Pet column: Top pet vacation destinations
Ryan Summerlin July 15, 2013
Now that everyone is outfitted, ID is updated if necessary, the vehicle is packed and the tank is full, where do we go for a pets included vacation? There are websites devoted to the best, the most hidden, the least and most expensive, and even quirky destinations and events. The travel industry has promoted “pet welcome” signs in recognition of the fact that increasing numbers of boomers are traveling with cats, dogs, and other family pets. “Pet friendly” is one more competitive advantage.
Dogvacay.com and market research firm Harris Interactive surveyed 1,400 pet owners to find out how they feel about taking pets along versus leaving them at home, how often they travel with pets and other travel tidbits. Among the findings, 79 percent of pet owners take at least one annual overnight trip with a pet. Further, it seems that traveling with pets is less expensive than traveling without them. Airline and pet accommodation fees work out to be about 50 percent less than boarding or pet sitting costs when pets are left behind. An interesting puzzle is that while 81 percent of dogs owners and 76 percent of cat owners bring pets along, a bit more money is spent on vacationing felines than on canines.
A current U.S. Travel Association industry trend report cites that more households than ever before in recorded history include pets and 18 percent of all leisure travelers take their pets with them when they travel. Tripswithpets.com conducted an online survey of pet travelers and found that more than 65 percent travel anywhere from 50 to 500 miles from home and 29 percent stay in hotels and motels. Of those, 84 percent actually compare pet amenities offered when selecting where to stay. On the top of the list of preferred amenities is pet-sitting services. Some high-end properties provide a directory of local pet sitters that will come to the hotel room to watch pet guests while their people step out. Other preferred amenities at the top of discriminating pet traveler lists include: cleanup bags, pet recreation listings, in-room feed bowls and pet walking services.
Whether looking for a campground, a beach, a swanky mountain resort, or a place with lots of pet related activity, a growing number of web sites and publications provide all the information needed for a memorable pets included vacation.
Dogfriendly.com lists 200 top destinations complete with activity listings. For 2013, most are in California but there are some unexpected listings in urban areas like New York. Fidofriendly.com and bringfido.com are other information loaded sites with complete pet friendly listings, travel tips, and other resources. Gopetfriendly.com features 60,000 listings in the United States and Canada, plus an interactive Road Trip Planner to locate hotels, campgrounds, beaches, veterinarians, wineries and more along the way. They include specific pet policies and fees as well. Take Paws is the travel blog written by the founders of GoPetFriendly who RV full time with their pets. “Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA Pet Book” is in its 15th edition, featuring 14,000 listings. It is available in print and online. Vrbo.com can be searched for pet friendly vacation home rentals by owner.
The travelchannel.com list of Best Beaches for Dogs 2013 includes: Huntington Dog Beach, Calif.; Outer Banks Beaches of North Carolina; Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago; Block Island, Rhode Island; Dog Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Florida; Edisto Island Town Beach and State Park, S.C. Best Towns for 2013 include Key West, Fla.; Asheville, N.C.; Bar Harbor, Maine (where first dog Bo vacationed with the Obamas); San Diego, Calif.; and Austin, Texas.
Petvr.com has its own list of best beaches and other destinations plus pet vacation related topics.
There are canine agility camps, pet weight loss camps, international companion animal events and competitions and more in addition to pets welcome destinations. It’s just plain fun to travel with a pet and now it’s easier than ever.
— Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.