How to Take a Paw-tastic Vacay: 4 Tips for Vacations with Dogs

Last updated March 25, 2024

A dog-friendly vacation is not always as easy or as blissful as it looks. But it is definitely worth the effort. Here are our four tips for vacations with dogs (plus our short list for where to stay). 

Have dog, will travel. That’s the mantra of more than a few pet owners, including me. 

I’m always happy to have my little cavapoo Zuzu as my wingman on vacation. I especially love the way she puts the “joie” in “joie de vivre.” 

Zuzu reminds me to be in the moment, to enjoy the warm sun and gentle breezes—and she introduces me to new people wherever we go. A cute, friendly dog is the best social opener you could ever hope for. 

According to the American Pet Products Association, 69 million households are home to a dog (or two), and increasingly, people are reluctant to leave their pets at home when they go on vacation. 

And why should they? Dogs have been shown to be good for your health and well-being: dogs can help you relax, provide company and entertainment, and give you a sense of purpose. 

It makes sense that you’d want to share a spa vacation with them, organically upping your wellness quotient as you feed your body and soul and learn new health practices. 

Resorts have gotten the message loud and clear and are making their properties more dog friendly. But before you get too excited, consider all the details you need to take care of before you and your furry friend can bliss out. 

Here’s the perfect guide for your vacations with dogs (or dog).

How to Choose a Dog-Friendly Vacation

1. Make sure your dog has good manners.

You could be in for some steep charges (and dirty looks from other guests) if your dog damages a hotel room, barks incessantly or attacks other dogs. And there will undoubtedly be times when you’ll need to walk with your pet on a leash, so you’ll want to leash train him/her before you venture out.

2. Put yourself and your dog on a training schedule prior to your trip. 

If you’re planning to hike with Fido, be sure both you and your dog are in shape to take on the trails. And don’t forget to take into account higher elevations, which are more taxing on the body and require better conditioning. Likewise, for swimming and boating—you don’t want to get to your resort only to find out your dog is afraid of water!

3. Consider how you will get to the resort. 

If you are flying, is your pet light enough to go with you in the main cabin? Most airlines only allow a limited number of pets per flight on a first-come, first-serve basis, and they typically must be under 20 lbs., including their carrier, which must fit under the seat in front of you. 

If your dog is too big to ride in the cabin, what are your other options? And how much extra will you have to pay?

If you plan to drive, how is your dog in the car? Is he or she a good passenger or does she bark, whine, scratch at the windows and seats or get carsick? Have you done some test trips with her to see how she will do on a long trip? 

And do you have a good restraint system in place (a doggy seatbelt or harness) that will prevent the dog from flying through the front windshield if you stop short or get into an accident?

Whatever your route of transportation, create a kit with all of the items he/she’ll need: water and food plus bowls, leash, toys, blankets and towels, medications, certificates of vaccination (definitely rabies!) and perhaps a dog bed and a crate or dog gate. 

Most importantly, don’t forget that you’ll need to plan a stop every few hours so both of you can use the bathroom and stretch your legs.

4. Finding your spot.

As for vacations with dogs and where to go, it’s easy to find a high- and even higher-end hotel chain that allows dogs, including Aloft, Fairmont, Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Hyatt, Kimpton, Loews, Marriott, Sheraton and Westin. Many of these hotel brands even provide essential creature comforts like dog beds and treats.  

Once you’ve homed in on a resort that allows pets, dig deeper. Can you leave your dog in the room unattended while you go out? Do you have to crate your pet if you do that (noting that you may have to forgo housekeeping service while your pet is unattended). How many dogs are you allowed to bring and what are the size, weight or breed restrictions? 

Additional questions to ask yourself when planning a dog-friendly vacation. Is there a dedicated and safe area for you to walk your dog, as well as an area where you can let him or her run a bit? Is there an extra fee or deposit required to bring your pet? What activities will your pet be able to share with you at the resort? And is doggy daycare available if you will be away from your dog for most of the day.

Best Vacations With Dogs    

Finding a resort that is pup-friendly can make or break your vacation, not to mention the wellness benefits you’re seeking. I recently stayed (with Zuzu) at the Kimpton Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. 

Both Zuzu and I couldn’t have felt more welcome and cared for. They provided her with a dog bed and there were treats at the desk for her to munch up, not to mention other dogs to mingle with. 

I especially loved the open-air pavilion in the center of the hotel, where Zuzu and I could sit and relax. Best of all, I wasn’t nervous about taking her out for her late night and early morning walks since there was a well-lit park just a block away and a doorman I could call if I got into trouble. 

The result: I relaxed into my spa vacation just the way I planned!

To get you started on your search for a doggie-and-me vacation, here is a short list of four-legged friendly properties in North America that we are woofing over here at Vacayou.

Ready to Book a Dog-Friendly Vacation?

The only thing left to do? Get out there and have a paw-tastic vacation. Here are 15 of our favorite four-legged friendly properties.


Bardessono Hotel & Spa: Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, your pooch will lounge in the lap of luxury.

The Sanctuary Beach Resort: A rare Monterey Bay beach hotel where you furry friend can romp along the seaside.

Hotel Milo: This Santa Barbara boutique hotel is the quintessential California getaway.


Long Beach Lodge Resort: The Tofino area in British Columbia is a paradise for pups and their owners who love the sea.

Hotel Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Spa: Oh la la. Canada’s most beloved hotel in Québec is one for the doggie books.


La Tourelle Hotel & Spa | New York: No longer a ’60s hippie hangout, Ithaca has rightly come of age and this family-run inn happily welcomes your four-legged family member.

Topnotch Resort | Vermont: Sophistication meets alpine luxury at this Stowe country retreat and spa.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa | Pennsylvania: No bones to pick here. Your furry friend has its own spa and lodging at Wooflands.

Skyterra Wellness Retreat | North Carolina: Bring your furry bestie here for the ulti-mutt healthy vacation.


Hotel Valley Ho | Arizona: This locally owned Scottsdale hideaway combines the best of contemporary modernism with classic mid-century design details.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch | Colorado: A secluded homestead with true pup-preciation—a wilderness haven where your dog can roam free.

The Woodlands Resort | Texas: Just north of Houston, everything is bigger here. Even the pet-friendly guest rooms.

Lake Austin Spa Resort | Texas: This barkworthy sanctuary in the heart of Hill Country delights guests with its world-class spa waterfront accommodations.

Red Mountain Resort | Utah: An adventure resort near Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks that does R&R like no other mountain hotel.

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