Admit it. While you’re jetsetting across continents, dancing in bars and dining on exotic delicacies, deep down you’re thinking about faithful Sir Barksalot, who is back at home in a boarding kennel, whining at a picture of you.
You’re not alone. On Facebook, we asked our readers to tell us what they miss the most about home while traveling, and the majority of respondents revealed that above all, they miss their pets.
I must concur. There isn’t much unconditional love to be found in hotel lobbies and airport waiting lounges. Sure, customs’ drug-sniffing canines are cute, but we’re not supposed to pet them (which I discovered the hard way). When you need to scratch your pet itch while traveling, consider the following options.
In the Doghouse
Retreating into the belly of a giant dog may be taking the whole “man’s best friend” thing a little too far. Nevertheless, lodging is available inside the world’s largest beagle at the Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho. Visitors are invited to “Experience the Dog!” by circling three times before dozing off in a dog-themed room inside a massive two-story canine named “Sweet Willy.” There’s even a cozy loft inside Willy’s head, where one can squirrel away and think dog-like thoughts. Don’t forget to bring your dog-print pajamas and collection of self-help books.
Puss and Boat
Amsterdam’s De Poezenboot (or in English, the Cat Boat) is the only houseboat-cum-animal sanctuary in the Netherlands (and possibly in the world, I’d wager) — and it’s open for tours. Anyone who’s been inside a Dutch houseboat knows they’re typically quite small, so the tour is brief. You walk in, you look at a room full of cats, and then you leave. When I last visited the Cat Boat, one particularly angry feline growled at me from atop his cage while I stood at a distance, calling to him sweetly. A staff member told me, “He’s beautiful, but the nasty thing’ll bite your hand off.” Despite this one unbalanced animal, I got my cat fix — there were a few less menacing creatures onboard.
I’ll Have a Large Coffee and a Domestic Shorthair
Tokyo, land of avant-garde pop-culture trends and humanoid robots, is igniting a fad that combines two popular pastimes: cats and caffeine. At Tokyo’s cat cafes, dozens of resident felines weave between the legs of coffee-drinking cat people, and patrons pay hourly fees to pet purring balls of fur while sipping on lattes. According to CNN, as many as 100 cat cafes are operating in Japan.
Why not free Sir Barksalot from his kennel confines and take him on a cruise? There’s only one ship that permits pet-owners to bring their four-legged counterparts onboard: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. The luxury ship boasts an onboard pet kennel, plus a “Pets on Deck” program that provides fresh biscuits, beds and blankets, pet toys and more. Fees range from $500 to $700 per cruise, which isn’t too shabby considering at-home kennel costs can be comparable. Plus, professional cruise photos of you and your Airedale make fabulous Christmas cards.
Have a Cow
Farm Sanctuary, a shelter for farm animals rescued from stockyards and slaughterhouses, has a charming bed and breakfast at its Watkins Glen shelter in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Guests stay in private cabins (daily vegan breakfast is included) and are invited to help out with farm chores and explore the Sanctuary grounds. Choose to sponsor an animal prior to your visit and you’ll get a V.I.P. tour that includes a personal meet-and-greet with the cow, duck, goat, chicken or other barnyard creature you’ve generously funded. Companion animals are welcome.
For more information about hitting the road with your dog or cat, read Traveling with Pets.