Luxury travel with four-legged friends… your tips, please!

Meet George… our new puppy. He’s a lively 10 week old English Springer Spaniel and, of course, our new travel companion! Right now, he’s keeping us busy, chewing anything he can get teeth into and generally being a mischief. This is going to be a steep learning curve for us all, not least when we come to travel with him, so we welcome any travel tips from experienced dog owners.

George

Dog-friendly places to stay in the UK

We may well be taking a few more UK trips as a result of our new canine companion so we welcome your suggestions on dog-friendly luxury hotels or other accommodation, and dog-friendly places to visit. Any tips on travelling with your dog on long car journeys?

Dog-friendly travel gadgets / accessories

Are there any travel gadgets or accessories that you can’t live without? Please let us know what they are and why they’re so useful. Would you recommend using a crate? What information do you suggest is included on ID tag? Are there any apps that are useful?

Taking your dog abroad

What are the things we need to know if we ever consider taking our dog abroad? Any tips on applying for a pet passport? Any implications for your pet insurance? What treatments do you need to ensure your dog has had and how do you find out if there are any other requirements for the contry or countries you’re visiting?

Leaving your dog at home

I’m also looking for tips on what to do with your dog on those occasions when you don’t take him with you. DO you use kennels? Do you instead leave your dog with friends and/or relatives? Are ther other options to consider?

The above are just a few issues for us to think about. In the meantime, we welcome your tips and suggestions on any of the above issues, and more, in the comments below. (No spam, please… if you have something you’d personally like to promote, then click here to contact us. Thank you.)

Comments (19)

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  1. Lauren says:

    I hate leaving our dogs when we travel, so it’s always nice to take them with when we can. We don’t go too far because I don’t like to put that much stress on them, but some helpful things I’ve found during our trips the past few years:

    – request a health record from the vet and carry it with you (it’s just a paper they sign that says the dog is up to date on all his/her shots). We’ve NEVER been asked for this (which is a little concerning), but it’s good to have nonetheless.
    – wee wee pads (you never know in strange places, especially if other dogs have been there).
    – something from home (a favorite pillow or blanket). This just helps remind them of home and make me feel more comfortable. Same goes with a favorite toy.
    – benedryl. Check with your vet first, but if he/she is ever antsy or has an allergis reaction and you need to comfort them before you can get to the vet a VERY SMALL pill can be given (again, check with your vet)
    – dog shampoo! We recently went to a pet friendly resort and took the dogs hiking with us. The one got SO DIRTY I was so happy we had it!
    – treats! The first time we went we remembered their food and forgot their treats! We had to run out and get some but the dogs were endlessly confused lol.

    We just simply don’t crate our dogs, and if you ever do leave them at the vet or a kennel (we always have someone stay at our house), be sure you research them thoroughly. Ensure the conditions are well kept and make sure someone visits them after hours and over the weekend.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Lauren… some great tips to get us started. I’ve no idea what ‘wee wee pads’ are (although I can guess) – I think I’ve got a lot still to learn!

  3. Libbi says:

    Travel with a pet in and out of Britain is hard due to the necessity that the dog receive a tapeworm treatment just before coming back in. I know someone who has traveled between England and France quite a bit and she has a vet at the channel crossing for just this reason. Makes things tricky.

  4. Lily Lau says:

    Travel, that was the main reason I don’t have pets, although I love them more than my life if possible! But thanks to your post and to the people that comment here, now I think the time of having a four-legged friend might have arrived… :)

  5. Sophie says:

    Hi Paul,
    What wonderful news that you have a springer puppy – congratulations!
    Our lives changed when we found Toby just over a year ago. He’s a ‘sprocker’ spaniel, half cocker and half springer and has heaps of energy. Our usual long weekend options had to be reviewed to see if they would accommodate dogs. Sadly, one of our favourites, Cowarth Park, do not take dogs so we haven’t visited there in over a year, much to our daughter’s dismay (they love the pony riding).
    We have found that Lime Wood and Chewton Glen are fantastic with dogs, even supplying a small bed for him, although we always take our crate (as he loves to chew too!) Being in the New Forest, both these hotels are situated in some of the best walking country there is, and of course near to beaches too. We have a house in Windermere so we take him with us once or twice a year and as you probably know most of the hotels / pubs love dogs in Cumbria. When we travel abroad we always take him to a dog boarder – a family that have him in their own home and treat him as part of the family. We would never use a kennel.
    When I was doing some research I found that Pride of Britain hotels gave a comprehensive guide on which UK hotels accommodated dogs.
    Enjoy your time with George, and remember its all about training, training, training!!
    Best wishes
    Sophie

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Sophie… some great suggestions there. I’ve just returned from doing the school run to Windermere as it happens! What a small world… maybe we’ll bump into you up Orrest Head one day?!

