Tips for Dog friendly Vacations

If my son, Cameron, had his way we’d be the proud owner of a giant dog. The bigger and furrier the better as far as he’s concerned. I’ve been telling him “No” for years and winning. My strategies have included using an arsenal of arguments which include “you’re allergic” and “it would mean we couldn’t travel as much as we do.”

For a while, it worked.

But as he’s gotten older, he’s become aware of the fact that there are hypo-allergenic options. And soon, my second argument won’t work either.

dog friendly vacations

What to do with your pet when you go on vacation.

It used to be that having a pet meant choosing between it and your vacation. Dog Kennels are big business. And the cost of checking Fido in for a week can often rival the vacation costs of the family leaving him. I know many families who, upon finding out how much it will cost to board their dog for a few days, have opted instead to forego a vacation altogether.

Others struggle to find friends or neighbours willing to watch their pet while they’re away or worry that their dog isn’t receiving the same kind of love and affection they’re used to.

Who can enjoy a vacation with all of that stress and guilt?

Should you Take your Pet on Vacation

The obvious answer would seem to be that you should bring your pet with you on vacation. But that isn’t always easy either.

Making the decision of whether to carry your dog with you is a big one. The right choices can make it the best vacation ever. The wrong ones can ruin the holiday for everyone. 

By Car:

If you’re travelling by road, things can be more comfortable. Your dog may already be used to being in the car. A few practice runs of shorter distances might be all they need to be ready for a big adventure. It’s essential, of course, to remember that  If you’re crossing a border, you will need to make sure you understand the requirements of the destination you’re travelling to. If you’re crossing into the United States from Canada, this might help:

By Flight:

And if you’re opting to take your pet on a flight, you’ll want to make sure you’ve looked into how the airline will treat your furry family member. Smaller dogs may be allowed in a carrier on the plane under the seat in front of you. (That’ll rule out exit and bulkhead rows for you.)  In most cases, larger dogs will be handled as cargo under the belly of the plane.  Some dogs (and their owners) are okay with that, but if it makes you uncomfortable, you may want to reconsider your multi-layover routing.  Note that If you would prefer that your larger animal have the same treatment (or better) that you get in the air,  there might be – depending on your destination – another option. Pet Airways ( ) is an animal transportation-only airline.

Whichever option you choose you’ll want to always keep your pet’s demeanour and emotions top of mind. Talk to your vet as you make your plans. They’ll be able to offer advice specific to your animal about how best to get them ready for travel.

Dog Friendly Vacations

One of the things getting easier for pet-owner travellers is finding places to stay where your dog will be a happy guest. It would be so terrible to go through all the effort of getting to your vacation destination, only to find your dog wasn’t welcome.

Hotels that Welcome Dogs

A quick google search or call to the concierge of properties you’re considering will help you find dog friendly properties. 

Here are a few dog-friendly properties to consider as well:

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Each hotel and resort has rules about pet visits. Most have a set fee for per night accommodation and guidelines on where within the property pets are permitted. If you haven’t brought your pet with you, you can also inquire about hanging out with one of Fairmont’s Canine Ambassadors.

Sierra Nevada Resort & Spa, California

At  Sierra Nevada Resort & Spa, the family dog is invited to join in on the fun on hiking trails in the Mammoth Lakes area of California. Think how much your dog will enjoy all the dog-friendly opportunities with long sunny days and cooler mountain air. Plus, the location puts you close to Devils Postpile National Monument, Convict, Crowley and Mono Lakes and Yosemite National Park.

According to the resort:

“Pet-friendly rooms and chalets are limited, so it’s good for guests travelling with the family dog to book early. The lodge welcomes dogs up to 100 pounds for an additional cleaning fee of $25 per dog, per day, with a two-dog maximum per room.”

dog friendly vacations

Your pooch can even join you as you take in a brew (or two) at Duke’s Bar, named after John Wayne, who frequented the location back in the ’60s with his hunting and fishing buddies.

Les Ilets de la Plage, Saint Barths

What pup doesn’t deserve a trip to St. Barths?  A stay at Les Ilets de la Plage is perfect for pets. The affordable, family-owned beach resort has 12 private villas – all boasting direct access to the beach. Plus, as a pet-friendly resort, they’ll help you understand what you need to know and do if you’d like to bring your dog with you.  Pet amenities include cushions, bowls and treats to make furry visitors feel right at home!

See what I mean? So many options.

One thing to note: While many hotels now allow for dogs at their property, they aren’t all created equal.

Just a boy with a dog he wishes was his.

Some questions to ask a dog friendly property:

Take the time to investigate any hotel you’re considering. Some questions to ask include:

•    Are there limited accommodations for pets?

•    What amenities are included, and which cost extra?

•    Is there a deposit required for staying with your pet? Is there an accommodation fee for your pet?

•    Is there a limit on how many pets can be on property at a time?

•    Are there pet-friendly parks and amenities nearby?

•    Is there a vet close to the property?

Where are the off-leash parks?

A Few More Things to Consider for a Dog Friendly Vacation:

  • Identification tags  with contact information for the place you’re visiting
  • If you’re road tripping, consider marking a map with where to find vets along the route your taking
  • What things can you leave at home (to lighten your packing load) because the hotel will provide them?
  • Knowing the veterinary options in the areas you’re visiting is key. Think ahead: Do you have access to your pet’s medicine and medical records?

What happens if there’s an emergency ?

If I were a pet owner, I’d be worried about what would happen to my furry friend if I got injured or sick while we were away from home. While I always make sure we have travel insurance for our family when we’re travelling, I wasn’t sure if it offers any benefits for a pet that might be joining us on the trip. I asked Dan Keon, Vice President, Market Management at Allianz Global Assistance Canada.

Plans with Emergency Medical benefits (for the pet owner) may also include coverage to return your pet back to Canada if you are hospitalized and need to be medically repatriated to Canada by air ambulance or commercial airline.

Dan Keon, Vice President, Market Management at Allianz Global Assistance Canada.

“For some, the best way to avoid missing their favourite furry friend while away from home is to bring them along for the adventure! For those who choose to travel with their pets, travel insurance can offer some useful benefits,” he points out.

“Plans with Emergency Medical benefits (for the pet owner) may also include coverage to return your pet back to Canada if you are hospitalized and need to be medically repatriated to Canada by air ambulance or commercial airline.

Even if you opt to travel without your pet, your travel insurance could help, he continued.

“Depending on the provider and policy, travel insurance plans with Trip Cancellation/Delay coverage may include reimbursement up to a certain dollar limit for extended animal boarding if a trip is delayed beyond the original return date due to a covered reason in the policy.”

“In addition, [some] plans may include reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs to board your pet that’s travelling with you, if you are hospitalized beyond your original return date. As always, it’s important for travellers to review their policy of insurance before leaving to understand what’s covered, including any dollar limits for specific benefits, as well as what’s not covered. If anything is unclear, contact your insurance provider who will be happy to answer any questions you have.”

Dog friendly travel 
Travelling with your pets
My recent solo trip to Quebec City included the chance to make new friends.

Where to find more dog friendly vacation information

This is by no means an exhaustive list of pet travel options. There are plenty of operators and sets out there ready and willing to help you do everything from offering advice to planning your trip. A few to peek at:

Have tips to share with your fellow travel loving pet owners? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AZGA Service Company) and I have received financial compensation