Woof! GoLife Goes to the Dogs.
Getting to Know the GoPetFriendly.com Team
Gone are the days of leaving your pets behind with friends or at the local kennel while you travel! People have discovered that vacations are more fun when the entire family is along for the ride -- including the furry members. In fact, one of the reasons many people buy RVs is to make traveling with their pets easier.
Today we're chatting with Amy and Rod Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com -- a free-to-use website that makes it easy for people to plan trips with their pets.
GoLife: What made you decide to start GoPetFriendly.com?
Amy: We found a stray German Shepherd in May of 2008, and ended up adopting him when we couldn't find his people. It didn't take long for us to realize that traveling with him and our other dog, Ty, was quite a challenge! Information on places that would accept pets was spread all over the Internet, and tracking it all down was so time consuming that we worried people might choose to board their pets or leave them with a sitter rather than take the time to do the research. We wanted to create a website that would make it easy for people to find pet friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and activities and plan fun trips with their pets.
GoLife: And now you travel full-time in an RV -- how did that happen?!
Rod: Just before we launched the site in 2009, it occurred to me that if we wanted people to believe that they could travel with their pets, we needed to lead by example. We're two CPAs by background, so we're not exactly "wild and crazy" personalities -- it took some soul-searching, but we decided to sell our home and buy a Winnebago. We got our View in 2010, packed it up, and have never looked back.
Amy: For us, the mobile lifestyle was addictive and once we realized we could make a living and travel full-time we were completely hooked. At the end of 2014 we knew we had no interest in "settling down" anytime soon, so we traded in the View for an Itasca Meridian. The extra space and amenities have been great for us and the dogs.
GoLife: Did either of you grow up RVing?
Amy: When I was a kid our family vacations always involved camping. We started with a slide-in, pop-up camper on the back of my dad's pick-up, and eventually graduated to a pull-behind, pop-up trailer our family of six -- plus our beagle!
Rod: I was an Eagle Scout and did a lot of tent camping there, but my parents opted to "rough it" in inexpensive hotels for our family vacations.
GoLife: What makes RVing so convenient for traveling with pets?
Amy: The biggest thing is that the RV becomes familiar and feels like "home" to the pet. Occasionally, we stay in hotels, and it always takes a day or two for Ty and Buster to get comfortable in the room. Until then, they don't sleep as well, get anxious if we need to step out for a minute, and are confounded trying to figure out which rules apply -- are they allowed bark? lay on the furniture? share whatever they find on the coffee table?
But with the motorhome, it's a completely different story. They know what's allowed and what's not and that we'll be back if we need to leave them for a bit. Those simple things can relieve a lot of stress for pets.
GoLife: You're traveling with two dogs that are pretty big -- how do they like living in the RV and what impact does having them along make on your travel plans?
Rod: Ty and Buster love living in the motorhome! It's true that they're not really "RV-sized" at 85 and 35 pounds, but dogs are so adaptable. What matters to them most is that we're all together. Truthfully, if we stay in one place long enough, the boys get bored. When we open the door they like to see that the scenery has changed -- it means there are all kinds of new things to smell.
But yes, having our dogs along does influence our plans to some degree. Buster is afraid of other dogs and Ty is afraid of dogs and strangers, so they're not the easiest pets to travel with. To help make the boys comfortable we do most of our exploring during the week when other people are at work and the crowds are less. Still, we wouldn't trade having them with us for anything.
GoLife: How do you decide where to go next?
Amy: Mostly we follow the weather. We head north in the summer and keep to the southern states in the winter. We've been in all of the lower 48 states over the past six years, and visited several of the Canadian provinces -- yet somehow we never seem to make a dent in our list of places we want to see. As soon as we cross one off, we learn about somewhere else we want to go.
That being said, we're embarking (sorry, I couldn't help myself) on a huge road trip next year, and we'll be sharing more on that soon.
GoLife: Have you found some areas to be more pet friendly than others?
Rod: Absolutely. Some places we visit are fantastic -- we can take the dogs along to most everything we'd like to see. The Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, and cities like Austin, San Diego, and Washington, DC are some our favorites. That's why we write the pet friendly destination guides on the blog -- we want people to know what to expect if they're considering a place for their next pet friendly vacation.
GoLife: You've really dedicated yourselves to helping people travel with their pets -- what keeps you motivated?
Amy: I've learned that it doesn't matter how long it is, the time we have with our pets is always too short -- but the memories we make together last forever. Knowing that we're helping other pet lovers take their pet on a road trip, or play with their dog on a beach, or go for an ice cream cone around the corner and create those memories ... that's priceless.
GoLife: Welcome aboard. We look forward to upcoming advice and adventures!