A survey by a North American hospitality company reveals that over half of pet owners say they plan to travel with Fido or Fluffy in the coming year.
And while a surprising one-third of respondents say they have a special music playlist for their beloved animals, less than 10% have prepared for their trip by doing online research about traveling with their pets.
Well, we’ve come to the rescue.
If you just can’t bear to leave your animal companion at home while you vacation, we’ve prepared a list of tips to make it enjoyable for both you and your pet.
Start Your Journey at the Vet’s
Just as you should make sure you’re healthy to travel, your pet should be, too. Ask your pet’s veterinarian if they think your animal companion is physically and mentally fit to travel.
If their trip to the local vet’s creates high anxiety, maybe you need to rethink whether it’s the best idea to take the pet on a much less familiar journey.
Discuss your mode of travel with the vet. They might recommend medication to help reduce the stress of air travel, for example.
Make sure all of their vaccinations are up to date, and ensure that you have proper documentation. Airlines, even for domestic flights, and certainly any border officials will require health certifications.
At the very least, your pet should have a sturdy, well-labelled collar with its and your name and contact information. Vets advise micro-chipping so in case of a worse-case scenario, you have the best chance of being reconnected with your precious pet.
Experts also suggest ensuring you have a clear and recent picture of your pet with you, just in case. And of course any carrier or crate should be clearly labelled, including right-side-up.
Your pet needs more than a playlist. Make sure you are traveling with enough of its choice – or medically required – food, treats and medications as you don’t want to find yourself without access at your destination.
And help Fido and Fluffy feel at home. Over 40% of survey respondents say their pet can’t travel without their favorite toy. We’d expand that to include blankets and cat or dog beds if you can bring them along.
And Buckle Up
Your goal is to ensure your pet is as comfortable and also as safe as it is at home. Animals should never be roaming around in a vehicle or any mode of transportation. They should be secured in a carrier or crate or buckled up using a specialized attachment just like people.
When Pigs Fly
Don’t think you’re going to slip your darling llama with you onto a plane as an ‘emotional support animal’ in the passenger cabin.
Pretty much every airline in North America has cracked down on travelers abusing the system, and will no longer accept the astonishing array of creatures - all the way to reptiles and large birds - that people were trying to get into the passenger cabin of planes under the guise of legitimate ‘emotional support animal.’
So before your flights get booked, talk with your travel agent about your options. Different airlines - and routes with different aircraft – have different rules for pets.
Depending on the size of your pet, you may be able to bring a properly-stowed pet in a carrier into the passenger cabin if it fits under the seat in front of you.
One thing we would always recommend when flying with a pet: ask your travel advisor to help you book the most direct route with zero - or the fewest possible - stopovers. It’ll cut down on stress for your pet.
You can’t just show up at the airport with an animal. You must also make reservations for your pet, even if it’s permitted in the cabin with you. There is often a surcharge, and airlines cap the number of animals they will accept, so it’s best to book early and also make sure you have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed.
The American Kennel Club has some more tips about how to properly and securely crate your pet for flying.
While your vet may recommend your pet travel on an empty stomach for its own comfort (but you’ll still need to ensure it has water and ventilation), once you arrive, you’re going to need to make sure your pet can eat, run around and do its business.
That means more planning ahead to ensure you have enough breaks, and to make sure you have a welcome place to call home during your stay.
Nearly half of the respondents of the pet travel survey say that the biggest hurdle in traveling with their pet is finding a place to stay.
Never leave it to chance and risk not being able to take your pet into your accommodations with you. Work with your travel advisor to find and book pet-friendly accommodations in advance.
Make sure you know about any additional costs of having an animal with you in advance so you don’t have any surprises – and make sure you don’t leave behind any surprises either.
Make sure your pet is safe and content and entertained so it doesn’t cause damage – and it goes without saying – always clean up after your pet.
If you’re relaxed and calm and comfortable enjoying your vacation, your pet will take its cues from you and also be calm and happy so everyone can enjoy the trip.
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV
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