Remember when VRBO was kind of edgy? When you wondered whether it was really a reliable way to make your vacation plans? VRBO and HomeAway now feel like solid, dependable resources, and their sites reflect their maturity. Among other things, you can search for properties using a variety of parameters (including whether a property is pet-friendly) to narrow your choices. To find edgy now, you need to look at a new crop of sites offering couch space, floor space, rooms, and apartments and homes for short-term rental (or not so new — CouchSurfing, for example, has been around for over ten years).
Prompted by a recent New York Times article (“Europe Without Hotels”) about “peer-to-peer hotels” or social B&B networks, I took a look at all the peer-to-peer sites I could find to see how easy it is for a traveler with a small dog to locate pet-friendly places to stay.
Here they are, in alphabetical order. Have I missed a favorite resource/site? Let me know in a comment, and I’ll check it out!
Airbnb — Find a shared room, private room or apartment/home in 150 countries. No way to search for pet-friendly properties, but you can see if a property you’re interested in is pet-friendly by clicking on “Amenities” and seeing if “Pets Allowed” is checked or barred out.
CouchSurfing — Find a couch, or just share a coffee or a drink with a host, in countries around the world. No way to search for pet-friendly properties, but the listings typically say whether the host has a pet or not, and you can ask if yours would be welcome.
Crashpadder — Find a sofabed, a room or an apartment/home in 64 countries. No way to search for pet-friendly apartments, and pets aren’t typically mentioned in descriptions. Contact the owner directly. [7/21/10 As you’ll see in the comments, Stephen from Crashpadder suggests that you send an e-mail to hello [at] crashpadder [dot] com asking for a list of dog-friendly options in the location you’re interested in.]
HouseTrip — When I first wrote this post, the choices available from HouseTrip were limited, and there was no way to search for pet-friendly properties (individual listings sometimes stated, under “Suitability,” that dogs are unwelcome). Inspired by a recent Facebook post from a friend staying in Rome via HouseTrip (she has a front-row view of the Colosseum), I checked the site again today. Now, you can type in your destination (I chose Paris, naturally), ignore the dates query, and hit “search now.” On the page of results, click on “Pets allowed” in the left sidebar (under “Facilities”), and you’ll learn that there are 357 Paris properties that are pet friendly. I call that progress. (4/30/12)
iStopOver — Find a room or an apartment/home in cities around the world (as with HouseTrip, there’s no easy way to browse all of the available properties; look at the bottom of the iStopOver home page for “featured destinations,” or type in the city you’re interested in). There is no way to search for pet-friendly properties, but in a property’s description (under “Amenities include”), you’ll sometimes see a note saying that pets are not allowed. If pets are not mentioned, contact the owner with your query (this site, at least, makes it easy to contact the owner).
Roomorama — Find a room or an apartment/home in cities around the world — all of which, glory be, are listed and browsable from the home page. You can search for properties that are pet-friendly (really, I’m loving this site) by starting with a basic search (say, all available properties in Paris) and then refining your search (click on “Pets Allowed” under “Conditions” in the left-hand column).
Second Porch — Find vacation homes for rent or trade across the U.S. You can search for properties that are pet-friendly by starting with a basic search on the home page (e.g., “New York”), and then using the “Advanced Search” button at the top of the resulting page to request specific features (check the “Dog friendly” box under “Property Amenities”). [Second Porch was bought by HomeAway in May 2011.]
[Wimdu — As with Roomorama, start with a basic search, and then, at the resulting screen, ask to “Show more” Amenities and click on “Pets allowed.”]