It’s no secret that pets play an important role in their parents’ lives. In many households, pets are considered equal members of the family, and regularly treated as such. Because of their importance and the joy they can bring, many people and families prefer to bring their pets with them when they travel.
Traveling with your pet, rather than leaving them at home or with a sitter, can make your vacation more fun and provide you with peace of mind on the road. However, it can also make planning your trip more complicated. In order to ensure a positive experience for you and your pet, it’s important to make the right considerations before you embark.
Preparing to travel with a pet
If you’re planning on traveling with a pet, you’ll need to plan every aspect of your trip with their unique needs in mind. If you’ve never traveled with a pet before, it’s critical to be sure you’ve considered everything. Taking the following steps while you plan your travels can help you be confident that your and your pet’s needs will be met.
Make sure your destinations are pet-friendly
When creating a travel itinerary for you and your pet, it’s important to make sure that animals will be welcome at the places you plan to visit. While accessibility is considered crucial in the travel industry, many popular tourist destinations still struggle to accommodate people with differing needs, and may also be unwilling or unable to accommodate pets.
While some places may be easy to identify as pet-friendly or not (parks versus museums), other places may be more difficult to discern, and may not have clearly defined policies. Taking the following steps while you plan your itinerary can help you determine if a destination you plan to visit is pet-friendly or not:
- Research outdoor activities: Look at the number of outdoor attractions (parks, trails, nature preserves) that are in or near the area where you plan to stay. This can help you be sure that you and your pet will have plenty to do on your trip.
- Do your research on nearby attractions online: If it’s not readily apparent, reading about other peoples’ experiences at nearby tourist attractions can help you determine if your pet will be welcome there or not.
- Contact the local tourism board: If possible, consulting with the tourism board in the area you plan to visit can help you identify a wider variety of local pet-friendly attractions. When talking with local guides, you should always let them know if your pet is a service animal or ESA (emotional support animal), as this may expand the range of locations you are able to visit.
Making these considerations as you research prospective travel destinations can help you avoid unexpected hiccups during your trip and maximize your ability to enjoy time with your pet.
Research the area around your hotel
When planning any kind of travel, it’s important to prepare for potential problems, especially when you’re bringing your pet. It can be extremely distressing if your pet has a medical emergency in an unfamiliar location, and this distress can be exacerbated if you’re unsure how to find suitable care for them.
Researching the locations of veterinary clinics near your destination before you arrive can help you avoid this distress and minimize the potential health risks to your pet. When looking up nearby clinics, you should always make note of their contact information and the location of their facilities relative to your lodging, as this will enable you to act quickly in the event of an emergency.
Get your pet the necessary shots
Before you take your pet to a new location, it’s essential to make sure that they are properly vaccinated. Pets usually receive a base set of first-year vaccinations when they are young, which are then readministered every three years. If your pet is behind on any critical vaccinations, it’s important to get them up-to-date before you apart.
Some veterinarians may even recommend additional vaccines for your pet, depending on where you plan to travel. The type of infection risks animals face can vary from location to location, so it may be beneficial to discuss your travel plans with your veterinarian before you leave to make sure your pet is fully protected.
If you’re visiting a particularly unfamiliar area, or your pet is known to be excitable, it may also be prudent to consider microchipping them if you haven’t already. This can significantly increase the chance of you finding your pet in the event that they get lost or stolen while on your trip.
Essentials to pack
Packing is another hugely important aspect of planning a trip with your pet. Departing without the right supplies can leave you unable to properly care for your pet, and tracking down specific supplies in an unfamiliar location can be very difficult. While the exact things a pet may need can vary depending on a number of factors, there are several types of supplies you should always consider when planning a trip:
Food and medication
Of course, whenever you go on a trip with your pet, it’s critical to pack any medications that they normally take. If you plan on traveling for an extended period of time, it may also be prudent to ask your veterinarian about refilling your pets’ medication before you leave, in order to make sure you’ll have enough for your entire trip.
If your pet has an extensive history of health problems, you might also want to bring some documentation, such as past exam records and test results, as this may help you provide vital information to caregivers in the event that your pet needs to see a vet during your trip.
Additionally, if your pet has any kind of dietary restrictions or preferred food brands, it may be beneficial to bring those with you as well if feasible, as it may be difficult to track specialty foods in an unfamiliar location. If you are not able to pack pet food on your trip, you should still research stores near your destination to see where and if your pet’s food is available.
When traveling with your pet, you’ll of course want to make sure they stay relatively calm and comfortable throughout the trip. Traveling to new places can be stressful for animals, particularly if those places contain a lot of stimuli. Packing one or more of your pet’s favorite toys can help keep them calm during the more stressful aspects of travel, and make the trip more enjoyable overall by giving you another fun thing to do together.
In some cases, you may also need to pack bedding when you travel with your pet, as some hotels may be unwilling or unable to accommodate the bedding needs of animals. While this may be logistically challenging depending on your mode of travel, some types of animal beds are designed to be easily folded or rolled up for packing. Additionally, a pillow and blanket that your pet is familiar with may serve as an adequate substitute for a commercial animal bed if you don’t have one or are unable to pack one.
Choose pet-friendly lodging
The last critical step in planning a trip with your pet is to find lodging that is fun, comfortable, and can accommodate your needs as well as your pet’s needs. There are a variety of cool hotels all over the world with different amenities and aesthetic themes, but not all of these will be welcoming to pets, so it’s important to do your research before booking.
If you have difficulty finding a pet-friendly hotel in the area you’d like to visit, opting for a vacation rental instead may be the best option for you. For example, there is a wide selection of dog-friendly vacation rentals in Portland available for booking. Choosing a pet-friendly vacation rental will allow you and your furry friend to enjoy a relaxing vacation on your terms.
Scott Balaam – writer and photographer
Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter.