Penny is my 4-year-old miniature Australian shepherd. To date, she’s been to 27 states and two countries, both by plane and by automobile (if that gives you any idea of my travel habits!). At 3 and a half months old, Penny took her first flight from Phoenix to New York City, and she’s been traveling like a pro ever since. Like me, Penny is the queen of versatility… from whitewater rafting in Colorado, to hiking a glacier in Alaska, to a train ride in Boston, Penny takes new noises and sensations in stride.
So there was absolutely no chance I would hit the road without my best friend and partner in crime mini Penny Rose when I decided to embark on nomad life, traveling by SUV to cities and towns across the U.S. My dog is my absolute best friend and the cutest travel companion ever!
And it’s not just me. Pet ownership has exploded over the past decade. More than half of U.S. households own a pet, with younger demos leading the pack, so to speak. With work-from-anywhere becoming the new work-from-home, a new crop of pet owners are wondering how to best travel with their four-legged companions.
Despite this burgeoning need, it has been a bit challenging finding pet-friendly accommodations as I vagabond around North America.
My tactics for traveling with dogs
Use the pet-friendly filter on Airbnb/VRBO to refine your rental search.
The selection is definitely lower (maybe around 25%, on average), but there are a number of hosts who have caught on to the growing demand for pet-friendly rental housing. For all those who HAVEN’T caught on yet to this opportunity, here’s my advice: Instead of holding a blanket no-pets policy, I’d much rather see Airbnb hosts allow dogs on a case-by-case basis with a refundable damage deposit. This way, hosts don’t miss out on a lucrative reservation and unfairly dismiss the pet parent that has this traveling thing down pat (like Penny and I). And on the off chance the pet parent and pet has some issues to work out, the host collects the damage deposit.
‘Cause this: dozens of hotels and Airbnb hosts will back me up — as well as several airplane passengers — Penny is better behaved and more clean than 99% of human offspring!
Seek out pet-friendly hotel brands.
A number of hotel groups are catching on to the travel-with-dogs trend. The general rule is that Days Inn and La Quinta — budget hotels in the Wyndham family — allow pets with no fee. Kimpton boutique hotels also celebrate their pet-friendly status, along with a number of other niche/high-end hotels. When Penny and I stayed at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco, we had an indoor dog run all to ourselves and received a number of doggie gifts as a thank you for staying. And both Hilton and Marriott have an “pet-friendly” filter in the amenities search that will filter down your results; same goes for aggregate sites like Booking.com.
Because policies change and some hotels may be limited by external factors like local ordinances, I encourage you to double check pet policies. Sometimes, only a certain block of rooms are dog-friendly, and they can sell out. (I learned this the hard way at a motel in Montana when this disclaimer — ahem — didn’t display on the mobile version of their website.) Call ahead!
Ask non-pet-friendly accommodations if they have discretion to make an exception.
Once in a while, I’m not able to find something advertised as dog-friendly in the time frame, price range, or with the amenities I need. So I ask. Penny is house-trained, a non-destructive breed, and is on the small side. She’s also an “AKC Canine Good Citizen,” meaning she’s passed an official AKC training regimen. I share these points and leave it up to the host to make an exception — one or twice, they did. (It helps that I have a lot of reviews where Penny is praised for her demeanor and good behavior — and I always have a lint-roller with me!)
But overall, whether a dog has success with traveling will largely depend on their temperament and exposure. I encourage all the pet parents out there to start early teaching their dog versatility when it comes to new places, sounds, and experiences. The more hosts that have positive experiences with pets, the more often they’ll allow them — ultimately, this is the responsibility of the pet parent.
Questions for me about traveling with a dog? Leave a comment or shoot me a DM on Instagram! 😘