Ah, the holidays. The last months of the year are always filled with good conversations, festive fun, and an endless procession of annually available goodies. The only problem is that often you need to travel dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of miles in order to reach your family’s holiday gathering.
If you’re traveling near or far with your pet this holiday season, here are a few tips to help your trip match the spirit of the most wonderful time of the year.
Always Plan and Pack Ahead
Preparing to travel with your pet is the most critical part of a successful trip. It’s during this stage that you lay the groundwork for a smooth, enjoyable journey that isn’t riddled with problems, concerns, and unsafe scenarios.
Start by considering the travel logistics involved in your travel plans. If you’re flying, make sure that they have a travel crate that is comfortable, and they’re used to spending time in. If you’re driving, map out your route so that you know when and where you can let your pup out to go to the bathroom, eat, and stretch their legs.
Also, make sure you designate a space in the car that is comfortable for your four-legged friend without potentially causing a distracted driving scenario. It’s already important to be aware of potential distractions like your phone, eating and drinking, or loud children. If you also allow your pet to have access to your legs or hop up on your lap, it can be a hazard to yourself, your dog, and everyone else on the road.
After you’ve planned your logistics, create a packing list that includes basic essentials, like:
- Food and water.
- Food and water bowls.
- A brush and any other grooming equipment.
- Toys and treats.
Also, remember to bring a harness or a leash. You may not use a leash at home, but keeping your animal contained is one of the biggest safety considerations when traveling with pets.
Finally, wrap up the planning and packing stage by scheduling a visit to the vet. Make sure your dog is healthy, able to travel, and has all of their paperwork and tags in order.
Check Travel Guidelines Early and Often
When it comes to the travel itself, it’s important that you check the travel guidelines in every region that you’re going to pass through. Ironically, this isn’t for your dog so much as yourself. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, travel guidelines have remained complicated. Things like quarantines and travel restrictions remain in effect and change often.
Along with an initial investigation, make sure to check the travel regulations regularly in the lead up to your trip. If you initially chose to fly, you may find that air travel to the country or state is banned before your departure.
If that happens, there are plenty of alternative modes of transportation that you can lean on. However, you’re obviously going to want to confirm that each one will accommodate your dog. For instance, if you have a small dog, you can bring them with you on an Amtrak train for a small additional fee. Some bus companies also allow animal companions.
If you can’t find a bus or train ticket in time, you can always opt to drive. Just remember to set up your car so that your dog can’t distract you on the road.
Finally, remember to adopt an attitude of flexibility as you plan your trip. After all, both transportation agencies and hosts are the ones accommodating your pet-friendly needs. Consider your animal’s behavior, if anyone at your destination is allergic to dogs, and if your pup is discomforting any of your fellow passengers on a bus, train, or plane.
In addition, remember to adapt in whatever way you can for your dog, as well. Strive to maintain routines like regular potty breaks and eating at the same time of day. Also, keep those treats handy and remember that positive reinforcement goes a long way.
Traveling With Your Pets This Holiday Season
Traveling during the holidays always takes some forethought. If you want to bring your furry best friend with you, though, you’re going to want to really think things through before you head out on your adventure.
Take the time to plan out your travels beforehand. Create packing lists and head to the vet, too. Choose your mode of transportation wisely, and consider the needs of both your pet and those around you as you travel.
In 2020, you must also take extra precautions to ensure that your trip aligns with the local travel guidelines and restrictions. If these become an issue, have alternative plans ready to go and try to stay as flexible as possible.
If you can stay on top of the logistics as you go along, both you and your dog will be able to head into this holiday season with excitement and anticipation of the fun times that lie ahead.