Pack Your Pooch

Kelly E. Carter and her road dog Lucy plan their next journey using  The Dog Lover's Guide to Travel 

Kelly E. Carter and her road dog Lucy plan their next journey using The Dog Lover's Guide to Travel 

If you've never dreamed of traveling with Fifi, or haven't taken a vacation in years because Rover wasn't welcomed at hotels in the past, then you're in luck. Times have changed and a new book, The Dog Lover's Guide To Travel (National Geographic) written by best-selling author and The Jet Set Pets founder Kelly E. Carter is a tail-all travel guide for you and your pooch.

In addition to reporting on which hotels in the U.S. and Canada roll out the red carpet for dogs with amazing amenities such as plush beds, doggy massages (it's true), and in-room doggy dining menus, the book also dishes out all you need to plan a complete and satisfying petcation to please the entire family.

" I write about the best dog parks, dog-friendly beaches and hiking trails in each area along with dog-friendly restaurants, tourist attractions such as museums in Savannah and New York that welcome dogs, pet-friendly art galleries in Santa Fe, the best groomers and spas to keep Fifi looking spiffy after romping in the sand, boutiques, doggy bakeries and even annual events so people can schedule their trip accordingly. An added bonus is the Insider tip from a local."

Kelly and her long-haired chihuahua Lucy have been traveling together since 2001, and have vacationed throughout Europe, the U.S.A., Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. I sat down with Kelly, and lovable Lucy too, for a pow wow (or would it be a paw wow?) and asked her for some tips on pet-setting in style.

You mention dozens of spots in your book. Are there some standouts for you that you've visited with Lucy?  What about in your hometown of San Francisco---what's Lucy's favorite hangout?

One of the trends I discovered while researching this book is the combination of dog parks and watering holes. What a brilliant idea! I fell in love with Mutts Canine Cantina in Dallas. Canines can socialize in a fenced in area where they are watched by attendants and people can sit at tables with their friends and sip wine, beer and cocktails plus eat. It’s the place for Dallasites to gather after work. Denver also has a few of these places. But my all-time fave place is Cypress Inn in dog fanatical Carmel-by-the-Sea. Actress and animal activist Doris Day co-owns this joint where dogs rule. Yappy Hour takes place daily and you see everything from teacups to Danes INSIDE. I’ve never seen anything like it. When we’re in San Francisco, I like to take Lucy to Le Marcel, a doggy bakery in the Marina/Cow Hollow. This place is so pretty that it rivals any bakery for humans. The treats are all-natural, wholesome and human grade, baked right in front of you. Walk down Union Street and the aroma sucks you in. A bonus is the rear “paw” tio where pets and their people can enjoy a meal together. (Humans have to bring their own food.) Lucy loves going here.

Tell us something that would surprise a dog owner to learn about the ease of pet travel?

Many people think there are animal quarantines in places like France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Untrue. The United Kingdom was notorious for its six-month quarantine but two years ago the UK brought its procedures into line with the European Union, thus allowing pets to enter from any country in the world as long as they meet certain rules, which vary depending on the originating country. Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. never to have a case of rabies, still has a 120-day animal quarantine but there is also a little-known direct release program that allows travelers to leave the airport with their pets the same day. It’s costly and you have to start the paperwork four months in advance but it’s good to know that pets can vacay in Hawaii too.

For pet owners new to travel, what are some key things to ask of a hotel before making the booking? Do you go for the best amenities for your dog first, or your own comfort?

The first thing you want to know is the pet fee as this can prohibitive for some people. That’s why I like Kimpton Hotels, which never charge a pet fee and have no restrictions on the number of pets or the size. And size often does matter. Many hotels have weight limits on pets, ranging anywhere from 10 to 50 lbs. I suggest to people who have larger, well-behaved dogs to make YouTube videos of their dogs that show their demeanor. If you can prove to a hotel that your Brutus would be an ideal guest, sometimes they will make allowances. Some hoteliers say they would rather have a large, quiet dog than a small, yippy purse pooch. Not that my Lucy would ever bark, of course. When booking a room, my needs come first and then Lucy’s. But I like to know what amenities are provided. It sure is nice when hotels provide beds and bowls because it’s less for me to pack -- although not all dogs want to sleep where another dog has slept. I figure if a hotel is charging a pet fee, the least they can do is provide pick-up bags and bowls.

What about a book on international locations for doggies with passports? Any plans?

Because I’m so well-versed on traveling internationally with a pooch and my website,, focuses on the global pet community, then an international version of The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel seems like the logical follow-up book. Pups can have a wonderful holiday in Prague, Vienna, St. Barths, anywhere in France, Rio and so many other exciting destinations. And know that doggy passports aren’t just for international petsetters. I recommend all pet parents carry a doggy passport because it’s a convenient place to keep track of their pup’s vaccinations and records. Plus, it’s just cool to whip out a doggy passport!


Read more about Kelly E. Carter on her website.



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Kimberley Lovato

Kimberley Lovato has written about travel, lifestyle and food for national and international publications and websites including National Geographic Traveler, Executive Travel, American Way, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveller (UK), Ryan Air, b.there, Easy Jet Traveller, and, among others. She is the author of a Michelin Guidebook on Brussels, where she lived for six years Her culinary travel book, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, about the Dordogne region of France, won the "Best Travel Book" nod in 2012 from the Society of American Travel Writers, as did her personal essay, "Lost and Liberated," which also appeared in Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 8. When she's not plotting her next trip or her annual pilgrimage to France, she resides in San Francisco where she is a correspondent for BBC's Passport Blog, a student in Stanford University's Creative Writing Certificate program, and a brave mother of a teenaged girl.