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Traveling with pets

With summer upon us, we start traveling. Some of us like to include our furry friends. The most obvious pet-friendly vacation is a camping trip but, increasingly, more and more hotels, from budget to upscale, are welcoming pets.

In fact, on a recent visit to an upscale hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square, I observed guests checking in with their canine companions. I learned that not only do they welcome pets, but there are no restrictions. The concierge will even arrange pet sitting and dog walking services while guests go out to dinner or to the theater! Upon further research, I discovered that there are numerous pet-friendly hotel chains.

According to a 2014 survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 60 percent of U.S. hotels accept pets. Not all of these hotels have the same standards, however. Some have weight restrictions, added fees and requirements that owners remain in the room with their pets at all times, so it pays to do your research ahead of time. There are helpful websites, including petswelcome.com, barkpost.com, tripswithpets.com and TripAdvisor. Here is a short list of some of the best pet-friendly hotel chains:

  • La Quinta
  • Kimpton (all 60 welcome pets)
  • Loews
  • Best Western
  • Sheraton
  • Travelodge
  • Motel 6
  • Red Roof Inn
  • some Marriott chains

Be aware that some of these hotels leave the specific rules to the individual manager’s discretion. Even the VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) website has an option to view pet-friendly rentals for every budget.

Road trips are the easiest way to reach your destination when traveling with pets, however, many airlines allow dogs 20 pounds and under to accompany their owners in the cabin. Airlines vary widely in cost and rules pertaining to pets, and Southwest Airlines does not have a weight limit. Pet carriers must fit beneath the seat in front of passengers, however. Emotional support animals may fly free as long as the owner produces the proper documentation. It is also important to know that airlines require a health certificate signed and dated by a licensed veterinarian that includes proof of vaccination and the passenger’s home address, as well as the destination address.

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