A Guide on Travelling With Pets: Top Tips for a Stress-Free Trip
Who doesn’t love taking a trip away, getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Wouldn’t it all be better if we could take our pets with us?
Cats, Dogs, or even other pets. Going on nature ventures either nationally or internationally would be so much better if we could take our pets on every excursion.
However, it is not always the easiest feat, and few people actually know how to go about planning an excursion with their pets.
It doesn’t have to be difficult though, you can plan a fantastic adventure and take your pet with you, all you need is planning, consideration for your pet, a few items, some preparation, and information regarding how you are travelling, it really is that simple.
The Importance Of Planning
Whether you are going on a vacation with or without your pets, planning is always imperative. You need to know what to pack, what transport you are using, what time you anticipate arriving, as well as other things, such as itinerary, whether you need food and drink, and so on.
If you are taking your pets with you, it is really no different from how you plan for yourself, you simply need to include your pets in the planning. Consider their needs for the trip just as you consider your own.
Planning ahead can help you avoid any unnecessary chaos that comes with planning a trip, chaos that can be doubled if it involves your pet.
The last thing you need is your pet getting anxious, sick, frightened, or not having all that they need to be comfortable simply because you forgot to plan ahead.
Involve them in your pre-vacation plans.
Elements To Consider
Before you start planning your trip away with your pet, you need to consider a few things first. Asking yourself if this is a trip that your pet will enjoy, and if it is worth taking them.
If you take them on a trip that is not suitable for them, both you and your pet will regret it. So be sure to think this over first.
Is it worth taking your pet?
Do you need to take your pet on this trip? If you are going on a cross-country road trip, your pet may enjoy this. However, if you are going to a holiday park, or intend spending much of your vacation shopping, sightseeing, or at a wellness center, this may not be suitable.
Assess the reasoning for your trip, and if it is worth taking your pet with you. Will they be bored, or will they have much to do? Will they be outside with you or in the accommodation more?
Considering if it is worth taking your pet is the first thing you should do. If they will simply be staying in the accommodation all the time due to it being a typically more ‘human’ getaway, then it is not worth it.
Can your pet get easily stressed/ are they frail/ old?
Considering how your pet may deal with travel is another factor. If they are frail or old then this trip may not be wise, they could easily fall sick, get hurt, and the changes of scenery and location could stress them out to the point where it affects their health.
Animals, like cats and dogs, are much like humans in that as they age they are less welcoming to change. If your pet is older, they may not take so well to the change that comes with travelling.
If your pet is typically anxious or can get easily stressed, then this is also something that you should avoid. Animals that get stressed or anxious easily will find travelling very unpleasant, and while they might enjoy the destination, the stressful travel will not be worth it for them.
Destination: Research the rules and regulations of your destination country, E.g. passport
Consider the location also, some villas, hotels, Airbnb’s and so forth will allow animals where others will not. If you book online, they will usually inform you if they are pet friendly.
If they do not state that they are pet friendly, contact them to check. Most of the time, if accommodation does not state that they are pet friendly, then they are not. Never assume that a place is pet friendly when booking your stay.
If you are travelling abroad then consider the countries views on pets as well, this means if you are going sightseeing, some countries may not allow pets into these areas, which may result in your pet having to stay in the accommodation for the most part of the trip.
Itinerary-check if pet friendly
When planning your trip and the events/ places you will attend while there, double check that these places are pet friendly.
Nature reserves, national parks and such are usually pet friendly, however theme parks, resorts, and possible landmarks are rarely pet friendly, unless they are a service dog.
Check the pet friendliness of your itinerary before you plan on taking your pet with you.
Health risks-schedule a vet visit before the trip/ up-to-date vaccinations
It should go without saying that before you travel anywhere with your pet, you should get a thumbs up from your vet. Make sure that the vet gives them the all-clear to travel before you book. If your pet does not get checked and then travels with you, this could result in injuries, health complications or worse.
Check airline regulations
If you are flying when you travel, be sure to check the restrictions and regulations of the airline, regarding pet travel. Some airlines will be stricter than others when it comes to air travel.
