As more Americans get vaccinated, people are beginning to traveling again. And, having developed deep bonds with our pets during the pandemic, there’s no way we’re leaving our best friends behind!
Whether you’re considering your first adventure together, or have been exploring with your furry travel buddy for years, there are a few simple practices that make every trip a success. Follow these tips for traveling with your pet, and you’ll always put your best paw forward when you’re on the road!
Tips For Traveling Like A Pro With Your Pet
#1 – Always Come Home Together
This is – by far – the most important of our tips for traveling with a pet! It’s startling, but statistics show that one in three pets will get lost during their lifetime.
Nothing would be worse than losing your dog or cat when they’re away from home. Our tips for keeping your pets from getting lost while you’re traveling are more detailed, but these basic steps will help make sure you all come home together:
- Check your pet’s collars and leashes for wear and tear and replace them if necessary.
- Make sure your pet’s collar fits correctly. You should just be able to fit two fingers under the collar.
- Leave your pet’s collar on at all times when you’re traveling.
- When putting your pet into the car, remove the leash only after securing him with a seat belt harness or carrier. And snap the leash back on before removing his restraints when you arrive at your destination.
- Leash your pet before opening the door to your hotel room for housekeeping or room service.
- Skip off-leash play time unless you find a completely fenced dog park.
- If your dog does get way, fight your instinct to chase him. Instead, lay down on the ground and call him back to you.
- Be sure that the information on your pet’s tag is current and that his microchip provider has the correct contact information.
#2 – Understand Your Pet
Our dog, Myles, is a cinch to travel with, because he loves everyone and is always up for a new experience. But we haven’t always had such easy dogs! Before Myles, our dogs Ty and Buster were more challenging.
This picture of the boys is so perfect, because it shows their personalities so well. Buster was a happy-go-lucky goofball, and Ty almost always looked mad. Something you can’t tell from the photo is that both dogs had behavioral issues.
READ MORE ⇒ My Dog HATES The Car – Now What?!
Buster, who we found as a stray, was leash-reactive. He’d bark and bounce up and down and generally act like a lunatic when other dogs were too close.
Ty has his issues, too. He was afraid of strangers and didn’t like other dogs.
Those hurdles didn’t keep us from traveling full-time with Buster and Ty for more than ten years. But, when we made our travel plans, we were honest with ourselves about the boys’ limitations. And we made choices to accommodate their needs. Generally, that meant doing things at off times, avoiding crowds, and being willing to leave immediately if the situation wasn’t good for them.
Understanding what your pet will and won’t enjoy, and tailoring your activities to avoid their triggers as much as possible is one of our best tips for traveling with a pet.
#3 – Do Your Digging
Once you’ve given some thought to your pet’s desires, it’s time for the fun part … deciding where you’ll go!
Uncovering activities, finding places to stay, and locating pet friendly restaurants takes a little more effort. But, there’s nothing more rewarding than enjoying these new experiences together!
When you’re looking for fun places to take your pet, start with GoPetFriendly’s destination guides. We’ve written about hundreds of pet friendly places, based on our paws-on-the-ground experience. So if you want to know what you and your pet can do together at the Grand Canyon, or where to find the best dog parks in New York City … we’ve got you covered!
Visitor’s websites for the cities you’re considering, state tourism boards, or the convention and visitors bureaus’ Facebook pages are other good places to check for travel advice.
#4 – Prepare Your Travel Buddy
A sure sign of an experienced pet traveler is having a well-behaved pet who takes things in stride. To get there you’ll need to spend time exposing your pet to new environments and situations, building his confidence slowly.
For those heading out on their first road trip, start by acclimating your pet to the car. Begin with short trips to get your cat used to the carrier or your dog used to buckling up for the ride. Make sure your destinations are fun – you don’t want him to think every car ride ends in a visit to the vet!
If you’ll be flying, plan well in advance to acclimate your pet to the carrier he’ll be riding in on the airplane. Learning to be comfortable in a carrier for several hours is best learned at home and then practiced in different locations – like the car, a coffee shop, or a pet friendly shopping mall where the surrounding environment will be similar to the airport.
To make the trip more enjoyable for you both, you’ll also want to work on some obedience. Focus on basic things – like walking nicely on a leash, and greeting strangers and other dogs politely. Signing up for in-person or virtual dog training classes might be just the thing to get you jump-started. Or check out our tips for training your dog to travel.
Finally, talk to your vet about your trip. Make sure your pet is current on his vaccinations and ask about any potential health issues you need to be concerned about at your destination – like fleas or ticks.
#5 – Ask The Right Questions
When it comes to booking your accommodations, it’s important to know which questions to ask. For example, does the hotel impose a weight restriction or charge an additional pet fee? Is there a restaurant with pet friendly seating onsite or nearby? Does the hotel have a pet walk area or other pet amenities?
The answers to these questions can have a big impact on how much you enjoy your stay. As you’re gathering the information, be sure to take notes with time and date of your conversation and the first and last name of the hotel employee.
READ MORE ⇒ Hotel Chains That Welcome Cats
#6 – Invest In Good Gear
This doesn’t need to be an expensive proposition, but there are a few products that make a big impact when you’re traveling with your pet. And if you use them a lot, these items are well worth the investment.
> A good, crash-tested harness or carrier to keep your pet safe in case of an accident
> A walking harness that’s comfortable for your dog and has a leash attachment at the chest to help reduce pulling.
> Leashes with the clasp in the handle, like the Crag Reflective Adjustable Dog Leash by Ruffwear. These leashes are great for attaching your dog to your chair while you’re eating out. And the adjustable length works on crowded sidewalks and spacious trails.
> When you’re traveling, pet food from The Honest Kitchen is a treat for you and your pet! It’s dehydrated, so it’s light and easy to pack. You just scoop out the powder, add some water, and give it a stir. The best part is, Myles loves it!
#7 – Be Prepared For Emergencies
Being prepared for an emergency is a good idea for any traveler, but it’s an especially important tip when you’re traveling with a pet. There are a handful of situations that can cause concern, and a little advance preparation will put you in a better position to deal with them if they happen.
> If your pet becomes ill or injured it’s helpful to have their medical records with you. Rather than hauling a big paper file around, scan the documents to a USB drive and keep them in your pet’s travel bag.
> In an emergency, your memory may fail you. So, be sure you have the names and dosages of all your pet’s medications and supplements written down and stored with their medical records.
> The document you’ll need most often is your pet’s vaccination certificate, so make a copy and keep it handy.
> Know where the closest emergency veterinarian is so that you can get there quickly if the need arises.
#8 – Be a Good Ambassador
More and more places are becoming pet friendly and providing us all with the privilege of traveling with our pets. But it’s just that — a privilege that can be easily revoked.
Bad behavior by one person can have a detrimental affect on us all! One of our best tips traveling with a pet is to be a great example of our community.
We can do that by being considerate of others and not foisting our pets (or their noisiness) on those around us. That includes following the rules when it comes to being on leash, and not taking pets into places where they’re not supposed to be. And, of course, always, always, always picking up after your pets.
By following these tips for traveling with a pet, and every pet friendly trip you take will be a good one!