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Traveling with your pet dog or cat can certainly cause you a bit of a headache. With so much research to do and so many things to consider, it can be challenging to even know where to begin.
From pet passports to country-specific vaccinations to veterinary care in your destination, planning life for your pet in a new country is something you need to put a lot of effort into.
To make things a little easier for you, we’ve done a lot of research on your behalf! We’ll tell you about everything you need to do before you leave home with your pet, in addition to tips on how to improve the journey with your canine or feline companion.
We’ve even provided you with some top tips to reduce anxiety in your pets to ensure the journey is as stress-free as possible for both of you.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about traveling with your pets.
Why Travel with your Pet
While some people might think you’re crazy for traveling with your pet, any cat or dog owner knows just how much their pets mean to them. As such, wherever you’re going in the world, having your furry buddy next to you along the way is only likely to make the experience even better.
Alternatively, if you’re moving home, you might have to travel with your pet out of necessity, and preparing for traveling with them is filling you with anxiety. Either way, there are two main reasons why people elect to travel with their pets:
Your dog wants to be part of the pack
It’s in a dog’s nature to be a part of your pack. On top of this, they absolutely love adventure, exploring new places, and being with their family, regardless of where in the world you are. The temporary discomfort your dog will experience during your travels will be worth it when compared to giving them up or leaving them behind.
Pets are attached to their owners
Dogs and some cats become totally attached to their owners. As such, they become anxious about being away from their humans for a significant amount of time. Some dogs can’t even stand it when you nip out to the shops or head out to work, let alone travel to a different country and leave them behind for an extended period of time.
On top of these two main reasons, there’s the obvious fact that your pet is part of your family. Just like you want to share life experiences with the human members of your tribe, you also want to experience all aspects of life with your animals. Therefore, for some people, leaving your pet behind while you go to a new place is an absolute no-no, so traveling with them becomes the only viable option.
Advantages of traveling with your pet
While you might be caught up on all of the challenges associated with preparing your pet for travel, it’s easy to forget that there are a whole host of benefits to traveling with your canine or feline companion.
Your four-legged buddy might seem stressed in the initial stages of your journey, but in time, they will quickly adapt to life on the road or in a new place and will just be delighted to be with you.
At the very least, traveling with your furry friend will benefit you in the following ways:
Safety and security
Even if you’re going somewhere that isn’t known to be dangerous or unsettling, having your dog with you will give you peace of mind and help you feel safe. Dogs instinctively attract your attention if something has gone wrong and provide security to your home at night while you’re asleep.
Your pets often steal the show when it comes to travel photos. If they’re hanging out the window on an empty highway or charging down a beach and playing in the sand, you have so many awesome photo opportunities when you travel with your pets. A well-positioned selfie with your pet in an iconic location will get you lots of engagement on social media.
Socializing becomes easier
Traveling with a pet is an excellent conversation starter. Your cute friend will attract people to you, and it will be easier to start chatting with new people. Also, if you’re moving abroad with your dog, you can meet like-minded people while you’re out walking or even join training groups that connect you with other dog owners.
They are adaptable companions
One of the best things about traveling with pets is that they’re extremely adaptable. They won’t complain about going to a place they don’t want to and are happy to follow your itinerary to a tee. In fact, dogs in particular love seeing new faces, experiencing new scents, and generally being out and about.
You have the freedom to explore
If you plan a vacation with your dog, you will instantly be drawn to new places that you might not have explored otherwise. When you’re with your dog, you can go for long walks in the countryside and avoid some of the tourist hotspots, which gives you the license to explore the world in a way that you’re not normally used to.
You get to travel with your best friend & improve your bond
Spending time on the road with your pet is an awesome experience, as it allows you to be with your best friend and see new places together. As you would hope, this increases your bond and means that you become even closer than you would be if you were just at home. Your dog will certainly appreciate the fact that you’ve explored new places together.
Your pet slows you down
When you’re traveling alone, it can be tempting to want to move at 100mph and see everything you possibly can. When you’re with your pet, you need to take things at a slower pace. You can take in the stunning outdoors, go for evening strolls at sunset, and just enjoy being in a place with your best buddy.
It’s cheaper than kennels/cattery or dog sitters
When you’re looking for pet-friendly accommodation on the road, you will notice that you nearly always have to pay a fee to bring your pet along with you. In spite of this, it’s normally significantly cheaper than it would be if you had to pay for your dogs to be in kennels or if you paid for the services of a dog sitter to spend time with your pup while you’re away.
You’re less anxious while on the road
Every pet owner worries about their animals when they’re on holiday. It’s only natural to want to check in with the pet sitters or kennels to find out how your animals are faring when you’re away, but the anxiety you feel can potentially ruin your vacation. If your pet is with you, you don’t need to worry about how they are, as you can see for yourself!
You create memories that last forever
Traveling with your pet creates memories (and photos) that will last a lifetime, even when your pet is no longer with you. Having your bubbly bundle of joy with you for the journey will make you appreciate everything more, and you will be delighted when you see how happy they are to be on the road with you.
As you can see, there are so many positive reasons why you should hit the road with your pet. While it can seem like a lot to prepare, as long as you conduct a bit of research before you leave home, everything will work out fine. In the next section, we will take you through what you need to know before you decide to travel with your pet.
Before you Travel: Prepare & Research for your Journey
In a similar way to how countries have different entry requirements and visa laws from one another when you’re traveling with your pets, you need to be aware that the same rules don’t apply to every country.
