This is the last installment of the three-part series about road trips with a toddler and a dog. So let’s cut right to chase and talk about hotels. When we travel to visit family, we have to spend at least one night in a hotel on our way there and back, sometimes more. When we are with just the little guy, our options are endless. Our preferred hotel is Embassy Suites (free breakfast and alcohol? Yes, please.) but with an extra charge of $50 – $75 for a pet fee, we choose to stay elsewhere when Lucy is accompanying us on our travels.
There is a website, Pets Welcome, which focuses on pet-friendly hotels. I have browsed the site in the past, but when making a reservation, I prefer to book directly with the hotel. This ensures that I am aware of the most up-to-date pet policy of that particular hotel. But I am going to let you in on a little secret – 95% of the time, we do not make a hotel reservation.
Clay and I are not big planners when it comes to road trips. We’re very much go with the flow type and enjoy not being tied down to specific plans and reservations. I understand that not everyone is like this and that is okay. However, we find that when traveling with a toddler and a dog, flexibility is key. This way, we can alter our travel plans based on how well our little guy is traveling that day. If we’re traveling over a busy holiday weekend or staying more than one night, then we typically make reservations ahead of time. But every other time, we wait until we get to our destination for the night before booking a room.
Coupon books can be your friend. Due to Clay’s military status, we’re able to use the government/military rate for a hotel room. However, this isn’t always the cheapest option. It doesn’t hurt to stop at a rest area and pick up the free hotel coupon books in the scuzzy plastic/metal boxes that have seen more action than an Australian rugby team. The coupons tend to be for low-to-mid-range hotels so if you’re a Four Seasons type, then this tip is not for you. But if you like Hampton Inns, Hiltons, and such, then these coupon books can be a great bargaining tool when you get to your destination.
Remind yourself it is only for one night. The majority of the time, we are in a hotel for less than 12 hours when traveling on the road. While I do not advocate staying at a place that rents rooms by the hour, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that there is no need to spend $500 for one night in a hotel. I love luxury hotels just as much as the next person, but I would rather stay at one on a relaxing all-inclusive vacation, not in Des Moines, Iowa for 10 hours. We usually stick to a $100/night & under rule when choosing a hotel. With our government/military rate and coupon books (for leverage), we have been able to spend the night at some pretty nice pet-friendly places without breaking the bank.
Pet-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean extra $$$. As mentioned above, we love Embassy Suites when traveling with the little guy. But we are not willing to spend an extra $75/night on top of the $100+/night for Lucy to stay there too. Luckily, there are a couple of national hotel chains that universally allow pets for no extra charge – LaQuinta Inn & Suites and Drury Inn & Suites. Now keep in mind that for both of these hotel chains, there are some really nice ones, and some not-so-nice ones.
For example, I always thought LaQuinta’s were bottom rung until we actually stayed at a new one in Conway, Arkansas with our cat, Desi, on our move out to Oklahoma. As you can see, the rooms are quite nice. And for $85/night, our wallet doesn’t take a huge hit. Since then, we have stayed at some really nice ones throughout the country. We have also had good luck with Drury Inn & Suites. They’re a bit more regional, with most of them located in the midwest. It is best to think of them as the Diet Coke of Embassy Suites…not as nice but the same concept. So in order to avoid the scuzzy hotels of those chains, I use my smartphone to read online reviews of a particular place before booking a room. Easy peasy.
LaQuinta Inn & Suites in Lawton, Oklahoma.
We lived here for a week when we first came to Ft. Sill and were very happy with our stay.
What are some of your kid and pet-friendly hotel tips?