There are few things better than heading out for a road trip with your best friends. Together, you’ll throw away every day cares, giving yourself up to the kind of adventures that can be found only in new places. However, if your best friends just so happen to be a menagerie of pets, there are a few things to consider before revving that engine and heading out the door. After all, you’ll want to spend your time exploring, not trying to calm your disoriented cat. Here are my top tips for getting it done right.
Maintain the Routine.
Sure, your pet bulldog Max might chase his own tail around his food bowl, but when you throw a blanket over your suitcase to hide it from view, you’re not fooling anyone. You’ll never really be able to hide your upcoming travel plans from your pet, so do what you can to maintain the routine, making sure to feed and walk your pet when you normally do, even if it’s difficult to fit in as your run about town stocking up on travel supplies.
Train them ahead of time.
Even better, give your pets a glimpse of the future so that when everything suddenly changes, they’ll have some bit of normalcy to hold on to. One of the best techniques I’ve seen in a long time is to buy some kind of calming, nice smelling oil, and then associate it with something comforting. Try, for instance, spraying lavender on their bed or in their travel cage right before they settle in for the night. They’ll smell it while on the go and associate it with home.
Pack the essentials.
Does your pet have a favorite toy? How about a favorite bed or stuffed animal? Bring them with you in a bag you can access easily during a car trip, or place it right in your pet’s travel cage if you’ll be going by plane. You’ll also want to pack food and water, with a water bowl and a few treats packed right into the cage for flights. The trick here is again to calm anxiety with reminders of home, and to ensure that all essentials are nearby.
Research the proper airline procedures.
If you’re flying, it’s natural to assume that the TSA will be your biggest headache, but in reality they won’t have your pet do much more than you’ll have to. Any packs will have to be removed (though your pet can keep that cute little sweater) before they step through the metal detector right by your side. Their cage will be scanned in the metal detector just like any bag.
The airlines, however, present more of a hassle. Each one will have a different pet policy, so research yours ahead of time. Some airlines will restrict certain breeds from entering the cabin, requiring that they be carried below. And, even if you’ve bought your furry companion a ticket, airlines can refuse animals the day of the flight if they look too ill or weak to travel or in cold or hot weather, so check the forecast ahead of time. And, as for that ticket, don’t expect any breaks on fare. You’ll likely pay a little less than you did for your own.
Don’t forget exercise and play time.
Just because you’re not working out on vacation, doesn’t mean your pets won’t need to. Keep the routine as regular as possible by walking and playing just as much as you do at home. If you’ll be taking a car trip, you may even need to do more of both so pets can stretch out those cramped legs. The trick here again is to reassure your pets with normalcy, as well as to tire them out so they don’t have enough energy to be anxious.
Traveling with your pet is one of the best ways to get out on the road. Doing the right planning ahead of time will ensure you’ll be able to enjoy every moment. And your pet will too. So get packing!
Rob Toledo loves all things dog and works at a local shelter in the Pacific Northwest hoping to see as many dogs get adopted as possible so they can join their forever homes. He recommends using Travelex currency exchange to avoid border scams as well as researching rates ahead of time using their currency converter.