Because of this, you need to focus your research specifically on the country you’re traveling to, as you don’t want to make preparations that end up being inaccurate and irrelevant.
This is particularly important when you’re traveling internationally, and while domestic flights might not cause you an issue, you should still do some research to be on the safe side.
Country restrictions & traveling internationally
If you’re moving or traveling to a country with your pet for the first time, you need to begin by researching the rules and regulations associated with pet travel for that specific place. Pet Travel is one of the most comprehensive resources that you will find to begin your research, but you might also need to visit government websites for further relevant information.
Many countries require pet passports, insurance, vaccinations, and certifications, and maybe even mandatory quarantine periods when you arrive at your destination, so you need to be prepared. You can utilize a resource like Pet Relocation to get a good idea of many of the documents that you will need to begin the process of moving abroad with your pet.
If you’re planning a multi-country trip with your pet, it’s even more important that you’re aware of the border-crossing policies in your destinations. You should also be aware that some countries have a list of banned breeds, which make it impossible for you to travel with a specific type of dog to certain places.
If you want to take your pet to several countries, you would be best suited to head somewhere like Europe, as freedom of movement throughout the Union is relatively straightforward and hassle-free. Island nations tend to be the most difficult to enter for pets and their owners, so you might want to avoid them if you’re looking for an easy time.
Although it might not be necessary for the country that you’re visiting, consider getting your pet a microchip. If nothing else, it’s the easiest way to find them if they runoff, and you can be reunited with them if you lose them in an unknown location. Frankly, for many destinations, microchips are becoming essential, so it’s a worthwhile investment if you plan to travel with your pet anytime soon.
20 most pet-friendly destination countries
So, now that you know all about the various restrictions and requirements that might be in place if you’re traveling to a new place, it’s time to decide where you want to go. Maybe you’re excited to stroll down exotic beaches with your pup or chill with your cat on empty highways in mountainous regions.
Whatever your motivations for traveling with your pets, here is a list of twenty of the most pet-friendly destinations:
As you can see from the list, Europe is arguably the best place to plan a road trip with your pet. This is largely because the entry requirements are not too complicated and also due to the fact that pets are commonly kept in these countries, making it easy to find the services and resources you need while you’re traveling.
Schedule a pre-trip check-up with your veterinarian
One of the most important parts of your pre-journey preparations should be a trip to the veterinarian, even if there’s nothing wrong with your pet. The sooner you schedule an initial consultation with your vet, the better, as you will likely need to make multiple trips to get all of the paperwork that you need.
As well as checking the overall health of your pet before you go abroad, your vet will also be able to assist you with the following:
Immunizations, certificates, and tests
When you’ve completed your research into the country that you and your pet will be visiting, you will know what vaccinations, jabs, and other treatments they need before entering the country. They might require a rabies jab and other vaccinations, some of which are required several months before you travel. If you don’t get what you need, your pet may have to quarantine on arrival.
Medication and flea treatment
If your pet has any pre-existing medical conditions, you will have to declare these on arrival. You will also need to stock up on their medications and take any special food that they may require for their diet. Try and get enough medical supplies for your pet to last you at least a couple of weeks after your arrival.
Stress reduction techniques
Your vet is the ideal person to tell you about any stress reduction techniques you can employ to calm your pet down before traveling. There are various sedation options you can consider for your pet, which makes traveling less stressful. Also, if you ask your vet to microchip your dog or cat, it gives you peace of mind that if you lose them, you can be reunited with them with little fuss.
If you’re traveling from the US with your pet to a new destination abroad, it’s a good idea to get a health certificate endorsed by the US States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This basically means that the USDA has reviewed your documents and given them their official stamp of approval. This makes things so much easier for you when you’re abroad, even if it’s not a requirement of the country you’re visiting.
Here’s how to go about getting your pet’s documents endorsed by the USDA:
Prepare in advance and do your research
As mentioned, not every country requires a USDA endorsement for your pet to travel internationally. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to complete the process anyway. Give yourself as much time as possible to get organized before you leave, as some vaccinations need to be issued 3-6 months in advance of travel.
Visit your vet and acquire the necessary paperwork
Visit a vet [for the reasons listed in the previous section] and make sure they are USDA accredited. You can search their website and ask to see their certificate if it isn’t clear on first viewing. Once treatment is completed, your vet will issue you with a health certificate for your pet. Ensure that the certificate is filled out within the validity period set by the country you’re visiting.
Submit your certificate for endorsement
When you have your pet’s certificate, you need to submit it to the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office. You can either send your certificate via mail or attend an in-person appointment. The good news is that this process is usually quick, and certificates tend to be processed and returned the day that they’re received, providing you have submitted everything that is required.
Check for any other documents you need
When you have your accredited health certificate, you’re pretty much good to go. However, some countries require further documentation that you will have to get hold of before you travel with your pet. Things like insurance certificates and vaccination cards may be required, so be sure to check the requirements issued by your destination country before you head to the airport to take your flight.
Once you have your documentation in order, your pet is almost ready to hit the road! But here are a couple of other things you might want to consider to prepare your pet for traveling.
Visit a grooming salon
In the days leading up to your departure, it’s a good idea to take your pet to a groomer. Give them a bath, a haircut, and have their nails clipped. This is also a good chance to notice any ticks or fleas your pet has, and the groomer will prepare your pet perfectly for your new destination. After being freshly groomed, your pet will also feel more relaxed and ready for the journey ahead.
