In the early days of the pandemic, pet ownership rose to an all-time high of 70 percent of American households. With so many households adding a furry friend around the same time that demand for travel is ready to explode, there comes an interesting new issue. What do you do with your pet when you go on vacation? Of course, you could leave them at home with a trusted caretaker, put them in daycare, or take them with you!

Vacationing with a pet can be a fun experience, but the most challenging part is the actual traveling. Here are some tips to help you plan for traveling with your pet.

Road Trips

Perhaps the easiest way to travel with a pet is driving there. This method gives you more freedom and flexibility than other options.

If yours is the kind of pet that doesn’t handle a car ride well or needs regular supervision, either have someone with you or consider a different mode of transportation.

The downsides of driving with your pet are mostly related to travel time. Driving often takes longer and is the most involved method of travel among those we’ll review. You’ll have to focus on the road instead of your pet. If yours is the kind of pet that doesn’t handle a car ride well or needs regular supervision, either have someone with you or consider a different mode of transportation.

Don’t Forget!

  • Plan out your route with your pet in mind. Stop often enough (once every other hour or so) to allow for bathroom and stretch breaks. Remember to bring bags to clean up after them!
  • Bring a travel pack for your pet. This should include food or treats, a blanket or pillow, and toys.
  • Never leave your pet alone in the car, especially in extreme temperatures. A car can quickly turn dangerous for a pet, whether it’s hot or cold weather.
  • Take shorter, test trip first to see how your pet handles travel. If all goes well, you can try taking longer trips.
  • If you’re renting a car, there may be an additional fee.

Public Transit

Public transit is a popular and often affordable (not to mention often environmentally friendly) mode of transportation. Traveling with your pet may be an option for you, but there are some obstacles to be aware of.

While service animals are required to be allowed on vehicles, everyday pets are usually restricted.

When you take public transportation, you do lack some freedom, which means fewer potty breaks for your furry friend. You’ll also be sharing a space with strangers, so both you and your pet need to be courteous and quiet. The biggest concern is availability. While service animals are required to be allowed on vehicles, everyday pets are usually restricted. If a bus or train company does allow pets, there are often restrictions attached.

For example, Amtrak allows dogs and cats up to 20 pounds, including the weight of the required carrier, on train trips that go up to seven hours or less.

Don’t Forget!

  • Look up the specific Pet Policy for the transit company you plan to use first.
  • Follow all the rules of the bus or train at all times. These are in place for the safety and comfort of everyone onboard, and the last thing you want is to pay a fine or get kicked off.
  • Keep your pet calm and quiet while traveling using public transportation. Try a smaller trip first to see how they handle it.
  • You may be required to pay an extra fee for bringing on your pet.
  • If your pet is a service animal, bring any paperwork that proves this, as you may need it. Remember, an emotional support animal is not a service animal.

Flights

Many airlines are making it possible to bring your pet on a plane. However, just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. The benefits of air travel are pretty evident. There are some places you simply can’t drive or take a train to. Also flying is much faster and can even be more affordable at times.

That noted, you can’t stop for a potty break in the air. There’s also (usually) an extra fee to fly with your pet, with the exact amount differing based on airline and transportation type. Furthermore, it may be more stressful for your pet to travel on a plane, as they need to be kept in highly specific kennels.

Don’t worry, your pet should be safe while traveling as there are many regulations in place to ensure the safety of the animal while traveling.

If pet is small enough, they may be able to travel in the cabin with you in place of your carry-on item. Generally, the pet must be small enough to fit in a ventilated kennel that can fit under the seat in front of you. Any pet that is larger must be checked, meaning they’ll be placed in a kennel in cargo. Don’t worry, your pet should be safe while traveling as there are many regulations in place to ensure the safety of the animal while traveling. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the liability policies of the airlines.

Don’t Forget!

  • Airlines may have health requirements to check a pet and may require a health certificate from the pet’s veterinarian.
  • Flying in cargo may be very stressful for your pet. They could be away from you and kept in a kennel for a long time, and pressure changes and takeoff can be unsettling.
  • Prepare your pet for flight. Start working with them weeks before to prepare them for separation, noise, or being in a crate. Tire them out with exercise and play before the flight and give them plenty of potty breaks. You can also give them something familiar to have in their crate, like an old shirt or towel, to comfort them.
  • Traveling internationally with pets may be more complex, as different countries have their own rules and requirements you’ll need to satisfy. You may also need to meet certain criteria to bring your pet back into the United States.

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Traveling with a pet may be stressful or expensive, but it enables your beloved furry family member to join in on the vacation memories. You have to weigh all of the options and consider if it’s best to bring your pet along or leave them at home with a pet sitter. If you do decide to bring your pet with you, it can be truly worth it!