Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like a family holiday if someone’s missing and that includes our furry and feathered friends. While it can take a little effort to make arrangements for a pet while on holiday, it certainly isn’t impossible and the rewards of having your pet with you certainly outweigh the extra planning.
We’ve compiled some of the best locations to take a trip with your animal companion and whether it’s an action-packed holiday in the South Seas or soaking up the culture in Europe, there’s something to inspire everyone when planning their next holiday.
Channel hopping, France
Cats and dogs can travel to Europe provided they have followed the requirements under the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS). Permitted pets can travel on Eurotunnel, certain ferry routes and certain flights.
Check with Defra, the official government website (defra.gov.uk) for a list of permitted routes. Tell the airline or ferry company when you book your trip. See our Travel Handbook for more information.
Walkies, Lake District, England
Stop the daily “walkies” becoming a grind, with a trip to the scenic Lake District, where there are miles of footpaths to suit every walker, from energetic young terriers to arthritic white-haired labradors.
Many hotels in the Lakes welcome dogs and their equally muddy owners. Try Burnside Hotel in Windermere, where dogs are welcomed, or Brantfell House in Ambleside, where each dog receives a free sausage every day.
Touring by train, Switzerland
The Swiss have quite a penchant for small dogs. And as they hate to be without their beloved pooches, dogs are welcome on trains (even the posh ones like the scenic Glacier Express).
If your dog is titchy (30cm at shoulder height or less) and happy to travel in a carrier, it’s free. Otherwise dogs must have a half-price, second-class ticket. Don’t forget to write DOG in the space reserved for the passenger’s name. No, we’re not kidding. Swiss authorities also require an export health certificate in addition to Pets passport documents.
Chasing balls in the Borders, Scotland
Peebles golf course near Edinburgh is just one of the attractions of this old town on the river Tweed. Surrounded by hilly Border country, Peebles is equally popular with keen walkers, fishermen and their canine companions.
While the humans are off on the hallowed green, Cringletie House Hotel and its spacious 28 acres welcomes dogs, for a daily fee. Fussy eaters can even have meals prepared by the chef.
Go barking, Belgium
Belgium has got to be one of the most dog-friendly places in the world. Ghent even has a special water fountain at ground level especially for dogs. The city was also the first place in the world to establish a police dog force.
Ghent is also a picturesque place for a stroll with Gothic architecture galore. Dogs need a general health certificate to enter Belgium, obtainable from your vet not more than seven days before travel, as well as the Pets passport documents.
Gastronomic delights, France
The French love their dogs. Many restaurants let well-behaved pooches sit under their owner’s table to wait for gourmet scraps. Most country hotels allow pets, though some make a surcharge and, as always, you should check before booking.
French authorities require an Export Health Certificate in addition to Pets passport documentation, which are available from a government-authorised local vet. Camp sites may ask for evidence of rabies vaccination.
Surf and turf, Tropical Islands
Several exotic Pacific isles are now included in the Pets scheme so your dog or cat can enjoy tropical sights and sounds in islands like Vanuatu, French Polynesia and Fiji, while you soak up the sun.
Other countries that have entered the scheme are mainland USA, Ascension Island, Australia, Bermuda, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, St Helena and Singapore.
Sunny siestas, Spain
Spain is one of the most popular holiday destinations for us Brits – and the things we love about it – long sandy beaches, tasty tapas and gentle Mediterranean seas will appeal to our pooches too.
Avoid southern Spain in summer as it’s too hot and crowded for our furry friends. Instead head to the cooler, regions of northern Spain or hit the Costa del Sol in spring and autumn when it’s less crowded. The Spanish are sticklers for paper work, so make sure you keep your dog’s papers with you at all times.
Home away from home
Sometimes you just want to pack up the car and set off, without the hassles of PET certificates, flights or ferries. So for a home away from home, check out the wide range of country cottages in the UK and Ireland.
Whether you fancy running along Cornish beaches or hiking over purple heather on a Scottish moor, there are numerous holiday homes that welcome dogs. Buy a copy of the AA’s Pet Friendly Places to Stay for more information.
Pampered pooches, Berkshire, England
Both you and your pet can enjoy a luxury break at famous Cliveden. While you lounge in the spa or play a round of tennis, your dog’s personal sitter will take it for walks around the grounds, once home to the wealthy Astor family.
Other dog-friendly spoil-yourself hotels in the south of England include Woolley Grange in Bradford-on-Avon, near Bath; Whately Hall in Banbury, Oxfordshire; and The Feathers, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.