According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (www.appma.org), more than 15 million Americans travel with their pets every year. It's a trend that's growing and businesses are popping up to accommodate the change. A few airlines have made their flights more pet friendly and have even introduced special incentives for owners to travel with pets. The American Automobile Association (tel. 800/JOIN-AAA; www.aaa.com) introduced a guide several years ago called Travelling with Your Pet: The AAA Pet Book, with listings of over 12,000 pet-friendly hotels and 400 campgrounds that permit animals and details information about restrictions, rules, and other guidelines. (Some places, though, put you in either a smoking or ground floor room, so ask to be sure!)
The luxurious and legendary Cunard (tel. 800/728-6273; www.cunard.com) ship line's gigantic Queen Mary 2 permits dogs and cats on a limited basis for about $500 fee in its kennel on deck 12. There are specific requirements to be met and specific breeds, such as pit bulls, are banned. Your dog or cat stays in a kennel cage that's about three feet in sizes all around, and there's even a small, closed run for walkies, as they say.
Some hotels are more hospitable than others, but you can check in with your pooch or kitty at the Starwood Hotel and Resorts chain (tel. 914/640-8100; www.starwoodhotels.com). All of their Sheraton, Westin and W hotels in North America permit dogs as guests and W Hotels also welcome cats, pampering pets with special beds, food bowls, ID tags and the like. Some of the hotels may require an extra charge and you will be required to sign a waiver. W hotels require a flat $25 fee per stay, not per night; at Sheraton and Westin pets stay free.
For the legal lowdown on what you can and cannot do with pets while flying, visit the Federal Aviation Administration's website (www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_pets). They have a whole section on the topic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/animal.htm) division of global migration and quarantine governs the rules and regulations about traveling with animals. Speaking of airlines, earlier this year Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestexpress.com) has introduced special frequent flier initiative called Premier Pet program. You can take your pet for free and earn flier miles after flying with your pet on three paid roundtrip flights or six paid one-way flights. The airlines also outlines its regulations, such as a certificate of health from your pet's veterinarian, issued within ten days of your departure date.
Pets Welcome (tel. 845/297-5150; www.petswelcome.com) lists over 25,000 hotels, ski resorts, campgrounds, beaches and other resorts that are pet-friendly. They have a compendium of tips, and a message board of sorts called "info xchange' where residents look for good recommendations on hotels that accept dogs, for example, or ideas about how to deal with "quarantine guidelines" on airplanes. You can even search by state for "fun and cool place" to take your pet, searchable by state. They also encourage submission from readers, too, to help other pet owners. Internationally, they have listings in Great Britain and France for pet-friendly lodgings.
Take Your Pet (tel. 800/790-5455; www.takeyourpet.com) offers a free newsletter, a listing of over 20,000 pet friendly lodging, discounts, bulletin boards and more. It also has complied pet resources across the country that would be useful if you ran out of food, misplaced the favorite chew toy, or your pet suddenly became ill. The information is not free; however, you can become a member and receive access to this information for a $1.95 45-day trial period or $11.95 for an annual membership.
If you become enamored of the idea of traveling with your pet and are interested in helping others do so, too, you're not alone. Janice Wenig started her business Rovin' with Rover (www.rovinwithrover.com) in 1998 as a way to organize bus tours for people and their dogs. Wenig has conducted tours for both owners and dogs and lists information on how to start a dog walking club and tell you how to promote. Now she's focusing more on training other people how to do the same rather than organizing the trips themselves. To that end, Wenig sells e-books on her site of the how-to variety: how to find fun activities while traveling with your dog, and how to start your own dog tours business, among others.
Finally, try Bedandbreakfast.com (www.bedandbreakfast.com), which lists weekly newsletters with deals and discounts, just launched an independent review program so consumers can weigh in on lodgings worldwide. They list everything from inns, guesthouses, cabins, historic properties and farmhouses. You can search by special needs, including "pets welcome" and then by country, state and city, as the case may be.
Have you traveled with a four-legged friend? Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Message Boards today.