There's nothing more exciting than knowing that you're going on a vacation. Even a weekend away brings a big smile, that is, until you have to break it to your pet that you're going away -- without him.
These days travelers are saying no to the guilt, the droopy eyes, and the crying and bringing their pets with them.
Here are some pet-friendly travel tips that are sure to make traveling with your pet a good experience for the whole family.
Testing the Waters
-- Try out day trips and overnighters before taking your pet on a full vacation or a long road trip.
-- Get your pet used to his carrier as early as possible by putting him in it at night; that way he won't associate the carrier solely with trips to the vet.
Traveling by Car
Dogs love road trips! This is by far the most popular way of traveling with your pet. Here are some rules to live by:
-- Fido can't call shot gun! The air-bag deployment could be dangerous for your dog; don't let her ride in the front seat.
-- There are seatbelts for dogs: keeping your dog loose in the car is a danger to the driver because loose objects can become projectiles in the event of an accident. Just like people, dogs need to wear seat belts.
-- Purchase a harness at your local pet store that attaches to the actual seat belts in your car.
-- Cats should always be in a carrier. Restrain the carrier by pulling a seatbelt over the length of the carrier so it doesn't bounce around.
-- For the well-being of the animal, stop every 2 hours for a bathroom break and a run. It's good to bring a Frisbee or a ball, as well as toys, treats and water.
-- The Humane Society recommends that you do not use air travel unless absolutely necessary.
-- Every airline has different rules about traveling with pets. If your dog is small enough to stand in a carrier that can go under the seat in front of you, you may be able to carry the dog on board, but there are no guarantees.
-- Always call the airline first to make sure they will allow pets on your flight. Since the airline has a very limited number of animals, don't assume there will be enough space.
-- There's a fee to fly your pet, even though they're not taking a seat. Costs are, on average, around $500 round-trip in the cabin.
An Even Better Option
-- There's an airline JUST FOR PETS. Pet Airways! It's the only airline that flies pets exclusively -- or as they call them, pawsengers.
-- They fly out of smaller, regional airports in a few US cities (NY, Chicago, LA).
-- First Class Experience: You check them in at the Pet Lounge, they board in carriers, and ride in the cabin where they are checked on every 15 minutes
-- Pricing examples: NY to Ft. Lauderdale is $250 each way, NY to Chicago is $99 each way.
-- Frequent Flyer Miles: Pets can earn them on JetBlue, Virgin and Continental.
-- Cargo Hold: the least-recommended.
-- Take direct flights. Minimize the wear and tear on your pet.
-- Travel on the same flight as your animal.
-- Be aware of temperature extremes. In the fall and winter, travel in the afternoon when temps are at their highest. In summer months, travel in the morning or at night when it's no so hot.
-- "Pet-friendly" has a very broad definition in the hotel world. Call them directly and ask.
-- What is the charge for bringing a pet?
-- Will there be a cleaning fee that may or may not be refundable?
-- Are there weight restrictions, breed restrictions?
-- May I leave them unattended in the room while I'm gone for the day?
General Travel Tips
-- Make sure pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
-- Have 2 ID tags on your pet's collar: the normal ID tag plus a tag with the information of where you are staying (hotel, friend's address, etc.).
-- Keep an updated photo of your pet in case you do get separated, so you can locate him more easily.
-- Imbedded microchips with all your pet's information are extremely popular with owners that travel consistently with their pet.
-- Petswelcome.com has special features, such as a search for places that accept large dogs and cats.
-- Bringfido.com is a website full of info on restaurants, attractions and beaches were dogs are welcome. It's a great place for ideas.