Pets can make absolutely wonderful travel companions. The process of finding pet-friendly accommodations, however, can be a less-than-wonderful experience. Fortunately there are several websites that specialize in helping your little Rover or Fluffy enjoy your vacation along with you.
Reviews of our favorites:
Pet Speciality Travel Sites
Bring Fido is an absolutely superb website! As the name implies, Bring Fido specializes in dog travel (though much of the information on the site applies to cats and other pets too—particularly when it comes to booking hotels). The website has a treasure trove of knowledge about dog beaches and dog parks, about dog-friendly restaurants, hiking trails, tours and shops for the world ’round. This wealth of information makes Bring Fido well worth a visit for everyone with canine travel companions whether they are booking a hotel or not.
As for Bring Fido’s hotel booking engine, what we love about it is that the hotel listings state upfront whether a quoted room rate includes a pet fee or not (although you have to click through to a hotel to find their specific pet policy). We also like that all the property reviews—and a hotel’s rating from 0 to 5 bones—are submitted by travelers who have experienced that hotel with their pets. All that is enough for us to forgive Bring Fido for the site’s prevalence of pop-up ads.
OfficialPetHotels.com – Has the most efficient, straight forward pet-friendly booking engine of any website we found. The best part: after you do your hotel search you can quickly mouse-over the “pet policy” box and instantly get a particular hotel’s pet policy (see screenshot, below). The downside is that the OfficialPetHotels selection of bookable properties consists mostly of large chains hotels and their coverage can be spotty, especially for destinations outside the United States and Canada.
Tripology offers an excellent service for all trips whether or not they involve bringing a furry creature in tow. Simply fill out a form with your email address, what sort of trip you are planning (cruise, weekend getaway, camping trip, etc.), when and where you are going, and what pets you are bringing (if any). Tripology then matches you up with a travel specialist who will provide any help you want planning the details. There’s no obligation to it. And here’s what’s amazing: The service is completely free! Give it a try before your next trip.
Other Useful Sites
Most of the major hotel booking websites—including Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com and Orbitz allow users to search for hotels that accept pets. All of them require you to first do a regular hotel search and then limit the results to pet-friendly properties. We’ve found that Travelocity generally offers the most selection, though we usually prefer Hotels.com because they incorporate bed and breakfasts into their results.
Speaking of B&Bs, BedandBreakfast.com allows users to search for pet-friendly properties too. The website includehttp://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=4500s many B&Bs not bookable online and thus not in the Hotels.com database. Some B&Bs, especially in rural areas, have huge grounds your pets can roam around in.
Pet Air (not to be confused with Pet Airways) is an useful resource for all things related to shipping, and flying with, pets. Thinking starting a zoo? Pet Air is not only able to help with dogs and cats but with parrots, monkeys, goats, snakes, pigs, turtles and all manner of other animals too.
Go Pet Friendly – Pet-companioned campers looking for RV parks and tent sites in the United States and Canada should check out Go Pet Friendly’s database of campgrounds. The site also has a listing of pet-friendly restaurants and attractions. In general their listings offer more breadth but less depth than those offered by Bring Fido. See comment #3, below.
To give an idea of the number of pet-friendly hotels each of our recommended bookings engines have available—and the cheapest property each has on offer—we did a sample hotel search for five destinations chosen at random. The chart below is what our research turned up in August ’09 (though these things often change so your search will likely yield different results).
|Portland, ME USA|
|# of pet hotels:||8||6||12||6|
|Mendocino, CA USA|
|# of pet hotels:||6||1||3||3|
|# of pet hotels:||7||4||7||8|
|# of pet hotels:||5||0||6||3|
|# of pet hotels:||5||12||66 (!)||25|
Our conclusion? It can be worth shopping around at all four sites.
Pet Airways, the Dog- and Cat-Only Airline
The BowLingual Dog-To-Human Translator
A Review of the Vision Quest Ranch: California’s Safari B&B
Bathe With Monkeys
Useful Websites While Traveling