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Taking Your Pet Home for the Holidays? You Won't Be Alone

By Victoria Heuer

Finding pet friendly accommodations is not the most pressing concern for many pet owners when it comes to deciding whether to take their pets along on trips. Rather, it is the bond they have with their pets and the avoidance of abandonment guilt that are the deciding factors. In fact, in a survey conducted by the AAA, 28 percent of respondents said they would prefer to travel with their pets than with their human partners. These emotional factors can lead pet owners to disregard hotel rules and appropriateness of pets in public places.

According to the survey, pet owners are most likely to want to include their pets on road trips, which was affirmed by 56 percent of the respondents, and when visiting with family and friends, which included a whopping 73 percent of travelers. It may be a no-brainer, your pet is your best friend and you don't want to leave him behind, but animals can be unreasonable, people can be unwelcoming and demanding, and not everyone takes well to being away from home, including animals.

As Bill Wood, the executive editor of AAA publishing has pointed out, not all pets are suited to traveling. And not every trip is right even for a pet that is accustomed to travel, he added.

"But when the right dog or cat and the right trip come together, you never forget it," said Wood.

Other statistics highlighted in the survey included a top five list of frustrations travelers have experienced with their pet toting fellow travelers:

  • 77 percent of the respondents reported being frustrated by pet owners who do not clean up after their pets
  • 30 percent were annoyed by pets that had not been house trained
  • 42 percent were not keen on encountering dogs without leashes in public
  • 45 percent complained of owners who do not warn others of their pets' aggressiveness
  • 53 percent were rankled by incessant barking

For the perfect vacation conditions to occur, planning and courtesy top the itinerary. Although 35 percent of the respondents say that they have in the past snuck their pets into hotels, the most gratifying and memorable trips are more likely to be those in which everything is in place, and all members of the family are welcome.

While many pet owners report some difficulty with finding pet friendly accommodations while traveling, AAA has compiled an extensive state by state guide to over 13,000 hotels, all AAA-rated, along with local off-leash dog parks and national parks, and tips on traveling with your pet. But the AAA guide is just one of many guides to pet travel. With more pet owners treating their pets like members of the family, there has been a commiserate growth in restaurants, beaches, parks, and hotels, to name just a portion of the vacation industry that have become receptive to treating animal companions with the same regard. That growth has also opened the door to a burgeoning market for guides, travel accessories and other products.

Preparation, combined with a good attitude, a roll of poop-bags, and a tank full of gas, can all guarantee that your vacation with your pet will go as fine as frog's hair.

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