You may find that some will not allow you to travel with your pet, others may allow you to keep your pet with you in the cabin, where some may wish for your pet to be in a separate area of the plane.
If you are not sure, contact the airline and ask what their policy is for your particular pet.
Items To Pack
If you have checked all the above and all is good to go, then you now need to consider what you must take with you on your adventure. Your pet will need certain things like you will to be comfortable for the duration of the trip. So add these to your packing list.
Water/ food/ treats/ blankets
Much like we need to ensure we are watered, fed, and comfortable, our pets need this too. No matter if you are on a road trip or on a flight, your pet will need sufficient food and water, as well as some treats and a blanket to stay warm.
Make sure to pack plenty of each. It is better to have too much than too little with you on your trip.
Pet carrier/ bedding
Depending on the type of pet you should have a carrier with you, and if you are flying you definitely need one. Animals do not know the rules of travel, or the health and safety conditions that come with it, like we do. So, keeping them in an animal carrier will prevent unnecessary chaos during the journey.
Ensure they have plenty of comfy bedding in their carrier, so they are warm, comfortable and can relax during the trip.
It is also important that if your pet has a comfort item that you pack this in with their bedding, so they will feel safe and comfortable during the journey.
First aid supplies and medication
When we take a trip away, we make sure to pack band-aids, possibly a first aid kit, as well as any medicine we take. Ensure you do the same for your pet.
You can get pet first aid kits that are ideal for this purpose. If your pet is on any regular medication, ensure you pack this too, much like you would your own.
Remedies to ease travel sickness/ anxiety.
If your pet gets anxious or travel sick during the journey, make sure you have items with you to relieve this. Comfort items such as toys, blankets and such are great for anxious pets during travel.
You can also get medicines for your pets that will aid in the relieving of travel sickness. You can speak to your vet about these.
Pet seat belt
If you are taking a road trip, then consider installing a pet seat belt. The last thing you need is Fido slip sliding along the back of the car while you are driving. A pet seatbelt will keep your pet secure in the car, so you and your pet are safe.
Not only is it safe for the animal, but also for you. You need to concentrate on the road, and you cannot do this if they are hopping around in the car.
Remember, your pet should also be in the back seat during this journey, as airbags can protect you but can kill your pet, so keep them in the back of the car.
Comfort items are always a plus, so pack your pet’s favorite toy or planet to keep them comfortable and anxiety-free on the journey.
Even after the journey, they may feel a bit home sick or anxious, so this item will help to keep them feeling calm.
Wherever you are travelling, ensure you carry your pet’s important documents with you, when travelling across state or international borders, you may need to provide a health certificate as well as proof that they are vaccinated against rabies.
This will ensure that there is no hold up in your trip due to any complications with documents.
Tips To Prepare Perfectly
Road trips and flying both come with different requirements for planning. You will need to prepare different things depending on what type of trip you are taking.
Road Trips are traditionally best for animals, but if you are taking a long trip and want your pet with you, you need to be perfectly prepared.
In the case, you are taking a road trip, you need to consider the specifics of your journey. Traveling for a long time in a car can be trying for most people, so it will be trying for your pet too.
Make sure to give your pet all they need for the journey to your destination.
Prep your pet
The first step is to ensure that your pet has all their vaccinations and is healthy enough to travel on this trip. Once you have done this, you should make sure that they are used to being on the road.
Perhaps take them for a few short drives in the car to get used to being on the road. Helping them to get accustomed to being in a car can help them feel comfortable when it comes to the longer trip.
On the run-up to your trip, slowly increase the length of the trips you take in the car.
Once they feel comfortable and calm in the car, everything will be easier.
Purchase a well-ventilated crate/ carrier
The safest way for your pet to travel will be in a pet carrier that has been strapped to the seat with a seatbelt or another anchor. You need to ensure that the carrier is large enough for your pet to stand in, turn around in, and lay down.
You can also use a pet seat belt, although these are not suitable for all animals, and they have not been fully proven to protect an animal in the event of a crash. So for your safety and the safety of the pet, it is best to invest in a carrier.
Ensure that the carrier is well ventilated so that they have plenty of oxygen to breath, as well as preventing them from feeling claustrophobic.
