Ruffing It: Traveling with PETS

Win a Kimpton Hotel stay and copy of author and pet travel expert Kelly E. Carter’s new book, a road map for traveling with four-legged friends


Kelly and Lucy in Madrid

Kelly and Lucy in Madrid

Respected journalist and New York Times best-selling author, Kelly E. Carter, has written for various publications such a People, USA TODAY, Elite Traveler, Departures, and others. For the past 10 years, she’s jetted around the globe with her beloved dog, Lucy, in tow. Inspired to share her stories and experiences traveling with her four-legged friend, she launched her website The Jet Set Pets, which led to her being the AOL PawNation’s pet travel expert. Even Lucy, a longhaired Chihuahua, has been a blogger for AOL.

In 2013, National Geographic approached her to pen a book on traveling with one’s canine companion. “It’s pretty interesting that National Geographic noticed how important pets are to people these days and came up with the idea for this book. It really says a lot about how far pets have come in this country,” observes Carter.

Book coverHer book, The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel, released in April 2014, is a user-friendly, in-depth guide to the best places in the U.S. and Canada to travel with your furry buddy.

Wandermelon caught up with Carter to find out about the best pet-friendly destinations and all of the unexpected things you can do with your furry pal these days. In case you haven’t noticed, our society has become a wee bit pet-obsessed in the last couple of years, or as Carter says, “We are pet fanatical.”

According to Carter, traveling with pets is at an all-time high with “many hotels and restaurants welcoming dogs with open paws. More than 60 percent of the hotels in the U.S. take pets right now.”

So what surprised her most writing this book? “How many places you really can go with a pet! I admit, I have the quietest dog in the world and she only weighs six pounds. But who knew I didn’t have to sneak her in to so many places,” she laughs. Carter relays that finding a hotel is the easiest thing in regard to pet travel, but the good news is that now you don’t have to leave your little furry friend behind as you explore a new place. “From museums in Savannah and art galleries in Santa Fe to rose gardens and restaurants, so many places welcome dogs these days,” chimes Carter.

Most Pet-Friendly Destination
According to Carter, the number one spot she has found is Carmel by the Sea. “There’s no other place as welcoming to dogs,” she says emphatically. “A local woman and her 136-pound German shepherd joined me at “Yappy Hour” at The Cypress Inn. As you stroll through Carmel, you see everything from tiny teacups to mastiffs and Great Danes walking along the street or in the art galleries and boutiques. If a place is dog friendly, it does not have any size restrictions, which is unusual. The best part is that the entire beach is off-leash year round. Bone appétit rings true here as more than half of the restaurants allow dogs and some have a dog menu or a chef who will cook for the canine. Carmel wins paws down.”

Another cutting-edge dog-centric place she discovered while writing the book was in Dallas—Mutts Canine Cantina. “It’s a decent size dog park with separate areas for big and small dogs, and a wine and beer garden and restaurant for their humans. People can go there after work, have a nice glass of wine and meal, and chat with their friends at the dog park while the pooches play. Usually, it’s pretty boring at the dog park as you’re just sitting around, so this is a great alternative. Denver has these places, too, so Dallas and Denver are at the forefront.”

Carter’s book is divided into regions and specific cities with the inside scoop on the best places to stay, play and dine with your dog. She also digs up unique activities that welcome canine companions such as surf lessons, kayak tours, seaplane rides, afternoon tea, and pet-friendly painting classes.

Canine Cruise in Chicago

Canine Cruise in Chicago


So what’s one of her favorite hometown events? “Hornblower Cruises hosts ‘Dog Day on the Bay’ here in San Francisco, which is a champagne brunch and cruise around bay for a couple of hours with dogs. Chicago also has these canine cruises every Sunday during summer. San Diego and Alexandria, Virginia, too.”

Other unexpected experiences with your dog? “There are so many pet-friendly wineries in Yakima, Washington, Napa, and Sonoma. Some of them have special activities like the Kunde Family Estate in Sonoma that does a four-hour hike, lunch, and wine tasting with your dog … and I love good wine.”

