Holiday Travel & Pets: What to Prepare in Advance
The holiday season is almost here, and with it comes the chance to travel! Getting out of the house is great for your mental wellbeing, but as a pet owner, there are extra responsibilities prior to departure. If you’ve decided to bring your animal with you, then be prepared to put in some extra work ahead of time. In order to make travel safe and calm for your fur buddy, below are some of the things you need to do prior to holiday travel.
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Prep Work Before Trip
Whether you're traveling by land, air, or sea, the first thing you should do is check with the vet if your pet should be going on a trip. Your pets’ health is the main consideration before making any holiday plans. Call or visit your vet to see if they think your pet is healthy enough for travel or if they need some type of medication to ease them during your trip. Sometimes using alternative medicine like CBD products can relax your pet without a costly prescription. If you’re visiting another country for the holidays, you’ll also need specific vaccinations and documentation from your vet. Make sure to work with your primary vet to line up an emergency vet for the place you’re visiting. It’s always better to be prepared than scrambling to find one in an emergency situation.
After consulting your veterinarian, your next priority will be finding a pet-friendly hotel. Not every place welcomes animals or has the right accommodations for them. Look around to find a place that will be the most convenient for you and your pet. Although a hotel might welcome pets, if it’s not near where you need to be, then it becomes more of a hassle for you. However, if you’re staying with family or friends, you’ll want to see if they are on board with having your pets as guests too. If so, have a plan for how to introduce your furry friends to nervous people or other pets. Remember that you want this trip to be relaxing for everyone, including your host.
Aside from vet care and proper shelter accommodations, some other factors for you to consider or have in place are:
- Have copies of important documents with you. Copies of up-to-date shots, like rabies, will help you if officials require them or you need to go to a vet office. Additionally, in the worst-case scenario of your pet becoming lost, pictures will help searchers know what to look for.
- Set up a way to get food or other necessities. Most likely you’ll be gone from home for more than a day, and it can be hard to travel with giant bags of food. Thanks to technology, there’s plenty of delivery options for you to choose from for peace of mind. Take time to plug in the address of where you’ll be staying or place an order to be delivered when you arrive. That way it’s one less thing for you to do during your visit.
- Keep to a routine. If you feed or walk your pet at a certain time then do your best to stick to that schedule. It can be hard during a travel day, but once you reach your destination, getting back to normal will help them acclimate to the new place quickly.
Considerations for Flying with Pets
Taking a trip on an airplane can be highly stressful on pets, but there are some things you can do at home to prepare them. Check online to see if there will be certain security protocols for pets. If so, teach your pet to get in and out of their crate without running off. Also, double-check their crate to see if it is the right size and that it’s not falling apart. Put your pet in the crate for extended periods of time beforehand to get them ready for a long flight.
It would be wise to pack a carry-on for your pet too. Fill it with empty water bottles for hydration, small containers of their food, and any medication that they require so if your flight is delayed or one of your bags is lost, you at least have the basics to take care of your pet. You should also include a toy or two for them to play with or comfort them with a familiar smell.
Consider booking your flight for a less busy day of travel. There are usually days that are extraordinarily busy for air travel around the holidays, and you want to avoid those days if you can. Consider taking an extra day off from work, as flying on a less crowded plane will reduce stress on you and your pet.
How to Drive with Pets
If you choose to drive for your trip, you need to have your pet in a harness. A safety harness acts as a seatbelt for them and will keep them secure in case of an accident. It will also keep them isolated in one area of the car. It’s highly dangerous to have your pet moving around the vehicle as you’re driving as it can distract you and cause an incident.
Take some time to map out some pit stops during your drive too. Although you may go a few hours without a bathroom break, the same cannot be said for your companions. This stop can also double as a chance for them to stretch their legs too. It’s better to plot your spots ahead of time rather than ending up at a place where you don’t feel safe or are not pet-friendly.
Consider how you’ll pack your vehicle too. You might feel like you need to pack everything, but editing what you bring will give your animal more room. Giving them a comfortable place to lay down or safely move around will reduce their stress and allow them to feel relaxed.
Have a Backup Plan
In the event that you have to travel without your pet, create a plan for their care. Look into boarding them or finding a pet sitter. You don’t want to just dump them with someone though, make sure you check-in and can trust who will be taking care of them.
Visit the place you’ve selected for your pet to stay to see if they have proper accommodations and are up to your standards. Look at reviews from past users to see if there were any problems with their stay. Set up a time for the boarding house director to meet your pet and see how they interact with one another, and that both are comfortable with each other.
The same goes for a pet sitter. Even though your pet might be staying at home in this instance, make sure the person watching them knows where everything is and what routines your pets follow. That way, there won’t be any surprises.
Traveling for the holidays is an exciting time. However, when you travel with your pets, there’s some extra work you need to do. By following the tips mentioned above you can make the trip a low-stress experience for everyone involved with it, and make your pets happy during the holidays.