Plan a diet
If your pet is a little on the heavy side, controlling their diet and improving their exercise before you travel will help them significantly. They will feel a lot more comfortable and will be much more mobile when they’re at an appropriate weight, so think about changing their food and increasing their exercise before you travel. If you’re worried about your pet’s health, this is something that a vet can help you with.
Plan for emergencies and the unexpected
It’s a great idea to put together an emergency plan in case the worst happens while you’re traveling with your pet. While it’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality while on the move, your plan can prepare you just in case you need to take decisive action. Your plan should include:
- Who to call: Make a list of essential contact information for yourself, someone in your home country, as well as your veterinarian.
- How to care: Write down a concise list of instructions about your pet’s care and feeding procedures. This should include any medications and preventative treatments.
- Where to stay: You should note down the contact details of at least one trusted person or facility where your pet could stay in the place you’re visiting, as well as in your home country.
- How to pay: Provide instructions on financial and medical resources that your pet may need in case of emergency. It’s also helpful if you include contact details and even directions.
Emergency first aid
Hopefully, you won’t have to worry about performing first aid while traveling with your pet, but you never know what might happen. And if you’re in an unfamiliar place where you’re unsure of the nearest vet, it can be helpful to know some basic emergency first aid tips that will help you care for your pet if the worst was to happen.
Here are five emergency first aid tips that can help treat your pet if his health deteriorates while you’re on the road:
- Bleeding: If your pet suffers a nasty cut that causes external bleeding, you need to treat it straight away. Press down on the wound to stop the bleeding and then cover with a bandage. Take your pet to the vet as soon as you can, as they will then treat the wound properly and might give you antibiotics to prevent infection.
- Breathing: If your pet can’t breathe, you will need to perform ‘artificial respiration.’ Remove any obstructions from your pet’s mouth and close the mouth. You should then place your lips over the nostrils and give three of four big breaths. Do this ten times every minute.
- Broken bones: If you suspect that your pet has a broken bone or fracture, you need to take them to the vet ASAP. Don’t try and treat the injury or produce a makeshift sling, as you could actually make things worse and increase the pain.
- Heatstroke: If your pet has been left in a hot room or vehicle for too long on a warm day, they might be suffering from heatstroke. They will be panting, drooling, and be extremely hot to the touch. You should immediately seek shade and a cooler environment, offer them water and even use ice packs and wet towels to cool them down. Call the vet and take your pet for a check-up once you’ve administered first aid.
- Vomiting and diarrhea: If your pet is vomiting or has excessive diarrhea, it’s a sign that they have a stomach upset or an issue with the digestive system. Make sure your pet has plenty of water, and don’t feed them anything that could worsen the upset. Call your vet and take your pet for a consultation if it doesn’t clear up within 1-2 days.
Buying Crate (aka Carrier, Kennel) for your Dog or Cat
When you’ve completed all of your pre-trip research and ensured that your pet’s health is in good shape, it’s time to start thinking about some of the practicalities of your trip. One of the most important pieces of equipment you will need to buy is a suitable crate in order to transport your pet from one place to another.
Crates come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and finding the right crate for your pet isn’t as simple as heading to the pet store and picking up the first carrier that you see. As the crate you choose will have to adhere to IATA-approved guidelines, you need to think carefully about the carrier that you buy and ensure it’s appropriate for your pet. Here are some tips to help you decide on the right carrier for your pet.
Understand the requirements
Make sure you understand the pet carrier requirements set out by the airline. You need to make sure your pet can sit, stand, lie down, and turn around normally within the carrier without touching the top and sides. It also must provide sufficient ventilation and be escape-proof, for obvious reasons!
Know where your pet will be on the flight
On some flights and for specific breeds, your pet may be allowed to fly in the cabin alongside you. As such, a soft fabric carrier might be more appropriate, as it will allow you to store your pet comfortably under the seat in front of you. However, if your pet has to travel as checked baggage or cargo, your crate must:
- Provide sufficient ventilation on all sides.
- Be accessed via a front door mechanism that your pet can’t unlatch.
- Use nuts and bolts to secure the top and bottom sections.
- Have a solid floor that is leak-proof and covered with a layer of absorbent material.
Include only what is essential in the crate
You’re not permitted to pack the crate with toys and blankets to make your pet feel more at ease, unfortunately. You need to provide two metal cups – one for water and one for food, and that’s all. While it might seem unfair, you don’t want to have the hassle of returning to the crate at the airport and removing everything that you’re not permitted to have inside.
Familiarize your pet with the crate
If your pet isn’t used to traveling or indeed being inside a crate, you will need to familiarize them with the carrier before setting off for the airport. This process can take several weeks, as you will need to train your pet to understand what the crate is for and know that it’s safe. It’s definitely worth the effort, as it will help to calm them down when you arrive at the airport.
A top tip here is not to leave buying the crate to the very last minute! You need to ensure the crate is comfortable for your pet and compliant with the regulations set out by airlines, so plan ahead to make sure you have an appropriate carrier.
Tips for Flying with Dog or Cat
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to think about pre-departure, it’s time to introduce you to some top tips for flying with your pet. At this stage, we also want to point you in the direction of Pet Travel, a super helpful resource that provides a huge amount of information on traveling with your pet. If you find yourself needing a little extra guidance when you come to the end of this article, it’s an excellent place to go for the information you need.
But for now, let’s dive in and take you through some top tips for flying with your cat or dog.
