A week or so ago, Mary and I departed our home in Northern Virginia, along with our Pomeranian, Boo, for a short visit with my brother in Rockport, Texas. In planning the 3,246-mile trip, I went online to two or three sites that provided suggestions for pet-friendly accommodations along our routes down and back. After establishing that our mutual stamina required two overnights between home and Texas (and rooms there as well), I used Yelp.com and TripAdvisor.com for additional reviews of the lodgings suggested by the pet-friendly sites.
The first thing one must understand when looking for reviews is that a totally happy customer usually goes their merry way, contented, well-meaning, but forgetful to post a review. When they get home, they’re often mentally too tired to deal with any emails from booking sites or venues to complete surveys. This means that the vast majority of review sites are populated with reviews that, to some degree, are negative. BIG grain of salt required here. Read between the lines. Some folks, to give them the polite benefit of the doubt, simply want too much for what they’re willing to pay. Think “champagne taste on a beer budget.”
Following my own advice, I didn’t expect any hotel or motel to get perfect reviews. I also looked at dates and didn’t read any reviews not written in the last nine months. I came up with a La Quinta in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Then, a room at the Drury Inn & Suites in Baton rouge, Louisiana. Finally, for our three nights in Rockport, Texas, I had few choices but picked the Days Inn. I’d call the first and last places motels, and the Drury a hotel. (That’s just me, as there seem to be a multitude of opinions as to what constitutes what.) As for pet-friendly, the La Quinta and Drury truly were, as there was no extra fee for our little girl. The Days Inn, however, charged us a per-pet $15-per-night for her to stay with us. Not so friendly. Imagine if I’d had three Chihuahuas! The pet fee would have been almost the cost of the room—per night!
Boo, who never had achieved “comfort” while in the car, eventually relaxed and slept through much of the trip, and soon adopted the “bathroom break” timing of her humans. Having traveled that far by car only once before, I neglected to factor rest stops, stretch stops, and fueling stops into what I thought would be eight hours per leg. We still arrived in daylight at each destination along the way, which was important for me, as I had hoped to (and succeeded) avoid a check-in line.
Not wanting any digestive surprises along the way, when I planned the trip I also inserted a Chick-fil-A at what I figured would be a good lunch stop. I forgot, for the one day, that CFA was closed on Sundays. The Whataburger, next door, served us just fine—just don’t think you’re going to eat that Double: I’ve never seen a fast-food burger that size before!
Boo, who had been effectively abandoned twice before we “rescued” her, had always been frantic if Mary and I left her alone. On the trip, this behavior seems to have mitigated. Not a bark the whole trip.
While this post is not about accommodations, I would like to say that if there are any Drury Inn & Suites located appropriately on any future trip, they were superior and they can count on my business.