    If your daughter loves horse riding, you might like to know about this post we did a couple of months ago: https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2014/07/16/horseback-adventures-for-the-discerning-on-dartmoor/

    The hotel that they associate themselves with is Gidleigh Park which has ‘dog friendly rooms’ ( http://www.gidleigh.co.uk/guest-facilities/dog-friendly-rooms ).

    Thanks for dropping by and hope you have equally fun times with Toby! :)

    Paul

  7. Hi Paul,

    A post after my own heart :)Even though we have a ridiculous amount of animals, normally my Father in Law minds them when we travel. However a few years ago we did travel with 2 cats from Ireland to here. I was relocating 2 Irish cats after my Mum died. Lots of people thought I was crazy, but anyhow …they are very happy in the better weather here..

    We used Stena Line, the Oscar Wilde ship, and they go into a kind of hold where the cars are. I was a bit worried at first, but then one of the staff came and gave us a list of visiting hours. This made a huge difference to the trip. I didn’t want to fly them over as unfortunately there are too many bad stories as to what happens via air travel for dogs and cats etc.

    So maybe if you are travelling to mainland Europe, you could consider something like this and just check the set up before booking.

    You’ll see I have called you back into my Chi post on FB. I think you’ll understand why. :)

    Lovely post
    Jackie

  8. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Jackie… I think the likelihood is that we’ll take George with us on UK holidays but leave him being looked after by friends or relatives when we go further afield.

    Your Chi is very cute, by the way… I cannot believe how tiny he is!

  9. A comment made by someone I know in Dublin:

    “A friend of mine works for a company in dublin airport callled Multicargo. They specialise in organising travel for animals all over the planet. Check them out if needed.”

  10. Karen Venn says:

    Congratulations on getting a puppy. We’re having great fun with ours who came from a rescue centre where she was crate trained – that makes travelling easier as she sees it as her den and she’s settled down quickly when we’ve stayed in new places.

    There are 5 star self catering cottages which are great bases for walking breaks and they enable you to eat a good lunch in dog friendly places.

  11. Hi Paul,

    We usually chat by email, but when I saw this post, I wanted to share my story publicly to inspire others to travel with their pets ;)

    I don’t have a dog; I have a cat. Since last October, I have been on a 25 000 km road trip from Montreal, Canada to Tamarindo, Costa Rica, hoping to drive another 25 000 to Argentina in the upcoming year. And guess what? I brought my cat “Minou” with me.

    Before I left, friends and family told me it was the stupidest idea I ever had. I love Minou and couldn’t imagine leaving her behind. So far she has visited eight countries and slept in over 60 hotels / B&B and camping sites. It’s rarely an issue. Oh! We even slept with her in our Honda Element a few times (we can convert the SUV in a small bed for three).

    Also, Minou has become a rock star with locals. Over 200 people have taken pictures of her along the way. She is a chubby Mainecoon cat and stands out among the skinny local cat crowd.

    Take your George with you. It’s easier than you think and worth every minute of it.

    As I write this, Minou is cuddling between my arms, waiting for me to head to bed. I honestly could not imagine not bringing her with me on this great adventure.

    Roxanne

  12. Paul Johnson says:

    Wow, Roxanne… that sounds like quite a challenge. I’m not sure I have it in me to be quite that adventurous with a pet in tow. It’s a challenge enough travelling with children… ;-)

    Our last trip was to South Africa – a stay in Cape and a safari on a game reserve in the Eastern Cape (write-ups to follow on this blog in the next few days). 6 flights in total. In all honesty, I Wouldn’t even start to contemplate taking a pet with me on a trip like that (and doubt whether I could at the reserves).

  13. living in Brittany France and also owning a crazy young springer spaniel, we were in a similar situation as we did not want to leave Holly in kennels. We searched for pet friendly accommodation in France and many websites have this as an option when searching for French holiday accommodation, including my own site.

    The 5 hour car journey down south was no problem for our springer, we just stopped for a few food, drink and pee breaks, where everyone made a fuss of her which she loves.

    The French do seem very dog friendly even in some restaurants when you can dine outside keeping a tight lead on your dog!

    We also have a horse, but the pet friendly accommodation didn’t stretch that far, so luckily we had friends close by to keep an eye on her.

