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Navigating Dog-Friendly Travel in 2024: Data, Insight, and Expert Tips

Sam Tetrault photo

Sam Tetrault

June 15, 2024

Sniffspot Community

Navigating Dog-Friendly Travel in 2024: Data, Insight, and Expert Tips thumbnail

We know dog owners navigate the world a little bit differently. Whether they're planning a family outing or a week-long getaway, dog-friendly travel has its challenges. From pet policy changes and extra fees, finding dog-friendly travel isn't as straightforward as you might think.

That's why we've put together this dog-friendly travel report — so dog owners (and those who support them) can check in with the current state of travel with Fido.

With the majority of dog owners in North America reporting they travel with their pets at least occasionally (over 50%), we know that dog owners have their own tips and tricks for exploring with their furry friends. We asked our audience to answer key questions about how they travel with their dogs, and we're excited to share their responses with you — along with dog-friendly travel tips from seasoned pros.

Previously, we covered:

Now, let's dive deeper into the stats behind dog-friendly travel according to the 6090 total responses from the Sniffspot community:

How Often Do You Travel with Your Dog?

How often does the Sniffspot community travel with their dogs? Stats and tableSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

How Did We Compile These Stats?

First, let's cover the background information so you understand how we created this guide to the state of dog-friendly travel. We're lucky at Sniffspot to have a community of dog experts and dog lovers willing to share their expertise.

Over 6000 users responded, covering a wide range of demographics and backgrounds. We then compiled these stats into this easy-to-digest guide. Not only is it designed to help you make dog-friendly travel plans, but it's a reminder to travel brands to consider ways to make travel more accessible to furry friends.

Through our research, we quickly learned that dog-friendly travel isn't one-size-fits-all. While the majority of dog owners in our community have traveled recently with their pets, their answers depend on:

  • Their geographic location
  • Their dog's reactivity/anxiety level
  • Travel budget
  • Age and generation
  • Travel preferences
  • Dog-friendly vacation destinations (San Diego, California vs. Charlotte, North Carolina, for example)

With that in mind, traveling with your dog shouldn't feel like being stuck in the doghouse. It's a chance to create new memories with this four-legged member of the family.

Generational Dog-Friendly Travel Trends

To begin, a quick breakdown of our responses shows that just about every generation likes to try pet-friendly travel:

Dog-Friendly Travel by Generation

Dog friendly travel by generation statistics and percentagesSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

Of the generations above, the most likely to travel with their dogs frequently or very frequently are Millennials and Gen X, closely followed by Gen Z. Meanwhile, those of older generations are more likely to leave their pets at home.

How Frequently Do You Travel with Your Dog? (Millennials & Gen X)

How frequently do Millennials and Gen X travel with their dogs?Source: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

These generations, in particular, highlight a lot of personal benefits to traveling with their pets. These include companionship, knowing their pets are well taken care of, and even saving money.

Why Do You Travel with Your Dog?

Stats on why sniffspot dog owners travel with their dogsSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

Millennials are also the most open to sharing tips about their dog's travel. Here's what a few recommended for owners looking to travel with their dogs:

"Planning ahead, thinking about what activities my dog will enjoy most, being prepared to change plans if they need it, bringing familiar things with me to help them feel more comfortable in lodging spaces."

"Know your dog. If they are an anxious homebody, please find a pet sitter you trust and leave doggo home instead! Considering hotel fees and such, it likely won't be that much more expensive, and you and your dog will both be happier. If traveling, build in some fun doggo stops (like mini-hikes or dog-friendly beaches), and bring doggo's bed/blanket/something cozy from home."

Of course, it's not all smooth sailing. Anyone who has traveled (with or without a pet) knows that things happen. Millennials and Gen Z, specifically, highlighted significant challenges when traveling with dogs. Here's what they said:

Millennials:

  • It's hard to find pet-friendly accommodations (22%)
  • It's difficult to work on training when traveling (17%)
  • It's hard to keep up with my dog's exercise and pet relief breaks (16%)

Gen Z:

  • It's hard to find pet-friendly accommodations (24%)
  • It's hard to keep up with my dog's exercise and pet relief breaks (19%)
  • I struggle to find dog-friendly transportation (16%)

Younger dog owners are also more likely to choose an alternative over a hotel. The majority of travelers who use Airbnb, VRBO, or a dog-friendly cabin with their dogs are Millennials (46%) or Gen X (28%). These younger travelers say they opt for a rental because:

  • It's more private and comfortable
  • There are fewer restrictions (no or flexible pet policy)
  • You can find a backyard for your dog

Which Generations Are Likely to Use a Vacation Rental?

