Ten Tips for Traveling with Pets
Although bringing your pet when you travel may seem impossible, in most cases it’s surprisingly easy as long as you plan ahead. Please read these ten tips to help get going. Your dog (or cat) will thank you.
10. Check your destination country’s pet health requirements several months in advance.
Every country has its own requirements regarding required health vaccinations, inspections upon arrival, and, sometimes, quarantine. It’s important that you know exactly what the requirements are several months in advance. For example, certain countries specify that your pet must have a rabies vaccination less than a year old but at but no less than 30 days from date of flight. Don’t get stuck having to change your ticket. Prepare for all of the requirements before you go by calling the consulates of the countries you’ll be visiting and asking about their requirements or checking USDA website here.. If you’re going to be traveling between two or more countries without returning to your home country, you may want to locate a vet in the areas where you’ll be staying so that a new pet health certificate can be completed if necessary.
9. Make sure your pet has a clean bill of health.
Regardless of the destination, most travel into another country will require that you present a pet health certificate to confirm that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. There are typically strict requirements that establish how far in advance of your trip the certificate needs to be completed—usually no more than 5 to 10 days before your departure.
8. Check your carrier’s regulations.
Almost all airlines, trains, and buses have specific regulations that apply to pets on the go, and those regulations can vary greatly from one carrier to another. Check online or call the carrier to ask about pet regulations. Some of the questions to ask include: How many pets can be on-board at once? What are the boarding requirements? What are the pet carrier or crating requirements? Do you need to show up at the airport earlier if you’re traveling with your pet?
7. Prepare your pet’s carrier.
First, make sure that your pet’s carrier fits the transportation provider’s requirements for size, type (hard side vs. soft side), and interior (lined vs. not lined). If it’s allowed in the cabin, make sure that the pet can fit in the carrier comfortably and still fit under the seat. If you’ll be traveling by air, ask for an aisle seat; middle seats are typically storage sites for electronic equipment, and it’s unlikely a carrier will fit well under that seat. Make sure that your pet’s leash and some plastic bags, paper towels, and handwipes are stored in or near the carrier for quick access if needed.
6. Prepare for security screening.
Most U.S. airports require that you remove your pet (if it is a dog or cat) from its carrier and place it in your arms while passing through the security checkpoint. If your pet is unaccustomed to loud noises, you may want to practice a few times before arriving at the airport by exposing your pet to some high traffic places so he or she won’t be scared or startled.
5. Make sure your pet has ID.
Even if you don’t tag your luggage, make sure you tag your pet’s crate or carrier, whether in the cabin or in cargo, and make sure your pet is wearing a tag on its collar with its name and your contact information.
4. Carry contact information.
Note your pet’s health information and vet contact information among your documents. This seems simple, but lots of people forget to take their vet’s contact information with them. Your home vet can be a great resource while abroad, though, so don’t forget!
3. Check the pets-welcome policy for your lodgings
Increasingly, non-pet friendly lodgings are cracking down on enforcement, some charging a “heavy cleaning” or “convenience fee”—in many cases non-refundable—if they discover that you have a pet. Be sure to ask about the pet policy for the places where you plan to stay. Check out www.petswelcome.com for a list of places around the world that are pet friendly.
2. Get to know your pet’s travel needs.
If you’ve never traveled with your pet before, you may be surprised to see how different he or she is on the road. After your first trip, you’ll begin to get an idea of your pet’s specific needs and plan for them accordingly. If you have a dog, be sure to walk it before arriving at the airport. Keep a few plastic bags in your bag for disposal of waste.
1. Last call checklist:
Check your bags once more before you go: Leash? Meds (if liquids, are they stored appropriately)? Food? Water? Water / Food Bowls? Vet record and contact information?
One of Matador’sregular contributors, Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator who lives in New York, Mexico City, and San Juan. She has a BA in English and Women’s Studies, a Masters of Social Work, and is working on a PhD in Literature at the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe.