8 Tips for Finding Pet Friendly Vacation Homes

Taking your beloved pets along with you on vacation is one of the biggest travel comforts and conveniences you can give yourself and your furry family members. However, finding suitable pet friendly accommodations for your trip isn’t always easy.

Many hotels have pet restrictions, hassles like excessive pet fees, and simply aren’t set up to comfortably host pets beyond just allowing them. That’s why renting a pet friendly vacation home is such a better option when traveling with animals.

Vacation rental homes provide the proper spaces, amenities, and overall pet accommodating environment to make your trip easy and low-stress for you and your pets. But you need to do your homework to find the right pet friendly rental property.

Here are 8 great tips to help you locate the perfect vacation rental home that welcomes your pets and keeps everyone comfortable and happy during your stay.

1 Specify Your Needs Upfront

The very first step in finding an ideal pet friendly vacation rental is to be upfront about clearly specifying your pet needs and requirements from the start of your search process. Don’t be shy or worry about “limiting” your options—being transparent prevents surprises and hassles later.

Details to include in your vacation rental search:

  • Types of pets (dogs, cats, etc.)
  • Number of pets
  • Sizes/breeds of pets
  • Pet ages
  • Any special pet needs like puppy, senior, anxious, etc.

Having all of this pet information listed upfront in your vacation rental inquiries allows owners/property managers to properly evaluate if their specific rental is a good fit for your animals. It also prevents situations where you think a place welcomes pets, only to get pushback or extra charges later due to mismatched expectations.

For example, if you’re traveling with multiple large breed dogs over 50 lbs, that requires much different accommodations than just a small cat or two. By clearly stating your pet details from the get-go, you won’t waste time looking at rentals that can’t properly host your specific animal needs.

The other major reason to be upfront about pet details is for your rental host to properly prepare for your stay and set appropriate pet rules and fees if allowed. This transparency allows you to fully comply with any pet policies instead of violating rules you didn’t know existed.

Overall, being an honest, upfront customer showcasing you’re a responsible pet owner who cares about following pet protocols puts you in a much better position to find awesome pet friendly vacation rentals made to fit your animals’ needs.

2.Book Properties Listed as “Pet Friendly”

This may seem obvious, but a shockingly common mistake pet owners make is assuming that just any vacation rental property will allow pets by default. Always be sure that your specific rental listing you’re considering is clearly marketed as “pet friendly.”

Vacation rental owners have the choice whether or not to allow pets on their rental properties. And while an increasing number do permit pets these days, many still have “no pets” policies or only allow them case-by-case. You can’t just assume pets are allowed unless the listing explicitly states they are pet friendly.

Most major vacation rental listing sites like Vrbo, Airbnb, and local rental company sites have search filter options to only show you the rental properties that allow pets. Be sure to check the “pet friendly” box as one of your main search filters before even considering listings.

When you see rental listings without “pet friendly” clearly stated, don’t book them if you plan to bring pets along. Always double check the full listing details, rules, and owner policies regarding pets too before finalizing. If it doesn’t 100% verify pets are permitted, keep looking for one that does.

A bit of research upfront into the listings being honestly marketed as accommodating pets saves you major headaches. You don’t want to show up to a rental assuming pets are okay, only to have an unhappy owner turn your animals away upon arrival or charge you hefty fees and penalties.

3 Look for Pet-Specific Amenities

To create a truly pet friendly vacation experience for you and your animals, look for rental properties that have pet-specific amenities featured in their listings.

Basic pet friendly simply means pets are allowed on the premises. But pet-specific amenities show that the rental was designed and prepared with pets’ needs in mind to make it ultra accommodating, safe, and convenient for furry guests too.

Pet amenities and features to look for in vacation rental listings:

  • Fenced yards
  • Dog runs/walkways
  • Pet doors
  • Outdoor pet showers
  • Pet-proof outdoor play areas
  • Food/water bowls included
  • Pet beds/furniture included
  • Pet toys & treats included
  • Pet cleaning fee included
  • Pet waste station areas
  • In-home pet crates/kennels
  • Easy access to pet services nearby

Vacation homes with amenities like those show that the owners are truly pet friendly, not just pet tolerant. It means your animals will have the spaces and provisions they need for a comfortable stay just like human guests.

For example, a rental home with an fenced, pet-proofed backyard play area is far more pet accommodating than having to keep your dog cooped up in the rental all day or risk letting them roam free somewhere unfamiliar and potentially unsafe.

Or bringing your pet’s belongings like bulky crates, beds, toys and having a rental already stocked with those items avoids major hassles versus having to try packing all that for travel.

4 Check Pet Policies & Fees

Even if a vacation rental listing does market as pet friendly, be sure to dig into the details about exactly what that means for their specific pet policies and associated fees. You want to know upfront about any rules, restrictions, or costs related to bringing pets to avoid surprises.

Common vacation rental pet policies to check for:

  • Allowed pet types
  • Pet size/weight limits
  • Number of pets allowed
  • Required pet documentation
  • Acceptable pet behaviors
  • Use of pet crates/kennels
  • Designated pet areas
  • Pet waste disposal rules
  • Consequences for damage/messes
  • Pet fees or pet rent charges

Some rentals just have a simple blanket pet fee, while others charge per pet size/type or have pet rent (like a daily charge). And fees can range anywhere from an incidental $25-50 per stay to $50+ per pet per night—a big cost difference. It’s critical to know these financial responsibilities before booking.

And of course, a big red flag is seeing extremely restrictive rules like only allowing pets to be crated/kenneled 24/7 or expressly prohibiting them on any furniture. Part of the whole appeal of a vacation rental is your pets being free to relax and feel at home just like you!

But reasonable policies like requiring updated pet vaccines, crating unattended pets, containing pets to certain areas, and properly disposing of waste show a responsible pet owner mindset that most vacation rental hosts appreciate.

The main reason to fully check all pet policies versus just “pets allowed” is being able to clearly agree and feel good about complying with all the rental’s rules for your specific animals. Pet owners willing to meet all stated policies also have much stronger leverage if there are ever disputes over cleaning fees or damage claims on either side.

5 Communicate with The Owner (continued)

Or perhaps you learn that the owner has specific requirements like crating pets when unattended, paying a high pet fee, or not allowing pets on furniture—policies you may not be comfortable following with your pets.

These types of potential mismatches and issues are much better discovered through upfront communication than just assuming the rental works based on a simple “pets allowed” listing. The conversations give you clarity to decide if the situation is indeed pet friendly enough for your specific animals and vacation needs.

Conversely, if the owner communication goes well, you both feel great about the accommodations, and they provide helpful pet trip tips for the area, those positive vibes reinforce booking that rental with confidence.

Don’t be shy about asking plenty of questions! Responsible vacation rental owners appreciate inquiries from conscientious pet owners looking to fully comply with rules. The more you communicate openly, the better you can evaluate if the rental is the right pet-friendly fit.

6 Read All Reviews Mentioning Pets

Another hugely valuable resource when vetting potential pet friendly vacation rentals is to thoroughly read through all guest reviews that specifically mention pet experiences and observations. These firsthand accounts are great for seeing how pet-friendly rentals actually are in practice.

When sifting through reviews, be sure to look for:

  • Positive reviews praising pet accommodations
  • Negative reviews criticizing lack of pet friendliness
  • Specifics about pet amenities, spaces, rules enforced
  • Anecdotes about pet-related damages, messes, fees
  • Owners’ responsiveness to pet issues or needs

Essentially, the reviews mentioning pets give you the raw, unfiltered truth about real experiences and insider perspectives you won’t necessarily get from just the rental listing itself. If there are tons of glowing reviews highlighting awesome pet accommodations, that’s incredibly reassuring.

On the flip side, multiple negative reviews from pet owners dealing with excessive fees, lack of amenities as promised, or difficult pet policies could indicate a rental that just begrudgingly allows pets versus going above and beyond to create a great pet accommodating experience.

You’ll also want to look for extremely polarizing review patterns. If none of the reviews mention pets at all, that could signal a rental that simply doesn’t get many actual pet guests despite allowing them on paper. But if the reviews repeatedly mention pet issues like flea/pest problems, smells, messes, damages, etc., that’s a huge red flag about a poorly maintained, pet-unfriendly property.

Be sure to not just cherry-pick reviews either. Read through them all, both positive and negative, to get the full picture of the pet experience. If the reviews show responsible pet owners being satisfied and respectful of fair rules, that’s a very positive sign the rental is truly excellent for pet guests. But if the reviews reveal a pattern of difficulties like lack of pet areas or excessive fees despite being listed as “pet friendly,” you’ll want to avoid that rental option.

7 Ask For Pet-Specific Photos

Speaking of not just taking listings at face value, another smart tactic when searching for awesome pet friendly vacation rentals is to ask owners for actual pet-specific photos of the property beyond just the standard listing photos.

The listing photos rental owners post are usually just the most pristine, staged shots highlighting a property’s most attractive features from a customer’s perspective. But those photos likely don’t provide clarity about the specific pet accommodating areas and amenities at that rental.

By requesting additional pet-focused photos and videos from the owner, you can get a much better sense of the true spaces and conveniences available to accommodate pets. Super pet friendly owners will be happy to share those supplemental pet visuals.

