If there’s one thing that can make traveling even better, it’s your best fur-riend! Being able to take your beloved on a trip furbabies is a rare joy and privilege–so knowing how to travel with a pet safely is essential. Whether you’re going local or taking an international trip, making the best decisions for your pets is a must.
It’s easy to have a travel checklist when you’re all humans in your adventuring party. But adding a pet–even if you swear up and down that they’re part of your family–will add some complications to your travel plans. So how do you plan a trip with your pets in tow?
Check out these tips and best practices for traveling with pets in this article:
Safety Tips for Traveling with Pets
Traveling with pets requires utmost attention and care. Without the proper preparations, your trip would undoubtedly cause stress on your pets at best. At worst, an unplanned trip might inflict serious health complications or injury on your furbabies.
The most important part of traveling with your pets is knowing what mode travel you’ll be using. Transportation via car, ship, and plane are very different. Each pet will also have different needs depending on how you’ll be traveling. Once you know how you’ll be traveling, planning becomes easier and more structured.
For first timers and curious furparents, here are some of the most important things to do when traveling with your beloved furbabies:
General Travel Guidelines for Pet Owners
Any pet owner will tell you that it’s difficult to travel with a pet. Your furbabies probably aren’t a big fan of traveling too! Traveling causes a lot of animals stress and anxiety, especially when it disrupts their routines and schedules.
Before you pack your crates, bottles, and leashes, make sure that you’ve got the go signal and follow these guidelines for a safe trip:
Consult Your Vet
When it comes to anything pet-related, your friendly veterinarian knows best. As a general rule, vet consultations should be a regular part of your pet’s routine. But when you’re traveling, consulting with your vet is a hard requirement.
Most airline pet policies require medical certificates and other documents from vets. Beyond this requirement, it’s also important to actually know if your pets are in good condition. A dog or cat that is already difficult to travel with will be miserable on a trip, even more so when they’re sick.
Book Pet-friendly Accommodations
Many furparents ask what to do with pets when traveling. This question already opens a number of sub-topics at hand. The most important of this is where they’ll stay.
Answering these questions can be quite tricky, so a good starting point is understanding your dog or cat’s routine. From there, look at options that fit their schedule and needs. This is especially important when looking for accommodations..
Nowadays, lots of hotels and accommodations are offering pet-friendly options. In fact, there are even luxury packages that offer five-star treatment for your furbabies! Whether you’re looking for an IG-worthy space or a cozy room to chill in, make sure to check out the amenities each place offers and match it with what you and your beloved pet need.
Shop for Portable Pet Essentials
One way to lessen the stress of traveling with and for your pets is keeping things on schedule. If you can, keep their feeding times, play times, and potty breaks as consistent as it is when they’re at home. By doing so, your pets will still have some semblance of routine and moments of peace during the trip.
Make staying on schedule more convenient for you by buying portable pet essentials such as water and food bowls, potty bags, and small toys. If you’re a frequent traveler like Nadav Berenstein, having these on hand will make traveling with pets much easier. And even when you’re not, these portable pet essentials allow you to do everyday things, such as walking your dog, with ease.
Fido might not wear a collar indoors, but once they step outside your home it becomes a non-negotiable.
Identification such as collars and microchips are essential whenever you travel. The last thing you want is to lose your precious furbaby on a trip. Since you’ll be going to an unfamiliar place with your pets, making sure that you’re easy to contact and find in the worst case scenario should be a priority.
Carriers and Crates
Contrary to popular belief, letting your dog’s head hang out the window is a bad idea since it exposes your pet to debris, dirt, and even other vehicles. It’s an accident waiting to happen. Thankfully, it’s one that you can easily avoid with a sturdy crate or carrier.
Traveling without a carrier or crate is unthinkable, especially since many travel options require that pets be carried in one. Even if you’re traveling in a car, a crate is a necessity as it keeps your pet safe. Make sure to check the requirements set by your travel options so you won’t have anything to worry about during the trip.
Acclimate! Acclimate! Acclimate!
Remember how your puppy or kittens acted scared and confused the first they arrived at your home? Well, expect that they’ll act the same before, during, and even after your trip. Unlike humans, animals don’t particularly respond well to changes–so acclimation is key for minimal stress and pain during a trip.
Some things that you’ll need your dog or cat to get used to are:
- Carriers and crates
- Cars (if that’s your mode of transportation)
- Collapsible water and food bowls
Travel via Car
Cars are the most common mode of transport for pet owners and they’re also the most convenient. As the only landlocked travel option, cars are arguably the best way to travel when you’re with a furbaby. Of course, just because it’s the best option doesn’t mean you won’t take precautions.
Here are some of the most important things to remember when traveling with your pets in a car:
Human Passengers Up Front!
Sitting next to the goodest boy or girl while you drive may seem adorable, but it’s ill-advised to do so. The front seats are designed to keep humans safe, not pets. Many cars have airbags installed in case of accidents, and these same bags may cause harm towards your pets.
