Bringing Your Dog on Your Family Vacation
We’ve written a lot about traveling with your kids (which makes sense, since that’s our business!) but we also speak with many parents who want to bring their four-legged family members along on trips as well. We were dog parents before we were human parents, and continue to bring our Bernese Mountain Dog - Elsie - along with us whenever we can.
Elsie has traveled with us to Washington DC, New York City, Vermont, and Acadia National Park to name a few. Through these travels, we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks on traveling with your pup that we wanted to share….
‘Dogs Allowed’ Doesn’t Always Mean ‘Dog Friendly’
Although many hotels do allow dogs (and some will charge upwards of $150 a night for the privilege), not all hotels are actually dog friendly. It’s an awful feeling to seem like you’re an imposition to the hotel and other guests when you arrive Look for a hotel that actually encourages dogs - the signs are:
When you check-in, ask about rooms in lower floors, closets to stairs or elevators for easier access. Ask staff about parks or green spaces near by for bathroom runs. Leave an extra tip for the cleaning staff as a thank you for the extra fur.
The bigger chains (Hilton, Marriott, IHG) have policies that vary by hotel. Two chains with particularly welcoming policies are Kimpton and Fairmont, the latter even has canine ambassadors at most of their hotels - so even if you can’t bring your own pup, you’ll be able to get some pet therapy.
Consider A Vacation Property - But Be Upfront
Vacation rentals (Airbnb, Homeaway), as we know, are great for families - and it’s no different when your furry child is involved. However, it’s important to let the owner know all about your dog before booking by sending them a message through the platform. With Elsie, we always mention that she is quiet and well-behaved and that she sheds (a lot!). We don’t want any surprises, and also want to make sure the owners are truly open to all manner of dogs.
Involve Your Dog In The Vacation Fun
Although your pup may not really know she’s in Washington D.C. or New York, that doesn’t mean she can’t be part of the fun. Scout out a local dog park (or hiking trails) to get some energy out or other activities that involve your four-legged friend. In NYC, for example, we found that apart from enjoying Central Park together, many shops are quite pet-friendly - and Elsie joined us hitting the stores on 5th Ave. - and got quite a few snacks as we did!
Airplane Travel with Your Pet
Airplane travel is a personal choice when it comes to bringing your pet along on your vacation. A couple of things to consider before you decide to bring your dog along for the ride: Is your pet in good health? If flying in the cabin, is your pet well trained? What restrictions or policies are observed by your airline? If you are flying with an ESA (emotional support animals), do you have the right paperwork in place from your doctor? To answer these it’s important to do some advance planning. Make sure you start making your arrangements at least 3 weeks prior to your trip to ensure you’ve checked all the boxes. Bring Fido has great reference material to get your pup prepared for the trip.
What to Bring
While packing for your pet is not as involved as packing for your child (thank goodness!), you'll want to make sure you're equipped for the trip. Bring a portable crate if you are staying in a hotel or if there is too much temptation inside your rental for your pet -- best be safe than sorry. Make sure to bring a chew or a toy to keep him busy while you're out. Don't forget to bring enough food and poop bags (baby poop bags work too!) as well as any travel bowls.
While traveling with your whole family may require some extra planning (and help!) it is a great bonding experience for all -- and an extra treat for a people-and-adventure-loving-dog like ours.