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Pet Travel: Tips and Tricks for a Safe Journey
11 min read
Updated on May 14, 2024

Planning a trip with your pet? Whether it's a long-distance trip or a short weekend getaway, traveling with your furry friend can be an exciting and memorable experience. However, it can also be stressful if you don't plan ahead and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and comfortable journey for both you and your pet.

In this complete guide, we will provide tips and tricks on how to travel with your pet safely, comfortably, and stress-free.

What we’ll cover:

  • Planning a trip with a pet

  • Choosing the right mode of transport to travel with a pet

  • Pet-friendly airlines

  • Choosing accommodation when traveling with a pet

  • What to pack when traveling with a pet

  • Essential documents for international travel with a pet

  • The costs of traveling with a pet

From navigating accommodation to what to bring, we've got you covered. Let's get started!

Dog in suitcase travel

Planning a trip with a pet

Can you travel with a pet? The answer to this question depends on a few factors, such as what type of pet it is, your travel plans, and your mode of transportation.

Traveling with pets such as cats and dogs is not as simple as just rocking up at a ticket counter and bringing them along for the ride. You must consider their health, safety, and comfort throughout the journey. Here are some things to consider first before embarking on a trip with your pet.

1. Check the entry requirements and policies of countries and airlines

Some countries have strict pet travel policies, while some airlines have specific rules on pet travel. For example, some airlines only allow pets on board when it’s a service animal.

Make sure to check with your airline and destination country's embassy or consulate to ensure that your pet can travel with you.

2. Consult with your veterinarian

The second step is to consult with your veterinarian before you travel with your pet. Your vet can advise you on the necessary vaccinations, health certificates, and medication your pet may need for the trip.

If your pet has any medical conditions or special needs, your vet can also guide you on managing them during the trip.

3. Ensure your pet's comfort and safety during the journey

The main priority is the health of your pet. With careful planning you can ensure your pet stays comfortable and safe during travel.

This includes packing a travel bag with essentials like food, water, and a leash, as well as ensuring that your pet has proper identification tags. Travel insurance designed for pets is also essential.

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s get more in-depth about the ins and outs of traveling with a pet!

Which mode of transportation is best when traveling with a pet?

There are various ways to travel with a pet, including by car, plane, boat, or train. When deciding on a mode of transportation, consider your pet's temperament, size, and health. Some pets may feel more comfortable in a car, while others may be better suited for plane travel.

Traveling in a car with a pet

With pets traveling in a car, it is important that they are comfortable in the vehicle and that you have all the necessary supplies such as food, water, and bedding. Bring their favorite toys and blankets to make them feel more at ease, especially since you may be unable to give them a lot of attention while driving.

If your pet is not used to traveling in a car, it's a good idea to prepare them for the ride. Start by taking them on short car trips around the neighborhood to get them used to the motion and the sounds of the car. A pet carrier or harness can help keep them in place and prevent them from getting injured in case of an accident.

Plan to take frequent breaks to give your pet a chance to go potty and stretch their legs. Never leave your pet alone in the car, even if it's just for a few minutes, especially in extreme heat.

Traveling on a plane with a pet

Regarding traveling on an airplane with your pet, the first step is to check the airline's pet policy and ensure you understand the requirements for traveling with a pet. Each airline has its own set of rules and regulations, so it's important to do your research ahead of time.

Before the flight, it's a good idea to take your pet to the vet for a check-up and to ask about any necessary vaccinations or medications for air travel.

Get a pet carrier that meets the airline's size requirements and allows your pet to assume a natural position when sitting or standing. Make sure to get your pet used to the carrier ahead of time by allowing them to spend time in it at home.

Avoid feeding your pet for several hours before you fly to minimize the chances of motion sickness during the flight. Additionally, it's a good idea to arrive at the airport early to give yourself plenty of time to check in your pet and go through security.

Depending on the airline and destination, you may have to check in your pet on a separate flight to allow for enough inspection before traveling. For in-cabin travel, it may be easier to find a domestic flight than an international one, which allows your pet to stay in a carrier under a seat. Additional restrictions may apply to larger animals.

Some of the top pet-friendly airlines are:

  • American Airlines

  • JetBlue

  • Air Canada

  • Air France

  • Turkish Airlines

Try to avoid a connecting flight, as this may complicate things even more and will be stressful for the animal.

Traveling on a train with a pet

Train travel is one of the most comfortable ways of traveling, as you have the freedom to stretch your legs and give your pet enough attention. However, before booking your tickets, always check the train company's policy on pets.

Once you have confirmed that your pet is allowed on board, it's important to book your tickets in advance. Many trains have limited spaces for travelers with pets, so it's best to book early to ensure room for your furry friend.

Make sure the carrier is big enough for your pet to stand up and move around in but not too big that they will slide around or be uncomfortable during the journey.

Traveling on a boat with a pet

Before embarking on a boat trip, it's a good idea to get your pet used to being on the water. This can be achieved by taking your pet on shorter boat trips and gradually increasing the time spent on the water.

