Top Pet Friendly Travel Trends for 2020

Dog and Cat in suitcase

With the arrival of the new year, it’s time for Petswelcome to report on the top pet friendly travel trends for 2020. Every year in January, we compare notes from the feedback we get from visitors to our site to find out what they’ve been up to. We also check in with other travel professionals and scour the web to find trends that haven’t yet caught our notice, ones that might be happening in the overall travel sector but have not yet become apparent in the pet travel niche.

This allows us to get ahead of the game a bit and see if trends taking place for non-pet travelers could be equally applicable to people who travel with pets. In some cases, we’ve discovered overall trends that pet owners can utilize in completely unique ways and have made some suggestions on how to do so.

Of course, there are some travel trends for 2020 that don’t lend themselves to bringing a dog or cat along. For example, the growing popularity of “Hipster Cruises,” like Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages—that are designed to appeal to Generation Y and Z. They are obviously not geared for pets (except for service animals) because pets aren’t allowed on the majority of cruise ships. Also, trends that are based around great dining experiences such as Underground Supper Clubs and Vegan Vacations, not because dogs don’t like eating, of course, but because the other guests probably won’t appreciate your Lab giving them the “You gonna finish that?” stare for the duration of their meal.

However, the good news is that many of the overall travel trends for 2020 work perfectly, we’d say even better, if you bring a pet along so we’re including those trends—ones that might not seem pet specific—in this year’s list. Many of the trends we’re seeing—toward low impact, slower, and shorter travel—almost seem old hat to pet owners because our animals have been pushing us in that direction for years. That’s because they are smarter than we are. But feel free to take the credit yourself. They won’t mind at all—as long as you don’t leave them behind.

The Top Pet Friendly Travel Trends for 2020

dog and cat on hotel bed

More Hotels are Pet Friendly and Offering Premium Amenities for Pets

Overall, the world is getting pet friendlier. Pet industry spending hit a new high in 2018 totaling $72.56 billion according to the 2019 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. With regard to travel, they found that 45 percent of dog owners take their pets with them when they travel for at least two nights. The percentage increases to 52 percent with millennials.

Hotel owners have taken notice. Everyday Petswelcome is adding more hotels to our listings and, increasingly, these hotels are not just “allowing” your pet, they’re catering to them. Amenities such as food and water bowls, pet beds and outdoor runs, as well as services including pet friendly concierges and doggie room service. Some hotels and resorts are taking it to another level that we cover below in a trend called Transformational Travel.

And, of course, many people have jumped on the pet-friendly Airbnb bandwagon, where they can find awesome lodgings as well.

Footprint of man and dog on the sand

Low Impact Travel

One of the most sweeping travel trends for 2020 is Low Impact Travel. With the rising awareness of the negative ecological effects of flying on planes or long car trips, travelers have become much more sensitive to the impact of their own footprints (and pawprints) when they decide on a vacation.

This trend manifests itself not only with regard to their mode of transportation but also where they decide to go, many choosing “second” cities or destinations—another popular trend—to avoid the negative effects of overcrowding in the most popular cities and tourist attractions. Instead of heading to New York City, for example, they might choose the Hudson Valley, which is nearby but avoids the “overtourism” that descends on Manhattan in the summertime.

Pet owners, especially those with larger dogs, have been ahead of this curve. They tend not to fly anyway and are usually quite content to stay away from the throngs that might cause undue stress for their animal.

Tiny/Micro Trips

Unsurprisingly, there is a growing trend away from taking one or two long vacations a year. This is due to a number of reasons, first and foremost being the changing workplace. Now that many people are involved in the gig economy or work on-line and/or freelance from their homes, they do not have the time or economic flexibility for two-week trips. Small getaways for 3-4 days or an extended weekend allows them to visit more diverse places and fits much better into their lifestyles.

This is especially true if they own pets. Shorter vacations avoid the disruption in your pets’ routines, as well as the separation anxiety and, last but not least, the prohibitive costs of boarding or finding pet sitting for long periods of time.

Hiking at Red Mountain Resort
Hiking at Red Mountain Resort

Transformative Travel

People are increasingly unsatisfied by just getting the hell out of Dodge and lying on a beach for a week and drinking tequila (though, in the interest of honest reporting, I’ve got to say none of us at Petswelcome feel that way….).

