There are different reasons why a person would like to travel with their pet. Maybe you have no one to leave them behind, or perhaps you want to share the fun experience of gallivanting across strange and wonderful places with your feline or canine companion. It could also be that you simply don’t want to be separated from them even for just an hour, much more an entire vacation.
All of these reasons are valid. If all these resonate with you at once, you’re valid. Or should we say your love for your pet is valid, but you need to be level-headed, too. Traveling with a pet is all fun and games until you are refused entry to a hotel you had booked for a significant price because they don’t allow pets inside. That’s just one of the many ways your supposedly fun travel could go wrong.
With that said, plan accordingly. Here are some tips.
1. Pack for your pet
Make a list of everything your pet will need. The usual suspects include:
- a leash and harness
- dishes for food and water
- collar and tags
- waste bags
Usually, you start packing for travel once you’ve already taken care of essential preparations, but this is just to make sure. You can recheck what you’ve packed a day before you leave. If your pet’s fond of watching random YouTube videos during idle hours, you might want to include a spare tablet in their bag. If you don’t want to share gadgets, you can buy them refurbished electronics.
2. Visit the vet
Make sure your pet is fit to travel. Do not rely on your own assessment; you need an expert’s advice. That means you need a quick trip to the vet. It’s better to postpone your travel than put the health of your feline or canine companion at risk. Also, depending on your destination, your pet might require additional vaccines. Certain places will ask for a health certificate, so prepare for that as well.
3. Get your pet travel-ready
You need to train your pet in the nuances of travel. By nuances, we mean that trips can get bumpy and boring. When the road gets tough, your pet should be tough enough to get going without throwing a major tantrum that could get you in trouble.
As a good pet guardian, you need to ensure that your pet’s comfortable enough in a moving vehicle. Days before departure, take them on mini road trips to condition them on what lies ahead. Also, give them enough time to get used to staying in a carrier for extended periods. Ideally, you’ve bought your pet a comfy carrier they won’t mind being caged in.
4. If going on a road trip, choose the best routes
Crowdsource information from a variety of sources, so you have a variety of opinions. Your options include Facebook pages devoted to pets, vets, groomers, pet club facilitators and members, and your next-door neighbor who shares your penchant for cats and dogs.
Your goal is to come up with a route that’ll offer you the best experience. This route should have a plethora of destinations you can enjoy with your furry companion, such as museums, theme parks, beaches, and national parks, among others.
If you’re going on a road trip, but you’re not driving, which is still literally a road trip, research rules and restrictions of bus and train lines. For instance, only select Amtrak trains allow pets on board. Meanwhile, for Greyhound buses, only certified service dogs are issued a ticket.
5. If flying overseas, learn airline rules and restrictions
Yes, your pet can travel on a commercial airline. Your options include in-cabin, checked baggage, and manifesto cargo. However, different airlines have different pet policies. So, it’s essential that you go straight to an airline’s official website to know the specific rules they impose. Here, a health and vaccine certificate will come in handy for sure.
Image by Paul Schultz via Flick
6. Book pet-friendly accommodations
After a day of exploring new towns and cities, you need a place to unwind and sleep. Booking pet-friendly accommodations is important. Remember that not all hotels welcome pets. Alternatively, you can look for Couchsurfing hosts that share your love for furry friends. Just be mindful of the risks that come along with that option.
7. Research breed restrictions
Some destinations impose strong policies against the so-called “bully breed.” This umbrella term covers bull-looking dogs, such as American bulldogs and rottweilers. So before including a town or city in your itinerary, do some research first.
Time well-spent with your pet
Yes, you have all the right to take your pet sightseeing with you. They, too, can appreciate this majestic we live in. Plus, they’ll appreciate the bonding moments you’ll have on the road. But as already mentioned, pet-friendly travel must be well-planned. You can’t just wing it.
Once you’ve made the necessary preparations, it’s time for a countdown. Don’t forget a reliable DSLR camera or camera phone. Take as many photos of your pet out in the big world as you can. Who knows, one of your photos could win in a pet photo contest. Or those photos could be your ticket to becoming an Instagram star.
Silke Putscher is an officer at Macs4u, a Minnesota-based company dedicated to delivering the best value in pre-owned Apple Macintosh computers. She is also an avid animal lover who advocates for the welfare of no-kill and high save rate shelters.