After reading Carter’s book you’ll also be in the know about Doga (dog yoga) in Scottsdale, surf lessons with the So Cal Surf Club in Del Mar, and the Barkus Mardi Gras Parade for pets and owners before Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. The list goes on and on.

Pampered Pooches

In-room massage at Esperanza Resort

In-room massage at Esperanza Resort

Carter also dishes out decadent doggie experiences that go way beyond a good meal and grooming. “In-room dog menus and spa treatments are the new trend.” At La Quinta in Palm Springs you can have a side-by-side massage with your dog. CocoJor Emporium & Spaw on Oahu offers a Minicle Microbubble treatment that cleans and detoxes the dog while the pet-parent enjoys a massage and scrub simultaneously. At Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, dogs can get a 30-minute in-room massage in a lovely casita. Even the pet expert herself was surprised at the slew of spa services for dogs at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena. “There’s Swedish massage, acupressure, stretching, myofascial release, paw care, and cold stone massage—it’s hilarious,” she admits.

Kelly and Lucy pre-helicopter

“There is no end to the decadence,” declares Carter. “At the Waldorf Astoria Towers, dogs are served their meals on fine china. And not long ago, I met a man in Saint Tropez who had an oxygen mask installed for his dog in his private plane. There’s also a woman in Carmel who has a company Sit ‘n Stay Global. She is a pet flight attendant. Seriously. Celebrities and business executives hire her to travel with them when they want to bring their pet to a meeting or on the set. She goes to Dubai and Rome, everywhere,” she laughs. “What a business!”

She discovered another pooch perk at a Kimpton Hotel that left a lasting impression: “They have a pet concierge button on the telephone. So I pressed it and asked if they could come walk my dog, as it happened to be raining. I brought my dog’s raincoat, but had forgotten mine. A nice gentleman happily came to my room and took Lucy out for a walk. I gave him a $20 tip when he came back.”

At the touch of a button. Anything you need for your furry friend. Apparently, it’s doggone good to be a dog these days.

Palomar_L.A._137She expounds, “My favorite pet-friendly hotel chain is Kimpton because there is never a fee and no restrictions on size or quantity. A guest can bring a baby elephant and, as long as it can fit through the door, it’s welcome at Kimpton. If Kimpton can do it, why can’t every hotel? I’ve stayed at several Kimpton properties with my pooch Lucy and each time I’m amazed at how caring the staff is not just with my dog but other four-legged guests at the hotel. I get a kick out arriving and seeing Lucy’s name on a chalkboard welcoming her to the hotel. But the best thing is Kimpton guests can bring their furry friend to wine hour, a complimentary one-hour event that takes place nightly at every Kimpton. And for the guests who don’t bring their dogs, well Kimpton has goldfish on hand, and some of the hotels have in-house dogs called Director of Pet Relations on hand.

Paws up to Kimpton!”


Lucy in Florence

Lucy in Florence

So does Carter have any pet peeves? “So much research reveals that people are better off health-wise if they have pets, and traveling with them may make them happier or not as stressed out. I don’t have a problem when someone has a doctor write a note for them that states they need an emotional support animal. What I do have a problem with is if the emotional support animal is not well-behaved. I always caution people and suggest that guardians take their dogs to obedience school to make sure it can pass the Canine Good Citizen Training Program. Be a good pet parent. Don’t make it hard for the rest of us who like to travel with our pets. It really just takes one to spoil it for everybody.”

Book coverFor a chance to win Kelly E. Carter’s new book The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel and a two-night stay at a Kimpton Hotel, please go to the Wandermelon Facebook page and LIKE us, then post a mention of your favorite pet-friendly destination and a picture of your furry friend if you are so inclined.


One lucky winner will be randomly chosen by the wandermelon staff and will receive a copy of the book plus a two-night stay at the Kimpton Hotel of their choice (availability subject to blackout dates and other restrictions).

Winner will be announced August 18, 2014.

Photos courtesy of Kelly E. Carter




















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