The holiday season is officially upon us, and you know what that means: visiting relatives. Now, we know family time can be a bit overwhelming at times, but traveling with pets doesn't have to be! Here's everything you need to know when traveling with (or without) pets this holiday season.
Driving to grandma's house for the holidays? Going to visit crazy Uncle Ned? We are sure you're bringing the whole family along...including the dog! (They are family members too, you know.) Whether Grandma lives an hour away or 2 states away, here's what to pack to ensure an easy drive ahead.
- Pack the Snacks - Include a variety of their favorite treats, bones, biscuits, and chews to keep them entertained (and satisfied) on the long drive ahead.
- Food & Water Supply - Have more than enough pet food on hand in case you end up staying longer than you originally anticipated. If you'll be gone for 4 days, be sure to pack 7 days worth of food just in case. Also, bring along their food & water bowls.
- Cozy Blanket - Keep them comfortable for the road trip! Everyone wants to be cozy on the road.
- Favorite Toy(s) - They will want to play and it could happen anywhere, anytime.
- ID Tags - This one is an obvious one, but be sure that their ID tags are up to date especially during travel.
- Pet Medication - Does your pet require special medication? Pack their supply along with instructions.
- Leash & Poop Bags - Grandma's neighborhood expects common decency, too.
IMPORTANT INFO FOR AIR TRAVEL
Research Airline and Airport Security Policies
TSA controls who and what gets to the gate, but your individual airline ultimately determines if your pet flies. While United allows online in-cabin pet bookings, Delta requires calling. A few other airlines (US Airways, Southwest) do not carry “checked” pets -- an important point to know before you buy a ticket. Check with your airline directly -- policies differ on weight, season, breeds and more. In-cabin crates can be hard or soft-sided but should still be durable, fit beneath the seat in front of you, and allow aeration and ability for your pet to stand and turn comfortably. For “checked” transport (pet stowed on your own plane) or cargo (sent separately), again, consult your airline and use carriers that meet International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines -- for example, size, labeling and staff access. Also, ask if your airline requires a vet certificate; you may need clearance within (usually) 10 days of travel so you and all pets and passengers are safe from illness. (Info courtesy of the Travel Channel)
Prepare for the Price of Pet Travel
If you've never flown with a pet before, keep in mind that you may be paying more for your pet than you would just for yourself. Do your research, as different airlines have various pricing. Also, keep in mind in-cabin pets are your one “carry-on” luggage item. So budget for checking or shipping your other bags ahead of time.
Book in Advance
This time of year is very busy with holiday travel, so be sure to book ahead of time. Experts recommend doing so 4-6 weeks before you travel if possible.
Don’t Run Your Pooch Through the X-Ray!
Surprisingly so, people often leave their pets in carriers during x-ray screenings. Remove your pet first, then send the empty crate through. Walk or carry your pet through the metal detector with you, including collar and leash (you may be subject to additional screening).
Make sure to carry extra dry food, a collapsible/reusable water bowl, and an extra leash. It's important to keep your pet comfortable during air travel, so it is a good idea to also bring along their favorite blanket and favorite toy. Include important documents, paperwork, and any medicine that is needed.
PREPARE FOR THE SITTER
Whether you have someone coming to stay at your home to watch your pet OR you plan on dropping off your pet at a babysitter's home, here are some helpful tips & tricks to know before you head out of town.
It's important to ask someone to dog-sit who is comfortable with animals and has hopefully done so before (especially if you will be out of town for more than a couple of days!) Whether it's a family member, close friend or nearby neighbor, be sure to leave detailed instructions for your sitter. Include where you keep a spare key, what to lock up each night, where you keep your pet's food & treats, how many treats they're allowed to have each day, if they are allowed on the couch/furniture, their feeding guidelines, medication info, and contact information of who to call if there's an emergency.
Food & Treat Supply
Double check before you leave that you have a backup supply of pet food in case they run out! Regardless of how long you're gone, it's always a good idea to have an extra bag of pet food in case of an emergency. Also, include feeding instructions for the babysitter so they don't accidentally overfeed your pet (this is a common occurrence!)
Make sure your sitter knows which toys/blankets are your pet's favorite. The first day or so they may be sad and missing you, so making sure they are comfortable is key.
Leash & Poop Bags
While you're gone, your babysitter should be taking your dog on a walk once or twice a day and keeping them active with playtime! Make sure your babysitter has an extra leash on hand and plenty of poop bags for when your dog needs to go #2 while on the move.