Are you ready to pack your bag for a journey? If you’re taking an animal with you, start your preparation and packing for them a few weeks ahead of time. We’ve put together some tips and ideas for making traveling with a pet or emotional support animal to help make it as stress-free as possible.
1. Consider Your Pet
First up, consider whether your pet or animal really needs to come with you and whether traveling will place unnecessary stress on them. Animals have different physical needs than us, and some species and breeds, are just not cut out to travel.
If you have an emotional support animal, it may well be that the animal’s presence will help you to make the trip. Or, it may be that you’re going to need your ESA at your destination. If you’re a regular traveler, consider an ESA that travels well.
2. Choose Your Transport
The distance you are going to travel may determine your type of travel.
* Car: Make sure you’ve got some way of containing or restraining your animal in your vehicle. Small animals become dangerous flying objects if you have to stop suddenly! Use carriers and barriers to look after both of your safety needs.
* Trains/Buses: If you’re using public road or rail transportation, check the pet and animal policies of the transport provider. Some allow animals, some do not. They may require certain types of carriers and harnesses to keep your pet secure.
* Planes: Do your homework on whether your preferred airline accepts pets. They all have their own policies and procedures, and limitations on numbers of animals, types of pet carriers, and where they may fly on the aircraft. Many restrict certain species and breeds. If you have an emotional support animal, airlines can ask for at least 48 hours notice, and various types of documentation, including a current ESA letter.
3. Get A Vet Check
Make sure your animal is in tip-top condition and up to making the journey by taking them to your vet for a health check. A vet can also give you advice on the best way to keep your particular animal comfy. They can also provide any health certificates and evidence of vaccinations needed by airlines or transport providers.
4. Prepare Your Pet
That’s right, prepare your pet. You may be one with your animal, but this doesn’t mean just telling them in passing that they’re about to hit the road or the sky!
Traveling can be a scary time for an animal. They will be able to cope with the experience much better if you have desensitized them ahead of times to sights and sounds that may be unfamiliar.
Leave their carrier in an accessible part of your home for a few weeks before you travel so they learn it is a good place to be. Many pets only take a trip in a carrier when they are unwell and off to see the vet, which is obviously not the best of times. Turn that association around for them. Encourage them to go in and out of their carrier with treats and toys.
Similarly, take short road trips in anticipation of a longer one so your animal gets used to the sound of a vehicle, road noises, and returning to safety. If you can, download sounds of jet engines or busy airport terminals and play them daily.
Your pet, especially dogs, should also be able to behave appropriately in a public place and airlines will usually ask for this. Positively reinforce your training so they will respond to you will you are traveling and not disrupt other travelers.
5. Pack A Bag For Your Pet
If you’ve skipped the previous steps – go back! Depending on how you are going to travel, you’re going to need a suitable carrier and/or harnesses to help keep your animal safe and secure.
Then, to go with their restraints, there are a few other essentials to have in a separate bag along the way.
* Waterproof liners and cleanup gear: These are good to have on hand, even if you have a pet carrier with a sealed base. Liners are easy to replace if they do become soiled. Use wet wipes or paper towels and doggy poo bags to clean up and dispose of any mess hygienically and safely.
* Water and food: Bring along some of their usual food, water to keep them hydrated, and a few treats. Most animals travel best on an empty stomach or after a light meal only. But travel delays can happen. If you have some of the regular types of food they usually eat with you, they are less likely to have an upset stomach for the rest of the journey.
* Toys or comfort items: Does your pet have a favorite toy, a blanket or an object they like snuggling up to? Bring it along! Having a familiar item can provide reassurance in a strange place.
* Medications: If your pet is on any regular medications, don’t forget to bring enough for while you are traveling and away from home.
* Documentation: Keep any documentation your transport provider has asked for with you at all times during travel. This may include their health and vaccination certificates and your ESA letter if you have an emotional support animal.
6. Looking After Your Pet During Travel
On the day of your travel, follow a few steps to keep you both comfortable and arrive safely at your destination.
* ID: Ensure your pet is wearing identification, and their carrier is labeled. This should include their name and your name and contact details. If you do become separated, it will make it easier to reunite you later.
* Potty stops: Encourage your pet to go to the toilet before you leave. Most airport terminals have dedicated areas to take your dog to relieve themselves before you board the plane. On a road trip, make sure you balance out giving them enough water to keep them hydrated, with safe places to stop and toilet. With a cat, you may be able to carry or travel with disposal or covered litter tray.
* Keep them company: Stay with your pet at all times, and offer them reassurance as and when needed. Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle, the interiors of cars very quickly become as hot as an oven with no ventilation. On a flight, if you are able to fly with your pet in the cabin, keep them in your own designated area.
* Enjoy your travel!
Traveling with a pet soon? Learn more about Delta’s pet policy here.
** This is a guest post **