Summertime means vacation time for many families. While some trips aren’t feasible to bring your pets, there may be times when you do want to bring Fido or Fluffy along for a trip. Perhaps you are too attached to leave home without him or her or perhaps you just don’t have a kennel or sitter to take care of him while you’re away. Regardless of your reason for bringing your pet on vacation, we hope these tips will help ensure that everyone has a fun and safe trip.
Before You Travel
- Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all of his shots and has a health check-up from the vet. Bring a copy of his shot records with you.
- Make sure your pet has proper identification. You’ll want to make sure he has tags with local registration information as well as a tag with your name and phone number.
- Pack everything your pet will need, including food and water. If flying, check with your airline on their restrictions regarding pet food and water containers.
- If travelling across country borders, you will want to contact the host country’s consulate or embassy for information regarding bringing your pet into their country. You will also want to check with your own country for information regarding bringing your pet back into your country. If you are in the U.S., you can contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for more information.
Driving With Your Pet
- Take a trial run. Before embarking on the long trip, take a few shorter car rides to get your pet used to riding in your vehicle.
- Buckle up. According to AAA, about 30,000 accidents are caused every year by unrestrained dogs distracting the driver. Allowing your pet to wander freely in the car is not only a distraction to the driver but could cause the pet to be injured in the case of an accident. Secure your pet with a safety belt, harness, pet barrier, or travel crate.
- Plan ahead of time on where you will stop along the route for potty breaks and meals. Many truck stops and rest areas have enclosed dog areas designed to let your pup relieve himself without leaving a mess around the grounds.
- Keep your pet properly hydrated. The ASPCA recommends keeping a gallon of fresh water with you on long trips to keep your pet hydrated during the trip.
- Plan to stop at least once every 2 hours to let your pet get fresh air and exercise, as recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Flying With Your Pet
- Book early. Most airlines only allow a couple of dogs on each flight so you will want to call early to make sure there is room for your dog or cat before you purchase your own ticket.
- Try to book a non-stop, direct flight for your pet and try to fly on a day when the airport is less busy and less hectic to avoid too much commotion for your pet.
- If flying during extreme temperatures, try to book your flight at the right time of day. In the winter, you will want to try to fly during mid-day, when it’s warmer, and during the summer you will want to fly in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler.
- Make sure your carrier is the right size. If carrying your smaller dog or cat on board with you, check with the airport on size requirements of your carrier. If your dog will have to ride in the cargo hold, most airports require a carrier that is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Purchase one of the sturdy, plastic ones in advance.
- Properly label your pet’s crate with his name, your name, and your contact information. It’s a good idea to also carry a photo of your pet in case he gets loose during transit.
- Arrive at the airport early. Most airports recommend that you arrive around two hours before your own flight when flying with a pet.
- Make sure that your hotel allows pets by calling them first.
- Check with your hotel on whether or not they will require an additional deposit for keeping your pet.
- Check with the hotel on what their requirements are for securing your pet. Some hotels will require you to take your pet with you if you leave the hotel while others will allow your pet to stay in the room alone, but only if they are in a crate.
- Find out ahead of time where the best place is (outside of the hotel) to allow your pet to relieve himself.
- When planning your activities, you won’t have to plan everything around your pet, but it would be nice if you planned at least some activities in which you could take him with you.
- Find out where the nearest and best hiking trails and dog parks are in the area.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended for more than a couple of hours while you participate in the human-only activities.
- Find out where the nearest pet stores or supercenters are in case you need to buy any pet products while on vacation.