Many people have pets that they consider to be valued members of the family. Yet, whenever they make plans to hit the road or take to the skies to go on a vacation, they start lining up a spot at the local kennel to house their pet, while they go gallivanting off to have a great vacation. Well, if your pet is such a valued member of your family, why not take him along with you?
Fortunately, modern modes of travel have branched out to new approaches that welcome four-legged furry passengers. Most airlines offer options for traveling with pets, either by carrying them in the cargo hold or inside the cabin of the plane. Costs for taking your pet with you on a flight can vary among airlines, and each company has its own requirements and restrictions. But don't make any assumptions and don't take any chances―check with your airline before you even make plans, and be sure that you have all the information you'll need in order to make the trip happily with your pet.
Most airlines that do allow pets require that the pet carrier is small enough for you to stow beneath the seat in front of you. But this requirement doesn't mean you can just stuff your pet inside a small pet carrier in order to meet the airline's requirements―airlines usually dictate that your pet has to be able to stand and turn around when inside the carrier. If your pet is too large for that, then you'll need to book your pet's reservation in the cargo area. Make this reservation at the same time you make yours, or you might have to leave him behind or rearrange your flight, which might be expensive. Your pet's airline ticket will probably cost about as much as yours, but you may be able to save a little money if you don't mind leaving your pet in the care of strangers for a few hours. Believe it or not, there are flights for pets only, such as the flights offered by PetAirways. These carriers are usually less expensive than commercial airlines, and they allow pets to fly inside the cabin rather than stowing them in the cargo area.
Before you even think about making reservations, though, you need to be sure your final destination is going to be pet-friendly. Unless your pet is a helper animal such as a seeing-eye dog, you can't assume that your hotel will welcome animals. A simple online search will help you find lodging locales that are pet-friendly, so you can ensure that both you and your pet have great accommodations. Websites such as DogFriendly have a purpose of rating hotel chains and travel destinations according to how pet-friendly they are. Also, AAA conducts surveys to determine the nation's top pet-friendly locales and cities, based on how many pet-friendly hotels are located there. Most hotels with websites have their pet policies listed on their own sites.
If your destination is outside the United States, it is very important to contact the American embassy or consulate at your final destination to get information about the quarantine policies of that country. Animals that live in different countries may carry various diseases that they have become immune to. But whenever animals that haven't developed those immunities are exposed to those animals in other countries, a potentially deadly outbreak might occur. As a result, there are many countries that have strict policies for quarantining animals that arrive from other countries. Even in Hawaii, if a pet doesn't meet the import requirements set by the state, the animal may be sequestered for up to four months.
Virtually every airline around the world requires that you have documentation from a licensed veterinarian that proves your pet is healthy and has received appropriate vaccinations. Some hotels may also require this information. Be sure that you keep the information in a safe place, along with your other vital documents, to be sure your pet's travel is not compromised. But don't take your pet for his physical too far in advance of your trip, though. Most airlines stipulate that your vet's statement of good health can't be more than ten days old. Again, check with your airline ahead of time to be sure you've planned correctly.
Just like some people, some pets are very anxious travelers. Being shuffled around in a crate, surrounded by strangers, stowed in a cargo hold with other anxious pets, can make the trip a rough one for your pet. So you might want to consider asking your vet for a pet tranquilizer to make the journey go more smoothly. Don't use your own prescriptions; although some human sedatives will work okay, the dosage amount is different for animals than it is for humans. But if you're traveling by air, you might want to skip the option of tranquilizers altogether. Animals who are sedated may have trouble with breathing at the higher altitudes, especially pet dogs and cats with shorter faces such as Pugs, Pekingese, and Persians. If you do choose to sedate your pet, be sure to get the medicine from your vet, a trusted source, rather than online.
Believe it or not, the government requires that you feed and water your pet well in advance of your departure time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that all pets that travel on commercial airlines have to be fed and watered sometime within four hours of the departure time. You'll have to sign a waiver when you check in saying that you did give your pet food and water within that time period. But be sure you don't give them too much, because you don't want your pet to suffer from motion sickness or anxiety from having an accident inside their crate. You may want to put some food in a bag attached to the outside of the crate, in case there is a long delay or unexpected layover, so airline employees can feed your pet if necessary.