Choose and research the airlines and their requirements
When you’ve understood the rules set by your destination country regarding pet travel, you need to check with the airline you plan to fly with about their regulations. You can find out a lot of information about pet travel on the airline’s website, but it’s a good idea to call them and ask them any specific questions that you have about the upcoming journey.
Some things to consider when deciding upon which airline to use:
- Try and pick a direct route where possible. Changing flights can cause further stress and anxiety for your pet.
- Read customer reviews before booking your flight. It’s so important to hear from other people who had flown with pets before about how their experience with a certain airline was.
- Think about the fees and costs associated with pet travel.
- Consider the cabin policy and check whether it’s possible to travel with your pet inside the flight instead of checking them into the cargo or baggage hold.
20 most pet-friendly international airlines
To give you an idea of where to begin your research, the following companies are the twenty most pet-friendly international airlines:
American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada, Delta, Air India, Air France, Swiss International Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Lufthansa Airlines, Aeroflot, TAP Air Portugal, SAS, OpenSkies, KLM, Aer Lingus, Japan Airlines, Alitalia, CopaAirlines, Iberia.
Getting a pet passport
Just as we humans need a passport to travel from place to place, our pets also need documentation to move from one place to the next. While there isn’t necessarily a single pet passport that you can apply for, all of the documentation that contributes to your pet’s movement constitutes its passport.
In order to apply for your pet’s passport, you will first need to ensure your pet is microchipped and up to date on its rabies vaccinations. You will also have to satisfy the vet that issues the passport that your pet is in general good health and has completed all other necessary inoculations. Providing you have all of the required information and have your pet’s jabs up to date, you can normally put together the passport in one week.
Why is a pet passport important?
A pet passport is essential because it enables you to collate all of the necessary information your pet will need to get into a new country. Without it, you may be refused entry to a specific place, or your pet might need to quarantine when you arrive. You can speak to a veterinarian to help you prepare your pet’s passport, but it’s likely to consist of the following documents:
- Completed point of entry documentation often referred to as the Annex form.
- Health certificate endorsed by USDA or other relevant body, if not from the US.
- Your pet’s full inoculation record and rabies certificate.
- Declaration of non-commercial transport form that processes your pet transport isn’t for the purposes of sale or transfer of ownership.
- Confirmation of tapeworm test.
This is meant as a general guide, and you should ensure that you check the specific entry requirements for your pet of the country you’re visiting before you arrive.
Checking in your pet: airplane cabin vs. cargo vs. luggage compartment
When it comes to checking in your pet for your upcoming flight, there are three ways in which he can travel on the aircraft: as hand luggage in the cabin, as cargo, or in the luggage compartment; how you check-in will depend upon how your pet will travel. Here’s what you need to know about each of your options.
Pets traveling in the cabin
Most small pets can travel with you in the cabin, but you will need to pay a small fee. They’re regarded as a carry-on item, and you will be charged much in the same way that you would if you wanted to take extra luggage with you. Just be aware that every airline has its own height, weight, and length limits, and certain airlines even restrict the breeds of dogs and cats that you’re permitted to take in the cabin.
As you would imagine, your pet will then have to remain in the carrier for the entirety of the flight! As much as fellow passengers might enjoy interacting with your pet during the flight, an animal loose in the cabin could pose quite a headache to the air stewards! You will also need to inform the airline well in advance, as they limit the number of pets that can travel in the cabin at one time.
Pets traveling in the cargo hold
Your pet is regarded as cargo if he or she is traveling alone. Just like you might ship furniture or other luggage to a new destination, if you need your pet to be in a different place, they will be considered as cargo by the airline. This is often the costliest way to transport your pet to a specific location, and it can pose the most challenges.
As such, it’s a good idea to hire a pet moving company to help you with this. Money Hub has put together a comprehensive list of the top ten pet couriers in 2021, so you can use this as a good place to begin your research into getting some help with moving your pet abroad.
Pets traveling as baggage
This is perhaps the most common method that people think of when they consider traveling with their pets. If you have a medium-sized or large pet, you will probably have to check them in as baggage, and they will travel in the hold below. The baggage hold is pressurized, and your pet will be perfectly safe underneath the cabin.
Just be aware that there are temperature restrictions when it comes to your pet traveling in the baggage hold. If it’s too hot or extremely cold, your pet might not be able to fly. Check with the airline you’re traveling with to learn about their policies and restrictions and give yourself enough time so you can make the necessary arrangements.
Regardless of the method of transportation, be aware that airlines have the right to refuse any animal admittance onto the plane if they exhibit aggressive or destructive behavior.
Tips for flying with pets
When you’re happy that you’ve done your research and found a suitable flight for you and your pet, you’re almost ready to go! However, you really can’t be too prepared when traveling with your pet, as there are so many things you need to think about. This helpful list of top tips will help you be super prepared for flying with your pet and will ensure you don’t have to worry about things going wrong at the last minute.
- Limit or avoid sedatives: While you might think it’s a good idea to sedate your pet to calm them down, it goes against the advice of vets to do so. If your pet is in the hold, the use of sedatives can make them feel cold and put their health at risk if there is a drop in temperature on the flight.
- Enquire about quarantines: If you’re taking your pet on an international journey, be sure to enquire about quarantines and how to avoid them. The last thing you want to do when you arrive in a new country is to spend time away from your furry companion and spend a fortune on fees. Usually, providing you meet all of the country’s requirements, you can avoid quarantines and get straight into life with your pet upon arrival.
- Prepare your animal for the flight: Feed and exercise your animal 3-4 hours before the flight and give them the chance to go to the bathroom. It’s important to keep to their routine as best as possible and help them to relax before you check them in for the flight.
- Label the crate and put a collar on your animal: Make sure your pet’s crate is clearly labeled with your pet’s name, your name, and contact details. Also include details of your starting point, as well as your destination. If possible, write a correspondence address for your destination, just in case someone needs to get in touch with you. You should also ensure your pet’s collar has clear and detailed information.
- Double and triple check airline policies: Once you’ve completed all of your research and think you’re ready for departure, check and check all of the policies and procedures of the airline again. If you have any doubts whatsoever about anything, it’s best to call the airline directly and ask them.
- Inform the airline in writing that your pet is traveling: You need to make sure that the airline knows you’re traveling with your pet. Send an email confirmation and ask for an acknowledgment from the airline. You can then print this off and take it with you with your other travel documents.This saves any confusion upon check-in.
- Think about your travel times: Try and avoid traveling with your pet during holiday seasons when airports are super busy. You should also think about traveling during the day, particularly if your pet is going in the hold beneath the cabin.
Pet food for flights
One of the biggest worries for pet owners, when they’re taking their pet on a flight is food. Are you even allowed to bring food on a flight with you? Are you allowed to feed your pet mid-flight? Do airlines provide food for pets? People have so many questions and struggle to find the right answers until it’s too late, and they arrive at the airport without what they need. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about pet food on flights answered.
Can I take pet food on a plane?
Yes, absolutely! To quote the Transportation Security Administration, in the US:
“Wet pet food is allowed in both checked baggage and carry-on. Please note that less than 100ml is allowed on carry-on. Wet food must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-on bags. Unfortunately, there is no medical exemption for prescription pet food, even for service animals.”
This is relevant information for US flights, so be sure to check the airline policy that you’re using, if you’re traveling internationally with your pet.
What about dog treats?
Dog and cat treats are considered pet food and follow the same requirements as listed above.
Should I bring pet food on a flight?
As we’ve introduced, it’s perfectly fine to take pet food on a flight, providing it’s within the airline’s permitted amounts. But should you bring some with you? That’s totally up to you. Here are a couple of reasons why it’s a good idea to be prepared:
- If your flight is delayed for whatever reason, you will be able to feed your pet, and they won’t miss out on a meal.
- Having some on your flight gives you a bit of time when you arrive at your destination. For instance, if you arrive at night and can’t get any pet food on arrival, having some with you ensures your companion won’t go hungry.
- If your checked-in bag is lost or delayed in transit, having some in your hand luggage is a good backup option.
Should I buy pet food in bulk and ship it to my destination?
Unless your pet is on a specific diet that requires certain food, we wouldn’t recommend buying in bulk and shipping internationally. This is mainly due to cost, as it can get expensive quickly if you’re trying to take large quantities of food with you. Also, most countries in the world have extensive pet food options available, so you can almost certainly find something similar to your pet’s food when you arrive.
As you can see, there is so much information to ingest when it comes to preparing to travel on a flight with your pet dog or cat. With that being said, it’s certainly not impossible, and as long as you are prepared and willing to do your research, you should have absolutely no issues when it comes to traveling internationally with your pet.
OTHER HELPFUL GUIDES
How to travel on a budget – Best tips for traveling cheap.
Everything you need to know about solo travel.
The absolute beginner’s guide to planning a road trip.
Best Travel Jobs to Make Money Traveling the World.
Tips and tricks to help you take better smartphone photos.
Best travel games to play on your next vacation.
Ultimate guide to safe and healthy family trip with kids.
Tips for Driving with Dog or Cat
Flying is just one way of traveling with your canine or feline companions. And to be honest, it’s by far the most stressful way of getting to a new place with your pet. If you have the option, taking your pet on a road trip or driving them to a new destination is a much less stressful option of transporting them to a new place.
Most dogs will have had some experience in the car, even if it’s just backward and forwards to the vet. So it’s easier to get them used to the experience, which can be helpful for long road trips and journeys to new countries.
So, how do you get the most out of a road trip with your pet? And how do you ensure the experience is fun and safe at the same time? Here are some top tips for traveling with your pet in the car.
Familiarize your pet with the car
If you have a big road trip coming up, it’s a good idea to take your pet out on some short journeys around town to get them used to the car. Dogs often become excited before getting into the car, as they associate it with the excitement they feel before going out for a walk. As long as you spend a little bit of time getting them used to hopping in and out of the car, they should adapt and be happy to go on a long journey when the time comes.
Consider motion sickness or anxiety
If your pet isn’t used to traveling in the car, they might suffer from motion sickness or increased anxiety. While this is okay on short journeys, if you’re traveling long distances, it can be worth visiting the vet and asking them for a prescription for your pet to help them manage their sickness. If your pet doesn’t feel comfortable in the car, they won’t be too keen on a long journey.
Make use of a crate
Even if your pet isn’t used to a crate or carrier when you’re at home, it’s a good idea to introduce them to a crate when you’re in the car. Having a loose, nervous pet on the loose in the car is dangerous and can cause you a distraction while you should be focused on the road. Some crates are designed specifically to keep your pet secured in the vehicle and can save you lots of hassle when on the road.
Don’t have your pets in the front with you
Although you might be tempted to have your pet jump up and join you in the front, it’s not a good idea. You can get easily distracted when your pet is in the front, and it’s dangerous for them, too. You should travel with your pets in the trunk or by putting the seats down in the back to fit in a crate or carrier.
