Finding these places can be a challenge, but not as much as it used to be. The travel industry used to grudgingly accept the fact that many people traveled with pets. Now, many hotels, motels and resorts actively court pet lovers, and a few are marketed almost exclusively to this once-neglected group of vacationers. Well-mannered pets and well-heeled pet lovers are appealing to an industry that isn't booking as many vacation travelers as it would like. And that's good news for people looking for the perfect pet-friendly vacation.
The best way to plan your trip? Check out web sites dedicated to traveling with pets, and look for vacation ads in pet-related magazines and newsletters.
As for books, you'll find plenty that provide simple listings of places where pets are allowed, such as the AAA travel guides. But there's one series that really gets the inside information on where pets are genuinely welcome: the Dog Lover's Companion books (www.dogloverscompanion.com). The series has books on California and Florida, on all of New England, and on Seattle, Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Even though more people than ever are traveling with their dogs, there are plenty of people who don't like sharing space with the four-legged tourists. There are also plenty of resort properties that are one pet mess away from changing to a no-dog policy. That means you and your dog must be above reproach, to keep a great place open for future pet travel.
Here are a few things to do when staying at a hotel with your dog:
- Keep them clean. Your dog should be well-groomed and clean-smelling. Always dry off wet dogs and wipe off muddy feet -- using your towels, not the motel's -- before allowing your dog inside. Cover furniture, carpets and bedspreads with your old sheets and towels, and if you need to bathe your dog, be sure, again, to use your towels and clean up afterward.
- Keep them under control. Your dog should be obedient, friendly but not annoying, and never aggressive -- not to people, not to pets and not to wildlife. Do not allow your dog to bark uncontrollably. Use your best judgment when to let a dog off the leash in areas where doing so is allowed, and be sure that your dog isn't annoying other people or pets.
- Pick up after them. Take your dog to out-of-the-way places on resort property to do his business -- the corner of the far parking lot, not the grassy inner courtyard. No leg-lifting allowed near rooms and eating areas. Make it so the pickiest dog hater on earth wouldn't notice your dog has been around.