My Pet Travel Wishlist

Honey and I are banished.

We have to find somewhere to spend the day while my husband Mike is replacing the fuel lines in the boat.

I’m reminded that the United States stinks at providing amenities for people who travel with pets.

Here’s my wishlist.

Honey the golden retriever on the cockpit floor.

Why do we have to leave the boat? Because part of the engine is under the floor I’m sleeping on.

Pet Travel Amenities I’d Like To See

The United States is terrible at providing creature comforts for people who travel with creatures. Wouldn’t you like to see

Pet Friendly Restrooms

If you’re traveling alone and the weather makes it unsafe for your pet to stay in the car, you’d better wear a diaper. Because many rest area bathrooms have “no dogs” signs on the doors.

Climate Controlled Waiting Areas

Our car broke down on the highway one Christmas. It was below freezing.

While Mike arranged for a tow, I huddled in the back vestibule of the rest stop shivering with my dogs, Agatha and Christie.

Would it be so terrible set aside a small area with heat (or air conditioning) for people traveling with pets?

Honey the golden retriever with bear.

If we have to travel, can we bring my friend?

Pet Waste Stations

Honey and I are sitting in a park. My jacket is stuffed with poop bags. And it’s a good thing. Because if I wasn’t prepared, I couldn’t find a waste bag anywhere along the walking paths or beach.

Y’know, if you want people to do the right thing, make it easy for them.

Walk Up Restaurants

Since restaurants don’t allow dogs to dine indoors, it would be nice if they’d at least offer walk up service for people with dogs.

If I really get cold and need a hot drink, there is a doughnut shop a few blocks up the highway. And yes, it has a “no walk ups” sign on the carry out window. As does the next closest fast food place.

Heck, I’d be happy for a few outdoor vending machines.

Map Of Pet Amenities

It’s always raining when we pull into a rest stop to give Honey a break and only see “no dogs” signs closest to the building and parking area.

After wandering around for several minutes, we finally spot a tiny sign pointing down a hill to the designated dog walk area. Which, of course, is swimming in dog poop because it has no pet waste stations and is so far away that irresponsible dog people think no one will see them leaving their dog’s poop behind.


Why can’t they put a big sign in front showing where the pet areas are? Or even better, put them close enough to the entrance that you see the pet area immediately?

Honey the golden retriever at the dock.

If I keep hanging out at the docks, my reputation will be shot.

Travel In A Pet Friendly World

Actually, my wish list is only the beginning.

I’d love to see pet friendly public transportation, pet friendly shopping, and pet friendly restaurants everywhere I go.

I know. I can wish for those things because my current dog is able to handle them.

But even people with reactive dogs, puppies, or dogs who don’t have “therapy dog” manners deserve to be able to go to the bathroom when they travel without worrying about their dog sizzling in the car or being stolen when they tie her to a post outside the restroom door.

And I suspect that if more places were pet friendly, dogs would develop the social skills that European dogs have because they’re allowed in many public settings.

For now, I’ll hang on to my wish list.

And hope I don’t have to use the bathroom or need a drink. Because the “welcome center” where Honey and I are spending the day is only welcoming if you don’t have pets.

Your Turn: What pet travel amenities are on your list? 




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  1. My biggest one is the restroom rule too. I always wonder what happened that made that restroom off limits to dogs? Blueberry has come with me to many a restroom during our hikes (if allowed) and she is always pretty well behaved and I never take her in when others are in there so there aren’t any issues – just in case. I mean, those roadside and park restrooms are usually pretty questionable anyway, so it can’t possibly be because the dog will ruin the atmosphere.

    I think we just have too many irresponsible owners in the US to allow for the European comforts.

    • But don’t you wonder if the reason European dogs cope well with their freedom is because they’re socialized from birth? Pet friendly ops help people prepare their dogs for a wide range of activities.

      And yeah, I don’t want to know what is so precious in a restroom that it has to be protected from my dog.

    • I agree!

      We travel with Jedi frequently to attend,dog shows. Stopping along the way can be difficult. I would love to have dog-friendly places to go. And to be honest, I would gladly pay more if I can take Jedi with me. Do you hear that small business owners?

      As for advertising: if I were at all business savvy I would make an app for that. Seriously, there is an app where you can log on and tell people in surrounding areas that you are willing to hook up. (At least I think that’s how my kids explained it to me.) Surely someone could develop an app where dog friendly businesses and locations could advertise.

      As for bathrooms, if there is a “family restroom” or it is a one toilet, single person restroom I take my dog with me regardless of the signs. But then again, I’m traveling with a 90 pound German shepherd so no one really wants to stop and fuss at me anyway.

      • Yeah, I’ve taken Honey into empty restrooms with me many times. But that’s not usually an option on a busy holiday weekend.

        And yes, I wish more business owners would see dollar signs when they think of people traveling with pets.

  2. Yes, yes and more yes. How hard could it be….really?

    • Especially since Europe is so pet friendly. There are plenty of examples of cities that welcome people and their dogs nearly everywhere.

  3. Part of the reason we stopped taking Callie and Shadow on short day trips was the lack of pet-friendly facilities everywhere. Heck, even back when Kissy was still alive, the pet-friendly facilities were starting to dwindle.

