Dog-Friendly Vacation Ideas — Plus Tips for Traveling with Pets

By Jason Steele · April 22, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Dog-Friendly Vacation Ideas — Plus Tips for Traveling with Pets

Dogs are such an integral part of many families that we humans hate to go on vacation without them. Today, 45% of American households include a canine, and the dog population is inching ever closer to 90 million.

There are many places you can take your good boy on your travels, but it requires research and preparation to pull off a successful dog-friendly vacation. Here, we present valuable tips and inspiration, including:

•   Best dog-friendly vacation spots

•   Dog-friendly road trip ideas

•   Apps for pet-friendly vacations

•   What to bring on a dog-friendly vacation

Guidelines for Traveling with Your Dog

Before traveling with your pet, you should research the rules for any form of transportation that you may be taking: planes, trains, buses, rental cars, and boats. You should also look into which hotels and attractions allow dogs.

Dogs on a Plane

Each airline has its own policy regarding bringing your dog on the plane, such as:

•   Many airlines allow dogs only under a certain size. Some allow you to bring your dog into the cabin and put them in a carrier under the seat in front of you, while others may want you to have your dog in the cargo compartment. Alaska, Southwest, and Frontier are regarded as some of the most pet-friendly airlines, but others allow pets as well.

•   Many airlines charge fees for traveling with your pet. For dogs traveling in-cabin, the fee can typically range from about $50 to $250 for a one-way trip. If your dog is flying in a pressurized, temperature-controlled cargo compartment in a carrier, the cost is usually based on the size and weight of your dog plus their crate. If you are flying within the U.S., this can cost up to several hundred dollars for a 75-pound dog. Keep this in mind because it can mean you need to plunk more cash into where you keep your travel fund.

•   Some airlines do not allow dogs at all, even if you have elite status in their frequent flier program or have one of their airline credit cards. You should always check with your airline before bringing your pet.

Trains and Buses

Rules regarding bringing pets on trains or buses will vary. Amtrak allows dogs and cats up to 20 pounds (combined weight of pet and carrier) on train rides that are up to seven hours. Dogs are allowed only on select routes, and the pet fees vary by route.

Car Safety

When traveling by car with your dog, make sure that they are safe inside your vehicle. If you can, get a car seat or buckle attachment for your dog. If you are renting a car on your trip, it’s wise to bring a buckle attachment with you.

Boats and Cruises

Most cruises do not allow dogs, except for service dogs. The only cruise line with dedicated pet facilities is the Cunard Line. They allow dogs on their ship Queen Mary 2, which has 24 kennels, space for the dogs to play, and a dedicated owner’s lounge on board.

Hotels

Some hotel brands are known to be more pet-friendly than others. When a hotel says that it is “pet-friendly,” it likely means that they allow pets in the rooms. Some points to consider:

•   Some hotels will charge a pet fee, require a pet deposit, or allow pets only under a certain size.

•   Pet-friendly hotels include IHG (Kimpton), Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham, and Best Western. However, pet policies will vary based on property. There are also pet-friendly boutique hotels.

•   To find lodging that welcomes your doggo with open arms, you can search sites like TripAdvisor or apps like Bring Fido and BarkHappy.

•   Some hotels go above and beyond in allowing pets and providing extra amenities like dog treats or toys upon check-in.

•   If you are wondering how to save money on hotels with a pet, some more affordable forms of lodging also allow pets, and some don’t even charge a pet fee. At Red Roof Inn, pets under a certain weight limit can stay for free. Motel 6 also allows pets, and doesn’t charge a fee for well-behaved pets.

•   Some state and local municipalities have different rules about pets in hotels, which may override the hotel’s policies. Be sure to check with the specific hotel before bringing your pet with you.

Sights

When planning out what you want to do on vacation with your dog, be sure to research which attractions allow dogs. You should be able to find out this information on the destination’s website or by calling them directly. Many attractions may allow service dogs only.

A bit of research can help save you time and spare you disappointment. You are more likely to find dog-friendly attractions that are outdoors, though not all outdoor attractions allow dogs. There are plenty of dog-free parks, for instance, so take a few minutes to search for information as you look for the best dog-friendly travel spots.

Recommended: How Does Credit Card Travel Insurance Work?

What to Bring

When packing for your vacation with your dog, you should think about what your dog needs on a daily basis at home. This could include things like:

•   Food

•   Food and water dishes

•   Any medications

•   Toys and any comfort objects

•   Clothes (if your pooch wears them)

•   Treats

•   Poop bags

•   A bed or crate

Bring plenty of food and dog-waste bags in case your dog goes through more than normal due to the stress of traveling.

Dog-Friendly Places to Go

There are an endless array of places you can go for a dog-friendly vacay. Some of the best dog-friendly spots include:

•   Cities. Some are more dog-friendly than others. Look for cities with lots of outdoor spaces. Some ideas for dog-friendly places to go include Austin, TX; Albuquerque, NM; Asheville, NC; Seattle (you can visit the Voff Barn and Brew, a dog-friendly bar), and Huntington Beach, CA.

•   Beaches. If you are planning summer travel and have a pup that loves sand and surf, a getaway by the shore can be heavenly, combining beautiful scenery and staying active.

•   Natural Paradises. If you and your furbaby like to hike, check out locations like Lake Placid, NY, or Sedona, AZ, where you can spend time exploring together. You might also go on a dog-friendly road trip (whether you are traveling solo or with friends and family) and stay at a couple of pet-friendly campsites with your dog.

•   Resorts. If you want to relax, a dog-friendly resort could be just the thing. Some locations specialize in welcoming pets and offering amenities that will have you and your doggo feeling totally pampered. At Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, ME, there’s dog-friendly dining and all kinds of treats for you and your pooch (like at turndown time) at no extra fee. Dog-sitting and dog-walking services are also available if you need some just-me time. (If you pick a resort that does charge a fee, you might check if you have credit card cash back on your credit card rewards to help cover the extra expense.)

Helpful Apps

There are several apps that can be useful if you are taking a trip with your dog.

•   Bring Fido. Find a pet-friendly hotel, dog park, beach, or other attraction while on vacation, anywhere in the world.

•   BarkHappy. Find dog-friendly restaurants, hotels, parks, and other attractions based on your current location. You can even find events and other nearby dogs for your boy to socialize with.

•   Pet First Aid. Get information in case of an emergency medical situation with your pet, as well as first aid, health issues, and dog CPR. You can also store your pet’s health info (like when they got their shots) in the app so you have it handy.

•   Rover. If you need a pet sitter or dog walker while you are on a trip with your pet, Rover may be helpful. You can find a sitter or walker that has been through a background check from Rover. You can then pay the pet sitter or dog walker directly through the app. You’ll get photo updates while you are away from your dog.

Recommended: Where to Find Book Now, Pay Later Travel

How to Prepare Your Dog for Travel

Before traveling with your dog, you should make sure you get him prepared and acclimated:

•   If your pet will be traveling with some kind of restraint in a car or in a crate/carrier on a plane, take time to expose them to it and get them comfortable with it.

•   Make sure your dog has up-to-date tags or that your microchip info is current.

•   Always keep a pet travel bag nearby with essentials (food, water, any meds, poo bags).

•   Consider having a vet check prior to travel, especially if flights are involved and/or your dog has a medical condition.

The Takeaway

Traveling with your dog can be a fun bonding experience for both of you. Be sure to research transportation and hotel policies ahead of time so you know where your dog is allowed. Whether you go to a city, get back to nature, or visit a resort, spending time with your pet can make a good getaway even better.

Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.


SoFi Travel can take you farther.


Photo credit: iStock/AleksandarNakic


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