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5 Tips for Traveling with Your Pets

Summer is high travel season, the kids are out of school and the weather is hot and sunny in most places. Road trips are great – stops can be made when and where convenient, whether it’s the Grand Canyon or the giant ball of string. Traveling by air is fast and practical for long distances. Regardless of which option is chosen, many people will travel with their pets.

Pets are family members too, and lots of folks would prefer not to leave them at home. Taking pets on vacation can be less stressful than leaving them at home; kennels and pet-sitters are expensive, and many owners can’t or don’t want to impose on friends and family. With a little advanced planning, however, taking a pet along can work out well. Here are five tips for traveling with your pet.


Losing a pet while on vacation would be heartbreaking, so make sure the possibility exists to be reunited. Microchipped pets have a greater chance of being returned to their owners, so it’s a worthwhile expense for a dog or cat. (It’s a good idea even if one isn’t traveling.) It’s not very expensive and can be done quickly and easily at most veterinary clinics or public shelters.

When making room reservations, check ahead to make sure hotels or motels accept pets. Many chains do allow pets, and a few even have dog runs. Don’t leave pets loose in the room when no one is present. If room service enters, a pet can escape, and may bite or scare someone. It’s not fair to housekeeping to be greeted by a Yorkie or a Rottweiler. Make sure the animal is left in a secure crate.

Don’t leave a pet locked in a crate all day while the family goes to Disneyland from sunup to sundown. Ask the hotel or check online services like Yelp or Citysearch for petsitting recommendations, and have someone come by and walk the dog or play with the cat and provide a potty break and food and water.

Air Travel
If traveling by air with a pet, the airline will require a health certificate to ensure that the animal is healthy enough to travel and that vaccinations are current. Think carefully about airplane travel for your pet if it has to go in the cargo hold and not in the main cabin under the passenger seat. The cargo hold isn’t temperature controlled and delays can be deadly. Check the airline’s track record and policies on transporting live animals.

Animals should not be sedated. Short-nosed breeds like bulldogs, boxers and pugs can experience breathing problems. Not all airlines will transport them and those that do often require a larger-sized crate for increased air circulation.

Car Travel
Traveling by car offers the greatest flexibility. Dogs can takes walks and potty breaks at rest stops. (Be sure to clean up pet litter.) Keep dogs on leash no matter how tempting it is to let them run around for a few minutes to stretch their legs. A lost dog near a highway in an unfamiliar area is a terrible combination.

Cats can also be walked, but practice at home well beforehand, even months before. Give cats access to a litter box inside the car. Don’t take a loose cat out of the car; they can escape too easily.

Vacationing with a pet can be fun but it takes planning.


This article was written by Hank Samson on behalf of and their Gap Semester programs that explore education in the best classrooms on Earth.


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