Lifestyle, Travel

Traveling with pets – fun or stress?

We all love to travel… And many of us have or wish to have a pet. But is a traveling lifestyle compatible with the company of a furry friend? Can a pet owner travel?

I used to have a dog. A cute, little, hairy, funny and intelligent Yorkshire Terrier. His name was Picasso. He went to the dog heaven in summer 2011. I still miss him… However, most of his life he didn’t live with me but with my parents. Why? At one point I chose to follow my passion for languages and for travels and shifted my (second) career to the travel industry sector. I studied abroad, then moved to another country. Then to another one, and another one… I worked a lot, a moved a lot, I traveled a lot. It became my lifestyle. Not really optimal conditions for my beloved hairy friend. At the end it was Picasso who chose his home. Basically, after the first long period of my stay abroad my dog simply didn’t want to come home with me anymore and chose my mum as his owner. I missed him dearly but was happy that he was happy. My mum and the dog bonded and at the end he finished his life in her arms (I was abroad). I cried my eyes out. Even more because I couldn’t say goodbye. We all make choices in life and have to live with the consequences. For me it’s no kids, no pets. For now at least…

But not everyone travels as extensively as I do and I still believe that you can have a pet despite traveling. I decided to dedicate this article to all of you out there with a passion for the unknown in company of your dog (or cat).

Are pets and travels compatible?

Maybe you would like to travel more but you don’t dare because you feel like your dear friend is not always welcome where you go? Or maybe you are thinking of getting a dog or a cat but you are reluctant to this idea because you travel so much? I’m observing my friends who have dogs and I think traveling with a pet can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be if you are well prepared.

There are many people traveling with pets and there are many ways and possibilities to see the world in company of your dear furry friend. You would be surprised how many hotels, bars, airlines etc. accept animals. Don’t limit yourself by thinking that it is not possible to have it both: The trip and your darling!

Today I gathered for you a few initial ideas and advices on pet-friendly traveling.

Travel preparations – what should you consider ?

Careful research and planning are essential when traveling with a pet!

First of all you should ask yourself a very important question: Does my pet like to be away from home? How is his character? Is he a curious creature? Is he excited to explore the world as much as you are or is he rather a shy and timid fellow? Can he adapt quickly to changes and to a new environnement? Knowing this will help you decide about the travel components (place, transportation etc.). Does it have to be a short trip or can it be a long haul destination? Should you have the suspicion that your darling is not ‘open minded’ towards bigger changes, maybe you need to choose a destination which is similar to your home environment rather than depart somewhere exotic.

Before the trip…

Get as much information about the destination of your travel. Especially if you travel internationally!

Very important: Your pet should have a chip and at any time you should carry his health certificate with you when traveling. Get all the required vaccinations. The best would be to get a check-up from your vet before you travel. One tip: Put your pet’s name and your contact details on his collar – just in case. When traveling to exotic countries, you should get information about rabies classification. The World Organization for Animal Health classifies countries as rabies-free, rabies-controlled or high-risk. Be preventive.

As a pet owner you should have a pet passport for your four-legged friend. This document should contain all data and information identifying your pet.

Check additional documentation and restrictions before traveling internationally. Some countries require quarantine. The rules of entering a country are specific and from country to country different. Pet owners should become familiar with all these rules. Planning in advance is the key to avoiding problems.

Take the time to prepare your darling for the travels! Train your dog in habits and rituals you already know upfront he will have to face during the stay away from home. Many animals love routine and will need to be prepared for a trip in order to be safe and comfortable.

Whatever you decide, you want your pet to feel at home. Pack all you need for your companion so he doesn’t feel ‘displaced’. His prefered toys, blankets, the food he likes, his treats, maybe even his bed or basket.

How are you reaching your destination?

No matter which transportation method you chose, make sure your pet is as comfortable as possible!

If you are traveling by car:
Try small trips before you go on long travels to adapt your pet to longer drives. Plan enough stops for ‘stretching the legs’ and ‘doing their business’. Have enough drinking water within reach. Maybe even a little sanitary bag just in case your darling gets car sick (don’t overfeed him before the trip). Pets should travel on the back seat, loose, best on an impermeable blanket. Larger dogs however should have a seat-belt harness. To avoid otitis and conjunctivitis don’t allow your pets to stick his head out of the window during the ride. Never leave him alone in the car, especially when it’s hot outside. Try not to have loud music and in general avoid any kind of situation which might cause distress to your friend.

If you are traveling by air:
Check the respective airlines and their pet policies! Nowadays many airlines are pet-friendly but you should be prepared rather than sorry. Check all the requirements needed before going on board.

According to the airline specific pet policies, your friend can travel in one of three different ways: In-cabin with you (stowed under the seat), as checked baggage (in the cargo hold) and as manifest in the cargo hold (usually unaccompanied or very large pets). Small pets can usually travel with you in the cabin but every airlines has its own rules (how heavy the pet can be, traveling in a bag or a cage, muzzle necessary or not, etc.). The best is to directly contact your chosen airline to clarify the carrier specifications. In order to get through the check-in process smoothly and stress-free, be prepared in advance. When traveling far, it is important to choose an airline that serves the entire route (best, without transits).

Pet friendly accommodations

No matter if you are staying in a hotel, Airbnb or any other kind of a private guesthouse, make sure upfront that your pet is welcome! Gather all possible information, do enough research, than book what suits you best. Try not to book the first best accommodation labeled ‘pet friendly’. There are degrees of ‘pet friendly-ness’. By that some places mean simply ‘your pet is welcome’, other places are really amazingly prepared for your dear friend. There are hotels that go an extra mile offering specific services such as an animal food menu, playgrounds and parks, a vet or an animal beauty salon on the grounds. Some accommodations provide you with a dog sitter or walker or they help you to find one. Do your homework before you book!

During the holidays

Once arrived at your destination (if you didn’t do it already before), you should get all the information about the surroundings to secure a smooth and relaxing stay. Look for pet-friendly places: parks, playgrounds, walking trails, bars and restaurants where you are welcome with your dog, pet-shops, a nearby vet in case of an emergency etc.

You are on holidays but please don’t take holidays from your friend. You should respect his routine and accord him the same amount of time for walks and games as you do at home. Ask your hotel for a pet sitter should you plan a scuba diving excursion, an opera evening, or any kind of non-pet-friendly activity. Consider that your darling might not like it at all to be left alone in an unfamiliar environment.

Check possible ‘dangers’ in the new destination such as heat, mosquitoes or ticks. Be preventive. Always keep your pet safe and secure! Adapt to the (pet)-culture in the new place/ country. Check where you can let your dog off the leash, which beaches allow pets, if the parks have a specific pet-section etc. Always clean up after your dog (guessing you do the same at home, right?!).

Basically, be prepared not only on the travel day but during the whole traveling period. Prioritize your animals safety, health and comfort. The travel should be fun for both, you and your four-legged company! You know: Happy pet, happy owner…! 🙂

Maybe one day, I’ll be one myself (again)… Fingers crossed. And for now I hope you enjoyed this article and found my tips helpful?! If you have more ideas on how to include your beloved pet into a lifestyle on-the-road, please share them with us!

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