Easy Dog Friendly Vacation Guide Tips

Have you wanted to take a trip with your dog but have no idea how to pull it off successfully? Who doesn’t like a vacation? If I can take my dog, Henry then I’m all in just tell me when. Are you the same? I’ve learned that the key to anything successful is to always plan and prepare. Did I just hear groaning? Hey, it’s true and it actually can be fun. So, today, let’s dig in and discover how to have a successful dog friendly vacation.

*Updated: May 24, 2023
a cute dog relax in a hammock on a dog friendly vacation
Budget Tip:

Vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing. So, if you are worrying about your dog being boarded, or at home with a pet sitter, then it's not as relaxing. Or at least it isn't for me. That's even if Henry is with a trusted friend. 

Personally, for me a vacation just isn't a vacatio without Henry. I would't explore certain areas or make the memories I do with him at my side. Those memories are priceless! Then you factor in the reduced stress and a dog vacation is definitely a budget winner in my book!

NOTE: If you have a service dog or pet, then he or she will be allow to accompany you as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act regardless of pet policies, codes, or regulations.  

Best place to vacation with dogs

There are many places you can vacation with your dog. You may be dreaming of a holiday in the Pocono Mountains, Virginia Beach, Hilton Head Island, Key West, Lake Tahoe, the Gulf Coast, or even Acadia National Park with your dog. A dream is always a good starting point. But you will want to confirm that the area you are thinking of visiting is dog friendly. Some locations do not have many if any places for you to stay or explore with your dog. A bit of research will help you eliminate dog-prohibitive places and narrow them down to dog-friendly areas.

A few places to help with your research are:

NOTE: Don’t get overwhelmed by researching your dog vacation. I recommend doing a bit here and there even while you’re watching TV. Before you know it, all your planning will be done. 

How will you get to your dog friendly vacation?

The method you use to get to your pet-friendly vacation will also affect your dog. Some travel methods won’t permit dogs or multiple dogs. Some won’t permit other types of pets. You’ll have to verify the pet policy with the mode of transportation you select.

Road trip 

If you go by car, and especially if you use your car it will be the easiest method for your dog. The reason is that there are no pet policies to worry about. Plus, your dog will most likely know your car and there will be no adjustments for your pup.

Train

If you plan to travel by Amtrak, which is on my bucket list, here’s their current pet policy.

Bus

Currently, there are no nationwide buses that allow pets other than service animals. However, always check because policies can change at any moment.

Air travel

Pet policies can vary from airline to airline. However, how you prepare your dog for flight is universal. The AKC has a great guide to help prepare your dog for traveling by airline. 

Rental car

The pet policies again vary across rental car agencies. Here’s a good overview of various companies provided by BringFido.

RV Rental

I personally love traveling by RV. In fact, I had an RV for several years and it was a complete blast! Henry enjoyed it as well. You can rent pet-friendly RVs and explore to your heart’s content. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to leave your dog in a hot RV. Also, most AC units in RV will only work up to a certain temperature.

So, once it reaches that temperature the AC won’t be able to work until it cools down. I learned this the hard way. As I recall my AC worked up to 94 degrees F outside then it would shut off. However, it did work great! If you’re interested in renting a pet-friendly RV a great site to explore is Cruise America or Cruise Canada. Here’s their website.

Henry at the RV table ready for his dog friendly vacation
Henry loved going on a dog vacation in our RV. He got to be King Henry!

NOTE: Never take what’s posted online as a price, schedule, or policy as an absolute. I always recommend calling to verify. I’ve learned things can change and they aren’t necessarily updated online.

How to find dog friendly lodging?

The next step is to decide where to stay with your dog while on holiday. You might be thinking about a vacation rental with a fenced yard. Maybe it’s the best option for your dog. Perhaps a bungalow opening to a dog beach is at the top of your dream list. Maybe you’re dreaming of a mountain cabin with a roaring fire and easy access to the local national park. Any one of these could be amazing for your dog vacation. The key is to find one that will fit your needs as well as your dogs.

A terrific way to find a pet friendly accommodation including, hotels, vacation rentals, and campsites, is by asking friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations. Once you’ve got a list of possible rentals, then you can research them.

There are a few sites you can use such as BringFido or even booking.com to filter by pet friendly. I personally like BringFido, because I can filter by the pet’s weight, the number of pets, and the type of pets. For example, if you plan to bring a dog over 50 lbs and a cat, you can filter by that criteria on BringFido. However, regardless of the website or reference you use, I always highly recommend calling the vacation rental or hotel to confirm the pet policy.