Which generations are most likely to use a vacation rental like airbnb or vrbo based on sniffspot user dataSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

Elder Travel with Dogs: Comfort and Convenience

Next, we want to focus on how those in older generations travel with dogs. Our key takeaway is that this group values comfort and convenience — and we can't blame them for that!

Older travelers (Silent Generation and Baby Boomers) are 5% less likely to travel with pets compared to their younger counterparts. To be specific, 28% of Baby Boomers travel rarely or less often with their pet. Only 14% of Baby Boomers travel very frequently with their pets.

What's causing those in their golden years to leave their pups behind?

  • Accommodation (26%): The majority of Baby Boomers cite finding pet-friendly accommodations as the biggest hurdle to traveling with pets. While dog-friendly hotels and dog-friendly cabins exist, they come at a cost.
  • Exercise (18%): Almost 20% of Baby Boomers struggle with getting their pets enough exercise and stimulation when they travel.
  • Training and behavior (16%): Similarly, Baby Boomers worry if their pets can keep up their training and behavior needs while on the road.
  • Human stress (13%): It goes without saying, but traveling with a dog is stressful.
  • Transportation (13%): Though more travel and transportation companies are creating dog-friendly policies for guests, it's still hard to make arrangements for hotels, planes, trains, and so on.

What Are Your Biggest Struggles When Traveling with Your Dog? (Baby Boomers)

What are your biggest struggles when traveling with your dog according to sniffspot researchSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

Luckily, many of our trusted community members were open with their best travel tips for any age:

"Allow extra time for them to exercise and go potty. Don't rush and stay relaxed so they will be relaxed."

"Make plenty of time for changes in plans! Pack your love (and a lot of patience)."

What Types of Dogs Do People Travel With?

Let's take a closer look at the types of dogs our community travels with when they hit the road. From different breeds, sizes, and temperaments, no two furry friends are exactly alike.

When it comes to traveling with pets, size matters. It's easier to travel with a small pet for practical reasons — like meeting airline or hotel room size restrictions. However, we still found that, by far, most of our readers travel with their mixed-breed dogs (39%), followed by Pitbulls, German Shepherd Dog (GSD), and Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.

What Are the Most Common Dog Breeds Amongst Travelers?

What are the most dog friendly travel breeds based on sniffspot user data?Source: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

Though small dogs are generally more travel-friendly, the majority of our readers reported they're comfortable traveling with their medium (25- 50 lbs) and large dogs (50+ lbs).

What Size Dog Do You Travel With?

What size dog do you travel with? Data based on sniffspot user dataSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

Additionally, we asked our audience whether they considered their dog anxious or reactive. Over half (68%) said yes, and this impacts how they approach traveling with dogs. Travelers with reactive or anxious pups are more likely to be concerned about:

  • Privacy: It's important to know if/when you'll interact with other people, dogs, or animals. Reactive dog owners value privacy above all else, usually opting for road trips, private rentals, or hotels with greater space.
  • Dog behavior modification: Reactive and anxious dog owners are usually proactive with their dog's training, and 13% of our travelers worry about their dog's behavior when traveling.
  • Dog-friendly activities: Finally, it's a challenge to find dog-friendly activities (like dog-friendly beaches, dog-friendly hotels, and so on) when your pup is reactive.

Our reactive dog owners are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to traveling with an anxious dog. They share great advice:

"Don't expect your dogs to behave better or even as well as they do at home. It is very common for dogs to exhibit unwanted behaviors, anxious, reactive behaviors, destructive, stressed, protective, and aggressive behaviors when they are in unfamiliar environments, routines, smells, sounds, and energy. Prepare for the worst, protect your dog and yourself from a negative situation by being aware. Set her up for success."