  14. We are owners of two dogs and a luxury oceanfront vacation rental in northern California that is- of course- dog friendly! I’ve learned a few tricks and lessons along the way.

    First of all- Before you book your stay, make sure you visit their amenities page to verify what has been made available for your pet’s holiday.

    Of course we love having our own private room with a view when we travel and so do our dogs. They love staying in their crates whether in the car, or in new surroundings. Actually our dogs prefer their cozy, safe, home-away-from-home. We suggest that pet owners begin training at least at least a few months prior to their trip. Another good idea is to make sure your dogs have used up some energy by exercising before they are placed in their crate to hit the road.

    Our doggy packing list is as important as our own. Items I include in their jet-setter bags include:
    *Sturdy, well-fitting nylon or leather collar or harness, license tag, ID tag(s) and leash (Make certain you are aware of the community’s leash-laws)
    *Birth certificate and other required documents such as health records (especially if crossing boarders)
    *Food and water dishes
    *Can opener and spoon (for canned food for when you are on the road)
    *An ample supply of food, plus a few days’ extra
    *Medication, if necessary
    *Healthy treats and food (BUT be aware of any customs restrictions for bring food in to another country- for instance Chile will happily charge you $250USD for each infraction)
    *A blanket or other bedding (especially important to protect furniture from pet hair)
    *Litter supplies and plastic bags
    *Favorite toys
    *Chewing preventative – to keep your dog from teething on the furniture
    *Grooming supplies as needed
    *First-aid kit
    *A recent photograph and a written description, including microchip number, name, breed, gender, height, weight, coloring and distinctive markings

    If you are taking a boating trip it is important that all your family be safe. Not only do we wear our flotation devices, so does our dog. Even if your dog is a great swimmer,he could tire and drown, something not worth the risk. It is especially important for the novice boating dog. We also bring on board fresh water for everyone, including our dog to prevent dehydration of our pet. It is wise to check the environmental health status of the lake you plan to visit. Some may be contaminated from factories, boats and contain harmful organisms, for that reason I also caution against allowing your dog to drink from freshwater lakes.

    We actually avoid air travel with our dogs unless absolutely necessary as it can be very challenging for them, especially for our older Maltese. Air travel in a cargo hold is not a fun experience for a canine and may even be dangerous during certain times of the year. Be sure to check your carrier to see what date/travel restrictions they may have before you book your flight. It is also important you know where the doggy relief areas are in the airports.

    Some Lux hotels and lodges offer VIP- Very Important Pet- packages or added amenities. When booking a quality hotel for your family and pet ask if they also provide places where you can we can take your dog for a walk, or a run in a nearby park.

    Booking a dog-friendly vacation rental home for our family holiday is the option I prefer more. I look for a home that accommodates both our two-legged and four-legged members of my family. Before I book a home I make sure both the interior and exterior are suited from my pet. I look for an enclosed yard, floors that are easy to clean, and a home that recognizes there may be times that our Velcro-Vizsla will want to cuddle next to us on the sofa or bed. I also double check for any restrictions the vacation home may have (e.g. number or size of pet) and added fees or security deposits.

    No matter the place you stay at, I recommend you enter it first, requiring the dog to remain where it is (usually crated). As you move about the house or hotel room your scent becomes associated with the location. This way the dog well feel more at home and recognizes it is not in control. Once everyone is unpacked an ever-vigilant eye must be maintained as there are many new sights and sounds that could startle, distract or even be dangerous for the dog. I also advise when the dog begins to bark indoors to take the pooch outdoors immediately to calm it down.

    Maintaining our dogs’ routine while on vacation helps as well. Our dogs really appreciates a familiar routine. This routine may include a walk or having a meal at the same time.

    Traveling with all the family, including the family pet, can be a wonderful shared experience. With some pre-planning, and a little homework on traveling with a pet many surprises and challenges can be eliminated. With these smart pet tips in hand, I’m confident that when the family of vacationers arrive in Chicago they and their pet will have a wonderful holiday.

  15. Carly says:

    I either have a friend stay at house (I have cats too) or I send them to a small local company who offer home boarding, they stay in the house with the whole family and are treated as one.

  16. Marion says:

    Hi, congratulations on getting your handsome puppy! We got a pup ourselves last year, a cockapoo called Poppy and she is absolutely insane! She has energy reserves that defy belief ;0) We holiday in the UK rather than leave our dogs, so holiday cottages and occasional short breaks in hotels are the order of the day.

