7 Ways to Prepare For a Trip with Your Pet

Summer is one of the busiest travel seasons, and more consumers are traveling with their pets than ever. In fact, 69.9 percent of dog owners admit to choosing pet-friendly travel destinations, according to a January 2015 release by research firm Destination Analysts. No matter if you’re traveling by road, sky, tracks or water this summer there are ways you can prepare for a safer trip for your furry traveling companions.

Be honest with yourself
Unfortunately, some pets don’t enjoy traveling despite us loving their companionship. So before each adventure, it’s important to ask yourself where your pet would be happiest. If the answer is at home, then it’s really best to leave them with a caretaker or at a professional boarding facility. While the separation may be difficult, it could be the best solution to ensuring your furry friend’s safety and happiness.

Visit your vet
Before hitting the road (or sky) with your furry loved one, take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup and discuss with them your travel plans. Your veterinarian can give you advice on a revised feeding schedule and any additional vaccines that may be important for the areas you’ll be visiting. You’ll want to pack a copy of your pet’s health records and up-to-date vaccination list, including rabies, distemper and kennel cough, to name a few. If you are traveling to another state or out of the country, you may need a special health certificate, known as a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued within 10 days of travel, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Research another vet
While we don’t like to think about bad things happening to our pets, it’s best to be prepared should the worst happen. So research pet clinics in the area you’ll be traveling to and keep a print off of that list with your pet’s health records. Then when you arrive at your destination, take a practice drive from your hotel to your preferred clinic to familiarize yourself with the route. This way, if an emergency arises you’ll know exactly where to go and won’t spend valuable time searching for a nearby clinic. Not sure how to begin your search? Browse the American Animal Hospital Association's database and the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society's emergency clinic directory.

Bring a travel kit
In addition to medical records, pack food, water, treats, bowls, toys, a leash and collar (with rabies tags), plastic bags, waste scoop, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid items. Toys and their favorite blanket will give them a sense of familiarity for the trip, while the other items are necessities for any pet traveler. When it comes time for food, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends you feed your pet a light meal three-to-four hours prior to leaving and to never feed your pet in a moving vehicle, which could cause stomach upsets. Speaking of which—always opt for bottled water because drinking water from an area your pet isn’t used to (filtration systems vary per city) may also cause discomfort.

Book the shortest flight possible
Our pets hate layovers as much we do, and probably more so since they don’t have the freedom to walk around the airport as freely as we do. So opt for a direct flight: this will save time and make things less stressful for the both of you. Plus, there’s less chance for an accident midflight.

Do a test drive
Thirty-seven percent of dog owners take their pets on their family road trips, according to pet trade group American Pet Products Association. If you and your pet are hitting the road this summer, make sure you practice for that extended trip to see how your pet will act. Take smaller drives to nearby “fun” destinations, like the park, and increase the drive time with every trip. You should also properly restrain your pet with a harness or in a carrier so they can get used to it as well.

Find a pet-friendly destination
Not sure where to travel with your pet this summer? Consider one of the country’s most pet-friendly destinations. After all, you and your pet will have more fun in a city where you can venture out together. Austin, New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle are top contenders for America’s pet-loving destinations.