This in-depth pet travel guide is in collaboration with Evelin Weiss at Overlandsite.com. Evelin and her dog Mazli are travel and overland enthusiasts. With the growing popularity of exploring the outdoors through adventure travel, we encourage you to find safe and fun ways to include your pets. Traveling can be hectic, especially if you are a pet owner and are planning to travel with them.
With a little advance planning, you and your animal companions can not only travel together, but have fun in the process. In fact, starting now will allow you to be prepared when the time comes to hit the road together!
Taking A Road Trip with Your Pet
Is your Destination Pet Friendly?
Traveling with your pets can be a joyful experience with advance planning and careful consideration. If you are cruising by road in an RV, you are well equipped for adventure! If you are traveling by car or truck, and not planning to pitch your tent and camp under the stars, you need to find pet-friendly accommodations along the way. Many hotel chains and private motels offer services for pets, with various restrictions, including weight limits and added fees. Advance reservations are always recommended to avoid “no vacancy” surprises.
If you plan to visit family or friends, make sure they are able to host your pets. If they own pets, is everyone friendly and accepting of others on their turf? Some pets are shy by nature and mixing with people or other animals might trigger anxiety or aggression. Other animals are territorial or protective of their human family members, forcing unwanted encounters. Some pets are overly-friendly; a trait that others may not appreciate. Keep in mind that they will be excited by this new travel experience and may become overstimulated by the presence of people or other animals.
Make Short Practice Runs with Your Pets
Your next step should be to take a few rides with your pet before you contemplate a long road trip. Start small and work your way into longer rides. You will discover if your pet becomes overexcited or scared when they take a ride. They might suffer motion sickness or other issues that need to be addressed before an extended road trip. You may want to invest in a special pet carrier, protective cargo liners for the back seats, collapsible water and food bowls, and possibly a loading ramp (for larger dogs).
If your pet is not used to being inside a crate, taking the time to train them in advance will prevent stress and make the trip easier for them. Crates are not only good for secure travel, but also make a nice “home away from home” when you are staying elsewhere.
Remember that if your four-legged friend rides with you without a crate, driving for long periods of time is different. Your pet might be able to handle a short ride to the dog park, but that does not mean they can handle a longer trip cross country. Adding a new toy for them to enjoy and including their favorite pet bed may ease potential stress.
Letting your pets ride outside of a crate puts them in extreme danger if you have an accident or need to brake suddenly. An unrestrained pet can hurtle through the cabin, with injurious force and distracting the driver as well.
Stopping for a drink, potty break, meals and a leg stretch every few hours is a must. Taking breaks to exercise will allow your pet to burn off energy and make everyone happier. Locate rest stops that have pet areas or find pet-friendly parks along the way. Pack plenty of bottled water as not all road stops will have a potable water source. Always leash your dogs before letting them out of the car.
Best to use your A/C or heater to make sure that your furry friends stay comfortable while they are in the vehicle. Allowing dogs to hang their heads out of the window is an invitation for potential eye injury from flying debris.
Never leave your dog or cat in the car unattended and without circulation. The outdoor temperature can be as low as 60 degrees F, yet the temperature in a closed car can reach 100 degrees in one short hour.
Providing food they normally eat not only prevents digestive surprises but can be a source of comfort. Treats are always recommended to reinforce good behavior and may help with travel stress or boredom.
Finally, once you are finished driving for the day, make sure you and your pet get plenty of “down time” before starting up again the next day.
Visit your Vet pre-departure
Before your trip they will need to see their veterinarian for updated vaccinations or a well check. Your vet might make recommendations about unique circumstances that could apply in your specific destination, such as pests and wildlife issues unique to the area you plan to visit. They can also provide medications for anxiety, motion sickness, or other health issues that travel can cause.
Finally, they can let you know if your pet is not ready to travel, should an undiagnosed condition surface. If you are “clear for take-off”, pack your pet’s medical records in case they become ill and require veterinary care elsewhere.
Traveling Across Borders
Taking your pet with you to another country is possible as long as it meets the criteria the host country has established. Each location will be different but will usually require up-to-date vaccinations and general good health for an animal to be allowed into their country.
Paperwork that may be needed include vaccination records, veterinary approval for travel and identification with accurate descriptions of the pet as well as owner and owner address/contact information. Check with your intended travel destination authorities (for both domestic and international travel) to determine exact requirements. Hiring a professional pet transportation company to assist with logistics is recommended to ensure your pets arrive safely at their destination. A good resource includes: https://www.ipata.org/find-ipata-pet-shippers .
Traveling On a Plane
Airlines have recently revised travel guidelines for passenger pets in the main cabin, for domestic flights within the U.S. Dogs with specific therapy training as service animals are free to roam the cabin, so to speak, yet traveling with your non-service animal is not as easy today.
Unless a person has an ADA classified disability and a specifically trained dog (only dogs) for that disability, you cannot legally claim to have a service dog. You must sign a federal Department of Transportation affidavit to that effect under penalty of fines and imprisonment if you make any false statements. If you want your animal in the cabin, you not only pay an additional fee but the animal and his carrier has to weigh no more than 20 pounds. There may be limits as to how many pets are allowed on each flight and your pet may be counted as a part of your carry-on allowance.
If your pet cannot travel in the cabin, they may be able to fly in the cargo area; albeit with additional guidelines, restrictions and considerations. Consulting with individual airlines or an informed travel agent may help you navigate this option to make the best choice for you and your pet.
Travel by Train
Amtrak allows dogs and cats up to 20 pounds (combined weight of pet and carrier) up to seven hours on most routes. Service animals are always welcome. Please research additional details for other restrictions if you are looking for a special train adventure with your pet.
Travel by Bus
Unless your pet is designated as a service animal, most major bus companies like Greyhound or Amtrak do not allow animals to travel with their owners. This is due mostly to the limited space on buses. If you are traveling by bus, you will likely need to find another way to get your pet to your travel destination; or leave them home with a trusted pet sitter.
Travel by Ship
Most cruise lines have a no pet policy, outside of designated service animals. Those lines that do accommodate pets will usually place them in an on-board kennel. What’s the point of that? Find a reputable pet boarding service and set sail without your beloved pets.
We hope that you enjoy the friendly skies and roads this year as you seek adventure and outdoor exploration with your beloved pets by your side. See Chewy.com on our website for road trip supplies, including food and treats @ http://www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop
photo provided by Overlandsite.com
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