Monday, July 15, 2013

Pet Friendly Travel: The good and bad

Like every good retiree we decided to head North for some more sunshine and where the days are warmer, however this time we decided to take Teddy and see what a pet friendly holiday was like.  Why?  We feel pretty horrible leaving him every time we go away - he gets the shakes every time we get the suit cases out, he knows we are leaving him and now that D2 doesn't live at home anymore, it was a case of what do we do with him, so we decided to give it a go, see what it's like and if it works for us.

Travelling with a pet is less spontaneous than we like it and we did have to do a lot of research on pet friendly accommodation in the areas we wanted to go to, and obviously book in advance. Beware though if travelling with your pet because not every pet friendly place is created equal.  There are lots of rules associated with pet friendly travel so ensure you check these out prior to making your booking.

I was amazed though that places that are pet friendly generally don't provide some sort of enclosed  veranda area on the room or fenced grass areas were pets can easily roam in a safe environment unleashed - so while they have the rules for you and your pet, they don't help generally in making this easier to abide by.  Open verandas mean you either have to keep your dog inside even if you are out on the veranda soaking up the sun, views etc while there - obviously making mishaps more likely , or on a lead.  Even taking them for their you know whats in open yards means leads when you have a dog like Teddy who will have a go at anyone, or anything it makes for your well behaved pet rules difficult to uphold. Obviously I also felt more comfortable in places that had tiled floors and not carpets just in case there was an accident.  So I would highly recommend you check out these things with the establishment if they are important to you and they were not things I thought about while booking - as I had assumed the rooms themselves would be more pet friendly.

I must admit I had never really noticed before how many people do travel with pets before, but let me assure you its becoming quite a common thing.  Even Virgin now are providing "Points for Pets" and one establishment we stayed in said they had to restrict rooms for animals to 2 only at any point given the amount of people now travelling with their pets, or otherwise the whole place is full of dogs - interesting.  

Road trips for me should be something where you meander along, stop and take in places you haven't been to before, take that turn off that 40kms off the highway and have a look so the advance booking does make this more difficult, and of course anyone who has traveled the road from Brisbane to North Queensland will tell you, its a long drive at the best of times.

Travelling with Ted though was difficult, and it did seem like all we did when we stopped was to try and get him to pee, eat, have a drink etc - to some extent it was worse than travelling with a baby.  He was excellent I will say and slept most of the way each day, but trying to find the right place to stop where he could get out and wander on his own without being on a lead also made the travelling tedious.

He was much better in the places we stayed at for more than 1 night, as he got use to the conditions, found is little routines and learnt his boundaries, but I would say for a dog like Teddy, the trip was probably more stressful for him than being at a kennel where he might well feel shaky for a day or two but not all the time as he seemed to with the road travel.

After a big morning out on the beach at 1770 where the weather was perfect I found myself needing to take Ted back to the room for a sleep, and again it reminded me of when the kids where babies, so that was somewhat annoying as well.

If you have an older dog and one that doesn't have a need to bark at everything, one that can just go to sleep anywhere it might be OK, but with a dog like Teddy who won't relax anywhere out in the open, who can't help himself from barking and growling at everyone he meets, and who is not keen to leave his scent anywhere it was a hard holiday.

The other thing to take into consideration if travelling with a pet is while the accommodation may well be pet friendly," is the general area?". We stayed 3 nights at Airlie Beach and while the accommodation here was the most pet friendly we came across - the area generally was not ie:  No Dog signs everywhere even on the main walking trail around the foreshores, (we resorted to putting Teddy in a bag which of course he didn't mind at all, just so we could  walk the beach area) something we didn't take into consideration and of course that made going anywhere hard and made the stay far less enjoyable.

You will pay more at each place you stay for cleaning, and that's OK, however none explained what exactly they did extra - which made me a bit suspect, I was happy to pay extra and in fact felt that this was more than fair and reasonable, however when their rules say no dogs on furniture I wondered if they properly cleaned down the furniture just in case, or if they took doonas off the beds and washed these in case.  

Top Tips for Travelling with a PET

  • Check out the accommodation prior to leaving - establish if veranda areas are enclosed, if the internal areas are tiled or carpeted if this is important to you
  • Book in advance and ensure they know you have a pet and let them know what type of pet you have
  • Check out the pet rules and ensure you are happy with these prior to booking
  • Be prepared to pay extra for cleaning
  • Establish if the general area you are going to is pet friendly

Will we do the PET FRIENDLY holiday again, I doubt it - we ended up paying more in extra cleaning fees than a kennel would have cost, most of the places while pet friendly in so much as your pet could stay, where not pet friendly in their layouts for us and I really do not think Teddy enjoyed himself all that much and it definitely cramps your style if you want to eat out, go to places etc.  If you are just going to one place, and its layout is for you and your pet and you don't really want to do anything but sit somewhere its probably OK but for us we like a bit of action and Teddy was definitely an impediment to achieving a great holiday status for us. 

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