Welcome to my my new blog series in which we’ll delve into an abundance of topics pertaining to travel with dogs. With dog ownership on the rise in the US, many tourist destinations are making it easier than ever for pet owners to plan pet-friendly vacations. Long gone are the days when we were forced to leave our furry family members at home!
In this entry, I offer up some of my favorite online resources for pet-friendly travel. Feel free to comment on any of these or suggest some additional resources in the comments section. My goal is to offer useful information to would-be travellers and create a community where people can share their experiences -- good and bad -- so that people can make informed decisions when planning their next pet-friendly adventure.
Okay, most of us have probably heard of this one. But Bring Fido is well known for a good reason; it’s the most comprehensive, user-friendly pet travel site out there. And you don’t have to join or pay anything to use it. Just type a destination in the homepage, search for a specific category -- hotels, restaurants, activities, events, or services -- and away you go!
I particularly like using this site to search for lodging because you’re able to search for availability within your dates of travel, and the results clearly display a photo of the hotel, the average nightly price, whether the hotel charges an additional pet fee, and whether multiple dogs and/or large breeds are allowed. I usually start my accommodations search here and then contact specific establishments over the phone to ensure I’m up to date on their pet policies.
While there are many similar websites out there, Bring Fido is the most widely used, so this is also where you’ll find the most user reviews. I don’t know about you, but I definitely take reviews into consideration when choosing a destination.
Frustrated by the lack of pet-friendly travel resources available circa 2009, Amy and Rod Burkert decided to take the matter in hand and create their own pet-friendly travel resource. At first glance, Go Pet Friendly appears similar to Bring Fido, but dig a little deeper and you find a ton of additional features. The site has a section for useful travel tips, a road trip planner, and a fantastic blog aptly titled “Take Paws,” which offers posts about all manner of travel-related topics.
But the main reason I’ve chosen to include Go Pet Friendly in my favorites list is the Destination Guides section, which offers honest, detailed, location-specific posts about places to which Amy and Rod have actually traveled with their dogs Ty and Buster. It’s easy to merely write about a pet-friendly destination; it’s a whole other ballgame to actually lug your pets there and experience it. These folks have walked the walk, and so have their pups! I’ve found their Destination Guides section to be a fantastic resource if you’re brainstorming places to visit and don’t really know where to start.
On her website Bodie on the Road, British magazine journalist and travel writer Belinda Jones draws on her own experiences traveling with her beloved rescue dog to offer travel-related tips and destination guides to places throughout the US (and she’ll soon be adding some UK destinations as well!). You can search by region or by state to follow Bodie’s adventures, and Jones provides lots of fun photos to help you envision each journey. I particularly liked her post about visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina ("Bodie and the Dog-Friendly Biltmore Estate"). I had no idea they have kennels on the premises so you can still tour the main house if you're traveling sans other humans!
Admittedly, I consider this one more of an indulgence than a helpful planning tool, but I highly recommend it anyway because of its stunning layout, its gorgeous photography, and its inspirational posts that WILL spur you to drop everything and start on your next adventure, like, immediately. And how ingenious is the title “The Ramble” for a travel blog -- I mean, does it get any better!?!
In her blog, travel writer Gigi Griffis recounts adventures and life lessons while navigating throughout Europe and the US with her little dog Luna (named for the whimsical Luna Lovegood of Harry Potter fame). While not dedicated solely to pet-friendly travel topics, the blog does offer several helpful posts about the logistics of traveling with a small dog (check out “How to Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations on the Road,” and for international travel, “How I Choose Where to Travel with my Dog: A Tale of Quarantines, Vaccines, & Long-Haul Flights”), and Griffis often includes snippets about life with Luna in many of her other posts. While I easily tire of most blogs pretty quickly, I find this one to be a thoroughly enjoyable read; Griffis is a sincere and relatable figure, and her posts most definitely fuel my desire to keep traveling!
Whatever resources you use to help plan your trip, always be sure to contact the establishments you plan to visit to double-check their pet policies. Things change, and websites don't always get updated. A few quick phone calls can save you a lot of hassle further down the road.
Happy travels, and GO WITH DOG!