Question of the Week
Michelle Smith Wolcott
Conway, South Carolina
I prefer a motorhome. There are a lot of reasons, but the main one is that the dogs I’m traveling with are more relaxed. They are able to be outside in ex-pens and have free time out. Some other reasons are sleeping in a bed that is mine, being able to sleep in a bit later, and not having to rush to drive to the show site. When I have a break in the afternoon I can go back and relax for a few minutes, and I am able to bring and cook my own food.
Inman, South Carolina
Definitely hotels for us. We have a small breed (Pekingese), so space is not an issue. We have friends who have RVs, but we decided the expense and hassle is not worth it, and we would rather stay in a comfortable hotel room. Besides, we usually don’t show more than two or three dogs at a time.
Motorhome! Our dogs view the motorhome as their second home. It looks and smells and feels familiar to them, as well as it’s great to be able to turn them out in our fenced “yard.” We are able to cook/grill out and eat healthier, and it reduces the driving back and forth to the hotel between breed and groups. Finally, it is always fun to hang out in the RV parking area with great friends in the evenings, relaxing and talking dogs.
I considered buying, renting or leasing a motorhome during the height of Covid, mainly for safety reasons. However, after remembering all the breakdown incidents I have heard about from friends, I did not. I can see how a motorhome is probably the most convenient and cost-effective way to manage a lot of dogs for professional handlers, but as an owner and occasional owner-handler, I only have two to three dogs. I am self-employed in a small business and use hotel-reward credit cards to purchase office supplies and build points; therefore, I am able to stay at an upper-tier level in the rewards programs to receive benefits such as early and late check-in, choice of room, (i.e., ground floor), etc. I also enjoy the full bathroom, sometimes full kitchens and, in suites, living-room areas. Most hotels also have a guest laundry and some are free. There is also free ice and a hot breakfast … and maid service. About 95 percent of my experiences at hotels have been good; mostly the staffs have been friendly and accommodating.
I can see a few pros for a motorhome for my situation, but the hotels have more. Dog shows are not a job for me. It’s supposed to be a fun time, so I enjoy not having to do much at the hotel and being able to relax with my furry buddies away from the show hustle and bustle for a while.
Bev Sigl Felten
Motorhome. No risk of being fined, something blamed on my dogs that they didn't do.
I would sleep anywhere to avoid a motorhome. They are the worst thing to happen to dog shows since clusters.
Karen Irazabal RN
I have done both stays at hotels or Airbnbs and motorhomes or campers for dog shows over the years. Staying in a motorhome/camper is so much more comfortable once you get set up at the show site. All the comforts of home, not having to worry about getting a nasty or severely overpriced room, and so convenient just to walk over to where you are showing your dogs.
The downside is the rising cost of payments, insurance, fuel and getting full hook-up. If you go enough, absolutely worth it. Just bought a new camper last year, and so far I am completely enjoying it.
River Falls, Wisconsin
I stayed in hotels for years. I did not know what I was missing until I purchased a small motorhome and stayed on site. I really like seeing the dogs, training my dogs, interacting with many different people and their breeds. And sleeping that extra hour, plus not having to bring dogs in and out every day.
Eighteen years ago, I was getting fed up with hotels/motels when going to dog shows. Neither my dogs or I slept well in hotels with all the door banging, loud TVs and even louder conversations in the hallway.
I am disabled and need a downstairs room (letting the hotel know — at the time I make the reservation — that I would be in after 6 p.m. and to bill my stay).
It was getting harder and harder to keep my reserved handicapped room. The last straw was when I got there at 6:05 p.m. and they said that they gave my room out 30 minutes before to a non-handicapped person, leaving me to handle the stairs with my dogs. I decided then and there that it would be the last time I stayed in a hotel.
I started out with an 18-foot travel trailer that I could pull with my Jeep. I went with that first to get my feet wet, and if I hated it, I would — easily — get back the money I put into it.
The dogs and I LOVED it! No more driving to/from hotels to show grounds. No more having to find a place to exercise the dogs. No more losing the handicapped room. We had our own “home away from home.” Our own food, linens, ex-pen that the dogs could walk out of the travel trailer right into, and show grounds to walk around. It was wonderful. I was not only sold for just using it for dog shows: I began taking it out to state parks on off-show weekends. I even spent my 50th-birthday week in it up in the Olympic Peninsula (which is stunning).
As my disability advanced, it became too hard to hitch, level, then tear down camp with the trailer, so I went to a 32-foot Class A and now have a 34 Class A with a four-down toad. Saying “no more hotels” was one of the very best decisions I have ever made. I only wish I had done it years before I actually did.
Fox Island, Washington
My husband and I much prefer to stay in our RV at dog shows. The best part is that we set up so the dogs can go in and out on their own to our fenced "patio." No crating them and hauling them out to do their business. It's easy to clean up after them on the outdoor rugs, and it prevents exposure to ticks, etc., in the grass. RV set-up is cheaper than a hotel as well, though more costly to actually travel in. I like having my own food and bed, and the dogs are peaceful inside, not reacting to every noise they hear in a hotel hallway.
