Samantha Brown's Pet-Friendly Travel Tips
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, opting instead to bring 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 and overnight trips before taking your pet on a full vacation or a long road trip. Also, 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. But remember these rules to live by:
Fido can't call shotgun! The air-bag deployment could be dangerous for your dog, so don't let it ride in the front seat.
Use seat belts or car seats designed for your dogs. Keeping them 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 it by pulling a seat belt 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.
Traveling by Air
The Humane Society recommends that you do not use air travel unless absolutely necessary. If it is, remember:
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 planes have limited room for animals, don't assume there will be enough space.
There's a fee to fly with your pet, even though it's not taking a seat. Costs are, on average, around $500 round-trip in the cabin.
Being put in the cargo hold is the least-recommended option for your pet.
Take direct flights to minimize the wear and tear on your pet.
Always travel on the same flight as your animal.
Be aware of temperature extremes. In the fall and winter, travel in the afternoon, when temperatures are at their highest. In summer months, travel in the morning or at night, when it's not so hot.
Staying in Hotels
"Pet-friendly" has a very broad definition in the hotel world. Call 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 or breed restrictions?
May I leave my pet 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.
Imbedded microchips with all your pet's information are extremely popular with owners who travel consistently with their pets.
Petswelcome.com has special features, such as a search for hotels that accept large dogs and cats.
Bringfido.com is a website full of info on restaurants, attractions and beaches where dogs are welcome. It's a great place for ideas.
MORE: Check Out These Top Hotels for Pet Lovers
Top Hotels for Pet-Lovers 02:25
OK, it might not be completely stress-free, but a little advance planning can help make everything go a lot smoother than you might expect.