not allow larger dogs to stay. There are more hotel options than ever before, so do a little homework before checking in.
Traveling with a dog is little like traveling with a toddler. You have to do all the planning. Estimate how many days you will be away and pre-measure how much food you need to bring. Dogs are creatures of habit, so this is not the time to buy different dog food when you arrive at your destination. If your pooch requires medication, make sure you bring enough. We advise packing a little more than you need just in case your stay is extended. And bring plenty of treats – your dog is on vacation, too!
Your buddy will need one bowl for water and one for food. There are excellent, inexpensive collapsible bowls that take little space in your luggage. Do NOT use the hotel’s ice bucket or bowls! Find a convenient place in the hotel room and try not to move it around. We usually place the bowls on top of a hotel towel to keep drool and kibbles off the carpet.
Definitely bring one or two of your buddy’s favorite toys with you. Not only will the scent of the toy help your dog relax, it will also keep him from chewing other things in the room. Just to be on the safe side with all that adventure going on, pack some Ready Pet Go! Zen Chews.
Once you’re checked in and you and your furry friend are in the room, walk around the entire living space and look for potential dangers or trouble spots. Are there exposed electrical cords? Are the candy and chips from the minibar accessible? Does the furniture need to be rearranged? Take the time to “think like a dog” and see if temporary home is safe from a mischievous pup.
Just like his favorite toy, bring a blanket or his doggie bed with you. The scent will make him feel safe and secure. We have a portable doggie bed we keep in the back of our car that serves as our “hotel bed” when we are vacationing. If your dog insists on sleeping with you, bring a sheet from home and use it as a bed spread. This will keep shedding hair and slobber contained.
After making sure the room is safe, show your dog all corners. Show where the food and water will be placed. Let your dog sniff and snoop around the room, the bathroom, the kitchenette, etc. If you want to establish barriers or “stay out zones”, use your luggage or room furniture to help divide the room. Might want to put a towel down in front of the door just to block any opening that invites weird light and sounds.
Not a big deal if you have a large dog, but you might want to move that puffy chair or ottoman up against the side of the bed. It will make a handy platform so you pup can easily jump up on the bed. Chances are they want to sleep with you in this situation, even if they usually sleep on a floor bed. Show your dog how to do it one time and then it’s a snap. Return any big furniture where it was before you leave.
Most hotels ask that you do not leave your dog in the room alone for more than an hour or so. And we think that is a smart idea. How would you like it if your parents took you on vacation and left you alone in a hotel room? Ask the concierge for a list of dog-friendly restaurants, bars, parks, etc. Ask if there is a good place to take your dog for a jog or a walk. Some hotels provide dog-sitting or dog-walking services for a fee. Tip: If you MUST leave your dog alone for a while, turn on the TV. It may comfort your buddy and it will help drown out the hallway noise.
Many of us are checking National Parks off our bucket list these days, even with the high gas prices. Parks are happy to have your pets for the occasion, but you’ll need to know all the rules and regulations before you go. There are plenty of places you can go together, and a place like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an entry-gate path that’s great for dog walking. Other paths are no-go, because you don’t want a dog to encounter a bear. Too many bad headlines there. And if you want to go hiking with a friend or family member (or yourself), it’s usually easy to find a dog-friendly cabin where they can chill a bit.
If you use common sense and do just a little homework, you and your furry friend will have a vacation to remember. Dogs are great hotel guests: They won’t steal towels and they won’t get drunk and talk loudly in the hallways. And they won’t complain about the TV channels. If you want to fly with yours, just follow the airline guidelines. It can be well worth the extra cost.
Pet-Friendly Hotel Listings: