Everyone loves a vacation, and you love it even more when your pet can accompany you. However, taking a pet with you on holiday is more complicated than packing her in a crate and heading out. A dog is more like a child than luggage, so you need to do a little planning to make sure you handle the trip the right way. When you plan ahead, you ensure that the trip goes smoothly and you make memories that last a lifetime.
Tags and Identification
Even if your dog doesn’t wear tags and a collar in your home, having proper identification is a must for dogs who are traveling. Even better is to make sure your dog is microchipped? If your dog gets separated from your family, you need to be certain that she is tagged and chipped so it’s easy for the person who finds her to find you. Also take a photo with you, or snap one on your phone, just in case your dog gets away and you need to find her. Since many vacation spots have rules about pets, it’s also good to look into the local leash laws.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Different methods of travel require different preparation for your dog. If your dog has not traveled by car for a long trip, he could wind up carsick. Talk with your vet about motion sickness pills or alternatives and make sure you have some with you just in case. Bring plenty of water and food. Dogs shouldn’t travel on an empty stomach. Having food will prevent the dog from getting sick. Don’t forget to make sure the dog gets plenty of air, particularly if the dog is crated.
Never let your dog ride in a truck bed. Always check to make sure the dog’s spot in the vehicle is secure and safe. Sticking his or her head out the window is fine, but not on the highway or for long trips. Do not ever let your dog stay in the car alone, even with the windows down. If you need to run into a store quickly, have a family member stay with the dog at all times.
Traveling by airplane is whole other ball game, but it is definitely doable. With some small dogs, you can bring the dog on the airplane in a small crate or carrier, where she can stay with you under the seat. Every carrier has different pet rules, so you’ll need to call and read about their requirements. Airlines frequently require you to use a crate they approve of, so be sure you know what you need before you show up at the airport to fly.
Vaccinations are required by all airlines and they may want proof, so bring your dog’s vet records with you. Some dogs are too big to be inside the cabin. They will have to fly cargo. If you don’t want to fly your dog as cargo, consider other options for going to your destination.
Amtrak and other train companies do not allow dogs, unless they’re service animals. Some bus lines let dogs come on regardless of status, but many simply do not allow any animals. Check ahead of time to see if the rail or bus carrier restricts pets. Boats are the opposite, in that they frequently welcome all pets. With cruise lines, check ahead to see if ports allow dogs. Some will require special pet fees. The general rule is still checking on their policy before you book your reservation.
Every hotel chain and property has different rules about pets. Many hotel chains and resorts do allow people to bring animals, but some have weight restrictions. Some pet-friendly chains even provide bedding, food and water dishes for their furry guests. You can find out which hotels are welcoming to dogs by reading Expedia.com or PetsWelcome.com. Individual vacation rentals, cabins, and bed and breakfasts often handle pets on a case by case basis. Read reviews from pet lovers just like you to find out how pet-friendly the accommodations really are before you make a reservation.
If you check ahead, get your dog proper ID and think about her needs during your travel, going on vacation with your pet can be an enriching experience for the whole family.