Post 4.5 - London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome

In last week's pet post, I talked about the benefits of teaching my dog to poop on command, as it made traveling easier. Traveling with your pet, however, is a whole other topic.

Dogs, in particular, like a change of scenery periodically, just as their humans do. My dogs like bodies of water and to splash, but they also just enjoy riding in the car. As I said last week, they have been from Boston to Phoenix, and to more US states and time zones than many of my friends. But this did take some doing.

The map below represents all of the states where the dogs have been, either to spend the night or to "leave their mark" so to speak. :-) Scroll over the map with your mouse to learn our experiences by state.


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First, many hotels allow you to bring your pet. It may change the location of your room, or even the amenities available, but there are several chains that offer some accommodation as a matter of course. There may also be limitations as to the weight of the animal, as well as the number you may have with you. We have three, and on our last trip, the room limit was two pets of a total combined weight of 150 lbs (which was quite generous), so we reserved two rooms. Some of the chains we've stayed at include Hilton, Quality Inn, Holiday Inn, Comfort Suites, and Candlewood Suites. We've also been able to stay at various timeshare resorts.

In addition, many pet-friendly hotels include pet freebies, like blankets or beds, dog dishes, treats, and plastic bags for fecal collection and removal. As a good guest, you should be prepared to clean up after your pet anyway, but the bags do help.

Campgrounds typically have the most liberal pet policy, but it is an entirely different proposition to camp with your pet than to stay in a building or otherwise controlled environment.

Second, your dog shouldn't be a barker. Our larger dogs -- which, ironically, have a harder time finding hotels friendly to their size -- are very quiet, while our small dog is a major barker. His major method of self-expression is barking. And he barks at everything -- strangers, other dogs, unfamiliar voices or sounds -- and it's very trying, even without being in a hotel. Many hotels reserve the right to ask you to leave if they receive complaints regarding your pet, so if you're dog is a barker, you are just asking for additional stress.

Everywhere we have traveled with our dogs has been by car, so I don't have much experience with flying or traveling by train with a pet. I do not feel my pets would do well in a cargo area, and I'd be worried for the entire journey, so we've never explored those options. Only service dogs are typically allowed in a passenger cabin.

Finally, if you do want to use a particular hotel and the website or reservation line says "pet-friendly", call the  hotel directly and find out exactly what their policy is. "Pet-friendly" can really mean anything.

In our experience, hotels can and have varied widely in what they promised, what they actually offered, and the quality of our stay. We went to a Hilton in Sedona, Arizona, in 2010, and were very disappointed in how we were treated, as well as not being provided any of the promised pet amenities. While in 2005, we stayed one night at a Candlewood Suites with two dogs, and were more than comfortable. One of our best trips was to a timeshare location in Navajo County, Arizona, for the Christmas holiday in 2007, where we had a private, standalone cabin, and a wealth of pet freebies.

Overall, having the dogs with us has proved to be as much fun or better than being without them. They seem to love the new environment as much as we do, and seem to genuinely enjoy meeting other vacationers, human and otherwise. Our barker will be boarded with his groomers on the next trip, but the other dogs have definitely earned their right to go with us based on their good behavior all over the country.

Have a question or a suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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