Pet Travel 101

Traveling in general is super stressful. And it just gets more stressful when you factor in bringing a pet. Which mode of travel you choose when traveling with your dog or cat depends on you and your pet. Your pet’s well-being should be the ultimate deciding factor, not what is most convenient for you. For example, it might be cheaper to drive somewhere, but carsick pets might fare better on a plane. Before you begin your journey, make sure all of your pets have a collar and ID tag (both of which you can get at Adopt & Shop!). You also need to double-check that all animals are microchipped and that each chip is registered.

You also need to think about where you’re going:

  • Will your pet be happy at your destination?
  • Is your host pet-friendly or should you get a hotel?
  • Will other pets in the home get along with your animal?
  • Are the other animals in the home healthy, vaccinated and neutered or spayed? Is yours?

If your pet is most likely going to be unhappy no matter how you choose to travel, you need to seriously consider leaving them at home. Have a trusted neighbor, friend or family member watch them while you are gone. You can also look into pet hotels, many of which are cage-free and have a doggy daycare-like format. This way your pooch gets to interact with other animals and exercise all day. This helps keep your animal entertained and eases separation anxiety in your absence.

Here are pet travel tips based on mode of travel:

Traveling by Train

One option for traveling with your pet is getting to your destination by train. Do know that only some railroad companies allow pets on their trains. Amtrak permits some pets, so you’ll need to check before your journey if you can bring your animal with you. As with all modes of travel, service animals are allowed to travel with their owner, regardless of which railroad company you use.

Traveling by Air

Pet owners with smaller animals, such as cats and small dogs, can keep their animals with them during a flight. It will likely cost at least $100 per flight in addition to your usual airfare. Generally pets and their carriers must weigh less than 20 lbs. We recommend carrying your little one in a soft-sided carrier. Adopt & Shop sells several carriers that are ideal for flying.

Airlines generally require that pets stay in your lap or under the seat in front of you for the entire duration of your flight. They must be well-behaved and not obstruct the aisle. Animals that do well on flights are calm, quiet and people-friendly. You can speak to your veterinarian about calming aids that your pet can take during the flight. You can also give your pet their favorite blanket or a dirty tee-shirt that smells like you. Both of these can help with any anxiety they might experience during the plane trip.

Emotional support animals and service animals get to fly for free. They are also protected under the Air Carrier Access Act or ACAA. While booking your trip, make sure you are familiar with the airline’s rules for these animals. Many airlines require documentation from a medical professional that you must file prior to your flight.

Traveling by Car

A roadtrip with your pet tends to be a safer bet than traveling by plane or train because you can make as many stops along the way as you like. However, you have to factor in that animals might get carsick and vomit. During stops, you can feed your pet, give them water and give them a chance to go to the bathroom. Pet owners should invest in a quality crate or pet seat belt in case of an accident.

What are your pet travel tips? Let us know on Facebook!