As consumers head into the heaviest travel time of the year, those with pets are faced with a choice: place your furry one in a boarding facility or bring it along. Increasingly, pet owners are opting for the latter because traveling with animals is getting a lot easier.
A Web site, www.petswelcome.com is devoted to helping pet owners take their pets on the road. It features a database of over 25,000 hotels, B&Bs, ski resorts, campgrounds, and beaches that are pet-friendly.
A growing number of hotel chains, such as Red Roof Inn, have a policy of allowing small pets in their rooms. Petswelcome.com says it continues to discover more and more pet friendly establishments all over the world. As a matter of fact, the editors says, they're currently researching community colleges that accept pets.
Another site, www.takeyourpet.com also has a database of pet friendly hotels but goes a step farther by providing listings of thousands of animal hospitals, shelters, groomers, kennels & boarding facilities, exercise & sitting services, pet food & supply stores and veterinarians all over the United States. Some pet-friendly hotels offer discounts through the site.
Sally Smith, who owns and operates a pet transportation company called Airborne Animals, in Blairstown, NJ says most pets will travel well if they are acclimated to the car but many, especially cats, do not.
That's why more and more consumers and their pets are traveling by air. Smith says it's still stressful for the pet, but is of shorter duration.
"Many people worry about the safety of air travel. Over a million pets a year are shipped, according to airline estimates. Each year one or two well-publicized accidents detract from that fact. Actual airline industry statistics report less than 30 animal injuries or deaths per year," Smith said.
Like hotels, some airlines are more pet friendly than others. Some go out of their way to attract people with pets, even offering frequent flyer programs for animals.
Israel's El Al Airlines introduced the concept of pets' frequent flyer programs with its Points for Pets Program in 2001. Three round-trip ticket purchases from New York to Tel Aviv in a three-year period and the pet earns a free ticket.
Virgin Atlantic's program offers pets free gifts, such as t-shirts and special collar tags for dogs and a Virgin baseball cap and scarf for ferrets.
While international airlines are becoming more pet-friendly, not all travel destinations are. Many countries require strict documentation of all animals entering the country, ensuring the pet meets all vaccination requirements. Even so, travel analysts say the number of people traveling with their pets, both domestically and internationally, increases more than ten percent each month.