It can be hard to part with our four-legged friends when we go on vacation, and traveling with pets is becoming more common. In fact, a study by AAA and Best Western International reported that more than half of U.S. travelers take their cats and dogs on vacation with them.
However, keeping our canine and feline family members comfortable and safe during travel requires a little extra planning. These tips will help the trip go as smoothly as possible for the pet and its humans!
Tips for Traveling by Car
- Taking a test drive or two before a long road trip might reveal potential issues a dog or cat has with car travel. It also might help them acclimate to the motion and their surroundings during the drive.
- According to AAA, more than 30,000 car accidents each year are caused by an unrestrained dog in the front seat of the car. Pets should be limited to the back seat, and larger dogs should be protected by either a pet seat belt or harness, which are available at most pet stores. Cats and small dogs should be kept in carriers. Buckle them up for your safety and theirs!
- Everyone needs a break, and pets are no exception! The Humane Society of the United States recommends stopping every two to three hours so Fido or Fluffy can relieve themselves and get some exercise. Remember not to leave animals in the car unattended.
- As with children, keeping snacks and a good amount of water will keep pets happy and healthy while on the road.
Tips for Traveling by Plane
- Weigh the benefits against the animal’s health. Pets that are young, old, or not in very good health would be better off left at home, or at a trusted kennel. Air travel can be especially stressful on certain breeds, like bulldogs and pugs, because they are prone to breathing difficulties.
- Do your research with the airline. Pet policies and fees differ from airline to airline, but most airlines will allow small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin for an additional fee. Keep in mind there is usually a limit to the number of animals allowed in the cabin, so it’s best to let the airline know as far in advance as possible.
- Take extra precautions if the animal must fly in the cargo hold. Book direct flights, ask to watch the flight crew load and unload your pet from the cargo area, and if possible, let the captain know there are pets traveling in the cargo hold. For more tips keeping your furry friends safe in the skies, visit the Humane Society’s website.
- If taking a pet abroad, travelers will need to know if any vaccinations are required. A pet passport is also a good idea, as it contains all the necessary info a pet needs for entrance into a country. Read more on international travel with pets at PetTravel.com.
Other Essential Travel Tips for Pets
- With exceptions for service dogs, few cruise lines allow animals on board. For travelers that are determined to sail with their pets, contact the cruise line in advance to find out its policies and which ships have kennels available.
- Book pet-friendly hotels when possible. GoPetFriendly.com offers destination guides and list of hotels, campgrounds and even restaurants in various cities that will welcome furry family members.
- To help your pooch or feline relax and stay comfortable while traveling, keep their favorite toys or blankets with them.
- Visit the vet before the journey, especially if this is the animal’s first time traveling or if there are health concerns.
Traveling with pets can be stressful, but with appropriate planning and advice from professionals, you can ensure your beloved furry friend is as safe and happy as possible.