There are many destinations across the country where we can travel with our pets. Destinations include state parks, campsites, beach resorts, big cities and country destinations with pet-friendly options. RV vacations work the best when traveling with your pet, mostly because you bring the comforts of home that your pet is used to along for the ride. Do you know the subtle difference between “dogs allowed” and “dog friendly?” Dog friendly means that there are plenty of activities and options available for you and your pet, whereas dogs allowed means that they simply allow pets to stay with you in your room, but there are not a lot of options available. When booking your vacation, there are a lot of questions you need to ask, including:
- Are pets allowed in the hotel, motel or at the campground?
- Are there any breed restrictions?
- Are there any restrictions on the number of pets?
- Are there any pet charges?
- What are the leash restrictions?
- Are there dog-friendly parks nearby?
- Are there any places where pets are not allowed?
Keep in mind that most cruises, Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses do not allow dogs, unless they are service dogs.
The type of vacation you are looking for and the destination you have in mind will determine where you end up staying. While planning, determine if you will be staying in pet-friendly hotels, camping or if you will boarding your pet upon arrival. Never leave your pet alone in your hotel room. The dog could misbehave from being in an unfamiliar place and could possibly destroy the room, costing you a lot of money and risking being asked to leave the hotel. If staying in a cabin or a hotel and you have to leave your pet alone, make sure it is crate trained so you can confidently leave knowing your pet will be safe. Take your dog out for walks regularly. This will ensure there are no accidents in the room and will keep your dog active, reducing the chances of it getting in trouble in the room out of boredom.
Keep your pet safe by using special harnesses designed to work like seat belts or place your pet in a carrier while driving. This will reduce the chances of your pet jumping on your lap or causing an issue while you are driving. It is also best to save the front seat for humans. Place your pets in the back seat where they will be the safest. Some pets do not travel well in a car. Talk with your veterinarian and find out if there is a travel-sickness pill you can give your pet. Check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any pre-travel medications. Make frequent stops to give your pets a chance to stretch, go to the bathroom and take a break from driving in the car. Never leave your pet in the car, especially in hot climates. In just a short period of time, your pet can suffer from heatstroke.
Camping is one of the best options when wanting to travel with your pet. You will be in the great outdoors, where there is plenty of room for your pet to run around. Here are some tips to prepare you and your pet for an upcoming camping trip:
- Keep your pet secured at night when everyone is sleeping. Bring a crate with or double check to make sure your pet cannot escape the tent while you are sleeping.
- Bring small baggies to collect your pet’s waste. Zip-locking bags work the best because they can be sealed shut. This is a must, especially when there is not a trash can in the immediate vicinity.
- Keep the bugs away by storing your pet’s food in a sealed container.
- Enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, Frisbee, boating, swimming and exploring the area.
- Do some research to verify that the area you are camping in is not commonly occupied by wild animals that may cause an issue for your pet.
There are some beaches where pets are allowed. Check before going to verify that you can take your pet with you. Just remember that while at the beach, never leave your pet unattended and always clean up after your pet. Also, be aware of any leash laws for the beach you are visiting. Many beaches do not allow pets because of pet owners who do not follow leash laws and allow their pets to run all over the place.
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The Humane Society does not recommend you travel by air with your pet, unless it is absolutely necessary. Driving is always the best option when traveling with a pet. It is particularly dangerous for pets with “pushed in” faces, such as bulldogs, pugs, Persian cats. Though these are the high-risk pets to take flying, all pets are at a risk of becoming injured, lost and possibly killed while traveling in the cargo area of the plane. If you must fly, determine if your pet can travel in the cabin with you. If small enough, some airlines will allow the cat or dog to travel with you for an additional fee. Check with the airlines before arriving at the airport to see if there is room in the cabin for you and your pet. When going through security, be prepared to take your pet out of its carrier. You can also request a secondary screening that will allow your pet to be screened without taking it out of the carrier. Here are some tips for flying with your pet in the cargo hold:
- Fly directly to your destination, avoiding any stops and/or layovers.
- Travel aboard the same flight as your pet.
- Notify the captain and/or flight attendant. If aware, they may take special precautions when flying.
- High-risk pets listed above should never fly in the cargo hold.
- Use a collar that will not get caught on the carrier and have proper identification tags.
- Affix a label to the carrier with pet’s name, your name, address and final destination. Also attach a photo of your pet on the carrier so they can easily identify the pet to the carrier.
- Avoid feeding pets six hours before the flight.
- Do not fly during busy times in the summer and over holidays.
- Immediately examine your pet upon arrival.
Research a list of emergency veterinary clinics where you are traveling. Have all of your pet records with you, including current shot records. Microchip your pet. This is a good idea, especially in the event that you get separated. Most shelters and vet clinics have scanners that will check and be able to get in contact with you the moment the pet arrives at their facility. Just make sure it is current before leaving.
Make sure you are prepared to travel with your pet. Items to pack include food, water, bowls, treats, poop bags, leash, crate, shampoo and an extra sheet to protect the bed. Other items to pack include a well-fitted collar, current identification tags and plenty of toys.
Enjoy time with your pet on vacation. Just like when traveling with kids, you will need to do activities the dog will like and can participate in, including hiking, boating and swimming. Research the area to find local dog parks or pet play groups where you can take your pet for some exercise and interactive play. Make sure your pet is leash trained before leaving on vacation. This will avoid any issues when traveling. When planning a vacation, keep in mind that some pets are harder to travel with than others. It is important to determine if you will still be able to enjoy your vacation and if your pet is truly travel ready. Dogs that rarely ride in the car may not be the best pets to take on a long road trip.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.