Try and stop them from leaning out the window
While you might enjoy the idea of your dog sitting with his face out the window, smiling at passers-by, it’s also extremely dangerous to allow him to do so. A passing vehicle could accidentally injure your pet, or your dog might use it as an opportunity to jump out and explore, not understanding the dangers associated with doing so.
Regularly check in on your dog’s comfort levels
If your dog is in the car for a long period of time, he can begin to overheat. As such, it’s your responsibility to check on your dog’s temperature and ensure they’re comfortable. Schedule regular water breaks and crack the window to let air flow through the vehicle. If you think your dog is overheating, stop for a decent amount of time and walk outside to cool them down.
Update your pet’s collar and tag
When you’re on the road with your pet, you need to make sure your contact information on their tag is up to date. Hopefully, your pet will be microchipped, but it saves time if you include your personal information on their collar. If they run off in an unfamiliar place, having your current contact information on their tag will ensure they can be returned to you easily if they’re found.
When you’ve got your pets on board, you need to drive mindfully. Try and avoid sharp turns and erratic movements, as this can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for any animals in the car. Maintain a decent speed and drive cautiously to keep your pet relaxed. Hopefully, the movement of the car will be soothing to them, and they will sleep for the majority of the journey.
Use blankets or seat covers to protect your car
Dog and cat hair gets everywhere in your car, even if you use a crate. If you’re particular about the interior of your car, it’s a good idea to use blankets or seat covers to protect your car from dastardly hairs. The blankets also double up as protection against dirty paws, so when your pet jumps in the car after walking around in the mud, you won’t have to scrub your seats clean!
Download some helpful apps
In the present day, we’re lucky to have apps to help us with pretty much everything these days. When you’re traveling on the road with your dog or cat, you can enlist the help of some (or all!) of the following apps to get the most out of your journey:
- BringFido: This is the perfect app for finding pet-friendly hotels along your route, as well as parks, open spaces, and fun pet activities to experience along the way.
- Sniffspot: You can use Sniffspot to find private dog parks and off-leash areas hosted by locals in the areas that you’re visiting.
- Roadtrippers: Although it’s not specifically an app for traveling pets, it’s an excellent way to build your travel itinerary and include stopovers and places where you can go with your pets.
Tire your pets out before hitting the road
Tired pets make the best traveling companions. Either play with them or take them out for a long walk before you set off on your travels. If your pet is restless (particularly your dog), they might not settle and won’t be overly happy about staying in the car for long periods.
Take all of the essentials with you
Spend some time before you leave putting together all of the essentials that you might need for your pet along the way. Make sure you have the following:
- Leash and collar.
- Food & water bowls.
- Food and water for the trip, including treats and other snacks. You might also want to take food for the entirety of the trip, particularly if you’re going on vacation.
- Poo bags.
- Blankets, towels, and a jacket if it’s in the winter and you’re expecting cold weather.
- Bed and litter tray (if your pet is a cat).
- Any necessary medication.
- Toys and any home comforts you think will help your pet adapt to the place they’re going to.
Pet food tips while traveling
As we’ve just mentioned in the list above, you will need to pack sufficient food and water for your pet for the journey ahead. If you’re wondering about what to take with you and how to feed and water your pet while traveling, here are some food-specific tips that will guide you:
- Fresh water is essential: When you’re traveling with your pets, you must ensure they’re hydrated, particularly when it’s hot. Every time you stop, offer them a drink of fresh water.
- Pack food they’re familiar with: While you might get away with introducing your pet to new food while you’re on the road, it’s not worth the risk if you can pack their preferred food in the car and take it with you.
- Don’t let them overindulge on human food: While the temptation’s there to shower them with love and let them enjoy your leftovers, it’s best not to give your pets too much human food, as it can upset their stomachs.
- Feed them 3-4 hours before you set off: To try and avoid upsets, feed your pet 3-4 hours before you head out on the road. This gives them enough time for their food to settle, and they are less likely to have an accident in the car.
- Consider separating the food into portion sizes: Instead of having to take a big 25kg bag of pet food with you, think about splitting your pet’s meals into portion sizes before you leave. This saves time and space while you’re on the road.
Just as you need to ensure all humans are fuelled and ready for the trip ahead, don’t forget about your animal companions! Every time you stop for a refreshment or toilet break, make sure you let your furry friend out too.
As we come towards the end of this comprehensive guide, we thought it would be helpful to bring together some general tips that are applicable to any form of traveling, with both dogs and cats. Let’s begin by introducing some top tips for traveling with your mischievous canine companion!
General tips for traveling with dogs
- Make sure they’re well trained: If you plan on taking your dog to another person’s home (Airbnb, for instance) or a pet-friendly hotel, you need to make sure they’re well trained and have good manners. Nobody likes a rampaging dog, so be sure your dog knows how to behave before taking him on holiday!
- Plan a dress rehearsal: If your dog isn’t overly keen on traveling, take them out a couple of times for short trips before the main event. You will find the familiarity will help them get used to moving to new places.
- Stay in pet-friendly accommodation: This might seem like an obvious thing to say, but it’s an important point. If you specifically search for accommodation that is pet-friendly, you don’t usually have to pay a fee.
- Take your dog’s documentation with you: Even if you don’t think you need some paperwork, you should put together your dog’s passport anyway and carry it with you. This can come in really helpful if you need to go to the vet while you’re away or if your dog runs away, for instance.
