Animal Adventures

Tips for Traveling with Your Furry Friend

Shot of two dogs hugging from behind while sitting on blanket in the back of an SUV looking at the mountains ;Animal Adventures | Tips for Traveling with Your Furry Friend

By Pete Alfano

The bags are packed, the kids are dressed, and the SUV has a full tank of gas. The countdown is on for the family road trip, but wait, let’s avoid that Home Alone moment and remember that our four-legged family member is coming, too.

It seems like more people are taking their pets on vacation nowadays. It may have stemmed from the COVID-19 lockdown, when families were sequestered at home, thus spending more time together. Or it could be that more travel destinations are pet-friendly, understanding how important a dog or cat is to its owners. But remember that taking your pet along for the trip requires a lot of preparation.

Cat traveling with transparent backpack carrier in the park Traveling with pet concept

No one would leave home on a vacation without having proof of health care. That goes for your pets as well. Make sure your pet is up to date on its vaccinations and bring either the actual paperwork or take photos with your smartphone. You never know when you might have to visit an animal clinic on your trip. While you are at it, have your pet microchipped, and make sure it is wearing a collar with its
name and your phone number.

Also, consider a few dress rehearsals. If your pet rides in the car only when going to the vet, it might be understandably anxious. So, take your dog or even your cat on short rides in the neighborhood or to a park to lessen the anxiety. On the day you leave, some experts suggest playing vigorously with your pet so that it will be tired and more likely to sleep in the car. Don’t feed your pet a big meal just in case it gets car sick.

Animal Adventures | Tips for Traveling with Your Furry Friend

Have you ever been on the road and seen someone driving with a small dog on their lap in the driver’s seat? How about a dog roaming freely about the car while a driver and perhaps a passenger are wearing seat belts? On any trip, but certainly long ones, it is best to have a small dog or cat in a kennel or crate secured in the back seat. There are harnesses for bigger dogs that clip into a seat belt to keep them in one place. Stop often to give your pet some exercise and a chance to use the bathroom. A quick scoop of the travel litter box may be necessary for cats. Reward your pet with a few treats, but never leave them in the car alone, especially in extreme weather conditions, hot or cold. Doing all of this may slow you down, but your pet will never say, “Are we there yet?”

If the trip includes an overnight stay or two at a hotel on the way to your destination, book it well in advance, and yes, make sure it is pet friendly. Ask for a room on the first floor, if available, so your pet won’t have to use an elevator or stairs. Also, be sure your pet is used to staying in a kennel for short periods because you may want to go to a restaurant for dinner, and sleeping in one will reduce accidents in the room. Understand that this trip may be nerve-wracking for a pet, and you don’t want it to experience separation anxiety.

small dog in harness being held by female owner on airplane, both looking out the window; Animal Adventures | Tips for Traveling with Your Furry Friend

Flying with your pet can be an ordeal. Some airlines allow dogs under 20 pounds to be in a kennel with their owner. Bigger dogs may be allowed to travel in crates in the cargo hold. There are also pet transport services to ship a dog or cat by air or land in comfort, but they are expensive and may be best considered when relocating for a job. So, while it will require more time and care, your pet will probably prefer to be with its family.

Business woman with her dog at hotel reception

Booking a Trip with a Pet

Finding pet-friendly accommodations is not the hassle it once was, especially for dogs. Websites and apps catering to pet travel. Bring Fido, probably the best known, advertises more than 500,000 places to stay, eat, and play with a pet. Be.chewy.com lists Rover.com as an excellent source for finding pet sitters when you are on the road and want to visit a landmark or go to a restaurant that does not allow your four-legged friends without any additional cost. What’s more, travel apps like Trivago, Priceline, Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb offer pet-friendly destinations and accommodations for vacationers.  

For more travel tips, visit LivingMagazine.net/Adventure

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