It’s been a year since I last published a post. A year that saw big changes to dog friendly travel and the world. Changes that I couldn’t have anticipated when Louie and I flew home from California in March 2019. I haven’t been on a plane since and will probably never fly with Louie again due to Emotional Support Animal policy changes. So, stuck at home, I began to explore alternative dog friendly transportation modes. I also decided to expand the pack when I met Lawrence, the Brussels Griffon.
Emotional Support Animal Changes
In December 2020, the Department of Transportation made drastic changes to the rules regarding Emotional Support Animals. Airlines are no longer required to allow ESAs onboard. As a result, most airlines now only permit small pets in a carrier under the seat. Unfortunately, that is not an option for Louie and me. He’s been such an amazing travel companion, and it breaks my heart to think we won’t be able to fly together in the future.
Louie was well trained and never disruptive on flights. Unfortunately, that was not true of all canine travelers. Many passengers brought aboard untrained dogs they claimed were Emotional Support Animals to avoid paying a pet fee. I had hoped the airlines would just start charging a fee to discourage this behavior. These Emotional Support Animal changes have a huge negative impact on those of us who truly benefited from traveling with a companion animal.
When I do need to fly again, It will be with a tiny new companion. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lawrence, the latest member of the Dog Friendly Travel pack! Lawrence (or Larry for short) is a champion Brussels Griffon show dog. Now, as a retired gentleman of leisure, he expects to see the world. Although he actually joined the family before the Emotional Support Animal changes, he is small enough to fly with me as a pet. At 3-years-old, he still weighs less than 12 pounds.
Alternative Dog Friendly Transportation
The COVID-19 pandemic struck a serious blow to the airline and hotel industries. Most people just felt it was too risky to fly or stay in hotels unless necessary. So wanderers such as myself began seeking out alternative dog friendly transportation modes. In September 2020, I joined more than 41,500 other Americans who bought an RV. According to the RV Industry Association, those September 2020 sales were a 31.2% increase over the previous year.
To me, the Winnebago Revel 4×4 is the perfect alternative dog friendly transportation. The compact 20′ Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis houses a small kitchen, wet bath, and a full-size bed. The van even an air conditioner powered by lithium batteries to keep the dogs cool when not connected to conventional power. Two solar panels on the roof keep the batteries charged even out in the “boondocks.”
I couldn’t get enthusiastic about writing this blog over this last year. With so many changes to dog friendly travel, it was hard to imagine leaving home again. Now I’m fully vaccinated and ready to explore once more! Due to Emotional Support Animal changes, I don’t expect I’ll be flying again anytime soon. Instead, Louie, Coco, Lawrence, and I will be hitting the road in our new alternative dog friendly transportation, the Winnebago Revel. Please stay tuned!