Parting is sweet sorrow, particularly for pet parents. That’s why so many travelers forgo leaving Fido or Fluffball behind. Instead, they bring their four-legged pals to the beach, the mountains, the cities, and everywhere in between.
If you’re someone who can’t bear to be without your furry buddy, consider adding your pet to your trip group roster. Just make sure to keep some pointers in mind so every adventure starts and ends on a tail-wagging note.
1. Plan your trip from a pet-centric viewpoint.
As humans, we tend to envision all the things we want to do when we explore a new locale. However, you can’t assume that your pet can always tag along. For instance, is the museum you can’t wait to see a pet-friendly spot? Do all-day bus tours take pet safety and comfort to heart?
These are important considerations if you’re going to have your dog (or cat!) with you the whole time. It’s not fair to keep your pet isolated in a hotel room or beach cottage while you explore all day. Similarly, even though a store or green space says it welcomes pets, you may want to find out what that means. Remember that you want your pet to have lots of fun, too. In other words, be open to changing your itinerary to meet your cuddle buddy’s needs.
2. Be honest about your pet’s personality
Currently, a little more than one-third of pet owners bring their pets along for the ride. That’s a huge number, but it also begs a question: Why isn’t it higher? One reason often stems from the pet’s innate personality.
Like people, pets have their likes and dislikes. They also can get into moods. Perhaps your pug turns grumpy without enough sleep. Maybe your Great Dane just hates any kind of change. You have a responsibility to evaluate your pet’s persona objectively. Even if you love your pooch like crazy, your pooch might be better off staying in known surroundings.
3. Pack for your pet’s needs.
You would never think of heading off for vacation without your necessities. Clothes. Credit cards. Medications. Even that beat-up—but trusty!—yoga mat. Yet it’s easy to forget to bring along essentials for your four-legged companion. After all, your pet won’t speak up or remind you.
What should you bring along? You’ll need food, a safe carrier that meets FAA standards, treats, favorite toys, a leash, and possibly medicines. To make sure you don’t leave anything behind, keep a running document in the days before you depart. Jot down everything you use to care for your pet. Then just transfer those items to your travel “to bring” list.
4. Bring along your pet’s health records.
People aren’t the only travelers who may need to show vaccination and other records when traveling. Many places expect to see your pet’s veterinary records, too. Before you go anywhere, talk to your vet. Request a copy of all the latest shots your pet has had. Don’t think that it will be simple to find this information on the fly, either. In case of an emergency, you’ll want everything in hand.
To be sure, you never know when your pet could get sick while you’re on the road. It happens. If you need to take your pet to an urgent care veterinary clinic, you’ll be happy you brought information. The urgent care team will be happier and more up-to-date, too.
5. Investigate airline pet travel updates.
Even if you’ve flown the same airline for years and years, you can never be sure if their pet policies will change. Why risk being turned away? Before you reserve your flight tickets, check the pet policy. A few days before takeoff, check the policy again.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to understand the pet travel policies of any transportation you’re planning to take. This could include ships, subways, and trains. It could be a hardship for you to find yourself in a place but not be able to take your pet around town.
6. Start with small getaways.
Taking a trip can be “ruff” on your pet. Even though your companion loves you, travel can include scary sounds, smells, and sensations. Therefore, get your pet accustomed to short trips before your bucket list trip to the other side of the planet.
What types of short trips make the most sense? You could try an overnight visit somewhere that includes a stay at a hotel or motel. Or you might go on an overnight hike in the woods and try a pet-and-me tent or hammock arrangement. In time, your pet should get less anxious. Of course, he or she might not seem at ease after a few trial runs. At that point, you might want to revisit traveling later rather than cause your pup or kitty distress.
7. Know that some countries don’t understand the whole “pet” mentality.
Pet parenting may seem like a universal delight. Nevertheless, some people in foreign nations aren’t raised on having dogs in their homes. Quite honestly, a few countries like the Maldives and Samoa (except for emotional support pets) frown on any kind of dog ownership.
That being said, tons of locations are super pet-friendly. You just have to do your homework. Be a smart citizen of the world. Only bring your pet with you if you’re 100% sure you can protect your pet. For example, what happens if your dog gets ill in a pet-unfriendly area? You won’t be able to find a veterinarian. And that’s not good for you or your special pal.
8. Explore all overnight options before committing to one.
Hotels may say they’re pet-friendly. Are they? Read the fine print. You may pay quite a bit more for the privilege of bringing your pet. In other words, what you thought was a dream deal could turn into a horror for your wallet. Unless you have to leave right away, take time to explore all your choices.
Remember to look up Airbnb possibilities, too. Many owners are open to you bringing a certain number of pets with you. They might only allow specific dog breeds, true. However, if their rates are cheaper overall than if you had to pay a hotel upgrade fee, you’ll win.
Pets aren’t just home companions. They can be road companions, too. As long as you and your pet are prepped for adventure, the sky’s the limit in terms of the memories you’ll make.