Are you looking for a great pet-friendly hotel? Want to know the tricks to have a wonderful stay? In this article, you’ll learn it all so your dog can be a VIP (Very Important Pet) on vacation.

How to get around the town when you arrive with your dog?

If you arrive at your vacation destination other than by a road trip, you’ll need to think about transportation with your dog. You do have options when it comes to local transportation. However, it will vary depending on the area. Your pet-friendly rental will most likely offer options. Some dog-friendly transportation will include:

  • Walking
  • Uber  – Allows “one small” dog or cat. However, restrictions can be applied by each driver.
  • LyftEach driver determines if an animal, other than a service animal, will be accepted.

Note: Check with the local local chamber of commerce or your hotel or lodging for public dog friendly transportation options. 

Do you know that by simply walking your dog you can cut your vet cost? It’s true. In this article, I walk you through it and show you the savings you could experience.

Find great dog friendly places to explore in the area before arriving

Of course, a great vacation means seeing and doing exciting new things. But you need to make sure that your dog vacation includes your furry friend in these adventures. Some ideas to think about include:

  • Pet friendly activities – You’ll want to check to see if the area offers:
    • a nearby dog park
    • dog friendly trails
    • at least one dog beach if you’re near the beach
    • dog friendly discovery areas and places, such as shops, museums, and historic spots
  • Dog friendly restaurants – Some restaurants will offer patio dining for dogs. While others will be more allow dogs within any part of the restaurant area. There are some restaurants that will be dog-prohibitive, except for service animals. This will vary by area.

Are you struggling to open your dog’s poop bags? I was too until I created this simple, easy, and free hack. Learn how to do it in this article.

Some places to research for dog friendly activities online are:

Do you pull your hair out trying to get sap out of your dog’s fur after a good hike? I used to want to pull my hair out. Now, it’s super easy. In this article, I share my best secrets.

How to save or get a discount while on a dog vacation?

Yes, you can save money even on vacation! Here are a few tricks:

  1. Bring your snacks. Vacation snacks, even for your dog can be very pricey. Pack your own.
  2. Ask yourself is it a “want” or a “need”? Often we get caught up in buying touristy trinkets only to donate them or recycle them in a year or so. Those aren’t needs they are impulse want buys.
  3. Photography the moment rather than spending money. Instead of buy that t-shirt you probably will only wear a few times, take photos you can look back on for years to come. Plus, it costs nothing unless you print them. Even still those photos are worth it.
  4. Ask for discounts with lodgings, activities, or restaurants. I also refer to the alphabet discounts which means try:
  • AAA
  • AARP
  • Multiple night stays
  • Weeknight stays
  • Military discounts
  • State employee discounts
  • Federal employee discounts
  • Soritory or fraternity discounts
  • University alumni discounts
  • Loyalty member club discounts (often this is just an email registration)
  • Other. Simply ask what discounts or club discounts they offer. Sometimes it’s shocking what you have that they honor

NOTE: Remember to always ask your hotel, vacation rental, or other pet friendly accommodation when you call to book your reservation. These folks are very familiar with the area and pet parent needs. They may not list it online, but they’ll be plugged into the activities in the area that are dog friendly.

Prepping your dog for travel

Of course, you also need to pack your dog’s bags for your vacation. I’ve done what we all dread, walked out the door, and left my dog, Henry’s bag sitting on the counter. Luckily, I could replace the items I needed most at the local pet store. However, it taught me a lesson to make a travel checklist for Henry. Here’s what I use.

Additionally, the ASPCA has a great list of recommendations to do prior to vacation with your pet. It’s good information as well.

Related articles:

Summary of easy dog-friendly vacation guide tips

Taking a dream vacation with your dog can be amazing. If you do the planning right, you’ll be wanting to vacation with your dog all the time. You can spread your planning out over a bit of time, which is the easy way to plan. In the end, when you’re enjoying the rewards of planning your dog friendly vacation with your furry friend by your side, all the work is worth the effort.

Plus, the memories are terrific. Enjoy your beach vacation getaway or mountain pet friendly vacation rental with your dog by your side. Explore lots of new trails where your dog is sure to find amazing new sniffs. Remember to renew yourself as well. I always find it difficult to leave and re-enter reality. Don’t forget to take lots of photos!

a dog and dog mom relax on a dog friendly vacation

Have you taken a vacation with your dog? What was your planning like? Did I forget anything? 

