This post is for small breed dogs only. If you have a large breed, then it will be impossible to smuggle them into any establishment or hotel. So, you can scroll on down to the end of this post, and follow my recommendation for larger breeds. I was just recently on a trip for the first time with my little 5 lb. poodle named Cody, and I have to say that I am amazed at the ease of getting him into places.
Here are a few rules to follow when traveling with your little one.
1. Always tell the airline that you are traveling with a pet. This is not the time to play the incognito pet carrier game. You will have to take the animal out of the carrier when you go through the TSA checkpoint, and sometimes they look for documentation stating that your pet is an approved traveler. You also do not want to risk getting caught on the airline by the flight attendant, because that could get you kicked off of the flight all together. Most airlines only charge around $100 each way, so in this instance, honesty is the best policy. Also, please note that most airlines do not allow pets in business or first class. I learned this the hard way on my recent work travel to LA. I bought a business class airline ticket, and called in to alert the airline that I was traveling with my dog. I was told that dogs are not allowed in first class because the seats turn into beds, so I had to downgrade my ticket for coach. On Virgin America, even though the seats do not turn to beds, pets are also only allowed in coach. Something to think about, especially if you are booking a long distance flight.
2. Make sure to select a dog friendly hotel. Now, I know that this may seem self explanatory, but it is much easier to smuggle your pet into a dog friendly hotel than not. Dog friendly hotels charge pet rent per night, plus a refundable fee. For example, when I was in LA, I stayed at The Sofitel Beverly Hills, and the fee for pets is $100 a night, plus a deposit that is refundable. Being that I was staying multiple nights, then heading down to San Diego for another night, I wanted to see if I could get away with getting around the pet fees. So, I checked in normally, with my Cody in his carrier, and did not mention that I had a pet with me. I was checked in and off to my room. A couple of hours later, I walked the dog, ordered room service, and had nothing to hide. No one batted an eye because it is already a dog friendly hotel, and it was assumed that Cody was a guest. Do not do this at a non-dog friendly hotel…for obvious reasons. This works like a charm, and can help you save some money on a longer trip. Also, this works better at larger hotels. It honestly shocked me how the front desk attendant had no recollection of the dog.
3. The art of restaurant smuggling. For this, it is all about the carrier. When buying a carrier, you have to venture away from PetSmart and Petco, and look at doggy boutiques. Some boutiques carry carriers that are made for smuggling, and it takes a skilled eye to know that it is a dog carrier, and not a larger handbag. A handful of times, I have seen people with generic pet carriers trying to get into restaurants, and getting turned away. I don’t take my dog with me to restaurants on a consistent basis, but when I recently traveled with him, I always did. Unless it is a business dinner, or someplace that is exclusive or high end, I don’t see the harm in smuggling your little one in. It does feel better having your pet with you, and takes away some of the guilt from leaving them alone in the hotel room.
For those of us that sometimes have to travel alone for business, being able to travel with your pet makes it a little more enjoyable, and less lonely. I previously posted about traveling solo, and it can be good for self discovery. However, traveling with your pet is also a beautiful thing! If you want to bypass all of these steps, then you can make your dog a service dog. This is my recommendation for larger breeds.