Traveling – it can be both the best of times and a trying time – especially if you’re traveling with a pet! Whether you’re packing for a road trip or getting ready to hop aboard a flight, you need to think about what you’re going to need. This includes documentation, what you need to pack for the journey, and have on-hand for your arrival.
Fear not! Luckily, like most things in life, there are others who have already worked out the pet travel essentials. Read on for ways to make it as easy as possible to get from A to B, east to west, or north to south, with your animals and pets. Here are some of the best travel tip essentials for flying with Fido or cruising at altitude with Felix the cat.
Plan for Your Pet
If you’re reading this far, give yourself your first list tick! You’ve already started a little planning and research on how to take care of your pet during travel.
The next step is to make sure your pet absolutely needs to travel with you and is well enough to do so. Sometimes we want and benefit from their company during travel. However, being away from their usual environment can place a lot of stress on a pet. Animals that are very young, old, or sick do not travel well – especially at altitude. Get your pet checked by a vet to make sure they’re up to the journey. You might also want to consider getting pet insurance (find out more here) so that you’re well prepared to travel with your pet.
Photo by Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash
Plan Your Transport
If you haven’t already check out different types of transportation that will get you to where you want or need to go.
- Traveling by Car with a Pet: If you’re using your own vehicle, look into ways you can keep your animal restrained and safe while you’re en route. There’s a good reason for safety belts for humans, and there is for animals too. Look into safety barriers, harnesses, and crates appropriate to your vehicle and size of the animal.
- Traveling by Plane with a Pet: Do your research on the individual policies of the airlines you prefer to travel with well in advance. Some accept pets, some do not. Certain breeds and species are often banned. Of those that do accept animals, most have limitations on the numbers allowed on any one flight. If you have an emotional support animal, make sure your ESA letter and any other documentation the airline needs is current.
- Traveling on Other Transportation with a Pet: Going by bus or rail? As with airlines, check the policies of individual providers. They will usually have requirements around harnessing animals and/or ensuring they travel in specific sizes and types of pet carriers.
Prepare Your Pet
As much as you can in the weeks and days before you travel, get your pet used to anything out of the ordinary they may experience during travel.
Again, if you’ve got a pet at either end of the age spectrum or one that has health conditions check with your vet that they’re okay to make the trip. Vets are also good to tap into on travel advice specific to your pet.
Pets often already have an association with their pet carrier with a dreaded visit to the vet when they are unwell. Bring it out a few weeks beforehand. Leave some treats and toys inside it so that it becomes a happy place for your companion.
If your animal is not used to the sounds of vehicles, take them on short trips in your car. Even sitting with them in your car stationary but engine running in your driveway will help with different noises and vibrations.
If you’ve got a dog or cat that is pretty much used to only being around you, give them some social time around others. Be aware too that transport providers and airlines can and will ask you not to board or disembark if you’ve got an animal with behavioral issues. So make sure your dog responds to your commands before you share their presence in public!
Pack For Your Pet
You aren’t likely to need a full-sized suitcase, but there are some pet essentials to pack!
- Food and Snacks: Pets usually travel better on a slightly empty stomach. They’re less likely to vomit, or need to toilet. However, even if you’re on a short journey, bring a little of their regular food with you in case of delays. A few treats are also essential to both reward and give assurance while you’re traveling. Pet food products, such as those from Dr Marty Pets, may be useful due to their health benefits, including reduced feelings of stiffness and discomfort which are especially important on long journeys.
- Water: Keeping your pet hydrated while they are traveling is a must. Make sure you have access to fresh water you can give in regular small amounts.
- Clean up gear: Yep, even with encouraging your pet to toilet in the appropriate places before and during travel, accidents can happen. Be prepared with some paper towels or wet wipes and plastic bags to securely dispose of any waste.
- Comfort item: Knowing your pet is comfy as can be is going to be a big relief to you. Bring along a small toy, blanket or towel that they are already familiar with an love having by their side.
- ID and Documents: Make sure your pet is wearing some form of ID while you are traveling in case you do become separated. Include numbers of where you can be reached while you are away from home. Again, if you have an ESA, keep your letter current and with you while you are traveling. Some transport providers also ask for evidence or certification that your pet is healthy and well and up to to date with their shots.
- Other essentials: If you plan to take your dog out on the water, make bring a life vest to ensure dog water safety.
Stay With Your Pet!
Once you’ve headed off on your travels, stay by your pet’s side as much as you possibly can. This will reassure other passengers and airline staff who may not love animals as much as you do that you are there to take care of your pet’s needs.
Even more so, in an unfamiliar environment, your presence will reassure your pet that you are by their side, just as much as they are by yours. Even the sight and smell of your hand next to their carrier or by their side will be a welcome comfort.