  • The actual size and security of outdoor pet areas
  • If indoor pet spaces seem appropriately sized for your animals
  • Potential safety concerns like lack of pet-proofing
  • If included pet amenities are adequate for your pets
  • Convenience of pet waste disposal areas
  • Overall maintenance and cleaning levels for pets

For example, the rental listing may tout a “fenced backyard” as a pet amenity. But upon seeing actual photos, you may realize the backyard fencing has gaps your pet could easily escape through or notice the area looks overgrown and unkempt.

Or the owner’s listed pet amenities like “dog bed included” look nice until you get pictures and see it’s just a tiny, worn-out pad unsuitable for your large dog’s size and comfort needs.

These sorts of revelations from pet-specific photos/videos give you crucial insight into the true accommodations that basic listing details can easily gloss over or misrepresent. You’d much rather discover issues through supplemental media before booking an unsuitable rental versus showing up in-person to disappointments.

Conversely, if the owner’s pet visuals showcase large secure outdoor areas, well-appointed pet amenity setups, convenient pet stations, and clean, tidy pet-proofed spaces, those give you confidence that rental lives up to its pet friendly billing.

Be sure to study the pet photos and surroundings critically from your animals’ perspectives too. A vacation rental owner may perceive something as adequately pet friendly, but those photos could highlight blockers like lack of shade, unsafe hazards, or just generally nonideal pet accommodating setups.

The bottom line is, don’t just take a listing’s “pet friendly” marketing at face value. Insist on actually seeing realistic, pet-focused photos and video walkthroughs to evaluate if that rental truly meets your pets’ accommodation needs before reserving.

8 Consider Pet Sitting Services

This tip is less about finding a pet friendly vacation rental and more about also considering backup pet sitting and boarding options in conjunction with your rental booking just in case. Despite extreme diligence, sometimes vacation rentals end up not living up to their pet friendly claims after you arrive. Having a Plan B for pet accommodations gives you contingencies.

Let’s say you book a rental listed as “pet friendly” and it seems to check all the boxes from your research. But when you get there, you realize it’s not nearly as accommodating or they enforce overly restrictive pet policies that weren’t as clearly defined. Issues like:

  • Meaningful pet amenities misrepresented or not provided
  • Fencing/pet areas aren’t actually secure for your pets
  • Excessive barking noise limits due to close neighbors
  • Safety hazards or lack of pet-proofing overlooked
  • Unreasonable guest responsibilities like having to crate 24/7

Rather than being stuck in an unsatisfactory vacation rental situation with your pets, you could fall back on quality local pet sitting services or boarding facilities you previously lined up as backups.

Having a pre-planned backup to utilize pet sitting or kenneling your animals at least gives you options beyond just suffering through a rental that’s not actually pet friendly despite being marketed as such. That way you can remove your pets to better accommodations while still enjoying the rest of your vacation.

It simply adds a contingency safety net in case the rental has any dealbreaker pet issues that weren’t clear until you got there. You’re not completely stuck between returning home early or risking pet dangers just to get your money’s worth from the rental.

Local pet sitting services like:

  • Dog walking visits
  • In-home pet sitting
  • Doggy daycare
  • Overnight boarding
  • Puppy cams for monitoring

They give you different interim options to still have your pets cared for nearby until you can either get the rental situation rectified, find a new pet friendly property, or make other arrangements.

The key is lining up pet sitting services near your vacation rental location before you even need them. By having options pre-planned, you’re not scrambling last-minute to find pet care backups after already arriving to the disappointing rental situation.

Hopefully you won’t need these pet sitting alternatives after diligently vetting vacation rental properties! But for everyone’s safety and your overall peace of mind, it’s smart to have a pre-planned pet care backup option just in case that rental falls short of being truly pet friendly once you arrive.

Finding a really great pet friendly vacation rental takes diligent research, open communication with owners upfront, and routinely managing expectations with realistic assessments.

By following the 8 tips of:

  1. Specifying pet needs upfront
  2. Booking properties explicitly listed as “pet friendly”
  3. Looking for pet-specific amenities
  4. Checking all pet policies and fees
  5. Communicating with the owner
  6. Reading pet-related reviews
  7. Asking for pet-focused photos/videos
  8. Considering local pet sitting service backups

You’ll dramatically increase your chances of finding a vacation rental home that is authentically welcoming, accommodating, and utterly pet friendly for you and your animal companions.

It allows you to create an amazing vacation experience where your beloved pets are just as comfortable as you in their “home away from home.” No more worries about pet-unfriendly airlines, hotels, or other travel nightmares. With the right pet friendly vacation rental, you can embark on stress-free travels with your furry family members in tow!

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