Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Traveling with Pets-On the road with the 4 Pound Wonder

I'm all packed and ready to go!
I've been thinking lately about the logistics of traveling with a pet. As some of you may know the Dining Companion and I adopted a little dog in the past year. The 4 Pound Wonder has been a wonderful addition to the family and so far she's been a pretty good traveler.

We've taken one multi-state road trip and a few weekends away and she's been great.

A place in the sun
While I've traveled with my pets in the past it's always been more out of need or necessity. The Dining Companion and I had, at one time, three dogs and two cats. During that time we had pet sitters come in and take care of the gang when we hit the road for vacation. Now with just the one little dog we've made the decision to take her with us on our travels.

It does take an extra effort to make this work but in the end we think it's worth it. I have a few tips on making things a little easier when on the road or at your destination.

There is a lot of good info online about traveling with pets. One of the better websites I've found is Bring Fido. There you'll find a list of hotels and restaurants in various cities that are pet friendly. There's also Trips With Pets.
They also have a list of hotels by chain that can accommodate you and your pet. One thing to keep in mind is that most hotels charge a pet fee. This can range anywhere from $75-$150 per stay. Not an insignificant expense but when compared to the cost of a pet sitter or boarding not out of reason in my opinion. Most of the bigger chains have a least one or two properties that are pet friendly. Don't forget to check B&B's and boutique hotels as well. Some of them also welcome pets.

Packing for your pet is no different than packing for yourself. I make a packing list of things that she will need on the road and once we arrive at our destination. This list usually includes the following:

  • Rabies certificate & tag and/or veterinary health certificate (make extra copies)
  • ID tags (best is to have your pet micro-chipped as well)
  • A crate or travel carrier (some place your pet feels safe and can sleep) 
  • Leash and collar or harness (we keep back-ups in the car at all times)
  • Food and water bowls
  • A favorite blanket and toy
  • Favorite food and treats
  • Bags for scooping and wee wee pads 
 Those are the basics. I pack a bag for her when I pack my bag and check things off the list as I go.

The next big test for us will be air travel within the US and at some point, international travel.

One of the biggest unknowns is how our pets will take to travel. Not all of them are cut out for it. A good indicator is how they behave in the car. Are they calm? Do they enjoy the experience? Chances are if your pet is jumpy and nervous in the car they may not be the best travelers. One way to help is to try and make sure all car trips don't end at the vet or the groomer. A trip to the park or another favorite place once in a while may take away some of the anxiety of being in the car.

Air travel will be different of course; it's an anxious time for all of us. It doesn't have to be trying. A comfortable travel carrier with a favorite blanket goes a long way to keep things calm. The important thing to remember is that each airline has it's own set of travel criteria for pets. Check with your airline to insure that you're in compliance with their policies. Most publish these criteria online at their websites. We are lucky in that our dog is small and can travel in the cabin with us. Pets over a certain size must travel in the planes hold. Again, check with your carrier to determine what is required.

A travel health certificate, proof of rabies vaccine and a microchip are usually the minimum things necessary. Some information on international travel can be found here (Pets and International Travel).

Traveling with your pets may not be for everyone but if you think your pet will enjoy being on the road with you give it a try. Maybe a quick trip to grandma's house or a weekend trip to a nearby town. You'll never know how it'll go until you do it. It may turn out to be a fun time for all of you.

I'll revisit this topic from time to time with updates on specific hotels, restaurants and destinations that we have good luck with.

Happy travels to you and your favorite furry companion!

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