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5 Tips for Staying in Hotels With Dogs

After a month on the road with my two Chihuahuas, I've got a batch of tips for making hotel stays with dogs go smoothly.

Teresa Traverse  |  Nov 20th 2015


I spent almost the entire month of July on the road with my two Chihuahuas, road tripping from Washington, D.C., all the way to Phoenix, Arizona. With each overnight stop, I checked into a hotel with my dogs in tow, hauling all our stuff in and making sure Autumn and Rocket were secure whenever I had to leave the room. While on the road, I developed a few tips and tricks. Give them a try to make your next — or very first! — hotel stay with your pet a breeze.

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My dogs, Autumn and Rocket, on a hotel bed at the Hilton Squaw Peak in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Teresa Traverse)

1. Choose your hotel wisely

My favorite pet-friendly chains include La Quinta and Motel 6. Neither charges a pet fee, which is budget-friendly, as those $20-per-day fees really add up on a road trip! La Quinta also doesn’t charge for WiFi, offers free breakfast, and has a rewards program, unlike Motel 6. Because of those freebies, I ended up at La Quinta whenever I could. That being said, the chain is a bit of a mixed bag as far as quality goes. Some hotels have been renovated recently, but others have not — read online reviews to avoid any that might not be the best place for you and your dogs to stay.

2. Keep check-in stress-free for humans and dogs

I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my dogs in the car while I checked in. To avoid holding two leashes while trying to hand over a credit card and talk to the hotel staff, I held Autumn (she’s the quieter of the two) and put Rocket in a rolling crate. Although he hated being lowered into it, Rocket didn’t seem to mind all that much once inside. Once I had my key, I’d leave the dogs in our room while I brought all of our stuff inside. If you have dogs who tend to dart, shut them in the bathroom so you don’t have to worry when the room door is open.

My dog Autumn on the balcony of a hotel. Asking for a room by the stairs is a good option for many pet owners due to convenience.

Autumn on the balcony of a hotel. (Photo by Teresa Traverse)

3. Request a room near the entrance/exit or the stairs

Having a ground-floor room near an entrance/exit makes unloading and loading — as well as potty breaks — much easier. If you don’t feel safe staying on the first floor and, like me, don’t like taking your dogs on elevators because they can be crammed with other people and dogs, ask for a room near a stairwell. Autumn also hates stepping into elevators, so being hear a stairwell is a necessity.

4. Only bring the minimum to your room

To keep unloading and loading to a minimum, I would only bring their dog beds to the room if we’d be there for more than one night. Autumn and Rocket slept with me otherwise. I also simplified bringing items inside by using a rolling bag for their dog food and bowls.

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This handy rolling bag turned out to be my greatest asset when we were on the road. (Photo by Teresa Traverse)

5. Don’t leave your dogs in a quiet room

If I had to leave my dogs alone in the hotel room, I would leave at least one light and the TV on. This distracted them from hallway and other noise. I also shut the curtains if people walked by often, to keep them from barking. And I placed the “Do not disturb” sign on the door and asked housekeeping staff not to enter my room if I wasn’t there.

Some hotels ask that you not leave your dogs alone in the room. Or if you do, that they be secured in a crate. That being said, any hotel that allows dogs doesn’t usually enforce this policy as long as your dogs are quiet. Use your best judgment with this one, though, as hotel staff can ask you to leave if your dogs are causing a ruckus.

Rocket loved hanging out on the couches and chairs in our room. He liked being able to see everything from up high. (Photo by Teresa Traverse)

Rocket loved hanging out on the couches and chairs in our room. He liked being able to see everything from up high. (Photo by Teresa Traverse)

Pretty much every hotel I stayed at did a good job accommodating my pets. Each one had an area of grass (or was near one) where my dogs could use the bathroom and walk. Most even had a potty station. My dogs are cute, and I got plenty of compliments that made me smile. If you’re willing to do the extra work, it can definitely be worth it to bring your furry friends on your next road trip!

Read more on traveling with your dog: 

About the author: Teresa K. Traverse is a writer, editor and traveler based in Phoenix, Arizona. View her clips at teresaktraverse.com. You’ll often find her playing with her two long-haired Chihuahuas, Autumn and Rocket. Check out their Instagram.