    And, as Mary said: “yes, yes, and more yes….” The rest-area bathrooms on upstate SC highways are deplorable, never mind questionable. I refuse to use them. Sam and I get off the highway and go to a local gas station or 7-11-type store. If the dogs are with us, we take turns staying with them. Otherwise, we both use the facilities and then grab a snack for the rest of the trip back home. And we rejoice upon arrival in the driveway. But, really, how hard can it be? In a state averse to taxes for just about any reason, like SC, it’s almost impossible because without the appropriate funds, you can’t hire people to keep the areas clean. GRRR

    • People who argue against taxes and oversize government claim that many important tasks will be done by the private sector or volunteers. I’m sure there are plenty of people waiting to be asked to volunteer to clean highway restrooms. NOT. :)

      And you highlight something important here–it’s just not just prejudice against people traveling with pets but with solo people traveling with pets.

      As long as I’m traveling with my husband, we can take turns. But that’s not an option for someone traveling alone.

  4. Dogs have it tough in the US. In Germany they were allowed all over the place, but then again they are much better behaved in general than the dogs here. Sad but true. It sure would be nice if things would change here, though.

    • I have a strong suspicion that if people could take their dogs more places in the U.S., they’d be better socialized and behave better in general.

      But we’ll probably never know if my theory is correct.

      At the very least, I wouldn’t mind seeing dogs with therapy designations or perhaps CGC certificates could get a little more freedom. That would be a start.

  5. About ten years ago I traveled extensively through Colorado , New Mexico, and Texas. With three dogs and a young teenager. I never had a problem with rest stops or hotels.
    When I moved back East we traveled by car . What a horror story! From the Tennessee line North we slept in the car. We could not find a hotel for the night. Even the large chains refused us. We wound up stopping at truck stops only. The truckers were always nice to us. They showed us where the safest spots to sleep (in the car). There were always decent spots to walk the dogs. Reasonably clean restrooms.Never again!!!

    • I forgot Okalahoma. Awesom state. Wonderful people.

      • I have not yet gotten to travel in the Southwest. It’s probably not going to happen until after we move off the boat. But you’ve give me one more reason to explore it.

        The west coast of the US also seems to be much pet friendlier than the east. I wonder why?

        • I had the same type of problems traveling in California as the East coast. This was ten years ago. Could have changed. I read Oregon & Washington are ok for pet travel.

  6. Walk up restaurants…yes please.

    • In the summer, there are plenty of ice cream places and clam shacks etc. where you can walk up with your dog and order. But once they close for the winter, we’re kinda stuck.

      I’m wondering if I should open a hot chocolate and cookie shack somewhere near a dog park. With a cozy, dog-friendly fire pit. I bet I’d make a fortune. :)

  7. Great ideas! YES to restaurants and bathrooms!

    • Maybe I should start working on a business plan for a dog-friendly walk up restaurant with accessible restrooms. It could be the next McDonald’s. :)

  8. Mary, Simon & Kima says:

    I have debated driving with Simon and Kima to Florida for vacation, but the difficulties of taking them with me are too daunting. So we stay north. In the cold. But at least we’re together.

    • I travel twice a year across the country to see my family. Since Oliver joined my life, a 20 pound Cavalier Spaniel, I drive. Anything up be with my little guy.

      Pet stores like Petco and Petsmart have restrooms and don’t bat an eye if I take him in with me. I just plan my stops around them, premarked on a map for convenience. Makes life a lot easier. It’s also when I buy all his toys for the year.

      • Now if only Petco and Petsmart would open a snack counter so you could pick up a little lunch… :)

      • Mary, Simon & Kima says:

        Great idea!! I actually googled (just now) for hotels that welcome dogs. There are several, but I didn’t look far enough to see what size dogs. Some places will allow only dogs under a certain weight – and my two are fairly large. But you have me thinking….and I am going to do a bit more research. Thanks!!!

    • I think your reticence to deal with the logistics of pet travel is why some people take up RVing. When we’re camping, it seems like every RV has a pet aboard.

  9. These are all amazing suggestions. I’ve always thought an app for dog owners that list out the places that are all dog friendly. I know there is a website but I checked where we’re from, Syracuse, and it’s very inaccurate! How do we make these happen!?

    • Mary, Simon & Kima says:

      I think we need to work on this, Reagan. (I live just south of you, in the Binghamton area.) An app would be great. Also, a meet-and-greet take-out food place would be ideal for those of us who don’t leave their best buddies behind.

  10. All the same ones you listed!! I was just reminded about how much more dog-friendly Europe is when I went home to visit my family in Germany last month.

  11. I completely relate to this! My biggest wish list would be for airlines to stop charging so damn much to have your pet on board. Babies can travel for free but you have to pay $125 for a pet? Also more pet rest areas inside of security at the airport would make things SO much easier.

  12. I agree with all the points on your wish list and also particularly with Kacy’s point about the airlines. When you fly with a pet in the cabin, it counts as your carry-on bag and you still have to pay about $125, depending on the airline, each way. When I fly with Richie, no one usually even knows I have a dog with me, he’s so quiet. On the subject of flying, I think all airports should be required to have dog relief areas inside security. They are all required to have relief areas because of service dogs, but most of them are outside security, and I can’t imagine a bline person or someone in a wheelchair trying to navigate to them when I have trouble finding them! Not to mention the stress of going through security again just so your dog can relieve itself. I’m having trouble not starting a rant here. :-)

  13. One of the reasons I like Charleston so much. They are such a dog friendly city. In VA I couldn’t find pet waste stations to save my doodle heart. In many parks it was hard to find a trashcan #saywhat? We lived in Germany for about 5 years and I wasn’t a pet parent. But I was never offended at the public places where dogs were allowed because provisions were made for them, and it was fine.

  14. NY just passed a law allowing dogs at outdoor patio restaurants. Some restaurants already allowed it but many people’s reactions were negative. :( I love taking my Pomeranian with me places.