With summer almost at an end and back-to-school on the horizon, I know what you’re thinking: “Gimme a hotdog – I’ll worry about getting into that swimsuit next year.” Or maybe that’s just me. The other thing I’m thinking is: “Road trip!” Let’s have one last hurrah before it’s back to business as usual. If you’re like me, you’ll want to bring your four-legged friends on the trip with you. After all, they’re part of the family, too. Taking pets along when you travel does involve making a few more plans, but it’s worth it to be able to bond together over new adventures. To make your planning a little easier, here’s seven ways to make your trip safe and fun when you travel with your pets.
1. Check with your vet before you travel.
Dogs or cats who had health issues in the past may not be good candidates for travel. In these instances, boarding may be the best choice. Even healthy pets may require a variety of items before flying or road trips. Depending on your destination, your pet may need extra vaccines or health certificates to travel. Your vet can help you determine which, if any, additional steps to take.
2. Pack ample food and water for your pet’s trip.
Grocery and supply stores along your route may not stock the right food, so make sure to pack enough with you to last the length of your trip. Also, pack water as well as refillable containers for replenishing when needed. And don’t forget to pack water and food bowls for serving on the road.
3. Traveling long distances with your pet? Practice makes perfect.
Many pets are comfortable riding around town in your car as these are often quick trips that can sometimes lead to fun. Long road trips, however, can be an entirely different matter. A good way to ensure your trip goes smoothly is to do some practice runs. Take your dog or cat on a longer ride than normal and have them sit where they would during the trip. How they behave will tell you how they’ll react to the real trip out of town. It’s important to remember that some pets, like people, can get carsick – a critical piece of information to have before taking your pet on a long journey.
4. For your pet’s safety, and yours, use a restraint when traveling.
For cats, this means they ride in a carrier that is secured to the seat or placed on the floor. For dogs, this means riding in a carrier or a safety restraint system made just for this purpose.
5. When traveling with your pet, make time for play and potty.
A lot of what makes road trips fun are the interesting stops along the way. Stop every 2-3 hours to give your pet the chance to stretch, walk and relieve themselves. Bring their favorite balls and toys and take a few minutes to incorporate training, play and running. Find out if there are dog parks or safe places to run along your route. This will make travel interesting and fun for pets.
6. Traveling with your pet by air? Know the rules.
There are regulations and fees associated with flying with a pet. Some airlines allow you to bring your pet into the cabin; some don’t. Similarly, not all airlines have the same track records for safely transporting pets who travel in cargo. Make sure you research this carefully and feel comfortable about your choice before you fly. Most airlines have information about traveling with pets right on their websites, but it’s best to call and talk to a representative to make sure you clearly understand the procedures involved. Often you will have to book pet travel directly with a representative of the airline anyway.
7. Always, but especially when traveling, pets should wear ID.
Safeguard your pet from the unthinkable. Invest the time to chip and register your pet or update your pets’ registration, and make sure your pet wears a collar and tag with your current phone number at all times. Since you’re traveling, it should be a number that travels with you, such as a cell phone.
Last but not least, have fun! See new sights, sniff new things and enjoy all this great big world has to offer with your best friend at your side.