Whether you are hitting the road with your teacup poodle, a tomcat, or a terrier, there’s some special considerations to find the best lodging for you and your pet. While more and more hotels are becoming pet-friendly, you still need to be prepared for the following.
1. Double-check pet fees and restrictions.
Accommodations often have restrictions on the size and age of animals (puppies tend to be discouraged). Fees can range from a nominal daily charge to a refundable damage deposit to a hefty nonrefundable flat fee. Some places hit you with daily fees and require a nonrefundable deposit of $100 or more. Make sure you get an itemized list of all additional fees and are clear on which are nonrefundable. Note that daily fees can vary depending on the size or type of pet.
2. Scope out the surroundings.
Looking at a hotel’s Web site may not be enough to determine whether the surrounding area is suitable for walking dogs. Chain motels in particular are often along busy roads with no grass in sight. When booking, ask about local green spaces and the safety and general noise level of the area.
3. Look for pet extras.
Services are especially useful in urban areas where you’re more likely to leave your pet behind while sightseeing. Many hotels offer special beds and treats, dog-sitting and dog-walking services, and even spa services and pet-centric activities and events. Before you settle, shop around to see which hotel offers the most support for your pet.
4. Request a ground-floor room.
This is convenient for late-night potty runs, and means little unnecessary schlepping for you at properties that don’t have elevators.
5. Be wary of special “pet rooms.”
Often pet owners will get stuck in smoking rooms or older rooms with worn furnishings. When booking, ask tough questions about how the pet rooms differ from the rest of the property, and make clear your request for a no-smoking room.
6. Opt for apartment living.
All-suite hotels or serviced apartments will give you the space you need to make sure you and your pet are comfortable. If you’re staying in one place for a more than a week, don’t underestimate the value of a place that resembles home—with a kitchen in which to arrange food dishes, a bathroom that can comfortably accommodate a litter box, and a bedroom with a door you can shut if anyone needs time out.
7. Use a crate or carrier when leaving your pet alone in the room.
This is for the safety of your pet and of the lodging employees, who might enter the room to clean. Also, be sure he will not disturb other guests while alone. If you must let your pet roam while you’re out, it’s best to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Note that some establishments won’t allow you to leave a dog alone in a room even if it’s crated.
8. Control who comes into contact with your pet.
Allowing too many people to say hello to him may add to his stress (and yours). Watch your pet for signs of anxiousness—yawning, excessive panting, avoiding eye contact—and give him a place to relax quietly. Most pets should have no more than one hour of intense meeting and greeting a day.
9. Deal with damaged property immediately.
If your pet damages anything, immediately discuss the situation with the manager—don’t wait until checkout to resolve such matters.
10. Find out where Fido can stay.
There’s also a handful of Web sites out there have hotel recommendations and answers to travel-with-pets related questions. OfficialPetHotels.com features more than 10,000 pet-friendly properties in 35 U.S. cities. Petswelcome.com lets you search by larger dog or cat-friendly hotels and has international as well as U.S. lodgings. Dogfriendly.com has lists upon lists to help you plan, including those for top off-leash parks and pet-friendly vacation rentals.