It's not all that hard to find pet-friendly lodging world-wide these days, but all pet-owning travelers do still need to check, in preparation for any trip, if pets will be welcome to avoid bad surprises at the hotel check-in.

The AAA has a pet-friendly travel guide for the United States. If you are a member, this may help you, as will some of the many online pet travel sites. Nevertheless, when planning for pet travel in areas where hotels are dense, if the website does not help you out with a "pets allowed" icon, the best way to find out is to choose a few hotels you like and simply ask, via telephone or internet inquiry.

Never assume that a particular hotel, at home or abroad, will not accept pets. You will be surprised how many hotels can host your pet and by how many nations consider traveling with pets to be a rather common way to travel. On the other hand, without the permission of the hotel, do not assume that a surprise pet will be warmly greeted. You do not want to end up very far from home and without a hotel as night closes in.

Hotel Chains

Hotel chains do not consistently have blanket policies on pets. Also, chains have various levels of service and accommodations that respond to different price points and to different local trends and needs. When booking, check your chosen chain hotel website to see if the "pets allowed" icon is visible. If so, great. But if you do not see it, call and ask. Pets may not be encouraged, but often individual hotels, especially during the recession, will make concessions to fill rooms.

Motels

Pet-friendly motels are fairly common in areas where families vacation. A motel offers easy access in and out to accommodate any needed midnight walks, although be careful about off-leash walks in places where the highway is near the door. And be careful about leaving a pet in a room where a careless service person could accidentally let your pet out.

Resident Hotels

Resident hotels that can accommodate long-term stay for consultant workers or families on the move often take pets. Many have designated pet walking areas. Even in major urban centers like Las Vegas, places like the Marriott Residence Inn offer a slot machine-free haven with grass lawns for people traveling with pets. Resident hotels often include sitting room areas and kitchenettes that make feeding and relaxing with pets easier.

Hotels

Hotels that accept pets take various approaches to accommodating your and their needs. Some charge an extra fee to allow your pet. You may try to negotiate this if your pet will not be alone in the room ever or if your pet is small or crated. Some require you to hang a "pet in room tag" on the door. Some offer pet bowls and beds. Some offer a pet menu for in-room dining. Some offer sitting, walking and pet massage services. Some have rules for designated pet walking and playing areas. Some welcome your pet at the pool and on the dining patio. Never be afraid to ask as customs vary.

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