You’re not just imagining it—a lot of people are traveling with their pets these days.
According to a TripAdvisor survey of more than 1,000 travelers, 53% of those responding said they take their pets on vacation, and 52% stay only at places that welcome pets. (For some people, the “welcome” part doesn’t matter: 20% admitted they have snuck their pet into a hotel room.)
Of course, you’re going on vacation because you want to get away, so it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll be happy. But if you take your pet, how can you make sure their experience is a good one, too? These tips from the Humane Society and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) can help.
Find the right place to stay Lodging options for pet owners continue to expand; many hotels now allow dogs and other pets, and individuals renting out their homes and apartments through services like VRBO and Airbnb often do as well.
Some properties charge an additional fee or have restrictions based on size, so you’ll want to check all of the rules before you book—and you’ll want to alert the hotel or owner that you are bringing your pet along. A pet-friendly place might not be so friendly if you surprise them.
Consider your activities If you’re planning to do a bunch of things on vacation that are not pet-friendly, that means your pet would be cooped up in the room while you’re gone. Some pets are OK with that, while others definitely aren’t. If you aren’t going to be able to spend a lot of time with your pet, it might be best to just leave them at home.
While you’re planning your trip, research activities for both you and your pet. Where are the local dog parks? Are there restaurants that allow pets? What kinds of pet-sitting services are available for the times when you can’t be together?
Travel safely No matter how you’re traveling with your pet, you need to take certain steps to ensure their comfort and safety—along with your own.
In the car: Pets shouldn’t roam around in your vehicle, so keep them in a carrier or a confined space where they won’t distract you. Don’t ever let them sit in the front seat. You also should plan for plenty of rest stops to allow for exercise and bathroom breaks. And your pet shouldn’t be left alone in a car, especially when it’s warm out. Vehicle interiors get very hot very quickly, even with the windows open.
On the plane: The Humane Society says driving is usually the best option, but if you have to fly, try to have your animal in the cabin. However, if they must fly with cargo, choose a direct flight to avoid connection issues. It’s a good idea to carry a photo of your pet in case they are lost in transit. Finally, work with the airline well in advance to ensure your pet meets all the requirements necessary for flying.
Have the right ID and documents The ASPCA notes that you should have your pet microchipped no matter where you’re headed or how you’re going to travel—that way, they can be easily identified if you’re separated. If your pet’s tag doesn’t have your cell phone number, get one that does. It also can be handy to have vaccination records and other details in case your pet needs emergency care while you’re on vacation.
You’ve arrived. Now what? Once you’ve gotten your pet to your destination, a few comforts from home can make all the difference. Pack some of their favorite toys and the pad they sleep on every night. And don’t forget what might be the most important thing of all—lots and lots of treats!