- Get some insurance: In some parts of the world, veterinary care is super expensive. Your domestic policy is unlikely to cover international travel, so consider taking out some travel insurance for your dog.
General tips for traveling with cats
- Get them used to their carrier: Unless your cat is huge, they will likely be able to travel in the cabin with you (if you’re flying). However, cats are pretty funny about getting into carriers, so spend a couple of weeks getting them used to how they will be traveling.
- Update and personalize their collar: Even if you have a house cat that isn’t interested in going outside a great deal, you need to ensure you update and personalize their collar in case they get out of their carrier and get lost in an unfamiliar place.
- Make sure they’re microchipped: If your cat isn’t microchipped, they might not be allowed to travel internationally. Even if you’re staying within your own country, it’s a good idea to get them chipped, as it increases your chances of being reunited if they get away from you.
- Pack their litter tray: If you have space, take with you a litter tray that your cat is familiar with. They’re creatures of habit and like to do their business in the same place, so taking a familiar litter tray will help them adapt to their new surroundings.
- Invest in a leash for exercise: Some people scoff at the idea of taking your cat out on a leash, but it’s a good idea to invest in a leash so you can give your cat fresh air and exercise during breaks in your journey.
General tips for both dogs and cats
- Make new friends: If you’re relocating with your pet, you can join groups on Facebook to find like-minded people to connect with. You can join groups that are specifically for your breed of dog or cat, or you can find social meet-up groups based upon a passion for pets! It’s a great way to make new friends.
- Be sociable: Even if you don’t utilize a social media platform like Facebook to meet fellow pet owners, you can find new people to meet while traveling by introducing your pet. After all, people love animals, and it can be a great conversation starter!
- Be respectful of the people (and animals you meet): Respect is a big part of owning a pet. If you’re lucky enough to meet other animals along the way, make sure you’re respectful and interact in a kind and friendly way.
- Invest in a quality pet carrier: Although we’ve discussed the importance of pet carriers throughout this post, it’s important to reiterate it here. Make sure you go out and buy a quality carrier before your trip, as you don’t want it to break during your travels.
- Make copies of important documents: When you’ve put together your pet’s passport, be sure to also make copies of these important documents, in case you need them for whatever reason during your trip.
- Don’t just assume you can’t travel with your pet: While preparing to travel with your pet is certainly not easy, don’t just assume you can’t travel if the situation is causing you a headache. Persevere and do your research, and you will find that everything will work out in the end!
While there’s no doubt that traveling with your pet requires lots of arrangements and planning, you can be sure that it is absolutely worth the effort that you need to put in. If you do need some extra help, you can always reach out to a pet moving company that can offer you assistance and even take responsibility for parts of the process for you.
Best ways to Reduce Anxiety in Pets
One of your biggest considerations in the lead-up to your departure is how best to reduce the anxiety your pets experience when traveling. There are several things you can do to calm your furry companion down, but we wouldn’t recommend sedation. It can be harmful to your pets in the long run and doesn’t necessarily have the desired effect. Here are some more natural ways you can reduce your dog or cat’s anxiety before you set out on your travels.
Practice, practice, practice
Granted, you can’t practice going on an airplane, but you can practice leaving the house and traveling in a crate. The more you expose your pet to new experiences and get them used to jumping in and out of their travel crate, the more prepared they will be for their upcoming journey.
Drive to fun places and reward their behavior
When you’re practicing traveling to new places, make the end result fun. Take them to their favorite park or into the countryside, where your dog can chase the ducks! If they associate traveling in the car with fun things, they will be keener to do it. What’s more, when they’ve behaved well, reward them with their favorite treats and tell them how good they are. Dogs learn by positive reinforcement and respond well to praise.
Consider using CBD oil
Instead of sedating your pet with meds, consider using CBD oil. There are certain brands that you can buy specifically meant for pets, and it is known to reduce their stress and feelings of anxiety. If you go down this route, just be sure to test it out a couple of times before the big trip! Every dog or cat could potentially react differently to the oil, so make sure you’ve done a trial run beforehand.
Perform crate training
It’s unfair to expect your dog or cat to immediately take to their crate if they aren’t already used to it. Crate training is an extremely effective way of preparing your pet for their upcoming journey, as you are familiarizing them with their crate and associating it with positive outcomes. Be mindful that crate training can take a little time and patience, so set things in motion well in advance of your scheduled departure.
Socialize your pet
If your pet is generally anxious, it may be due to a lack of socialization. If you’re planning big changes in your pet’s life, you should think about socializing them and exposing them to as many situations as possible. The more experiences they have, the less nervous they will be when seeing new things and people. Like crate training, socialization is a long process, so be sure to plan it in the months preceding your trip.
Calm your pet
Before you set off, do everything you can to keep your pet calm. You could play soothing, relaxing music and make sure they are well fed and rested. If they’re able to remain calm before you leave home, it will be easier to keep their behavior under control when you’re on the road.
To be fair, anxiety is to be expected when you plan a trip with your pet. Because you can’t explain to them what’s happening, it can be frightening for them as they might think you’re leaving them behind or sending them away from you. As such, you need to do as much as you can to calm your pets beforehand and reduce their anxiety, so your trip is as stress-free as it possibly can be.
Finding Pet-Friendly Accommodation
As we touched upon in an earlier section, you will need to try and find pet-friendly accommodation when you’re on the road with your animal. Many places have a strict no pets policy, while others will permit pets of a particular type for a fee. However, if you do enough research, you will be able to find accommodation that is welcoming to pets or perhaps even designed with pets in mind.
