Traveling with pets has some great benefits. They can make you feel safe and comfortable in an area that you may not be extremely familiar with. They also work on a schedule, just like humans, which gives you a routine outside of work. And don’t forget the most obvious: They get to be with you instead of a sitter.
It’s awesome to be able to bring your furry friend along, but there are some things to be aware of when making your travel plans.
Pets in Flight
The good news is a ton of major airlines allow pets. The bad news is there are definitely limited spaces for them on each flight.
If you know you are traveling with your pet, you should book your flight early. Keep in mind that your pet will essentially need a ticket, which typically costs at least $100 each way. (The fees vary by airline.)
Once you have your flight nailed down, there are a few things you should gather before takeoff. According to BringFido.com, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that the animal traveling has a rabies immunization and valid health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 30 days of travel. It is also important to have an approved animal carrier with ID tags, no matter what the size of the pet is.
Although many airlines allow pets, they do have some restrictions regarding what is allowed on board and where on the plane it can travel. Many people prefer to have their pet with them in the regular cabin, but these spaces are strictly for pets that weigh 20 pounds or less. There are some other restrictions; pets that are younger than eight weeks or pregnant are not allowed to fly, for example.
Some airlines also restrict animals with “pushed-in” faces, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Persian cats, according to the Humane Society of the United States. This is because it can be difficult for them to breathe in certain conditions.
As scary as it sounds, almost all major airlines have lost, injured, or killed a pet while traveling. The Department of Transportation (DOT) includes this information by airline in its annual Air Travel Consumer Report.
Pets at Hotels
You can find pet-friendly hotel options all over, according to PetsWelcome.com, but be sure to research pet policies before committing to a hotel. I recommend calling the hotel directly instead of just basing your decision off of the hotel website, because some sites don’t always keep their pet policies up to date. Ask if the hotel requires that you have a kennel in the room for your pet, as well.
Some hotels require you to report your pet’s weight at check-in. You will probably already have this information if you are flying with your pet, but if not, definitely get your pet on a scale before you make travel plans.
Almost all hotels charge a pet fee, but the costs vary. Some hotels charge by day or week, while others require only a one-time fee regardless of how long you stay. In my experience, pet-friendly Marriott-brand hotels typically ask for a one-time fee, while some IHG and Choice brands charge a daily rate.
One final tip: If at all possible, avoid leaving your pet alone in the room. Animals can become confused and irritable in unfamiliar environments, and they might become disruptive to other guests or cause damage in the room.
Pets in Cars
Bringing your pet in the car is probably the easiest form of pet travel. I’ve found that basically all rental companies allow pets, but they recommend that you keep your pet in a kennel at all times while on the road. To learn about individual companies’ policies, visit TripsWithPets.com.
If you are going on a long trip, take your pet for a couple of shorter rides in the car first to make sure they are OK and to get them used to traveling. Always pack water for your pet, and if they have a favorite toy, bring that as well to make them feel more comfortable.
Much like in a hotel room, try not to leave the animal in the vehicle alone — especially if it is hot out. If you can’t avoid leaving them for a short time, do not forget to crack the window so they have fresh air. If you are taking a long trip, know where the rest stops are along your route. This way, you can stop often so your pet can relieve themselves.
Finally, no matter where or how you travel: Don’t forget your leash!