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Sit, Stay, or Travel?

The best ways to travel with your dog

By Joyce Alla

The kids have moved out and it’s time to start checking some items off your bucket list.  Finally, you have the time and flexibility to travel. Perhaps you dream of traipsing across Europe, or touring America’s National Parks. Maybe, it’s time for that extended visit with your snowbird friends in a warmer climate.  The possibilities seem endless, except…what will you do with the dog? 

The conundrum is common: do you pack up your pup and bring her along for the adventure, or leave her behind in good hands thereby avoiding the hassle of becoming a traveling menagerie.

Roadtrip!

If you’re a committed dog owner, you may end up planning your trip around driving so you can travel with your dog. Mimi and Mark Wolfe, of Pennsylvania, love to bring their beloved German shepherd/lab mix on the road. “We try to stay at Kimpton Hotels because they allow dogs and even give her biscuits and know her name when we check in,” Mimi reports. “Traveling with our dog is easy and enjoyable because she likes the car, and she’d rather be with us than anywhere else,” she explains. “We bring the dog’s bed, and she feels right at home wherever we stay.”

The good news is that road travel has become increasingly dog-friendly.  Many rest stops have spacious fenced dog parks for convenience.  Hotels and restaurants also offer hospitality for your four-legged friend. Bringfido is a dog travel website and mobile app that Mimi recommends – with a directory of over 250,000 pet-friendly places around the globe. Other helpful apps include TripAdvisor and Barkhappy (iOS and android.) These resources are a testament to the growing market and feasibility of dog-friendly travel.

Fly the Dog-Friendly Skies

For smaller dogs, air-travel is a definite option, giving more flexibility to the dog-doting traveler. Southwest Airlines, for example, allows up to six small dogs on each flight, usually charging a $95 dollar fee per pup. The dog must be in a carrier that fits under the seat. (Service dogs do not need carriers.)

Larger dogs can travel in airplane as cargo, which comes with its own set of risks. “My dog certainly won’t fit under the seat,” frequent traveler Barbara Schlanger jokes of her Burnese Mountain dog, “but I would never put her in with the luggage. We travel to Florida, and it gets so hot in the cargo hold and on the tarmac; I don’t think it would be safe for my dog. For a permanent move, flying a dog may be the best option, but for a vacation it’s best for our dog to stay closer to home.”

Pet-sitting

Travel anxiety, car sickness and less than ideal logistics, can make a dog and its owner miserable.  That’s when taking a vacation without Fido is a better idea.

When leaving a dog with a trusted friend or family member is not feasible, there are many local dog-sitting and kennel services on sites like, PetSitter.com, DogVacay.com and Rover.com. According to Brooks Williams, 20-year owner of Creature Comforts a reputable, family-owned pet service on Boston’s north shore, references are crucial when you’re entrusting someone with the well-being of your dog. “Customers have come to us after experiencing horror stories,” Williams relates. “Whether they hired someone they didn’t know well, or just a neighborhood kid – some people have no idea where their dog will be sleeping, or who their pet sitter will be letting into their home.” Williams recommends asking your friends, your groomer or your veterinarian for references.   “Try to stay local,” Williams adds, relating how a local business depends on repeat customers and pet-owner satisfaction.

And yet, while traveling with your pup can be stressful, leaving your dog at home can get expensive. Depending on where you live, dog sitting can cost between $25 and $75 dollars per night. But, to quote a credit card commercial, knowing your fur-baby is safe and sound is “priceless.”

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About the Writer

Joyce Alla (Bucket Age, 33) is a freelance writer with big travel dreams.  She currently volunteers at the local animal shelter.


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