Ones that have metal bars rather than plastic coating are best as they allow your pet to see what is going on around them, and it does not feel as tight of a space, preventing any claustrophobia.
You should also pack a travel kit. This will include your pets’ health records, as well as proof of any recent immunizations, as well as regular food, water, medications, and bowls.
Include supplies to clean up after your pet too, including bags, scoops, and litter. Make sure you also add in some toys, adding new ones into their mix of old favorites. Finally, add in a pet first aid kit.
These are a majority of the necessary items you will need to keep your pet happy and safe for the most part of the trip, so make a list and ensure you have everything packed when you set off.
Feed your pet a light meal
Before you leave for your journey, give your pet a light meal three to four hours before leaving. Then while on the road, stop to allow them to eat.
Never feed the while on the go, even if you are running behind schedule, if you feed them on the go then this can result in them getting car sick, and that will take a lot longer to sort out than stopping for a quick spot of lunch.
Pack your own water bottle
Most of us will travel with a bottle of water in tow, so make sure you bring your own. Or even better, pack a separate one just for your pet.
Try to get them familiar with the bottle or dish you will allow them to drink from on the road, as drinking water from an unfamiliar source can cause stomach upsets.
Bring a friend/ family member
If you are travelling with a pet, bring along a friend or family member. Have them sit in the back of the car with your pet.
Just having someone there while they are in this usual situation will be comforting for them, especially if it is someone they know. Familiar voices can drown out the unfamiliar sounds and sights.
Exercise your pet before leaving
Obviously, it is a good idea to exercise your pet before you leave, as they won’t be able to get much while you are on the road. However, it is also very similar to dealing with children.
Exercise them beforehand so they are more tired on the journey, and they are less likely to wreak havoc on the journey, and instead have a little nap in the car.
Take them for a walk, or have a play with them beforehand, and instead of an excitable energetic pet, you will have a calm and relaxed one, which is much better for you when you need to concentrate on the road ahead.
Flea and worm your pet before travelling
It may seem like stating the obvious, but you do not want any stowaways on board on your journey. Before you leave, ensure your pet is free of fleas, ticks and worms.
Your vet can advise you on the best products to use for this, you can get tablets and collars that can repel or kill these parasites both and during the trip.
Tell your vet where you are going as well, and they may be able to advise any products for any foreign pests that your pet may encounter.
It is advisable that you get your pet microchipped. Generally this is a good idea whether you are going away or not.
If your pet should happen to make an attempt to run free, microchipping can be an easy way of tracking them down. If not, get a collar with information on it.
Pet collar with contact information
If you do not get your pet microchipped, or even in addition to getting them microchipped, it is advisable that they have a collar with an ID tag with your home address and cell phone number on it.
Temporary travel tag
If you go on a longer trip, then you can get a temporary tag with the phone number of the accommodation you are staying at in case your pet gets lost while you travel. All collars should be flat, and these should be simple ones. If you have a dog, never ever use a choke collar.
Most of the above also apply to travelling via plane, but there are some other things you will want to consider as well if you and your pet are travelling by air.
Book a direct flight
Again we state the obvious, when you travel with your pet, do not get a flight with stopovers, while these may be cheaper they put your pet under more stress and strain and can be more complex as you will often have to deal with more than one airline in these situations.
It is not worth the hassle, so should be strongly avoided. Booking a direct flight means that while it may be more expensive, the time spent traveling will be significantly shorter, and your pet will thank you for it.
Purchase a shipping crate; including identification
Before flying with a pet, ensure to acquire their travel carrier well in advance of your trip. You should consider a soft-sided carrier as these are more forgiving for fitting underneath the airline seat space.
You should try to teach your pet beforehand that this carrier is a great place to hang out. Keep it open and available in the home, and make it inviting to the pet. Try feeding them in it.
Doing so will create a positive association with this carrier and therefore make traveling easier.
You should also practice entry and exit of the carrier with your pet, making it as routine as possible, this will be very important during the security screening process.
Top travel tips
Aside from the things that will help you prepare for your trip, there are some things that you must do on your trip as well. These things will help to ensure that your pet is happy and safe during the trip, and that everything that should be in place is so.
