If you plan to travel with your pet, it is important that you make your travel decisions based on what will be safe and comfortable for them. Make sure that you will have the time to spend with your pet while traveling, otherwise it might be best to leave your furry family member at home. If you have decided you want to take your pet with you on a vacation, it is important to plan accordingly and know how to keep your pet safe, stress-free and happy while traveling.
Here are some tips for a safe vacation with your pet:
Just like you would for yourself and your family, you will need to pack a bag for your pet. This travel kit will include everything your pet will need while traveling. Suggested things to pack include: travel papers, pet veterinary records (including shots), food, bowl, leash, plastic bags, bottled water, medication, pet first-aid kit, favorite toy, grooming supplies and something to sleep on.
Make sure the hotel or campsite you plan to stay at allows pets. Contact the hotel directly and ask about their pet policy and make your reservations. A small pet deposit or non-refundable fee may be charged when staying in a hotel with a pet. Get your pet out for some exercise while staying a hotel. This ensures your pet gets tired and goes to sleep at night, instead of barking at all of the sounds occurring outside of your hotel room.
Pets should not be allowed to freely roam the car. The safest way for a pet to travel is in a crate that is secured with a seat belt in the backseat. This prevents the pet from distracting the driver, which could cause an accident. Make sure the crate is properly ventilated, allowing enough airflow through it.
There is plenty of time to allow your pet to roam and stretch their legs when at a rest stop or taking a break from driving. Just make sure to make plenty of stops along the way to give your pet a break from being confined in the car. When taking your pet out of the car, make sure they always have the collar, ID tag and leash on.
Never leave pets alone in the car. Even if the window is cracked, it can get very hot inside the car very quickly. Make sure to travel with a human buddy so you can take turns using the restroom or going into a restaurant for something to eat.
Only a select few U.S. railroad companies allow pets to be brought on the train with their owners. Those that do allow it require the passenger take care of their pet, including feeding and exercising them at station stops. If traveling by train, make sure to get your pet out at stops and that you are able to control them while traveling.
Air travel with pets should be a last resort and only used if absolutely necessary. The Humane Society suggests considering an alternate travel method when traveling with pets. For pets with pushed in faces, such as pugs, Persian cats and bulldogs, air travel can be dangerous, as their short nasal passages can leave them vulnerable to heat stroke and oxygen deprivation.
If you have to fly, ask the airline if your small pet can travel in the cabin with you. Based on size, some airlines will charge a small fee, but will allow the pet to travel with you in the cabin. Be aware of the dangers associated with putting your pet in the cargo hold to fly. Many animals have been injured, killed or lost during commercial flights. Check airline performance records before making the decision to place your pet in the cargo hold of the plane and, if possible, select a direct flight so there is no need to transfer your pet from one plane to another.
Very few cruise lines allow pets to travel aboard their ships. The ones that do are mostly ocean crossing vessels and require the pet be confined in the room or in the ship’s kennel. If traveling via cruise ship, just make sure to check on your pet often to ensure they are doing okay while traveling.
Planning your vacation with the family pet can be a fun and exciting adventure for everyone in the family, including Fluffy. However, without being prepared or understanding how to safely travel with your pet, you may find yourself with a very unhappy pet. Be prepared and know how to keep your pet safe, comfortable and happy while traveling. This will ensure you have a fun and exciting time vacationing with your pet.
Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) 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.