TOO BUSY TO READ RIGHT NOW? GET THE PDF VERSION EMAILED >> CLICK HERE <<

18 thoughts on “Easy Dog Friendly Vacation Guide Tips”

  1. This is a great guide for the upcoming season. Many of us will be on the road or traveling and this guide is a great help to dog parents. I don’t own a dog however can say from experience traveling with a pet ( cat in my case) is a great experience with proper planning as you mentioned. I love that you also provide a nice checklist to prepare. And yes! Most importantly, take lots of photos to capture those fun memories.

    Reply
    • Hi Kamira,

      I absolutely agree that a vacation with your furry friend (cat, dog, or other furry pet) is always a great experience. And being able to look back at all the fun memories in photos is priceless!

      Reply
  2. Great tips! My partner and I aren’t really vacation people. It’s hard to travel with a 13 year old dog who gets nervous in new places, and another who is afraid of strangers. Luckily, we live in a super beautiful location with lots of the types of things we like to do available near home. When we get time off from work, we do day trips and stay close to home.

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m so jealous of where you live. Not saying that I don’t live in a beautiful place, but I would love to live in a place where I’d feel like it was a vacation. You should feel very blessed.

      Thanks for your continued support!

      Reply
  3. These seem like great tips to help plan a dog-friendly vacation! We were surprised one year when we arrived at the pet-friendly hotel we booked had a limit of one small pet. (We had two dogs, and one was over 50 pounds, but, luckily, they let us check in anyhow.)

    Reply
    • Hi Beth,

      You definitely experienced what I hear about a lot. The unexpected check-in pet policy. I’m so glad it worked out okay for you. I highly recommend calling when booking and confirming the pet policy in the future. This will generally take the surprises at check-in out of the equation.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences!

      Reply
  4. There is never enough good information on traveling or vacationing with dogs. We don’t go on vacations because of where we live. But I do know how hard it is to find truly dog-friendly accommodations.

    Reply
    • Hi Jana,

      You’re right. It can take a bit of effort to plan a dog-friendly vacation. But, when it’s all complete and you’re enjoying your vacation with your furry friends, it’s definitely worth it.

      You must live in a very ideal place. You’re lucky!

      Reply
  5. Great tips and I have not taken Layla on any road trips but living in San Francisco she is allowed on the public transport so we go to different places when the weather is warm so we can be outdoors. I would love to do a road trip with her maybe one day

    Reply
    • Hi Ruth,

      That’s good to know that public transportation in San Francisco is dog-friendly.

      I hope you and Layla can go on a beautiful road trip in the near future. You’ll make some great memories. I know you’ll take lots of photos.

      Reply
  6. I have traveled with my kitties. It was fun, but was not an easy feat. Many places that accept dogs, don’t accept cats. That part can be very frustrating. Personally what I prefer is to have a pet sitter for my cats if I go on vacation because I think they would rather be at home. I can imagine it is a lot of fun to travel with a dog though. Dogs seem to have a much easier time accepting new people and environments.

    Reply
    • Hi Robin,

      You’re right, it can take a bit more effort to fit rental accommodations for cats. But it’s definitely possible with a bit of research with friends, family, vets, and sites like BringFido (which lets you filter by the type of pet).

      I think cats are very personal, just like dogs. I’ve had a couple of cats that absolutely LOVED to travel. One was the BEST co-pilot I’ve ever had when traveling. I’ve also had a couple of dogs who absolutely hated to travel. Just like people. They are very individualized.

      I’m very glad you recognized what your cats needed and found a great pet sitter for your kitties. Not everyone would be so observant.

      Reply
    • Hi Dorothy,

      Thanks for the support! Yes, a lot of people do like to take vacations with their dogs. It’s a nice way to enjoy a well-deserved holiday.

      Reply
  7. The key to your dream holiday seems to be the right kind of preparation doesn’t it? Go to the right places, be prepared for your dog’s needs and enjoy the journey as much as they do!

    Reply
    • Hi Marjorie,

      You are absolutely correct. Preparation is key to a successful pet vacation. That includes both dogs, cats, and other furry friends and family members.The enjoy part, of course, is always the best part. 😉

      Reply
  8. We have travelled extensively cross country with our dogs. Road trips are our preferred method of travel with dogs. Travel by air, bus or train can be much more involved. Checklists like yours are a great way to keep your trip organized.

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy,

      I like road trips the best as well with my dog, Henry. Although, I would really like to take a train trip with Henry someday. I’m really glad you like the dog travel checklist. That’s definitely a must for me now. I learned the hard way.

      I hope you enjoy for fun vacations this year with your dogs.

      Reply

Leave a Comment