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Ask the Traveler: How can I travel with my dog?

 “Sit” and “stay” were easy, but you need a little help with “happy trails”? You’re hardly alone in the struggle to balance wanderlust and pet parenthood.

First, let’s talk vacation type. Are we camping? Hiking? Outdoorsy trips generally get 2 paws up. Even wine tasting can be great, given many wineries’ outdoor seating and dog-friendly policies. But a weeklong theme park extravaganza? Probably not. Bottom line: If you want to spend big chunks of time at places where Fido can’t join you, you’ll both be happier if he stays home.

And while poodles may dream of Paris, air travel can be a real nightmare. Not only does each airline and airport have its own restrictions, but flying also poses health risks to pets. Many experts, like the Humane Society of the United States’ John Goodwin, advise against unnecessary air travel.

“The fact is, driving is just a safer, less stressful trip for them,” Goodwin says. Just be sure to plan plenty of water, potty, and stretching breaks.

As for researching your destination, that might take more digging than you’d think. National parks, for example, seem like no-brainers, but many restrict dogs to paved roads and campgrounds. Less-trafficked outdoor areas can be safer bets, but rules vary. Likewise, check state and local regulations regarding beaches.

If you’re metro bound, seek out pup-friendly patios, green spaces, and off-leash dog parks in advance. And if you want to spend an afternoon visiting a museum, arrange for a local pet sitter or kennel before you leave home.

Where you stay depends on your itinerary, and there are lots of options.

Hotel chains across the spectrum welcome floofs these days, and some even boast pup-centric room service menus. Many provide lists of pet-sitting services and dog-friendly dining in the area. For longer stays, rental homes are often more practical. You’ll forgo frills, but having a yard can be worth it.

In either case, be sure to get clear on size, breed, and other restrictions and, says Goodwin, set aside time to familiarize your pet with the new digs. Maintaining routines like morning walks and mealtimes can help smooth the transition into vacay mode. So can familiar scents, like toys or blankets.

See? With a few adjustments, your best friend can be your best travel buddy.

Writer Jessica Fender is based in New Orleans. She’s a frequent contributor to AAA publications.

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Where to take your furry friend

In Utah, Bryce Canyon Country offers mind-blowing scenery, miles of trails, and red-carpet pet accommodations. While pups in the area’s eponymous national park are limited to paved surfaces, 4-legged hikers are welcome to dog paddle in Dixie National Forest’s Blind Lake or marvel at Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument’s formations.

In nearby Kanab, the Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile—an extension of arguably the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary—welcomes furry friends with its dog-washing stations, 2 cats-only rooms, and even a doggy splash zone.

Keep an eye on your pup wherever you are

Those of us whose pets are die-hard homebodies will love the Eufy Pet Dog Camera D605. This Consumer Electronics Show award winner lets travelers watch, record, talk to, and toss treats to pets via smartphone. And 16 gigs of storage means no monthly subscription fees. $199.

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AAA travel alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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