Humans aren’t the only ones that need breaks during a trip. Your pets need pit stops too! Schedule food and bathroom breaks on your road trip and give your furbabies some much needed respite from being stuck inside the car.
Designated Human Buddy
Have you ever experienced traveling alone in an unfamiliar place? It gets pretty lonely. That’s something your pet will feel too, especially if you’ll be busy driving. Having a second human in tow to keep you and your pet company is advisable for long car drives. Plus you’ll also have someone to switch with you when you get too tired of driving, so it’s definitely a win-win.
Be mindful of the conditions of your car when traveling with a pet. It never pays to have a car that’s too hot, too cold, or generally uncomfortable. Most importantly, check if the car is well-ventilated so that your pet will be able to breathe comfortably.
One of the most important tips to remember when traveling with pets is to never leave them alone in the car. It doesn’t matter if you’ll be gone for a short period of time. Some of the most unexpected accidents happen inside the car, so make sure that your furbaby is supervised and kept safe the whole time.
Travel via Ship or Plane
Cars are convenient, but unfortunately they won’t cut it for long distance and international trips. In such cases, pet owners have to resort to traveling via ship or plane. While it’s easy to plan for such trips when you’re human, there will be additional considerations when traveling with pets.
Here are some key points and tips on how to travel with pets if you’re going on a ship or a plane:
Traveling on a ship or plane is a bit more complex. Consider that your pets will be traveling in an enclosed space under severely different conditions. It’s one thing to travel with a crate on land, but going on sea or skies is a huge leap.
The first thing you’ll need to have is a crate or carrier that’s safe and airline or shipline approved. A secure container lessens any risk of injuries or loss within the trip. Having one is even more important if you can’t guarantee a cabin flight for your furbaby.
Another issue to consider is your pet’s condition. Air travel is incredibly risky for some pets as it aggravates their conditions. Flat-nosed breeds, such as pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats, are especially susceptible to suffocation and heat stroke in air travel.
If possible, always opt for a cabin flight for your pets. Most airlines will have guidelines on pet passengers available on their website so it pays to check. Generally, small dogs and cats are allowed on cabin flights. Make sure to contact the airline when you book your flight and reconfirm to avoid any issues on the day.
Airport Security Precautions
Airport security can be a mess and doubly so if your pet is joining you.
If you find that you get annoyed with airport security, then think about your pet as well since they’ll need to go through the process. Make sure that your pet is well-behaved and non-hostile to avoid any injuries towards the staff or your pet. If your furbaby is fidgety, request a secondary screening that allows them to stay in the carrier when possible.
Cargo Hold Flight Safety
Some pets are simply too large for the cabin. Some airlines may have extra strict guidelines. Whatever the case, there may be times when your pet will have to endure the cargo hold flight.
Bluntly speaking, it probably won’t be a pleasant experience. Your dogs and cats will most likely be nervous or stressed. But if there really is no other option, it’s vital to ensure that their trip goes smoothly.
Some of the things you can do for your pets on the cargo hold include:
- Feeding your pet a light meal before the trip. A light meal four to six hours before the trip relaxes your pet. Make sure to not overfeed them as it will cause nausea and vomiting once they get in the cargo.
- Ensuring that your pet has enough drinking water with them. A good tip for traveling with pets is freezing the water in a bowl beforehand. The ice will melt and will allow your pet to get enough drinks without spilling all over their crate.
- Providing enough food. Since you won’t be there to feed your furbaby, make sure that they have the nourishment they’ll need while on the cargo hold. A good rule of thumb is to add an instruction on your pet’s crate so that the airline staff knows how to feed them properly.
- Informing the staff about your pet. It may sound demanding or stuck up, but now isn’t the time to not advocate your pet. After all, you want to make sure that they’re well. Let the airline staff know that your furbaby is in the cargo hold flight and don’t be afraid to ask about them after the flight too!
It might be tempting to tranquilize your pet so they’ll sleep or remain relaxed during the trip, but this is an absolute no-no. Sedating pets for a trip affects their balance and equilibrium, which may make them even more nervous and anxious. Tranquilizers are also incredibly potent and open up the risk for heart and respiratory issues during flights. If you really must, make sure that the sedation is prescribed by a licensed veterinarian and that they are informed of its purpose.
Time for Adventure…?
Adventure time with your pets sounds fun–and it is…with the proper precautions.
Traveling with your pets is just like traveling with a newborn. It requires planning and patience, as well as a willingness to adjust and make do with alternatives. After all, it’s not just your comfort that you’re thinking about now.
Going on a trip with your pet can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. This list of tips and tricks for pet travel give you a guideline on what to do with your pet when traveling. While these guidelines were made for the general public, feel free to tailor and improve these tips for your very own furbaby.