How to Travel With Your Pet


Now more than ever, family vacations and travel from home no longer have to be just for the human members of the household. Some pet owners choose to crate their pets, leave their pet with someone they trust, or even have someone housesit for them during their time away. But increasingly, some owners bring Fido—or even Fluffy—along for the fun. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the animal is first and foremost, which sometimes means it is in everyone’s best interests to leave pets at home to avoid anxiety or behavioral problems.  [photo via flickr]

Pet owners should always remember to book early because many airlines limit the amount of pets allowed in the cabin. Pets should be up to date on vaccinations and medical preparations should be taken care of prior to departure. Finding an area veterinarian in case of emergency is an important step to take care of early on as well.

Owners should be familiar with the airline’s pet guidelines before booking—some airlines have a weight limit or ban certain breeds due to health issues. “Snub-nosed” breeds like bulldogs or Persian cats whose respiratory problems can put them at risk are often banned from travel by plane. Pets should also be legal and welcome at their destination; all owners should be sure that anywhere they visit or stay allows their pet to be there as well. Airlines should know whether a pet is allowed in a certain city or country, but owners should be careful to check with anywhere that accommodates them as well.

Pet owners should make sure that they have the appropriate carrier for their pet, as many airlines will not board animals whose containers do not meet guidelines. Call the airline or visit their website to find out what sizes and styles of carriers are required and to determine whether a pet can travel in the cabin. Requirements are often for safety purposes and are in the best interests of the pets and passengers alike.

There is always an alternative. Pets can go on their own relaxing vacations at a growing number of pet hotels and upscale kennels with pools, rooms, doting caregivers, and even webcams. But for a best friend accompanying their human on a journey, it’s all about the preparation. The entire family can enjoy some time away, even four-legged friends, and planning the details ahead of time can make it smooth, safe, and fun.