Last week, Wynston flew on an airplane and stayed in a hotel for the first time ever. I was nervous and excited for the experience, especially since I was SO looking forward to the trip. We flew across the country to attend the BlogPaws conference in Nashville, TN. Luckily I had my friend with me so I knew what to expect in the airport. Now I want to share my experiences with anyone who is looking to travel on an airplane or stay in a hotel with dogs!
Traveling With Dogs
The carrier is everything: A week before our trip, I ordered Wynston a new carrier. I wasn’t comfortable with the one we had so I did a lot of research and ended up with the large Sturdi bag. When we received it in the mail and I assembled it, I immediately started to get Wynston comfortable with it. Much to my surprise, he actually went in it on his own the first time. I gave him lots of treats to positively reinforce the experience. Everyday after that, until our trip, I carried him around the house in the carrier for about 5 minutes at a time. He LOVED it! The flap on top that opens up so his head could stick out made a huge difference. I even found Wynston sleeping in the carrier from time to time. I knew I made the right choice by purchasing a new carrier. Be sure to check your airline’s measurement requirements for the carrier – I knew the large Sturdi bag was bigger than allowed, but as long as it fits under the seat in front of you, you will be fine.
At the airport: We had to go to the ticket counter when we arrived at the airport because I had to pay for Wynston’s airplane ticket ($95 each way on Southwest Airlines). Even though the carrier was bigger than the allowed requirements for Southwest, it was never questioned. While we were at the airport, I let Wynston put his head out of the top of the carrier the entire time. He even had his head out in the airplane before the plane took off.
Security at the airport will be a bit different with a dog. You will have to take your dog out of the carrier so they can x-ray the carrier. You will walk through the metal detector with your dog in your arms and afterward they will swab your hands for combustibles. Although it was a new experience for me, it wasn’t bad at all! We had no problems in security going to or from Nashville.
Choose a pet friendly airline: I had heard that Southwest is the most dog friendly airline, and after our trip, I couldn’t agree more. All of the flight attendants and ticket counter employees were extremely kind and helpful. On our way back home to Arizona, Wynston wasn’t feeling well on the flight and one of the flight attendants allowed me to put his carrier on my lap. She also said he could stick his head out of the top. When I did this, Wynston started to calm down and feel better. Luckily the passengers sitting next to me were also very nice and willing to help. They all helped turn a scary situation into a good one. The flight attendant even brought Wynston fresh water. Good job Southwest – you ROCK!
Staying at a Hotel With Dogs
Choose a pet friendly hotel: Always check to see if the hotel you’re staying at welcomes dogs. I would also inquire as to any pet fees that may be associated with your stay. Some hotels even have weight restrictions for dogs. We stayed at the Sheraton Music City hotel, which is part of the Starwood Hotels family. Starwood hotels are extremely pet friendly and I would highly suggest looking in to one if you are traveling with your dog. I didn’t have to pay any extra fees for Wynston’s stay in the hotel.
Give plenty of potty breaks at the hotel: Since we were attending a conference in Nashville, I gave Wynston several potty breaks throughout the day. I took him outside first thing in the morning and right before I went to bed at night. It’s convenient if you can stay on the first floor of a hotel or near a door for easy potty access. Giving your dog many opportunities to go to the bathroom outside will ensure they don’t have any accidents in the hotel room. Luckily Wynston didn’t have any accidents in our room!
Be careful about leaving your dog unattended: Although the Starwood Hotel chain is very dog friendly, they do charge $100 every time someone calls to complain that your dog is barking. If your dog gets anxious or stressed in a new place without you, I wouldn’t suggest leaving them alone in the room. They may end up chewing property of the hotel or barking the whole time your gone. You definitely don’t want to accrue those extra charges, or make your dog upset!
Bring lots of toys and treats: For the airplane and hotel, bring lots of toys and treats so you can reward them for being well behaved in a new place. I gave Wynston a lot of treats at the airport for being calm and quiet. I also brought some of his favorite toys and a bone so he’d have something to do in the hotel room. Wynston was too nervous during the flight to chew on a bone, but many dogs would like that to keep them busy on the plane ride.
Have you ever flown or stayed in a hotel with your dog? Do you have any fun trips coming up?