The History of Pet Travel

THE TRAVELING PET OF THE PAST

Up until the late 1980's, only the wealthy traveled with their pets, and only a few upper end hotels catered to them. Travel was primarily by automobile, or, in some cases, by private rail cars.

In 1989, a TWA airline attendant by the name of Gayle Martz wanted to take her Shih Tzu on an airplane with her. Frustrated by the current airline rules, she designed a bag that would carry her pet and would fit under the seat in the cabin. Named the Sherpa Bag, it became the world standard airline in-cabin bag for pets. Gayle petitioned nearly every airline to request that they change their policies and allow pets on board the aircraft. One by one, the airlines were convinced that allowing a well behaved pet in the cabin would increase their customer satisfaction as well as their bottom line.

About the same time, the founder of Pet Travel, who owned a travel agency, watched his manager struggle to find pet friendly accommodations for him and his pet Shih Tzu when they traveled. The website www.pettravel.com was created as a database of pet friendly accommodations. At the time only a few thousand were listed; now the number is over twenty six thousand.

THE TRAVELING PET OF THE PRESENT

For those traveling pet owners who like to visit other countries, the world became a more pet friendly place in the year 2003 when the European Union adopted new rules. These new rules made it possible to enter an EU country from any country with a low incidence of rabies, such as the United States, without the pet having to go into quarantine. This greatly improved the importation of pets into rabies free countries such as the United Kingdom.

In 2006, the International Air Transport Association, IATA, the governing board for the world's airlines, began adopting rules to safeguard animals being carried in the cargo hold of the aircraft. In 2008, the IATA came out with more stringent rules on how a pet crate should be designed and manufactured to insure that pets could not escape and would not be injured while traveling in the cargo section of the plane. Rules for worldwide pet travel were clearly defined, and the traveling pet owner became more knowledgeable about how to keep their pet safe and compliant when traveling on an airline.

In the meantime, more traveling pet owners have sought out pet friendly accommodations, and large chains such as Red Roof Inns and LaQuinta announced that a majority of their hotels were pet friendly. A survey conducted by Starwood which includes W, Sheraton, and Westin Hotels, found that 76 percent of pet owners would be more loyal to a hotel chain that accepted pets, even when the owners didn't travel with their pets. Innkeepers of B&Bs and small inns have also realized the wisdom of welcoming the traveling pet and their owner. These guests are more likely to stay longer, return more often, and recommend a pet friendly inn to their pet owning friends.

THE TRAVELING PET OF THE FUTURE

The future has never looked brighter for traveling pets and their owners. The internet has greatly encouraged worldwide travel. Businesses are expanding overseas, and employees who are relocating are taking their pets with them. The baby boomer generation is retiring, becoming "empty nesters," getting pets, and taking them along in their travels. More military singles and families are assisted in bringing their pets with them when they are reassigned.

We see more outdoor dining in cities all over the United States, and pets are accommodated more frequently. Dog parks are springing up everywhere, and are extremely popular with all age groups.

Rescue groups are more organized in years past, and are closely working with city and county animal control departments to encourage pet adoptions. Charitable events are being held across the country with animal causes at the forefront of fundraising.

Most importantly, more hotels, inns and vacation rentals are becoming pet friendly. In addition, those lodgings who have been "allowing" pets now realize the importance the pet traveler is to their revenue, and are offering incentives such as pet menus, pet sitting services, pet beds, toys, messages, and more services. These innkeepers realize that this is a small price to pay for a guest that will return time and time again to a place where they and their pet are welcome.

PetTravel.com will continue to provide traveling pet owners with up to date information on pet friendly lodging, immigration, and airline rules on all kinds of travel that allows pets. We intend to be a part of the growing trend that caters to traveling pets, and encourage pet owners not to leave their best friend behind when they travel.