Traveling is already stressful enough with all the planning, packing, and worrying about what you've forgotten. Getting yourself ready for vacation or a big move can be daunting, and adding a pet to the trip makes it even more complicated. Keeping your pet safe is a top priority, and many people choose driving over flying whenever possible to keep their pet with them for the whole trip. Whether going by car, plane or train, these tips will ease your travel stress, keep your pet safe and make traveling with your pet easier.
1. Make traveling with your pet easier with feeding times
While it might seem like a good idea to feed your pet an extra meal right before a long flight or car ride, this could actually make your traveling more complicated! To help limit bathroom accidents and motion sickness, it is recommended that you feed your pet the normal amount of their usual food four to six hours before the flight or car ride. This allows enough time for your pet to digest the food.
2. Take a few practice trips
Prepare your pet by taking a few smaller car trips first. Take note of how your pet reacts in different traveling situations. Observe your pet's anxiety level, and see if your pet reacts negatively to the motion or needs to go to the bathroom more frequently than usual. This way, you can calculate how often to include breaks in longer car trips or ask the veterinarian for natural remedies to eliminate motion sickness.
3. Run off some energy beforehand
Nobody wants to be cooped up indoors for long periods of time, and this includes animals! Go for a long walk with your pet on the day of travel or play with them indoors if going outside isn't an option. Stimulating your pets and working off energy will help tire them out a bit, which will hopefully let them sleep through much of the trip. This will help you have a less rambunctious animal on your hands and make traveling with your pet easier.
4. Choose the right carrier
The Wall Street Journal reports that almost 90 percent of pet owners travel via car with their pets. With no official safety testing in place for in-car pet restraints, imagine how many people are currently traveling unsafely with their pet! When traveling in a car, be sure to choose a restraint or carrier made specifically for the size and type of your pet and follow the manufacturer's directions. When traveling by car or plane and using a carrier, ensure the animal can stand up and turn around comfortably inside.
5. Calm your pet naturally
You may have heard that there are some medications to sedate a pet for traveling purposes. These aren't usually recommended because they could cause negative reactions. There are a few safer ways to naturally calm animals for a trip to help make traveling with your pet easier. Studies have shown that giving dogs a calming lavender oil massage helps reduce excitement. Ask your veterinarian for a suggestion for your pet, such as adding ginger to their meals on the day of travel.
6. Get your paperwork together
You can’t travel without plane tickets and identification, and the same goes for your pet! Check the state or country requirements at your destination to ensure you have all of the relevant documents for your pet, such as medical history or vaccination records. If you're flying to another country, the animal could also need to be quarantined before leaving the airport at the final destination. It's also recommended to have your veterinarian's contact details with you, along with the details of an emergency veterinarian at your destination.
7. Write extra information on the carrier
If your pet is extremely nervous or gets overly excited easily, write that information on the outside of the pet carrier when flying. The more information you can provide, the better. Tape a photo of your pet to the crate and write down the pet's name along with any special medical conditions and relevant behavioral information in case airline personnel need to calm down the pet. You should also prepare enough food to last 24 hours and tape it in a plastic bag to the side of the carrier in case there is an unfortunate flight delay.
8. Prep your pet's travel area
To help your pets feel comfortable in a travel carrier or the backseat of the car, make it a cozy space where they'll want to spend time. Let them spend some time inside the crate with the door open prior to traveling. Place a pet pad or soft towel in the carrier or backseat to emulate what it will feel like while traveling. Place a small item of your clothing in the crate or the car so that your familiar scent is there to calm your pet.
9. Consider breaking up long trips
The choice to have your pet take one long flight or break it into two smaller flights depends on how they react to travel. Depending on the airline, a layover for a pet can sometimes include a walk and a mealtime. If you're not using an airline specifically for pets, perhaps one long flight is best to avoid the animal's crate possibly sitting on a hot runway. If you're taking a car trip, be sure to stop and give the pet fresh air and time on stable ground frequently.
10. What to do on arrival
Once you have arrived at your destination, it's time to get settled in for the sake of both you and your pet. Before letting your pet go wild in the new home or hotel, you will want to walk around and unpack a bit of your stuff, use the restroom, and move around to let your scent circulate. This will help your pets feel calm once you slowly introduce them to each room and make the rest of your stay relaxing and carefree - the final touch to make traveling with your pet easier!