Instead, they want to be transformed. To feel something deeper and more profound. Something that will give a sense of meaning in their lives. Though we find nothing wrong with the occasional 6-day blowout, we totally understand that urge and, in that vein, have seen the pet-friendly travel industry rise to the occasion.

Many hotels and resorts have moved beyond the standard notion of “pet friendly” and offer wonderful, transformative experiences for both humans and pets by providing the possibility of adopting a pet from their premises. The Inn by the Sea in Portland, Maine, not only offers a premium pet package the includes a dog bowl, personalized dog bed, pet toy and gourmet menu, they also offer the opportunity to adopt a pet. In partnership with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, the inn fosters one dog at a time that guest can walk and play with and, finally, adopt. The Red Mountain Resort promotes “voluntourism vacation” experiences where guests are offered opportunities for exploration and personal growth.  In one of these programs, guests are paired with a dog from the St. George Animal Shelter to take on a hike through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.  Now that’s what we call transformative!

Woman with dog on the beach

Slow Travel

Slow Travel is a new trend that many people are exploring to make their vacations less hectic and more meaningful. Instead of rushing around trying to take in as many tourist sites as possible, slow travel offers the opportunity to relax more, get to know a destination better, and make meaningful connections. It is a perfect trend for pet owners who don’t want to worry about where to take their pet for dinner every night or to find a pet sitter while they head to another non-pet-friendly museum or historic site.

Instead, they might rent a pet-friendly vacation rental or pet friendly Airbnb so they can live like a local and settle down to get a real feel for the landscape as well as the local traditions, cuisines and way of life.

Man and Dog about to go rafting
Ready for rafting!

Adventure Pet Travel

On the other hand, if adrenaline is your thing, then maybe you’ll want to kick it up a notch. That’s what a lot of millennials are doing. And why we’ve included it in the top pet friendly travel trends for 2020. It makes sense: if you’re going to take your pet along, you might as well make her an integral part of the trip. The vacation will not only be more fun for the animals, but also for the whole family.

To that end, you might want to head to Colorado and do some skijoring, cross country skiing, or fly fishing with your favorite animal at the Devils Thumb Ranch.  Or hit the rapids at Colorado River Runs. We guarantee a great time will be had by all.

Grandparents with grandkids on vacation
Time to go Scamping?

Gramping

We’ve all heard of Glamping (Glamourous Camping) but a new trend in travel is Gramping. That’s when grandparents take their grandchildren on vacation, giving the parents a welcome break from child-rearing while allowing them to spend some quality time with each other. It’s a win-win-win for the grandparents, parents and the children.

But what has this got to do with pet travel you may ask? Well, nothing, except we see an opportunity for the lucky mom and dad to get back to basics and scamper off on a trip of their own with just their pets in tow while grandma and grandpa entertain the kids. What a wonderful way to recharge the batteries and reconnect not only with each other but with the four-legged members of the family, too. Let’s call it Scamping. It sounds both mischievous and fun. Who knows? It could become the next big trend.

Ancestry Travel

With the huge success of Ancestry.com and 23 and Me, genetic testing has become all the rage. Many people have turned their DNA results into a wonderful opportunity to travel to the regions their ancestors came from. We think, because we are sickly focused on traveling with a pet, that a neat twist would be to go on a trip that explores your pet’s ancestry.

Of course, you can buy a DNA test kit for your dog to see what he’s made of. But we’re not suggesting you pack up your Bernese Mountain dog and head off to Switzerland. That could be very interesting but, let’s face it, a bit of a hassle. Instead, if you’ve got a rescue, then go visit the shelter it came from and make a trip of it. Or if you bought your dog from a breeder who lives in another part of the country, take a vacation there and have your dog re-visit his family. Or, finally, you can take your pet to one of the places we mentioned that offer pets for adoption and let him romp around with them. You might even let him help pick one out to add to your growing family. Then you can all go back again next year!

No matter what you have planned for your travels this year, we hope you find some inspiration and fantastic journeys using our Top Pet Friendly Travel Trends for 2020.

Bon(e) Voyage!

 

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