Airbnb, Stayz, Tripadvisor – pretty much every place that offers holiday rental bookings has a pets allowed filter. On Tripadvisor, you’ll find it under ‘Suitability’ in the left bar, alongside other options like kid friendly, wheelchair access and business travel; on Stayz, you’ll find an option to select ‘Pets’ (yes or no) when adding number of guests and/or kids right from the first point of selecting destination, dates, and guests. And on Airbnb, you’ll find the ‘Pets allowed’ option on the third last filter under House Rules. In short – every holiday rental site offers the option of choosing pet-friendly homes and hotels. And that’s all round great news. If you look well in advance, you’ll even be spoilt for choice! But how do different hosts, house rules, properties and nearby attractions really add up to give you a spectacular pet-friendly home away from home?
In this article, we’ve jotted down some things we learnt through personal experience so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes we did! Read on to know basic pets on holidays etiquette that’ll ensure not just a stellar host review to help with future trips, but also an end-to-end relaxing experience for all aboard! Let’s skip right to it…
#1 Don’t assume that a pet friendly filter is enough
Different humans have different rules for their dogs. Some let their furbabies on every piece of furniture, linen and human emotion, while others leave them secure and contained in the backyard, porch, balcony or mud room. This is why a quick message to the host before booking is usually a polite (not to mention great!) idea. This especially applies to those of us who love bringing a cat along.
A short message that offers a thorough cleanup before you checkout (ask if you’ll have access to a vacuum cleaner), some questions about the host’s preferred areas for animals, and a quick description of your cat, dog or both (size, habits, behaviour) goes a long way in ensuring your host’s happiness.
While a few hosts are okay with sharing their own living spaces with fourlegged guests, most prefer to have the entire house booked out if guests bring their pets. So, don’t forget to select the ‘Entire home’ filter especially if you’re booking a trip via Airbnb.
Quick-tip: Message your ‘pets allowed’ BnB host, and make sure you are fully aware of their preferences.
#2 Read every single house rule minutely, and then read it again
It’s always lovely to leave a holiday spot as pristine as you found it, and this applies to rental homes as well. As pet parents we understand how hard it is to keep the house free of fur all year round. When we take them along for a break, this duty extends to whichever home we rent. So, unfortunately mums and dads, this means that your best friend Mr Vacuum either comes along or you get familiar with the one at your host’s place.
Roll the rugs where pooch is guaranteed to run, cover any linen that your fur friends are sure to walk over, cover any spots that the cat will definitely scratch, and have access to a great vacuum cleaner. Minimise fur-count by brushing little buds before the trip, and if yours shed the way ours do – brush them out in the backyard with your morning cuppa, and away you go!
If any homes are listed as pet-friendly, but include rules such as ‘pets off furniture’ written in ALL CAPS with 10,000 other reminders about what pets can’t do, we give them a miss. The reason: such hosts are usually used to small handbag accessory dogs or dogs that aren’t allowed indoors – which we don’t support, especially in the summer (and winter, or ever). So if any host expects guests to treat their pets as if they aren’t family, then we recommend that you keep looking. Thankfully, there are plenty who do!
Quick-tip: Read every house rule, especially to understand if there are any offbound areas within the property, and hit that cleaning routine before checking out.
#3 Look for the really really friendly pet friendly homes
Hint: these are usually hosts who have pets (playful and outgoing dogs, or cats they can’t live without!) of their own. These will be houses with fenced backyards, doggie doors, cat trees (yes they exist!), dog bowls, beds, and mentions of treats, games and closeby pet-friendly spots.
We’ve had great experiences with hosts who have chicken coops that Waldo has stared at longingly, visiting bush turkeys that he has chased with the owner’s complete and absolutely delightful permission, and host dogs and cats that Salsa has had the pleasure to first hiss at and then accept. This one’s especially easy when you’re looking for a spot along the coast near off-leash dog beaches.
Popular places include: Copacabana, Umina, Pearl, Macmasters, Ettalong, Avoca, Avalon, and more!
Quick-tip: Look for cues like ‘fenced backyard’, ‘pets very welcome’, nearby attractions like off-leash parks, beaches, walks, cafes, restaurants, and give those hosts more weightage than others who simply list under pets allowed without mentioning any pet perks.
#4 Place the litter tray in a similar setting as at home
Some argue that taking a cat for a holiday might be too stressful and not worth the trouble. If you belong to this camp, then a pet sitter is your best bet. However, if you want to encourage your cat to be a little adventurous and see a little more of the world than your own home, we recommend taking her along for a little ride.
As a first instinct, cats will likely run to a spot and hide as soon as you free them from a travel case (which you must definitely use for the car ride. No one wants to be startled by a cat while zooming down the M1). After a few curious sniffs and some ridiculously thorough investigations under the bed, she will emerge from her lair to investigate the rest of the house.
We’ve found that if we go about life as if nothing is new, our cat does come out after a couple of hours. It helps to show her where the litter tray is just before you release her into her hidey spot, and to place her bed under your bed. Every cat is different, so be sure to give yours enough space and she’ll be an avid traveller in no time.
It’s also important to secure all windows and doors, because you might have a runner on your hands and not know it until it’s too late.
Quick-tip: Carry your cat’s bed, and her favourite toy and blanket to make her feel comfortable. Show her where the litter tray is, secure all exits, and leave her be.
#5 Carry everything you need (we mean everything)
This might feel like hard work, but only makes holidays with pets a lot easier. Be sure to cover all bases, if you don’t want to be stuck with a surly cat and an over-amped dog. The rule of thumb is to take anything and everything that will make your pets’ holiday as comfortable as possible, including the ride to get there. (Check out our Ultimate Pet Travel Checklist!)
Include beds, bowls, blankets, cleaning supplies, and crates – if your dog is still being crate trained. For older dogs, bring along games like frisbees, hurdles, and tunnels. It’s also a great idea to include a cat enclosure so that your cat can enjoy the open outdoors while feeling secure.
Quick-tip: Think of your baby’s regular routine and throw in some holiday treats for the trip.
And there you have it – five steps to a pet-friendly paradise away from home. Follow these and you’ll return refreshed and ready for life in the city! And while you’re at it, why not try these other weekend guides that you can do with your fur family?