While your dog might be man’s best friend, it might make a great travel companion, too. According to the International Pet and Animal Association (IPATA), over 4 million pets and live animals are transported by air per year alone. With more pet-friendly vacation homes and gadgets to keep your furry friend cozy for the journey, pets are coming along for the adventure more often. When you can dig your feet into the sand together or head out for a day on the trails, why not? Though it takes a little bit more preparation, bringing your pet on vacation is worth the effort for the memories you’ll share together.
If you’re a pet owner looking to include your dog or cat in your travel plans, here are a few tips to keep in mind whether traveling by plane or car. No one should miss out on vacation.
Featured Vacasa dog-friendly rental: Land’s End
There can be a lot of commotion in bringing a dog or cat along with you on vacation, but preparing a few things beforehand will lessen the stress for both you and your four-legged friends. In the weeks before you travel, it’s a good idea to:
Featured Vacasa dog-friendly rental: Mountain-View Modern
You’ve got your luggage, now be sure to pack your pet’s. While they probably won’t fill up a carry-on, here are some important items your pet will need while joining you on vacation:
Featured Vacasa dog-friendly rental: East Hill Vibes
With travel how-to’s, there are also travel do-not’s. It is important to be mindful of your pet’s safety when traveling, so keep an eye out for anything that might pose a risk to their well-being, including harmful food, dangerous roads, or turbulent travel conditions. Streamline your travel plans by keeping these safety tips in mind:
Featured Vacasa dog-friendly rental: Foxglove Terrace
If your pet hasn’t joined you on a road trip before, it’s best to work up their comfort level before heading off on a big adventure. Start by spending time with your pet in the back seat or a pet carrier with the car parked in the driveway, then slowly move up to a drive around the block or a destination an hour or two away.
You may want to consider investing in a few pet-friendly car accessories, like a dog seat belt or dog car seat, a harness, and waterproof seat covers or blankets. Clean up any spills, loose candy, or road trip snacks that your pet might get into while you’re on the road.
Featured Vacasa dog-friendly rental: The White Anchor
Key things to know when bringing your pet along for a drive are to make sure they are secured in by crate or harness (pet carriers for cats) and to leave the seats in front for other humans. If you’re traveling with kids, be sure they let your dog or cat get some rest on the drive as well—road trips can be tough for everyone. Plan frequent breaks for the bathroom and for everyone to stretch their legs. Other car travel tips include:
Featured Vacasa dog-friendly rental: Lake Therapy Hideaway
Flying with a dog or cat is often trickier, as airlines require more information, as well as a pet fee (unless your companion is a fully-trained service animal). Before booking tickets and checking passports, make sure your pet is safe to travel by plane. Some breeds (including bulldogs, Persian cats, and pugs) are at a greater risk for oxygen deprivation and heat stroke, so air travel might not be the healthiest option. In addition, airlines require a pet’s health certification and proof of rabies vaccination no more than 10 days before your flight, so plan an appointment with the vet before you travel. During the appointment, ask the vet if it would be best for your dog to be sedated for the flight.
Depending on the size of your pet, your dog or cat may be able to fly in the cabin with you. Most airlines, including American Airlines, have breed and size restrictions for animals transported by pet carriers, which can travel as a carry-on after a pet fee. Larger dogs, with the exception of service animals, will have to travel by cargo hold (considered “shipping” of a live animal, so their crate must be labeled and ventilated as such).
As your pet will be uncomfortable and away from you for an extended period of time, it is recommended that pet owners only bring pets along if completely necessary (a distant move or a multi-month trip). Otherwise, it might be safer to travel by car or hire a dog-sitter while you’re away.
The convenience of bringing your pet along for an adventure depends on the breed of your four-legged friend, and whether you plan on traveling by car or plane. (With the exception of service animals.) If your travel plans include a small dog breed that can be transported by a pet carrier in your car or fly in the cabin with you, it might only be a matter of paying a pet fee, showing a health certificate, and making sure your pet gets plenty of potty breaks. Larger dogs pose more of a challenge when traveling by plane, so opting for car travel might be the best way to go.
With the exception of service animals, airline pet fees can differ from carrier to carrier, but as a safe bet, expect to pay at least $100 each way. Fees will be confirmed at the time of booking, whether you plan on bringing your pet in a carry-on bag, will purchase a seat for your pup, or will transport your dog in the cargo hold.
Make your road trip pet-friendly by making sure your dog is secured in the back seat by harness or crate, ensuring your dog has plenty of food, water, and airflow, and never leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle.