Summer is here! And we all know what that means… Vacations!
Long and sunny days of peace and rest, including endless fun and companionship, together with family and friends.
So it’s only natural that our pets, the best adventure companions ever, can be a part of them, wherever your destination may be.
But if you usually leave everything to the last minute, avoid unexpected trouble by making preparations to travel with your pet. Especially if it includes using public transportation.
Follow our tips for traveling with pets and have a restful and unforgettable vacation!
1. Choose a destination to travel with your pet
As romantic (and free) as the idea of traveling without a destination is, when it comes to traveling with pets, making plans ahead of time is best. And in some cases, depending on how short notice your planning goes or length of your trip, just “winging it” might leave you feeling frustrated with unpredicted setbacks.
If traveling within borders implies some level of planning ahead, traveling further from home will probably require even more.
But there are rules and requirements to travel with pets across different states, countries or even continents. Therefore it is absolutely essential to know what to expect.
Remember that there may be different diseases at your chosen destination for which your pets need to be protected. So these measures serve not only to ensure their well-being, but also to ensure public health.
When in doubt, check with your veterinarian first, making sure there is plenty of time to meet all the requirements.
2. Booking a pet-friendly stay
If you are not going to a family or friend’s address, where you know your pet is welcomed, make sure to book a pet-friendly lodging in advance.
Be aware that some of them, despite being pet friendly and allowing the stay of pets (which may or may not be included in the daily rate of the pet parent), place limitations on species, age and weight. Some hotels and lodgings may have separate places for the pets (not necessarily the same room or space where the pet parents stay) and require health care certificates that you need to fulfill with your veterinarian before your departure.
3. Documents for traveling with your pet
If you choose to go on holidays within borders, there are several laws in place that should be followed. When traveling with dogs, be informed of differences regarding muzzle use and banned dog breeds. Also, if you’re planning a road trip, you might want to brush up on the rules applied at any intermittent states you stop at.
Knowing this, one rule does apply to all U.S. states – vaccination against rabies! If you haven’t done so already, make sure to visit your veterinarian and check the rabies vaccine. As long as you’re there, getting your pet microchipped is also a good idea. Having your pets microchipped greatly improves your chances of getting your pets back in case of pet loss in a region unknown to them.
Besides that, a health certificate as well as other documentation may be required for traveling. The health certificate must be signed by a licensed and accredited veterinarian, stating that your pet is free of infectious diseases and satisfies all import demands of the receiving state, territory, or country. International travel often requires USDA approval for the certificate.
Bottom line is, as soon as you know your travel details, you should contact your veterinarian to assist with the pet travel health arrangements. Factors to consider may include meeting time frames for obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or administration of medications and treatments.
4. Means of transport to travel with your pet
In your own car, traveling should be simpler and easier. If there is enough space and fuel, and you have all the necessary documentation, you will only be needing a suitable carrier or seat belt, since nearly half of the states in the U.S. have laws in place that require a restraint for your pet when traveling with you in your car.
But if you are dependent on the use of public transportation to reach your destination with your pet, you need to know the main rules.
Traveling by Subway, Train, Bus or Boat
- major cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, Boston, Atlanta, and Orlando allow dogs on buses and trains. And some smaller communities are becoming increasingly more pet friendly. Nevertheless, check with your local public transit before assuming your pet can travel by bus or train;
- regarding subway transportation, each city’s subway system has a different set of rules that you need to follow (for example, in New York City, pets must be in a carrier so that they are not allowed to bite or cause harm to people, other animals or property). In short, before you head to the subway with your pet, familiarize yourself with your city’s rules;
- for public boats, check with the boating company to find out their requirements and restrictions. Most boating companies will require a regulated carrier and leash for dogs. Depending on the areas that you will be visiting, you may need a health certificate and sometimes a permit or a travel form;
- there may be limitations to the number of animals transported, depending on general affluence, and on the transport selected;
- keep in mind that most states restrict the travel of pets on public transports (exceptions are made for guide dogs). Best option is to check with your carrier to find out if your pet can travel with you and what rules and regulations apply.
Traveling by plane
- not all airlines allow the transport of pets, with the exception of guide dogs. However, those that do, take into account criteria such as size, weight, species and breed to determine the applicable fees and where the pet can travel;
- most airlines also require a health certificate and some could even ask for an acclimation certificate for air travel, which allows airlines to ship dogs and cats when the airline cannot guarantee compliance with existing Federal requirements;
- in general, cabin transport is restricted to small animals and guide or assistance dogs (others have to be transported in the cargo hold);
- for all of them, except guide dogs, transport must be in an appropriate carrier. And since each airline has maximum dimensions allowed in the cabin and in the cargo hold, before purchasing your pet’s carrier, find out about the approved ones for the airline you are traveling with;
- whenever possible, depending on the destination and the route, compare the conditions and value of transport, confirm all the necessary documentation for the trip in advance and choose the most convenient solution for you and your pet. Only after this assessment, should you make the ticket reservation;
- and if you are traveling with other pets, such as birds, reptiles, rabbits or rodents, it is advisable to consult the official authorities of the destination countries to confirm any additional requirements.
5. Prepare your pet’s suitcase
You’re almost there! The long-awaited holiday season is right around the corner, just waiting for two suitcases to be packed – yours and your pet’s! For the first one, we leave the selection criteria up to you, but for the second, we can help.
Check this list and don’t leave anything behind:
- health certificate and other documentation, with up-to-date care;
regular food and snacks;
- food and water dishes (keep the water bowl nearby during the trip);
sand box (forcats);
- blanket and/or bed, that smells like home;
- favorite toy(s);
- collar, leash, harness and poop bags;
- prescribed medication and therapeutic shampoos, if your pet is undergoing any treatment;
first aid kit, with a thermometer, serum and compresses, in addition to emergency contacts.
Whatever the length of your stay, prepare well in advance.
Find out about all the conditions (and possible extra costs) for your pet to travel with you, from the competent authorities and your veterinarian, taking into account the species, destination and form of transportation.
Taking care of everything in good time will help ensure not only the health and comfort of your traveling companion, but also the best possible experience for both of you!
Now, just enjoy the company of your best friend on holidays and take lots of pictures to remember later!
Go on vacation with your pet with no worries. Keep your pet’s medication record up to date in the Petable app and get reminders whenever you need to.
Petable makes your life easier, and also memorable, because you can save the best photos from your travels together!
And it’s free, for iOS and Android: