Remember leaving on that one holiday, when you stood outside in the road waiting for the airport shuttle and all you could see through the window was your beloved cat mouthing, “Meouw, meouw, meouw”?
With this in mind, we are aware that you’re not keen to leave Tigger the cat, Fido the dog, or Rattex the ferret when next you leave town for a European business or leisure trip. Thankfully, flying with pets may actually be easier than doing so with small and unruly kids. Let’s explore the concept.
For starters, first do your research – The rules are that you travel on the same flight as your pet (cat, dog or ferret), or that they travel within five days of your travel date. Next up, it’s vital that your pet is microchipped; a tapeworm treatment is administered by your vet within five days of travel; and that “Fluffy” is vaccinated against Rabies by a qualified vet (the neighbourhood charlatan will not do), after 12 weeks of age thereby giving validity for 21 days after administration.
Make that booking
What with everything we’ve been through over the past year or more regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s amazing that travel is opening up again. Yay! And it’s an industry – along with food and beverages – that we should seriously be supporting whenever we can. TripAdvisor lists an incredible range of inexpensive pet-friendly hotels. Just enter your country of preference, price range and dates, and you’re “A for away”.
There’s also BringFido, where – amusingly – the accommodation venue is rated in bones, not stars! Yes, please. Again, choose dates, number of rooms and/or pets, and you’ll be accommodated to your liking when a mutt is your favourite travel mate.
Select your destination and hotel
How about a few statistics for those of you undecided on the best county to opt for. According to TravelDailyNews, the country with the biggest number of pet-friendly hotels is Italy (18 176). Further, it’s worth considering the following countries, as regards pet-friendly hotels, when you’re travelling into Europe with a beloved fur-kid:
- Russia (10 831 venues);
- Poland (8 521 venues);
- Croatia (7 794 venues); and
- Spain (6 945).
Then there are the top-rated (yeah, five-star) pet-friendly hotel destinations. You’ll find these in:
- France (217 venues);
- UK (166 venues); and
- Italy (157 venues).
Essentially, it all depends on your priorities (luxury or budget); what you need to accomplish (from a business or personal perspective); or hope to see (from a tourist point of view).
While there are rather a lot of equations in the mix when it comes to travelling with a pet (including number of adults, kids, and more) let’s, for argument’s sake, assume you are travelling to Europe with a small pet dog. Apparently, dog ownership has increased 18 percent since lockdown hit, according to Euronews. Are people researching the benefits?
Whatever the case, pets – especially dogs and cats – have been shown in numerous studies to “reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve cardiovascular health”. While in our youth, pets are there to assist us in growing up more secure and active; in older (retired) adults, they provide valuable companionship.
Apparently, the top five pet-friendly destinations – in terms of comfortable “verblyf” (the Dutch for “dwelling in a place”) with your fur-lined friend – are the following:
- The 4-star Palazzo Castri 1874, based in Florence, which offers free wifi, breakfast included, air-conditioning, a spa and restaurant. Note: It’s only a 17min walk to the Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery.
- The 3-star Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in Melrose, Scotland, which is set on the river for all those inevitable “walkies”. It’s in close proximity to Dryburgh Abbey and Smailholm Tower, which are undoubtedly landmarks for the explorers – plus the golfers among us will be in seventh heaven. Check in with your concierge as to the best courses and how to gain access.
- The 5-star Hilton Vienna Park, which is conveniently located in Vienna’s city centre – close to the State Opera and Hofburg Imperial Palace. All guests, especially those with small pitter-patter footprints in the mix, are keen on this hotel’s proximity to public transport. All the better for exploring in between meetings, shopping and park “uitstappies” (outings).
- At the 5-star Castille Paris, one of the Starhotels Collezione, both Paris Olympia and Comedie-Française are significant cultural highlights. Don’t miss a visit to Place Vendome and Place de la Concorde; Le Trianon for a night out; and La Machine du Moulin Rouge for those with risqué after-hours inclinations.
- The 3-star, but rather grand-looking, Headlands Hotel in Wales is located near the Llandudno West Shore beach and Great Orme Country park. It really is a location brimming with natural beauty and bountiful attractions for those who value an excursion with their pet, or a foray into natural territory.
A note to the travellers: just like your biological kids, fur-kids just want to have you around. So, if you’re heading somewhere that they’re likely to get left – indefinitely – in a hotel room (however accommodating), they may be better off at home with a much-loved pet-sitter.
Read next: The Friendliest Pets to Have – Ranked!
While regional air shuttles tend to allow people to travel with their fur-kids in the cabin, such companions need to be teeny-weeny. The only exempt pets, according to SA’s Business Insider, are authorized guide dogs or assistant pets, which are only permitted to travel with their owners in the aircraft’s cabin because their owners would not be able to manage without them.