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AAA/Best Western Survey Reveals Top Needs Among Pet Travelers; Dog Expert Millan Offers Hotel Etiquette Tips

For many Americans, taking pets along on vacation can make the experience more fun for the whole family. A full 51 percent of travelers with pets say they would bring their pets along on every vacation if they could, according to a recent AAA/Best Western survey of individuals who traveled with their pets in the last 12 months. What hinders them from doing so?
Finding Welcoming Accommodations
Among top considerations in whether to include pets in travel plans is the need to locate welcoming, appropriately matched pet-friendly accommodations, according to the study. Specific aspects of the search include: finding places that accept pets (95 percent), learning about pet policies such as size limits and fees (49 percent) and getting details about available pet services (22 percent). One-quarter of pet travelers who have skipped this important planning step admit to sneaking their pet into a hotel or motel at some point in the past, creating anxiety that can affect pet behavior.
Advance planning using a reliable resource like Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®, available in print and digital versions, can alleviate concerns related to accommodations and other pet-travel preparations. The listings for pet-friendly AAA Approved and Diamond Rated lodgings throughout the U.S. and Canada provide important details like fees, permitted pet sizes, conditions of stay and pet amenities. Listings also include more than 600 pet-friendly campgrounds plus dog parks and attractions and national public lands that allow pets. Best Western offers more than 1,600 pet-friendly properties worldwide.
Pet Etiquette Considerations
Respondents also identified observations about other pet travelers, pinpointing several behavioral considerations for owners as well as their pets:
  • Owners not cleaning up after pets (77 percent)
  • Dogs that bark constantly (57 percent)
  • Unleashed pets (49 percent)
  • Pets not obedience trained (43 percent)
  • Owners not notifying others that pet is aggressive toward people/other pets (41 percent)
  • Pets not trained to relieve themselves outside (29 percent)
“Traveling with your dog can be a wonderful experience. Remember, a balanced dog makes a better traveling companion. Always nurture a balanced state of mind,” says pet expert Cesar Millan.  “Plan your vacation with your dog in mind. Here are some tips to make travel more fun and less stressful for your dog,” says Millan:
  • Before you start your trip, take your dog for a walk.
  • Feeding your pet in the car is not a good idea.
  • As you head out on the road, make sure you crate or harness your dog for safety.
  • When stopping for a break, never leave your dog in the car, especially when it’s warm outside. Even if the window is cracked open, the car can still heat up and be dangerous to your dog.
  • Remember to bring your dog’s scent with you. Having a favorite toy will comfort and relax him.
Travelers can also find useful tips for preparing four-legged travelers for the road or air, plus handy information on pet etiquette, insurance and emergency animal clinics, in Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook and on the website. The 14th edition publication is available at many AAA and CAA offices and select booksellers at a suggested retail price of $18.95. The member price is $14.95. The digital edition is available at online booksellers at a suggested digital retail price of $9.99.
More AAA/Best Western 2012 Pet Traveler Study Results
  • A full 93 percent said their pet makes a good travel companion, identifying these reasons:
    • Good cuddle buddy when away from home (27 percent)
    • Always lets the owner select the destination (18 percent)
    • Doesn’t hog the hotel remote (12 percent)
    • Snores less than owner’s significant other (7 percent)
    • Helps attract dates (1 percent)
  • More than eight in 10 (85 percent) of pet travelers travel with their dog, and two in 10 (21 percent) travel with a cat.
  • Top types of vacations enjoyed with pets:
    • Visiting friends and family (78 percent)
    • Road trips (50 percent)
    • Going to the beach (33 percent)
    • Camping (27 percent)
    • Visiting a city (23 percent)
    • Hiking (17 percent)
Two Southern California pooches are featured on the current The AAA PetBook.  A Tibetan terrier named Lady, GCH Starlight’s Lady in Waiting, from Torrance, is pictured on the book’s back cover on a scenic overlook at beautiful Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. As a show dog Lady is used to being the center of attention, but she doesn’t always have the luxury of being able to see the sights. “When we extended our trip last year to go to Crater Lake, Lady had a blast!” said owner Cassandra Basgall. “Our dogs are our family. It’s hard to leave home without them.”
The second-place winner, Maggie, an American Eskimo/Pomeranian mix from Placentia, is featured on the book’s spine in a photo taken during a trek through Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. “Our dogs are our kids. We try to take them whenever we can,” said owner Wendy Gillroy. “Maggie doesn’t even mind the long drive as long as we’re going to be outdoors.”
Information about the AAA PetBook photo contest for the 2013 edition can be found at
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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.