5 Things to Know Before You Take Your Pet on Vacation
Taking your pet on a vacation – International or Domestic – isn’t as simple as you might think, but with the right preparation, it can result in an incredibly memorable holiday. The key to a successful and easy vacation is planning, organization, and diligence. Dog owner, Hilary Sloan says, “The real work is done before the trip even begins, so you can relax and enjoy yourself once the plane takes off, or the car pulls out of the driveway.” Follow these five tips to ensure a safe and happy journey for both you and your pet.
Check Requirements: Start by checking for country-specific requirements for immunizations and health records and if there is a quarantine period upon entry (which might adjust the timing of the vacation itself). Dogs and cats are allowed more easily into some countries than others, and you don’t want to have issues upon arrival. We will suggest that you check with the CDC and the USDA as go-to sources for international travel information and immunizations requirements for your pet.
The next step is to check if your airline allows pets in the cabin – so your pet must be small… or if it will only fly in the cargo hold, which is a potential health hazard – period! So, size and weight generally determine if a dog is allowed in a pet-friendly cabin, as its carrier would need to go under the seat in front of you. As for routing, if your pet is not traveling in the cabin with you, do your best to choose a nonstop flight and pack a lot of bedding and blankets in the crate as it gets very, very cold at higher altitudes.
Know Your Pet: Traveling can be stressful, so determine your pet’s adaptability to a new routine. Well-socialized pets that handle new situations and people with ease are generally the best travelers. Otherwise, leave your pet at home with a trusted caregiver or kennel.
That means determining if your pet can stay in a new place. The first rule would be to travel with pets that are comfortable around other animals and people. If they’re not, just be sure to keep them safe and sound in your room, preferably with supervision. Ask yourself if it will create undue stress for you on vacation or if your pet adds something special to the trip. Sometimes having your pet with you opens up all kinds of conversations with travelers and locals, really broadening the experience of traveling.
Create a Plan: One of the most important things is to make a plan well in advance of a trip. Allowing yourself and your pet plenty of time to get ready for what can be a stressful endeavor and environment will make you both much happier travelers. As spots for animals on flights tend to be limited, book your tickets at least a month in advance. (Note: There is typically an additional fee for your pet.) You will need to get all shots and paperwork ready to present, but you’ll also need the right gear. Most airlines have specific rules on the size and type of carriers, so your usual bag may need a travel upgrade. Then create a contingency plan.
Get Travel-Ready: Be sure to give yourself and your pet plenty of time to work on carrier acclimation. Teach your dog to not just tolerate but also enjoy its travel bag. When your dog is tired and might normally be resting on your lap or on a dog bed, you can encourage it to go into the bag to rest for a bit instead.
Make a checklist of everything your pet will need in-flight or in-car and to be comfortable. A carry-on packing list for your pet might include: water bowl, extra food for two to three days in case of delays or unexpected layovers, treats, extra potty pads for emergencies, and her favorite cashmere sweater. Recommended is packing food-stuffed chew toys to occupy and engage a dog during a flight, as well as having natural calming agents like tryptophan chews and a ThunderShirt at the ready. It is also suggested that your pet has a well-fitting collar/harness that clearly displays your contact information—at home, at your destination, and even possibly third-party information in case you can’t be reached.
Ensure a Good Stay: Once you deplane or arrive at your domestic destination, have the next leg of the journey already planned. Not all train lines and cab companies are pet-friendly, so call or check online in advance. It is suggested that you talk to your vet before you go and be sure to discuss the potential health concerns, such as parasites, in the areas you plan on visiting. He or she may prescribe a preventative way and/or tips on how best to keep your pet away from risk.
Prearrange with hotels for your pet, even if they have a pet-friendly policy (you can search “dog-friendly hotels” on the Internet). Definitely tip off the front desk if you’ll be leaving your pet in your room for any extended period. It’s helpful to have your pet crated if it’s only for a few hours. Don’t forget about housekeeping coming into your room while you are gone…wouldn’t want “Fido” running out the door…If it’s any longer than that, hotels can arrange for dog walking and have their teams check in upon request.