Spring break is right around the corner, and summer vacation will be here before you know it! Now’s the time to start planning your upcoming adventures, and whether you’re an experienced pet traveler, or striking out on your very first pet friendly trip, these steps will help you avoid the most common pet travel mistakes.
1. Book Early. There’s nothing worse than having your plans derailed before you even get started! As soon as you know where you want to go, get to work making any air, train, rental car, and accommodation reservations you’ll need.
- Airline pet policies vary in whether they accept reservations in advance for pets, the documentation required to fly with a pet in the cabin, and additional pet fees. Be sure you’ve confirmed the requirements of the airline you’ll be flying well in advance.
- Pet policies for rental cars not only differ from company to company, but can even vary by location of the same company. When making your reservation confirm your pick up and drop off points, let them know you’ll be traveling with a pet, and document your conversation (including who you spoke to) in case there are questions later.
- Pet friendly hotel options range from a simple, comfortable place to sleep at the end of each day’s adventure, to a posh resort that offers all the amenities that you and your pet have been dreaming about.
- Pet friendly campgrounds and RV parks can fill up quickly – especially in at popular destinations during “high season.” If you’re planning to camp at a national park or near another well-known attraction, you should expect to make your reservations at least six months in advance to get choice locations.
2. Training Time. No dog is perfectly behaved, and that should not keep you from traveling with your furry family members! There are, however, a few things you can do to make your trip more enjoyable for you both. Spend some time with your dog practicing loose-leash walking, not jumping on people, and lying quietly by your table at a restaurant – all so he’s on his best behavior when it matters!
3. Buckle Up. Travel season sees an uptick in the number of vehicles on the road and that, unfortunately, translates into more car accidents. For his safety and yours, it’s important to use a seat belt harness or secured carrier for your pet in the car. To ensure your trip goes smoothly, start acclimating your pet to his carrier or harness well before it’s time to hit the road.
4. Spoiling Spoils Everything. Being on vacation is a great excuse to splurge on all the things you never eat the rest of the year. That may be fine for you, but it’s a really bad idea for your pet. Introducing foods that your dog isn’t accustomed to can cause gastrointestinal upset, which isn’t pleasant for either of you! To avoid making him uncomfortable, stick to your pet’s normal food and treats, and continue to feed him on his usual schedule while you’re away from home.
Even when you’re careful, traveling can sometimes cause a disruption to your pet’s system. In case you would need to visit a veterinarian, it’s a good idea to take your pet’s medical records with you. Rather than take his whole file, make a copy of his current vaccination records and scan the rest of your pet’s records onto an easy-to-pack USB drive.
5. Come Home Together. It’s gut-wrenching to even consider, but it only takes a split second for a pet to back out of his collar or get startled and run away. Far too many pets are lost while traveling with their families each year, and there are a few things you can do to be sure you all come home together:
- Keep your pet’s ID tags current with a phone number where you can be reached while you’re traveling.
- Have your pets micro-chipped before your trip, and be sure your contact information with the company that registers the chip is up to date.
- Carry a current photo of your pet in case you need to make posters.
Follow these simple steps, and your next pet friendly vacation should come off without a hitch!