Planning a family trip? It’s not a family trip if it’s not with everyone -- that means your pet too. Traveling with your furry friend means you can take that vacation you’ve been wanting without leaving Buddy at home with a dog sitter or in a kennel. But before you plan your vacation, be sure to check out the do’s and don'ts of traveling with pets.
1. Do - Remember to pack all equipment
If your pet is small, bring a pet carrier, so your pal is contained on all flights, trains, or buses. If your pet is accustomed to a crate, it might be good to bring one along, in case you need to leave them alone in the hotel room while you step out. This helps your pet stay out of trouble, and also helps hotel staff who may not be as used to animals as you. Be sure to pack extra leashes too -- if your buddy’s favorite leash gets lost in the travels, you don't want a rogue pet! If you’re traveling in the cold, check out the safety tips for you and your pet in the SCI (snow, cold, and ice) to see what else you need to pack.
2. Don’t - Leave your pet alone without being contained
Unless you’re staying with trusted friends or family, or you really trust hotel staff, don’t leave your pet alone without putting him or her up in a crate first. While you may trust Buddy not to cause any damage or break free, if the door is opened, they could try to make a run for it. Again, we understand you trust your pet, but it’s better not to take any risks. While your pet may be great at home, a new environment could produce different reactions. For more tips, check out the travel pet etiquette tips.
3. Do - Do your hotel research.
Staying in a hotel? Before you book rooms for the whole fam, be sure to read the hotel’s policy on pets, as not all pet-friendly hotels have the same pet-friendly rules. Some hotels have weight limits while others may have species or specific breed limits. It’s better to know ahead of time whether the family addition can stay in the hotel, rather than be potentially turned away at the door. Check out our guide to the ultimate pet friendly hotel chains and travel to book the perfect room.
4. Don’t - Leave your pet in a car alone
This one should be a no-brainer, but if you’re traveling by car, remember not to leave your pet alone in a hot car for long periods of time. If you’re just stopping into the shop real quick, or even going for a quick bite to eat, your pet may be fine, but if you’re planning to spend hours shopping or a day hopping in and out of museums that your pet isn’t welcome into, don’t leave them out in the car alone all day. This can be dangerous for animals, especially in extreme heat or extreme cold. Make sure you're clued up: read more about road tripping with your dog.
5. Do - Read up on local laws
In some cities, certain dog breeds are required to wear harnesses or muzzles. Make sure you know where you’re traveling to and if there’s anything specific you need for your pet. If you do need to buy a specific harness, be sure to purchase it. Better to follow the rules than to pay the price.
6. Don’t - Travel without pet ID
If your dog or cat isn’t microchipped already, talk to your vet before setting off about getting the microchip ID for your best friend. This ensures that should your pet run away from you, a quick scan should find where they belong. While microchipping your pet is great, it’s not the only thing that will help. Be sure to update all tags on your pet’s collar. Even if they don’t wear a collar at home, having one while out of town with your contact info on it will help in case of emergency.
7. Do - Carry enough food and treats with you
There is nothing worse than arriving for a vacation and realizing that your pooch doesn’t have enough food for the week. Instead of assuming that the local stores will have their favorite brand of food, be sure to pack enough with you for the whole trip. You should also bring enough treats along -- if your pet is used to having snacks or is motivated by snacks, don’t change that up just because you’ve gone away for a bit.
8. Don’t - Let your pet wander on just any patch of grass
Especially in public spaces, and even your own hotel, not every grassy spot outside is meant for animals. If you want your four-legged friend to get some outside time, be sure to read any signs that indicate whether or not this spot is for them to use. If there is no sign, ask! Go to the hotel concierge or ask a park worker to see if the land is dog or pet-friendly. If not, they should be able to guide you in the direction of a space that is. And of course, if your pet uses the space as a bathroom, be sure to clean up after them.
9. Do - Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and medications
This one is super important, as in some cases, travel companies may not even let your pet board or enter the hotel if they're not up to date with vaccines. Take your pet to the vet before you leave for your trip to make sure you get the all clear to head out. If your pet takes any special medications, remember to bring enough for the whole trip. For more travel tips, check out the ASPCA’s tips on traveling with your pets.
Rebecca is a recent DC college grad who left the city of eternal brunch for the city of eternal spring to become a content writer at AllTheRooms in Medellin, Colombia. Likes include puppies, hiking, books, and fighting injustice. Dislikes include spiders.