Gone with the dogs

Gone with the dogsFrom St Martin to Malibu, Aruba to Aspen, Moshi and Kibo logged thousands of miles, stayed in condos, hotels and houses, people-watched on patios, played on beaches and wiggled some tails on some pretty trails.

Having coordinated pet-friendly vacations for our pack for the last decade, we have seen it all in pet-friendly options, rules, and fees.

Kibo, Dead Horse Point, Moab, Utah
Dead Horse Point, Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Pet-friendly or pet-tolerable?

A recent Moab VRBO “pet-friendly” listing stated, “Dogs considered – must be left in garage at all times.” Really? The average high temperature in July in Moab is 99 degrees. The owners should try putting on a fur coat and sitting in the garage with no air conditioning in July and see how that works out for them.

That said, pet owners have a responsibility to hold up their end of the pet-friendly bargain as well. When traveling with dogs, we recommend taking a couple of sheets to cover furniture, a good pet hair remover, and always clean before throughly before you leave. If pet-friendly location owners to have a good experience with people and pets, more will likely welcome them into the future.

Pet-friendly travelPet-friendly vacation rentals

We have rented pet-friendly properties for years and have consistently found that the extra privacy and space makes traveling for the entire pack – people and pets – far more enjoyable.

We have used VRBO extensively and their new filtering option for pet-friendly properties makes it easier than every to quickly narrow the options. Other similar websites listing private homes ranging from studios to mansions, include HomeAway, Vacation Rentals, and airbnb. All have pet-friendly filtering options.

Malibu, California
Malibu, California
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Pet-friendly hotels: Pet policies

Kiob, Moshi and Greg at the Four Seasons in Austin
Kiob, Moshi and Greg at the Four Seasons in Austin

Pet-friendly travelWhen staying in a pet-friendly hotel, there are several factors that need to be checked and considered before selecting a home away from home for people and pets:

  • Pet fee: Is there a pet fee, and, if so, is the pet fee per night, per dog or per stay?
  • Pet deposit: Is there a pet deposit and, if so, how much & when is it refunded?
  • Pet size: Are there pet size restrictions? Many hotels only allow dogs under 20 lbs.
  • Number of pets: Some pet-friendly hotels only allow one dog per room.
  • Pet type: Many pet-friendly hotels only allow dogs and/or have breed restrictions.
  • Pet policy: Can pets be left unattended in the room? Are pet rooms only in a specific area of the hotel?

Some hotels list detailed pet policies on their websites; others have none. Anytime we select a pet-friendly hotel where we have not stayed, we call ahead to verify the pet policy before be book.

Upon arrival, many pet-friendly hotels require a pet policy to be signed. We always list cell phones – even if they aren’t required – in case the hotel needs to contact us.

If there is something in the pet policy that causes concern – such as, “pets can be removed from room and turned over to a shelter” or the like, we generally get in the car and the pack moves on to another, more pet-friendly establishment.
Moshi and Kibo

Pet-friendly hotels: Finding a two paws up place for the pack

Whenever planning travel for a short trip or road trip, our first stop is BringFido.com, a pet-friendly hotel website  that has grown tremendously over the years and, in addition to returning a listing of pet-friendly hotels by location, BringFido.com also provides information on hotel pet policies and estimated room pricing.

Hotels chains that are pet-friendly in all or most all locations are:

  • Kimpton: Probably the most pack-friendly of all pet-friendly hotels. Any number of pets are welcome regardless of size, weight, kind, or breed and provides cozy beds, dining bowls, special treats, no restrictions, and no extra fees or deposits.
  • Four Seasons: Pets are welcome at no additional fee.  Hotels vary, but some locations have provided beds, bowls, bottled water & homemade puppy cookies. Contact the local hotel concierge for specific location policy & to arrange pet sitting or dog-walking (pricing varies, but we have found $25/hr for sitting and $30/hr for dog walking in several locations).
  • Loews: Loews Hotels are pet-friendly and typically provide a nice welcome package.  Fees differ and “dog rooms” are typically on a specific floor (probably the first).
  • La Quinta: Pets are welcome at most locations nationwide with no pet fees and can be left unattended.
  • Red Roof Inns: One pet per room, no fees, can’t be left unattended.

Hotels chains that are pet-friendly in some locations are:

  • Marriott: To locate pet-friendly Marriott properties, visit the Marriott website, enter the desired location & on the 2nd page, check the “Pet friendly” box under Hotel features.  Most properties charge fees and have varying pet policies.
  • Hilton: To locate pet-friendly Hilton properties, visit the Hilton website, enter the desired location & on the 2nd page, check the “Pets allowed” box under Amenities.  Most properties charge fees and have varying pet policies.
  • Westin / Starwood Hotels: To locate pet-friendly Starwood properties, visit the Starwood website, enter the desired location & on 2nd page, click the “Pets allowed” link under Hotel Type & Amenities.  Most properties charge fees and have varying pet policies.
  • Hyatt: Most Hyatt Place locations allow dogs for a $75 fee.  Steep if for one night, but if for several days to a week, it can be a good option. Some other Hyatt properties (Hyatt Regency, for example) accept dogs, but may require calling ahead to ensure pets are accepted.

Pet friendly airlines

Pet-friendly travelWe’ve flown with Moshi and Kibo, both domestically and internationally.

That said, flying with a pet can be the most stressful method of travel for people and pets alike.

The first step in airline travel is always to research & understand the airline’s policy and requirements and if international travel, the country’s policies and regulations. A trip to the vet is generally the next stop to obtain any required paperwork and ensure that flying is appropriate for the pet. Traveling with pets on airlines can be expensive – we’ve paid more for pet fare on a flight than our own.

Pets can fly in cabin (size restrictions) or in cargo. Moshi and Kibo flew to us as puppies in cargo, but since have always flown in cabin. Much more information about airline pet travel can be found on PetFlight.com.  Just reading through their Pet Travel Reports (dogs lost, dogs injured, and pet deaths for pets in the care of airlines) is heart breaking.

Specific airline pet policies can be found at:

AirCanada pet policy
American Airlines pet policy
Delta Airlines pet policy
Frontier Airlines pet policy
JetBlue Airlines pet policy
Southwest Airlines pet policy
United Airlines / Continental Airlines pet policy
Virgin America pet policy

Pet friendly activities

When traveling, the entire pack can enjoy many activities together such as visiting parks, hiking, and in some instances, enjoying a leisurely afternoon on a pet-friendly restaurant patio. Again, we always start with research as to the pet-friendliness of the planned activity.

Pet-friendly hiking

Big Sur State Park
Big Sur State Park
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Almost all National Parks are NOT pet-friendly. However, most public land is pet-friendly, allowing for hiking with four-legged friends. For pet-friendly hiking, we use a pet-friendly backpack and always take plenty of water and treats for people and pets.

Pet-friendly restaurants

Finding pet-friendly patios can be a trial and error process, as most restaurants don’t state a pet policy. We usually take the pet-stroller and park it just outside the patio railing, which in most cases is acceptable. Additionally, many wineries are dog-friendly.

Pet-friendly wineries
Pet-friendly wineries
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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