Whatever pet-friendly accommodation you come across for your trip, here are some important considerations you will need to bear in mind before booking.
Is there a fee?
As mentioned, lots of accommodation will allow you to bring your pet along for a fee. Some places charge per animal per night, while others just charge a flat fee for the duration of your trip. You should also enquire about a deposit, as some places ask you to put some money down in case of any damages and return it upon departure.
How many pets am I allowed? Are there breed restrictions?
If you’re traveling with multiple pets, be sure to ask how many animals you’re allowed to accommodate in one room. Most places have a limit, so you will need to be aware of it before you arrive. You should also ask about breed restrictions. For instance, while an Airbnb host might be willing to host you and your Cockapoo, they might be less enthusiastic about housing your two Great Danes for the week!
Can I leave my pets unattended?
If you fancy nipping out for a few drinks or an evening meal without your furry companions, it’s good to know if you can leave them behind in the place you’re staying without supervision. Some places will want you to be there with your pets whenever they’re at the place you’re staying, so be sure to ask in advance and find a place that is suitable for your plans.
Is there anywhere for my pet to go to the toilet?
This is more of a question for dog owners. If you’re renting an apartment for a week on the 25th floor of an apartment complex, you will need to find out where you can take your dog to the toilet. Not everyone fancies having to descend to street level at 5 am to let your buddy out for a pee, so make sure you’re aware of the toilet situation before you book a room!
Are there any amenities for my pets?
Feel free to ask your host if they provide any amenities for pets. Some places might offer beds, bowls, and even food for a fee, so it’s worth asking to save yourself from having to carry everything with you. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get it!
Top tips for finding the best pet-friendly hotels
As well as asking the right questions to your host (as above), here are some top tips to help you find the best pet-friendly hotels while on your travels:
- Phone in advance: While you can find lots of relevant information on the accommodation’s website or profile, it’s always better to call in advance to ask specific questions about your journey and your pets.
- Look in the right place: You can use a resource like Pets Welcome or Bring Fido to find several pet-friendly accommodation options. Alternatively, make sure you select the ‘allows pets’ option when you’re using your preferred booking platform, so you only see relevant properties.
- Read the reviews: Be sure to check out what other people have said about taking their pets to the accommodation that you’re interested in staying at. It’s always reassuring to hear from people who have already experienced a specific place.
- Check the surrounding areas: If you’re traveling with your dog, the chances are that you want to have some green areas around the accommodation so you can take him out for toilet breaks and exercise. Have a look on Google Maps at the surrounding areas and select a place that has greenery around it.
You have so much choice when it comes to pet-friendly accommodation. However, we advise you to do lots of research and find something that fits your requirements. Also, never assume one way or another. If you have some questions or potential issues, always speak to your host before arriving with your pet.
Packing Essentials for Pets
Pet restraint: seat belt harness, pet carrier/crate
Equipment: Collars, leashes, muzzles, safety vest
Comfort: favourite toys, blanket, pillow, dog bed
Sanitary: cat litter, pooper scooper, bags, disinfactent spray
Food: pet food, can opener, snacks, treats, dental chews
Hydration: water bottles, collapsible bowl
Grooming: brushes, pet wash, towel
Health: medications, travel documents, vaccination records
Emergency: vet contact details, first aid kit
Pet Relocation Service
If you’ve got this far and you’re still a little unsure about preparing for your trip with your pet, the great news is that you can hire the services of a pet relocation company to help you. These companies are experienced in all things to do with pet relocation and are in the perfect position to take away some of the stress and hassle associated with moving your pet to a new country.
Pet relocation services include some or all of the following:
- Support with preparing documentation and relevant paperwork for your pet’s passport.
- Giving you country-specific information regarding pet entry requirements for your destination.
- Advice on what equipment and resources to buy, as well as support with travel logistics at both ends.
- Veterinary checks and everything related to vaccinations and inoculations.
Every service provider offers slightly different packages, so be sure to check out what’s available before you make your final decision. Three of the best pet relocation companies that we’ve come across are:
- Happy Trails Travel Inc: With more than two decades of experience and a 100% safety record, you can put your mind at ease by hiring the services of Happy Trails. Their international pet shipping packages are industry-leading and extremely comprehensive.
- Starwood Animal Transport: A member of IPATA, Starwood takes care of absolutely everything when it comes to preparing your pet for travel, so you don’t even have to lift a finger.
- Airpets: Another comprehensive, door-to-door service that is similar in some respects to Starwood, Airpets prides itself on providing ‘first-class pet travel.’ They are popular with long-haul travelers who take their pets to the other side of the world, so employing their services can really set your mind at ease.
To bring this comprehensive guide to a close, we want to remind you that traveling with your pet should be a wonderful experience! In spite of all of the things you have to think about and many of the countless headaches you might encounter, it will be worth it to see your furry companion in a different part of the world with you, delighted that you didn’t leave him behind.
Hopefully, you have found everything in this guide useful and are now a lot more confident about the process of taking your pet abroad. If you’re not and still feel like you could do with a helping hand, feel free to get in touch with one of the expert pet relocation companies that we’ve introduced in this article.
But, in the end, however you go about traveling with your pet, remember that it will all be worth it. Experiencing new places with your pet is something you will cherish forever and will make all of the hard work you put into making it happen well worth it.