When you are on the road, with everything that you have prepared as above, it will still not be smooth sailing, you must remember that you are travelling with an animal, and it won’t be an easy ride.
Ensure that you have all the following in place so that both you and your animal are happy while you are on your vacation.
Regular toilet breaks
Just like us, animals will need to go to the bathroom every once in a while. If your pet is trained then this will be easier. Make sure to make stops every few hours for a toilet break.
Adult dogs can hold their bladders for a maximum of 8 hours, however, we recommend making stops every 3 to 4 hours.
If this is their first long road trip, then they may be a bit nervous, which may mean they need to go to the restroom more. It is also worth putting toilet pads down, just in case they do have an accident.
Cats belong in carriers
Never let your cat loose in the car. Cats are much less likely to be used to cars than dogs, and so they are more likely to be unhappy and stressed. Keep them in a carrier with their favorite toys, and keep someone close to them so that they have company and comfort.
Make sure that their carrier is big enough for them to stand up in, turn around, and lay down in. Generally, cat carriers should be one and a half times the size of your cat.
Dogs shouldn’t roam in the car
While dogs are more likely to be calm in a car than a cat is, they still should not be roaming free. They can distract the driver, get overexcited, or if they are anxious they can create bedlam in the car.
They should also be in carriers. Or if you have a big car with a customized area at the back of the car for your dog, this is best.
Keep animal heads inside
While it looks funny and cool in movies when a dog pops their head out of the window and their lips and tongue are flapping about in the wind, it isn’t safe.
Not only is it a risk with passing vehicles but also dirt, rocks, and dust that bounce off of the road. These materials can get in your dog’s eyes and can lead to eye punctures and scratches. Therefore, keep your animal’s heads inside the vehicle.
Never leave your animal alone
Never, ever leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle, on a hot day, even with windows open. Vehicles can easily become a furnace in no time at all, and they can easily develop heat stroke.
In cold weather, vehicles can do the opposite and become a freezer, holding in the cold and causing your pet to freeze to death. If you need to leave the car for a bit, take your pet with you.
Keep animals in the back of your car
As tempting as it can be to have your pet up front with you, it simply is not safe. They can be a distraction, they can restrict your view of the road, and in the event of a crash, airbags are more likely to kill your pet than protect them.
Keep your pets in the back of the car, in a carrier, and strapped in.
Keep your pet restrained during travel
You do not want an animal roaming around the vehicle while you are trying to drive, keep your pet restrained in a carrier, and strapped in.
If you often take your pet on drives to the beach or park and have an area of your car already fitted out for them, this is also good. Simply, keep them in one place.
While the above applies to taking trips on a plane, there is one other thing you should also keep in mind.
Inform every airline employee you are travelling with a pet.
It may seem over the top, but inform every airline employee you encounter, on ground and in air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way they will be ready if any additional attention is needed.
If the plane is delayed, or you have concerns about the welfare of your pet, you need to insist that airline personnel check on the animal whenever they can.
In some situations, removing your pet from the cargo hold may be required.
Often, there will be no need for this, but it is better to be prepared, and plan ahead, in case there is any situation in which this information is relevant.
Simply put, it is better to be safe than sorry.
A safe and stress-free trip
Travelling with a pet can be great fun, and it can make for some truly epic adventures, but you need to be prepared for this. Not only do you need to consider how you will be travelling but if this journey is a good decision for your pet.
Speak to a veterinarian before taking your pet on any trips, be it a road trip, or going abroad. It is also vital to check the itinerary and ensure that the places you are travelling to are suitable for your animal, as not all are.
Your pet should be comfortable, with plenty of food and water, toilet breaks, and comfort items, regardless of the type of trip. Even if you are just going across state, it is worth taking their medical documents with you, so you have any possible eventuality covered.
Keep your pet properly identified with a name tag, collar, or microchip, and ensure they are safely kept in a crate. Do not forget the all-important travel kit. You and your pet can enjoy the vacation of a lifetime together, just ensure you consider, prepare, pack, and plan perfectly.
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