Rod and Amy Burkert run GoPetFriendly.com a site that lets travelers find pet friendly accommodations so they can enjoy extraordinary travel experiences with their pets. They’re currently traveling across the US and Canada and were kind enough to answer a few questions about their trip, website, and pets.
Rod, where are you and Amy traveling and why?
Our goal is to spend three weeks a month traveling throughout the US and Canada. We hope much of the travel will be in an RV that we plan to acquire later this year. Our goal is simple. We travel with our dogs to make it easy for other people to travel with their pets … so more businesses will become pet friendly … which will make it easier for more people to travel with their pets … and so on.
How many places have you been and where are you headed now?
Unofficially, we have been traveling with one or two dogs since 2001. Most of that travel has been in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, the midwest states, and New England. We launched GoPetFriendly.com in June and on August 23, we left on our first “official” road trip with our two dogs – 3500 miles over 24 days. We started in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. We’ve traveled due west through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. As I write this, I am in western Wisconsin visiting family. We are planning a side trip to Iowa to look at RVs. Then we are headed north through Minnesota to Kashabowie, Ontario for a fishing vacation. We’ll return home over the north shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron, then over to Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and finally back home by way of New York’s southern tier.
How are you financing your trip (i.e. savings, promotions)?
My wife and I are on sabbatical from our day jobs (we ran our own business valuation firm). So in our reinvented lifestyle, our current trip is being financed with savings. As word spreads about who we are and what we do, we believe revenue from our web site will finance our travel.
How does traveling with two dogs change the experience of travel?
Certainly pet travel requires patience and flexibility. But mostly we believe pet travel enhances the experience because it relieves the stress of wondering how your pet is faring if you left them with a sitter or kennel. I don’t know about you, but I won’t have a good time on my trip if I’m worried about my dogs. For people traveling with children, we think you give kids a different set of memories and teach them a different set of responsibilities – that you don’t need to leave the family pet behind in order to travel.
What should travelers consider before setting off on a trip with their dog or cat?
The most important thing to consider before heading out on a trip is training your pet so that you will all enjoy the experience. Start with short trips in the car to fun places – take you pet along when you run errands or go to a local park. You want your pet to associate being in the car with having fun – not a trip to the vet! Work your way up doing the things you’d do if you were on vacation – take a longer drive, eat out, even spend a night in a hotel. You’ll encounter challenges that you’ll want to work on before you head out for a two-week trip. With dogs, remember to practice all obedience commands in new locations because it will be harder for them to do what they are asked in unfamiliar situations.
Your website, GoPetFriendly.com is a great resource for travelers with pets, how do you get all of that information?
The basic hotel information on the site is obtained through an affiliation with HotelsCombined. All of the hotel pet policies, campground information, activities and service providers were gathered by brute force – a telemarketing firm made tens of thousands of telephone calls, and we gathered data from various travel guides, web sites, and Twitter.
How are you managing blogging and getting online on the road?
Most hotels and campgrounds offer free or fee-based wireless internet connections. In the event that falls through, we purchased the Verizon MiFi 2200. If we have cell phone coverage, we can get on the internet with the MiFi. All that being said, we were dark for five days when were fishing in Kashabowie, Ontario due to its remote location. The best laid plans of mice and men …
Finally, any plans to extend into international destinations as well?
That’s a good question. While foreign travel is a blast, we have no plans to extend our coverage outside of the US and Canada. To travel beyond those points ourselves we would have to fly our dogs, and that is something we just wouldn’t do with the options currently available.
Rod I appreciate you taking the time from your busy schedule to answer a few questions. Aside from the GoPetFriendly website you can get more updates on the road by following Rod and Amy on Twitter @GoPetFriendly and their blog GoPetFriendlyBlog.com. You can also check out my more pet-oriented interview with Rod on my other blog How To Travel With Pets.