Pet-Friendly Travel Research: Learning About Vacations & Excursions with Pets

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If you are planning an animal-themed vacation with your pets in mind, take the time to do a little research before you embark on your animal sightseeing adventure. A travel show, a library, a country or state tourist board as well as a travel professional can help you find the best vacation options for your budget. This past weekend, I visited the Jacob Javits Center to experience The New York Times Travel Show to do just that.  Specifically, as an animal lover, I was looking for animal sightseeing adventures and pet-friendly travel advice, and learned a lot about pet travel from the experience.

Learning About International Travel and Animal-themed Excursions

Not long ago, in response to a Vanity Fair magazine poll, I created an animal-themed bucket list. Two items on my bucket list revolved around international travel experiences to Africa and Asia. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to travel to southern Africa to safari and to Asia to visit the giant pandas. While at the NYT show, I was able to attend two seminars, "Discover the New China" and "Africa from the Inside", and learn about the travel options in these two areas of the world from notable experts. Additionally, I was able to speak to travel associations, tour operators and others in order to plan my dream trip. Now my goal is to plan and to save for both trips.

Learning About Pet-friendly Vacation Options

Another reason I went to the show was to get some ideas for my summer vacation. Every year, I like to plan a North American vacation with my dogs. After spending time at the show, I decided that this summer my husband and I will travel to Bangor, Maine and drive up the coast to Canada with our dogs. In New Brunswick, Canada there are natural wonders, beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, museums, gardens, galleries and most importantly, great oysters. At the show, I learned that bringing pets into Canada requires health and rabies certificates. I need five.

Research: Learning the Difference Between Pet-friendly and Pet Welcoming

In my quest to learn about the area and to plan my summer trip, I found most of the area's tourism representatives were happy to discuss pet-friendly travel. With that said, there was one particular representative who was happy to hand me a brochure and send me off. Her behavior and actions reminded me of what Stephanie Abrams, travel expert and syndicated travel columnist, told me earlier in the day: "Recognize the difference between pet-friendly and pet welcoming."

Pet-friendly accommodations and attractions are those that are happy to have pets, while pet welcoming places just seem to allow and tolerate them. With further investigation or a telephone call to the local area, you can always tell difference.

Travel Shows Provide Excellent and Sometimes Unexpected Advice for Potential Travelers

Earlier in the day, the aforementioned travel expert Ms. Abrams spent some time discussing pet-friendly travel with me. Over the years, Abrams and her husband traveled extensively throughout the United States with her Springer Spaniels.

"In the 1970's, there were times that we thought that we would sleep in the car with our dogs because so many hotels, guest cottages and etc. did not take pets," she said. "Now, that has changed so much. Many different types of accommodations are open to pets, but it's important to identify those establishments that are truly pet-friendly. Pet menus and other amenities will provide you with clues. Also, if their staff members have pets they'll understand the concept of keeping pets happy and healthy while traveling."

When asked what advice she would give to travelers who bring their pets along, she said, "Be prepared for the unexpected."

Have you planned a pet-friendly vacation in the past? What tools did you use to research your trip? Tell us in a comment.


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