Traveling by yourself can be hectic and stressful, particularly if you aren’t well prepared. Traveling with your pet can also be stressful, not only to you, but also to that four-legged member of your family. Careful planning, however, can take a bite out of the stress and make it more comfortable and fun to travel with your pets. One key bit of advice– plan ahead, particularly if you are traveling out of your country. In some cases, you need to plan a six months to a year ahead to ensure that you and your pet will enjoy the adventure.
Some preliminary travel tips:
1. Make sure your pet is physically able to travel. If your pet is older, if it is very young and not well trained, or if it has been sick or at the vet a lot, reconsider your position. Your dog or cat may be better off in familiar surroundings with a loving pet sitter than on unfamiliar turf at this time.
2. If you are planning to travel abroad, particularly if you are planning to travel to any of the United Kingdom (UK) countries from a rabies free country or any of the other countries with a low incidence of rabies, be aware that, as of January 1, 2012, requirements for pets entering the UK have eased a bit. Your pet will need to be microchipped and vaccinated at least 21 days prior to travel. If you are traveling from a country with a high incidence of rabies, you will need to do a Blood Titer Test one month after vaccination and three months prior to entering the UK. Find more information on traveling to the UK with a pet.
3. Visit your veterinarian. In the case of traveling abroad, make sure you and your vet know what documents are necessary for ease of entry into another country, particularly a European country. Make sure that your pet has vaccination and rabies records up to date, the information is not more than 10 days old and that you have two or three copies of this record with you. Find Pet Passports for countries worldwide. Also, if your dog or cat isn’t micro chipped, have your vet insert a 15 digit ISO Standard 11784/11785 pet microchip for dogs and cats.
4. Ask your vet for information on traveling with your pet, and let him know where you are going, how you are going to get there and how long you will be gone. Ask for a referring veterinarian in the destination area, and keep the phone number of the vet with you. Get information from your veterinarian information on medications for motion sickness, tranquilizers he would recommend, and any health dangers in that area, such as tick, heartworm or flea infestations.
5. Purchase an appropriate pet carrier or pet crate for your pet, depending on its size and how you will travel. The carrier you choose should allow the pet to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably, and should be free of any interior protrusions that could injure your pet in travel. There should be adequate ventilation and a waterproof bottom. Your pet should be secure in the pet carrier. Make sure your name, your pet’s name and address and phone are printed on the carrier in indelible ink. A word about the pet carrier or pet crate. Don’t spring this mode of transportation on your dog or cat on the day you leave. Spend several weeks getting your pet used to the carrier or crate increasing intervals before embarking on your pet vacation.
Check with the airline if your pet will travel in the cargo hold to find out their precautions for this mode of travel. And leave the leash outside the carrier. Your pet can get tangled in it when traveling in the crate.
6. Check with PetTravel to find pet friendly hotels, and be sure to double check with them before making reservations (policies do change, sometimes with new ownership or the time of the year). At Pettravel, you can search for pet friendly hotels in any city worldwide.
7. If you are planning to travel via air with your pet in the cabin, you will not only need to have an approved carrier, but you will need to let the airlines know that you are traveling with a pet. You need to make the reservations for both you and your pet over the phone. Pet reservations cannot be made online.
The object in traveling in the cabin with your pet is to be as unobtrusive as possible. To have the experience be pleasant for you, your pet and your fellow passengers should maintain a good reputation with the airlines that do allow small pets in the cabins. The better behaved your pet is (no running loose, no barking or howling), the more likely it is that the airline will continue its pet friendly policy and will encourage others in the industry to accommodate pet owners as well.
8. When packing for your trip, you will need:
- The veterinarian’s documents for your pet
- Your pet should be micro chipped and wearing a collar with your information on it
- Your pet carrier or crate, complete with identification
- A leash and an extra collar. Make sure your pet isn’t wearing a choke collar of any kind. Cats should have a safety collar.
- Extra sheets or an old blanket for under the carrier for travel in an automobile
- A couple of sheets to cover furniture and/or the bed at your destination, just in case
- A blanket or cushion from your pet’s home bedding
- A container of your pet’s food. If you pet eats a common food and you know that it is available, you needn’t bring a whole bag. But, if you don’t know if you’ll find your pet’s food, then bring it with you. (Don’t forget a can opener and spoon, if needed)
- Of course, a portable food and water dish, and a portable water container for traveling while at your destination. Pet bottle tops are great for traveling because they fit on a typical water bottle and will allow your pet easy access to hydration.
- Backpack for your dog if you are going to be doing hiking or walking.
- Booties for your dog if you plan to travel on uneven or hilly ground
- Their favorite chew toys
- Grooming supplies, such as a brush or comb, a lint remover for hotel furniture, tweezers, scissors
- Trash bags and waste removal bags
- Disinfectant and carpet cleaner
- Extra old towels
- Portable cat litter tray for your kitty
- If traveling by car, use a pet carrier pad. If you decide to take a short walk, use a cat harness and leash. Under no circumstances should your cat run free.
- Don’t forget your pet’s medication, particularly enough of any prescription medication for the trip.
- Use a pet harness device when traveling by car. In case of an accident, dogs can be thrown around the car and be injured or injure the driver or passengers as well.
- Flashlight (for walking after dark)
- First aid kit for humans and pets
9. If you are traveling by car, make sure your air conditioning is working properly and that you use it while driving. Don’t roll down the windows and let your dog hang its head out of the window, and never have your pet in the back of a truck. It is a good idea to harness your pet when driving for their safety.
10. Pack a relaxed attitude. This is supposed to be fun for your family and your pet. Check out interesting places to visit along the way or at your destination, and plan extra time for impulse side trips.