We tow a car so we can sightsee, leaving the dogs in an air-conditioned motorhome. We also can go out to eat without worrying about them in a parked car. It's also easier to groom at the RV and move whichever dogs need to be moved to and from rings that are never far away. We have a large water and gray and black tank, so can easily stay dry camping comfortably for five days. I also enjoy meeting our RV neighbors and gathering for a beverage or food in the evening.
For the warmer months, we love our motor-ome. Nothing beats your own bed, coffee 24/7 and a clean bathroom. (Porta Johns are the worst!)
However, when the cold weather comes around, we go back to hotels!
When I'm judging, hotels, of course. When we were showing, most of our shows in the West were outdoors, so an RV became an easy choice. We had been staying in hotels, but as a trial run, we borrowed my husband's uncle's mini motorhome to see if we liked staying on the grounds. We came home ready to shop!
We pulled a travel trailer with our van for many years, and eventually switched to a motorhome towing a car. Having an RV saved us time and cut stress. We could put the dogs out in the ex-pens to take care of their business, while the other one of us was showering and getting dressed for the day. Clothes and essentials were handy, instead of hauling in and out of a hotel. If the day was rainy, the dogs kept dry under the motorhome canopy; they had shade, and access to air conditioning if it was hot. We often could groom in or next to the trailer or motorhome, without having to haul equipment, plus the bathroom was right there! If we had time and needed a nap, the bed was right there! In the evening, we could spend time with the dogs and let them play and relax, and we could socialize if other friends were staying on the grounds. (Brush Prairie was great!)
Overall, we found a motorhome to be much more convenient and much more relaxing, both for us and for the dogs.
I definitely prefer my motorhome due to the cost of hotels and the dog fees they are attaching. The limit on number of dogs and weight-limit restrictions have made staying in a hotel very difficult. The ease of being right on the show grounds is also a plus.
Laguna Beach, California
I attend many AKC dog events that require travel out of state or region lodging. Ultimately, I prefer a shared housing alternative: Airbnb or VRBO that accept pets to enjoy a safe enclosed yard space for multiple dogs to roam free off leash. It is not best for exhibition dogs to be crated for extended periods of time for week-long dog events. A shared housing alternative with a responsible, reliable dog-exhibition friend can bring more enjoyment and help defray cost.
Otherwise, a nice hotel in a safe area works best. Unfortunately, the majority of Motel 6 are no longer an acceptable lodging alternative. Many cities now offer housing “hotel vouchers” to the homeless, and this brings in criminal drug dealers. Vehicles were being broken into at Salt Lake City; I checked out late at night and drove out of area to find a safe hotel.
I have Danes, so "size matters" when choosing a rig. For years we did a trailer and van. The van is set up with five crates that will fit Danes for travel. I crashed the van and trailer after a front tire blew out (thank God no one was hurt!) and wasn't too excited about trailering after that. But we did replace the trailer and continued to do shows that way.
About seven years ago we decided to try a motorhome and got a 41-foot Damon class A. Hubby spent a lot of time searching for a floor plan that would allow us to carry our big dogs, and found one, so we thought we'd give it a try. We had two colossal crates set up, and could do two more 48-inch crates and a 36 inch (for puppies) and still get the slides in.
While I LOVED the comfort and how well built the motorhome was, there were two main things I did not like: the inability to just go somewhere, like the store or if there was an emergency, and the fact when the slides were in, it was very difficult to get the dogs out. True, one could get a tow vehicle, but for us that meant purchasing another vehicle AND, at many of our shows, paying for an extra parking spot. The fact that we would not be able to get dogs out easily in an emergency was a concern.
The lack of being able to "get up and go" and difficulty in getting dogs out with closed slides made us rethink the motorhome. We ended up with a trailer, and feel this decision works the best for us.
I absolutely loved traveling to dog shows and staying in my RV. My dogs were more refreshed in the morning and so was I.
I always had a clean bathroom, plenty of food and a lot of clothes to choose from every day.
Even when gas was more expensive, it was peace of mind knowing my RV was well stocked and my dogs were comfortable.
I met many people who were my neighbors at the grounds who have been my friends for 30-plus years.
When we were actively showing dogs, which my husband and I did for close to 50 years, we didn’t have much choice, but there were several reasons we preferred the motorhome. We had no one to stay at home to take care of our other dogs, for one thing. Another was that it was much more relaxing as well as efficient to be able to park on the show site instead of having to drive back and forth from a hotel. In many show locations the cost of staying at a hotel, especially with multiple dogs, was an issue as well, along with finding a practical and allowed place to set up an exercise pen or two. A motorhome with a good floor plan made travel to and from shows and the actual show days much less stressful.
Grass Valley, California
Well, trailer is preferred, but there is a cost point nowadays with fuel costs! At a longer distance it just makes dollar sense to get a room if possible.
Debra Jean Golden
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Hotel rooms or motorhome? My answer is … it depends.
If I’m competing in conformation and I just have my special, I usually stay at a hotel. The dogs recognize we’re at a big event, and I think it helps them get focused for the competition. They think it’s a treat, and they love the attention from hotel guests. Plus, it’s a mini-vacation for me.
If I’m running performance events (FastCAT, precision coursing, CAT), I’m loading the RV. My dogs absolutely LOVE it. Given the chance, they all run to my rig and dance around waiting to load up. I set up an exercise area the length of the RV, put out cots, toys and water, and pull down the awning. It’s easier to run them out of the rig, and they know where they’re going if they all get to load up. If we have inclement weather (muddy feet and furnishings) or hot weather (cool-down rinse), I can wash them off and not worry about soiling a hotel property. This is a mini-vacation for the dogs.
Sandy Hook, Connecticut
As a handler, I always loved having the motorhome. Much less anxiety for the safety of the dogs, less clothes hassle, it is all with you. Let us not forget the advantages in bad weather.
Youngsville, North Carolina
I prefer my RV over any hotel! Show-site control (men in orange) is excellent here on the East Coast and are always concerned with safety.
My dogs know “their home” and are comfortable. I can rest, change clothes, watch TV, make food and wash dogs, all in the RV.
With motels, you never know about unsavory characters, unclean rooms and grounds, and people disrespectful of others.
Easley, South Carolina
For me, it is a no brainer: motorhome. I started out just driving to and from each day and not staying near the show site. I would drive as much as 12 hours round trip. Crazy. Yes. Mainly because the nicer motels would not accept dogs. That soon got old. When I could find a decent motel, it was very inconvenient to exercise dogs. My dogs barking and other dogs barking.
Then I bought a motorhome after talking with friends who had motorhomes. Going to dog shows in the motorhome became fun. I got to park among friends and could cook out and have all kinds of fun at the show site. As different as night and day. Dogs were much better off staying in ex-pens set up outside under the awning of the motorhome.
I would never go back to the motel experience. I attended more than 1,200 dog shows in two different motorhomes. I especially liked the cluster shows in the motorhome.
The only really good motel experience I had was when I attended the dog shows in Bermuda. Oceanside three-room suite at small motel with great restaurant and shuttle to the dog show and back.
We go to so few shows that there’s no reason to have a motorhome, and those we go to have to be within driving distance so it’s easy to go home and sleep in your own bed.
It’s amazing how it cuts down on the number of shows one goes to if you use our sliding scale of preference. The first is of course the judges: I’m prepared to go quite far to get a qualified opinion by a judge I respect. Then the consideration is distance to the show — the local Ventura show grounds are about 15 minutes from our house, so provided judging isn’t too early I’ll be there almost whoever the judge is. And how pleasant is the showground? I hope I’ll never go to City of Industry again, but I would happily drive much further to spend the weekend at the New Year shows outside Palm Springs.
OK, that doesn’t really answer your question. I can see the advantages of having your own motorhome at a show, but I love staying in hotels whenever there is an important weekend far away from home … and the dogs love it, too!
Cranford, New Jersey
I prefer a hotel room as I like the extra room, the big beds and big bathrooms it offers and the restaurant that usually accompanies the hotel. And if no restaurant, you can drive to any restaurant you want to in the area. Motorhomes are a bit cramped for me and a bit too large for me to drive. It’s a fun idea, but when I was young enough to even think about it, I couldn’t afford one, so I had to stick with hotels. Besides, everyone getting up at 6 a.m. to put dogs out at the show grounds just doesn’t float my boat, especially if your ring time is noon!
For most of my time in dogs, it was hotels or commuting to dog shows back and forth for a weekend.
In 2020 my husband caved and bought a huge RV.
We use "Marge" for almost all dog events (shows and lure coursing) now.
No more smuggling many dogs into a room, and it's nice to be all ready for the events first thing in the morning.
I had a great Class C for 10 or 12 years but now prefer a hotel. Fewer worries about AC not working and no RV maintenance. I may feel different if I traveled with more than four small dogs, though. Hilton's Home2Suites are super dog friendly with a full-sized refrigerator.
Smith Point, Texas
I far prefer staying in my RV at shows. The dogs and I get more rest, and once parked I don't have to navigate my way to restaurants and hotels. I know who slept in my bed last night and that I have clean sheets with nothing under the bed for my dogs to find that they shouldn't have.
Sue King and Karen Fruhmann
Flemington, New Jersey
We've been lucky enough to own four motorhomes during our dog-showing life, and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment — the parking on site, freedom for the dogs to go in/out, sleeping in your own bed, eating your own food, resting when needed. So many positive things, EXCEPT for when your RV decides not to work, the heat pump goes out, the levelers don't work, something goes wrong with the engine. Most especially when you're on your own it can be a nightmare, so that's when you're so happy you have a hotel room — you don't have to worry about anything not working! I do love RV living, though, and I miss not currently having one!
I do not have a motorhome at this time, but have stayed in one on the show grounds in the past.
I admire the gypsy spirit of those who do camp on the grounds. After a long or short day of showing, I am jealous of those who have a quiet place to retire to on the grounds.
If I could find the perfect vehicle, I would definitely try it.