    In terms of travelling, we have a car harness for the back seat and we don’t feed her before we set off which avoids travel sickness. We always take loads of towels and throws to keep things covered in case of claws and teeth…. Good luck! Holidays with pups can be a mixture of loads of fun and quite stressful so take wine and some more wine. They are a great opportunity to bond and extend your pup’s socialisation, enjoy George to the max ;0)

  17. France is very dog-friendly, and we’ve stayed in some lovely hotels with Meg, and it is just a short hop across the channel. One of the nicest was the Chateau d’Etoge where she looked like she’d moved in with Marie Antoinette Our favourite in the UK have been Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chains (although I did read they were no longer accepting dogs) and we stayed at The Samling on Windermere last year, which was absolutely fabulous, and Meg was very welcome.

  18. Carol Martin says:

    Congrats on the new family member, and that’s exactly what they are so take them with you when you go! A little effort and a little thought and you will all have fun, here’s some tips I’ve found helpful:

    Dog Friendly Places to Stay:
    I start with LuxuryPaw.com to help me find upscale places that will pamper my dog and me

    Traveliing with your dog abroad:
    One stop shopping at: pettravel.com
    Information, regulations and even the forms you need for most countries.

    Leaving your dog at home:
    Invest in a petsitter. Would you leave your child at daycare for 2 weeks? Your pet understands even less about the absence of his or her pawrents, and the change in schedule and location. There are also people who care for your dog in their home, perhaps with their dog if yours is highly social. You set the rules!

    Dog friendly gadgets/accessories:
    For the car or plane, pack a “diaper bag.” Yes, think of this as your baby. Have a grab-and-go ziplock or backpack or whatever with piddle pads (you will learn quickly how to read the signs that your dog has to go, get one under your dog if you can’t make it to an appropriate area. Goes for motion sickness too) and doggie wipes, gloves, disenfectant wipes, extra Ziplocs and paper towels. Place soiled items in empty Ziploc until you can reach a trash can and to be courteous when disposing of an accident.
    Collapsible water bowl (can keep refilling with bottled water, folds flat)
    Smart Tag: there are a variety of smart tags for dogs out now that are scannable with phones and you can actually track your pet with some of them. Do some looking online. Put basic name/phone on tag itself for non-techy folks
    Harness: Much less combersome than crate. May be used on aircraft (private) or in car. A crate will be needed for commercial air travel of course. Three DOT tested harnesses that are worth their salt are: Sleepy Pod, Roadie Ruff Rider, and Kurgo Enhanced Strength harnesses.
    Life Jacket: For boat or private air travel. Best design and most likely to withstand rough water for longer duration: Ruffwear Float Coat.
    Apps: Don’t leave home without these
    PetTech PetSaver: complete first aid info, will even walk you through CPR
    Petpoisonhelpline: ASPCA poison control resource at your fingertips
    Dog Friendly.com : Pet friendly restaurants, dog parks, activities, lodging at destination

    Since this is a luxury travel blog… best way to travel with them? Private jet or drive.
    Enjoy the ride!

  19. Annick says:

    Ok; a few tips:
    – always pack treats and drinks (that goes for just a normal longer walk as well btw)
    – dog shampoo comes in handy
    – often hotels accept dogs, but not all of them will accept them into the restaurant for example. Make sure you check if you can leave your dog unattended in the room, or if you need to cage him up (we never do that actually). We make sure we always put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on when we leave him in the room. Make sure he’s tired enough, so he won’t get restless and start barking. Leave him alone for a short time only.
    – try avoiding hotels and aim for holiday cottages / flats /… that accept dogs.
    – bring his own blanket, cushion, whatever that smells like home
    – in the Netherlands there’s a great website for dogs that travel, called dogsincluded. Only in Dutch though. They have an update of what you need medically to enter a country and allround tips. Maybe there’s something like that in the UK as well – but usually your vet should know. Mainly I think the UK is the hardest anyway: if your good to come back with him, he’ll most likely be accepted anywhere else. Northern Europe has some strict regulations, but not as strict as the U.K.
    – always bring a tick remover, the good one, that you can put underneath the tick and twist it out.
    – the more North you go, the more welcoming people are to dogs. More South we often found that they’re not that fond of the dog coming along & sometimes there are some rules that aren’t so dog friendly (for instance, in Italy you have to put on a muzzle, which makes it hard for your dog to cool down in hot weather).
    Errrrm – what else can I think of? Nothing much really!
    We’ve done some great trips with our dog(s) – always welcome to check our site for some pics or get in touch for more info!

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