Leaving your pets at home during a trip can be stressful for both you and your pet. You don’t really know what’s going on at home with your pets while you’re gone and you’ve got hardly any control. You could utilize a kennel to take care of your pets, but those can be up to $30 per night and many kennels require prior social interactions with your pets, especially your dogs, before they’ll accept them for a long holiday.
Another option that people take are paid house sitters or paid pet sitters that will do what their titles imply they do. This often allows a traveler a little more insight into what is going on at home, but as personal experience has shown, a pet sitter can end up failing and you end up coming home from a great trip only to have found your pets have run away… or worse.
To alleviate these concerns, many have decided to just travel with their pets. If you have made that decision, here are some helpful tips to help keep you and your pets safe without having to spend a bundle of cash to do it!
1. Know What Your Pet Will Need For the Journey
If you’re driving on your trip, then there’s a good chance that your pet is going to want some toys, some water, and probably a treat or two to occupy their time as you knock off some miles from your trip. Your pet, and yes this even means cats, will want to stop every couple of hours to stretch their legs, sniff a new spot in the great outdoors, and have a short adventure. Even just a 10 minute stop to meet your pet’s needs during a road trip can buy you hours of pet sleepy time later on!
If you’re flying with your pet, remember that even seasoned pet flying veterans can quickly grow tired of their caged accommodations while in the belly or in the cabin of an aircraft. Pets often sit in a staging area after you’ve checked in if they’re going into the belly of the plane and are cared for by the ramp crew, but if a flight is delayed or if there’s extra time before your flight, they might need food or water. Send some along as you check in your pet, just ask if they’ll give your pet some before the flight, and the chances are good that they will. Just don’t give them too much water for a long plane ride, however, because you may be paying for urinated luggage, mail, or freight!
If your pet is in the cabin and you’ve got a cranky sky marshal on board… let’s just not go there.
2. Watch Out For “Non-Refundable” Deposits
There are a lot of pet friendly hotels/motels out there that will accept your pet, but it’s going to cost you. Some just charge an increased staying fee for the room. Others will charge you a refundable deposit in case your pet does damage to the room. Be leery, however, of the “non-refundable” deposit. It’s not really a deposit, because that implies you can earn your money back! It’s a fee and it’s an easy way to get more money for a room. Make sure you read the fine print to make sure your pet hasn’t been excluded from the “pet friendly” terms and conditions – certain breeds of dogs especially can be limited at dog friendly locations.
3. Is That Really a Pet Area?
After following the signs to the designated pet area, a friend began walking her dog in the grass. The dog did his business, my friend was about to pick that business up, when a security officer came her way. “Dogs aren’t allowed on this property,” she was told. She was then escorted off the property under the threat of having the police called out because she was “trespassing.”
Before letting your pet out and especially before letting a pet off their leash, make sure you know for certain that you’re in a designated area that allows this. Some communities have extensive fines for off-leash pets – I know this because the fine in my community is $124.
4. Make Sure You Have Up-To-Date Paperwork
To check a pet onto a plane, you’re going to need up-to-date health certifications from your veterinarian. Your pet may also need to have their shots updated before traveling. If you’re traveling by vehicle, it is still a good idea to keep this paperwork with you at all times because some communities allow law enforcement to ask about the status of your pet. Without the paperwork, your pet might be staying home or worse – getting the chance to spend quality time with the local animal control officer.
5. Look For Rewards Programs
If you fly or travel regularly with your pet, look to utilize agencies that will give you a fair, competitive price and the chance to earn rewards. JetBlue has a frequent-flier program for pets called JetPaws that allows customers to earn extra miles when they choose to fly with their pet.
6. Go For a Trial Run
If you’ve never traveled with your pet before, taking a trial run with your favorite four legged pal may be a good idea. You’d hate to be 5 hours into a lengthy drive only to discover that your pet gets carsick when you drive a curvy road, right? A trial run can help you gauge how excited your pet will be to take a trip, find out if there are issues you’re likely to face, and help you relieve anxiousness that might occur with going someplace new. For some pets, remember, getting into a vehicle is an indicator that they’re no longer going to be part of your family!
7. Use That Seat Belt!
Even though there are only 30,000 accidents attributed to pets that occur every year, a small fraction of the over 10 million auto accidents that occur annually in the United States, every single accident with a pet involved is a preventable accident. If your pet is too big for a kennel in your vehicle, use your seat belt! That way your pet doesn’t wander, get under foot, or decide that jumping from the open window at the red light is a good idea.
8. Prepare For a Pet To Be Lost
It’s more about planning for the worst case scenario more than expecting it to happen. Pets do, however, become lost during a trip somewhere and without proper tagging, it can be nearly impossible to reunited a pet with their human. Having up-to-date tags with your vet’s information, your phone number, or other contact info is critical. You might also consider having a chip implanted on your pet that contains this information. You might also want to include tags that have the number and location of where you’re currently staying if your journey is still in transit.
Traveling with a pet can give a family the added security of knowing their four-legged family members are safe. By utilizing these travel tips, you can make sure that your next traveling is adventure is fun for everyone!