Top pet-friendly US vacation destinations for dogs

Last year, Amy Burkert and her husband, Rod, set out on a yearlong road trip to see the U.S. in their recreational vehicle. But what set this bucket list adventure apart from most vacations was the inclusion of the couple’s two dogs, an 11-year-old German shepherd named Buster and a 14-year-old shar-pei named Ty.

Couple takes dogs on 15,000-mile road trip

“I didn’t want people to stay in their hotels eating Chinese food and have their big adventure be a trip to the dog park,” Amy Burkert told TODAY. “I wanted people to be able to plan vacations that include their pets.”

Amy Burkert

The foursome began their 15,000-mile expedition, chronicled in Burkert's recently released book, "The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip," in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where the couple held the first of many adoption drives with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Monterey Bay. Indeed, raising awareness for the adoption of rescued animals during the trip was a major priority for Burkert, who went on to host 17 adoption drives throughout 2017. The route, which ran a full circle touching each coast of the country, took a full 10 months to complete between February and November.

"The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip" by Amy Burkert, $30, Barnes and Noble

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This is also available on Amazon for $30.

But the Burkerts hadn’t always enjoyed such a freewheeling lifestyle. The couple worked traditional jobs before running the blog full time. An accountant employed at a multinational auditing firm, Amy Burkert, 44, left the security of her 9-to-5 job in 2009 to focus on her passion for animals. Her husband, the founder of an independent consulting services business, has the flexibility to operate from pretty much anywhere.

What really kicked off the adventure of a lifetime was an honest conversation about their priorities in life. “How can you tell people where to take their dogs when you’re sitting in an office in Philadelphia?” Rod Burkert, 62, asked his wife one day.

“I had never thought about it, but he was right,” Amy Burkert told TODAY. “That’s when we started shopping for an RV” — using the funds from the sale of their home. Both the blog and the consulting business have provided enough income for the couple to live and work fully from the RV for nearly a decade.

Today, Amy Burkert is focused on helping people get over any anxiety about traveling with their pets.

“Make (your) pet’s bucket list today — don’t wait,” she advised. “Take a long weekend to visit a spot or two; plan a weeklong road trip and see a few more. When you’re looking back in the rearview mirror, you’ll be glad you did.”

With real-world experience under their belts, the Burkerts shared their top six destinations in the U.S. for pet travel.

1. White Sands National Monument - New Mexico