It’s the Chinese Year of the Dog, so if pet-loving clients are planning a short break, perhaps it’s time to treat Fido, too.
The Pet Travel Scheme means there’s no longer a six-month quarantine on return to the UK if you’re visiting certain countries. And with more carriers – by air, sea and rail – welcoming man’s best friend aboard too, travel-loving pet owners don’t need to fork out for kennels and feel guilty about leaving part of the family behind.
For a nation of canine-lovers it’s welcome news and operators say demand for dog-friendly breaks is growing. Headwater Holidays introduced specially adapted walking routes suitable for dogs last year in the Dordogne and the Jura and has added a new route in the High Alps for hardier hounds this year.
PR and business development manager Rachel Goldrick said: “We’ve seen a lot of interest – I think it’s a growing thing. People don’t like leaving their dogs at home when they go away and, now that it’s possible, many prefer to take them with them.”
But while you can set off at the drop of a bone if you’re holidaying within the UK, to go abroad you need to plan ahead. To get their ‘passport’, dogs must be micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies six months before travelling and then treated against ticks and tapeworm a couple of days before they return (for information see Defra.gov.uk).
Here’s Travel Weekly’s guide to five trips not to be woofed at.
Why?It’s easy. There’s no need for a pet passport or planning ahead. Simply put the precious pooch in the car – making sure he’s secure and not a distraction – and hit the road. Wherever clients may be, there’s plenty of pet-friendly accommodation dotted around and endless options for long, countryside walks. Maybe hire a holiday home, so you can relax with the place to yourselves – or check into a hotel with dog-friendly policies. Even some luxury hotels will accept four-legged friends.
At Cliveden House in Berkshire, dog walkers will take pets out in the impressive grounds and parkland, while owners wallow in the spa or turn their hand to a spot of tennis – and the chef will prepare a special doggy meal. Surrounded by great walking country, the Silverdale Hotel in Seaford was voted as AA Pet Friendly Guest Accommodation of the year in 2005, with dogs staying for £5 per night.
Sample product:Superbreak features a range of hotels that have rooms suitable for pets. Cliveden House costs £161 per person per night including breakfast, dogs stay free (but there is a charge for dinner). All Travelodges around the UK cater for up to two dogs per room at £10 per night. The three-star Ramada Ayr Hotel in Scotland is free for dogs, but humans pay £55 per person per night between May and September.
Why?As with destinations within the UK, no preparation or documentation is necessary to take pets across to Ireland. Ferry operators include Stena Line which operates three routes to the Republic of Ireland – and one to Northern Ireland. Dogs travel free of charge but aren’t allowed on the passenger decks and must remain in the car or in kennels on board (subject to availability). To explore the south, the crossing from Fishguard to Rosslare takes just 110 minutes on the Stena Express, or three-and-a-half hours on Stena Europe. From here, it’s not far to some of southern Ireland’s highlights: unspoilt beaches, and beautiful countryside stretching inland and to the south, with walks to get any tail wagging.
For clients looking for alternatives offering short travelling times without a need for a ‘pet passport’, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are among options worth considering.
Sample product:Ferry travel between Fishguard and Rosslare costs from £69 for a car and one person with Stena Line, with extra passengers from £15 each and dogs travel free. For dog-friendly accommodation try Riverrun Cottages in Terryglass, from £420 for seven nights, with commission paid to agents (go to Riverrun.ie). For the Channel Islands, dogs travel free with car passengers on Condor Ferries. Foot passengers pay a charge of £10 and the dog must be in a cage.
How? By train or ferry
Why?Travelling with Eurotunnel (the shuttle service, not Eurostar) is a popular choice for anyone taking a pet to France. Drivers can remain in their vehicle with their animal and it only takes 35 minutes to reach the other side – great for nervous travellers of all species. There are plenty of ferry options too – P&O Ferries and Brittany Ferries both accept pets on some routes – but the Chunnel offers the quickest and easiest solution. France is a nation of dog-lovers (I’ve even seen a poodle dining out in a restaurant with its mistress before), so the welcome’s usually warm. From the Eurotunnel exit at Calais it’s not long before you’re surrounded by green fields. Eighty per cent of France is countryside, meaning there’s a wealth of options for canine fun, whether it’s by the coast or inland.
Sample product:For a walking holiday with the Jura mountain range as a backdrop, Headwater Holidays Jura Vineyard Walks costs from £549 per adult, based on two people sharing, including Eurotunnel crossings, six nights’ accommodation and walking maps, and £50 for dogs, available May 13 to September 20. The new 10-night High Alps Walk costs from £599.
Why?DFDS Seaways now allows dogs on its Newcastle- Amsterdam route. Purpose-built, different-sized kennels suit any breed, from chihuahua to great dane, or pets can remain in the car for the overnight crossing. Passengers can visit their animals once during the night, but regular checks by staff ensure the animals are comfortable. DFDS Seaways UK sales manager Andrew Crowe said: “We introduced it in response to demand. It works well, it’s an evening crossing and you get there in the morning with the whole day ahead. At £30 return for your dog it works out much cheaper than kennels too.” While Amsterdam is pet-friendly enough, self-catering holidays staying outside the city are popular. It’s a short drive to Holland’s open landscapes, promising lots of interesting walks, but it’s easy to get to other countries too, such as neighbouring Germany, Belgium and even France. Ghent in Belgium’s a dog-friendly place – there are even special fountains with drinking bowls for dogs at ground level.
Sample product:DFDS Seaways offers two nights at the Ibis Center Hotel in Amsterdam from £481 for two adults and a dog, including a two-berth cabin on the Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry in June. A charge of €5 per night for the dog is also payable directly to the hotel.
Why?If your client longs to jet off to sunnier climes but can’t bear the thought of leaving Fido behind, several carriers on selected routes will let pets travel too. GB Airways, Excel Airways Cargo, Britannia Airways, British Airways and Cyprus Airways all accept dogs on certain flights to Larnaca and Paphos from different departure points in the UK. They may travel on the same flight, in special areas of the hold, or they may need to book onto a separate cargo flight. The ticket price generally depends on weight. Accompanied animals travelling as ‘baggage’ simply go to the airport terminal with their owners, while those travelling as cargo go to the cargo terminal. Once there, the unspoilt Troodos Mountain range offers hours of spectacular walking and there’s lots of pet-friendly accommodation in villas or farmhouses away from more developed resorts. Other possible choices for furry fun in the sun include the Majorca – GB Airways, Britannia, BMI and Monarch will accept dogs – and Tenerife, which is served by several dog-friendly routes from London, Bristol and Manchester.
Sample product:A ticket for an average-sized labrador flying from London to Larnaca with British Airways as cargo would cost around £900 return in June, including all handling fees.
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