"Our reactive dog does SO MUCH BETTER at Airbnbs and vacation rentals. I highly recommend choosing a place with more space when traveling with your dog."

Sniffspot Dog running on field

Get safe exercise for your dog by renting a private dog park near you

Dog-Friendly Travel: The Cost

We can't talk about dog-friendly travel without talking money. We asked our community to share their experience traveling with their canine companions when it comes to costs.

With the average dog boarding stay costing over $50/night, it's not exactly cheap to leave your dog behind either. Despite rising boarding costs, only 3% of our community said traveling with their dog was much less expensive than traveling with their pet.

How Does the Cost of Traveling with Your Dog Compare to Traveling Without Your Pet?

How does the cost of traveling with your dog compare to traveling without your pet? Stats from sniffspot user dataSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

As you can see, the majority of dog owners believe traveling with their pet is at least similarly expensive (92%) to boarding your pet. Because of the cost, many people have looked into alternatives like a different destination or method of travel. Of our roughly 6000 respondents:

  • 36% - Chose a different destination
  • 43% - Chose a different mode of transportation (airplane, car, etc.)
  • 47% - Chose a different accommodation
  • 39% - Chose different activities

These changes above were all due to the costs and challenges of dog-friendly travel. Only 12% reported having to make no changes to their travel plans due to the cost of traveling with a pet. From dog-friendly restaurants to dog-friendly trails, it's not as simple as booking a vacation package through your favorite travel site.

Our community chimes in on some of the changes they've had to make when traveling with their dog(s):

"I love visiting places with my dog, but she's not always welcome. For example, National Parks usually don't allow dogs. While some cities like San Diego or Austin are hot spots for dog-friendly travel, there aren't that many destinations for dogs."

"Taking a family vacation with our dog isn't very easy! He's furry family, but finding pet-friendly restaurants and dog-friendly destinations in our home state of North Carolina is a big task. We've had good luck in Lake Michigan, Bar Harbor, and Key West, but you need to do your research."

The State of Dog-Friendly Travel: When Is Fido Left at Home?

Last but not least, not all dog owners choose to hit the road with their pets. As you can see from the results above, there are a lot of costs, factors, and considerations when traveling with your pet.

Many of our community members were quick to share how challenging it is to travel with their dogs, especially when things don't perfectly line up.

"We usually have dogs with special needs so my partner and I don't travel together so one of us can stay home. We've never vacationed together in 15 years."

"I don't travel with my dogs to hotels. If I do travel, it's to a family or friend's house so we all feel more comfortable."

"Instead of overnight trips, I like to go to dog-friendly restaurants, dog-friendly breweries, and off-leash dog parks in nearby towns. It's way easier than planning an overnight trip with a favorite hotel chain (that might not welcome dogs)."

When owners choose to leave their pets behind, where do they go? The majority leave pets with trusted friends or family (52%), followed by leaving them at a kennel (24%) or in-home professional sitter (20%).

How Do You Secure Your Pet When You Leave Them Home?

What do you do with your dog when you travel? Stats from Sniffspot user dataSource: Sniffspot User Travel Report 2024

You know your dog best. Our community of experts encourages dog owners to consider their pet's comfort first and foremost.

"Plan your trip around what will actually work for your dog. Leave them home or with a sitter if it's not a good situation for them."

"I've found my dogs are most comfortable when I leave them home with a sitter or friend who can exercise them and keep them in their usual routine. Fun activities aren't always pet friendly."

"Be honest about whether the trip is really right for your pup. If not, for example it's hot or you can't find dog-friendly restaurants, leave them at home. They'll be more comfortable."

Get your dog the safe enrichment they need by renting a Sniffspot

Sniffspot Dog swimming in pool

Debunking the State of Dog-Friendly Vacations

We've officially shared our insights from our 2024 state of dog-friendly travel research. These stats and figures are representative of the Sniffspot community, a passionate group of dog enthusiasts who understand that not all dogs have the same needs.

Are you thinking of traveling with your pet? We're here to help:

Have you traveled with your dog? If so, how does your experience relate to the stats and figures above? What are your favorite dog-friendly vacation spots?

Sam Tetrault photo

Sam Tetrault

June 15, 2024

Sniffspot Community

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