Just like with car travel, it's important to ensure your pet's safety while on the boat. Make sure your pet has a secure spot on the boat, such as a comfortable bed or crate. It's also a good idea to use a harness or life jacket to prevent your pet from falling overboard.

The sun and wind can quickly dehydrate your pet while on a boat, so provide plenty of fresh water. You can also bring along wet food to help keep your pet hydrated.

If your pet is prone to motion sickness, bring along any necessary medication to help prevent or alleviate symptoms. You can also try feeding your pet small, frequent meals throughout the trip to help reduce nausea.

Choosing accommodation when traveling with a pet

Choosing the right accommodation is crucial when traveling with a pet. Not all hotels and accommodations allow pets, so it's important to do your research beforehand. Here are some tips for choosing the best accommodation for you and your furry friend:

  • Check the pet policy: Look for hotels and accommodations that are pet-friendly and allow pets to stay with their owners. Check their website or call ahead to confirm their pet policy and any restrictions they may have. When booking an Airbnb make sure to seek permission from the host first.

  • Choose a pet-friendly room: When booking your room, request a pet-friendly room. This will ensure you and your pet are comfortable and not cause any issues for other guests.

  • Look for pet amenities: Some hotels and accommodations offer special amenities for pets, such as food and water bowls, pet beds, and even dog parks. Look for accommodation that offers these amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay for your pet.

  • Consider the location: When choosing accommodation, consider the location and proximity to parks, pet-friendly attractions, and restaurants. This will make it easier to explore with your pet and find places to eat.

  • Research pet fees: Some hotels and accommodation charge a pet fee or deposit, so research these costs beforehand and budget accordingly. Further in this article we’ll explain all the costs of traveling with a pet.

What to pack when traveling with a pet

When traveling with a pet, packing the right items can make the journey much easier and more comfortable for both of you. Here are some specific tips on what to pack:

  • Food and water: Bring enough food and water for your trip, plus extra in case of delays or unforeseen circumstances. Pack your pet's food in airtight containers to keep it fresh and prevent spills. Don't forget to bring bowls for food and water, there are some handy travel bowls that can be packed away easily.

  • Medications: If your pet is on any medication, pack enough for the duration of your trip. Keep the medication in its original container, and pack it in a secure place where it won't get lost or damaged.

  • Bedding:: Bring your pet's bed or a familiar blanket to help them feel more comfortable and secure in unfamiliar surroundings. This can be especially important if you're staying in a hotel or other accommodation.

  • Toys and other comfort items: Pack your pet's favorite toys, chews, and comfort items to help keep them entertained and calm during the journey.

  • Leashes and collars: Make sure you have a secure leash and collar for your pet, and that they wear identification tags with your contact information. This is important in case your pet gets lost or separated from you during the journey.

  • Waste bags: Bring plenty of waste bags to clean up after your pet. Remember to dispose of waste properly and responsibly. A pee mat can be helpful, especially when you don’t have access to an outdoor space, such as on a long flight.

  • First aid kit: A basic first aid kit for pets can be useful in case of minor injuries or illnesses. Include items such as bandages, antiseptic, and tweezers. Grooming supplies such as nail clippers and a brush can also be helpful.

Cat in Carrier Travel

Essential documents for international travel with a pet

If you are planning to travel internationally with your pet, there are several essential documents pet owners must have to ensure a smooth journey.

The specific pet entry requirements may vary depending on the country you are traveling to and from, as well as the mode of transportation you will be using, so it's important to research the requirements well before your trip.

Here are some of the essential documents you may need to obtain for international travel with a pet:

  1. Pet passport: Many countries require a pet passport, which is an official document that contains your pet's health information, vaccination records, and identification details. You can obtain a pet passport from a licensed veterinarian.

  2. Health certificate: A health certificate is a document that certifies that your pet is healthy and free from any contagious diseases. This certificate must be issued by a licensed veterinarian and may need to be signed by a government veterinarian as well.

  3. Dog rabies vaccination certificate: Precautions for disease control are mandatory for most countries, and you may need to provide a certificate of vaccination that shows your pet has been vaccinated against rabies. The CDC also provides essential info for traveling with pets within the United States.

  4. Microchip certificate: Many countries require pets to have a microchip implanted for identification purposes. You may need to provide a certificate that shows the microchip number and that the chip is working properly.

  5. Import/export permit: Some high-risk countries require an import/export permit for pets. This permit can be obtained from the relevant government agency. Here is more info on traveling to and within the European Union with a pet.

  6. Visa and other travel documents: With all this prepping for your pet, don’t forget to check the visa and other entry requirements for yourself! Use our handy Visa Checker Tool to find out which visas you need and apply instantly online!

It's important to note that some countries have additional requirements, such as quarantine periods or specific vaccinations, so research them thoroughly before traveling with your pet.

It's also a good idea to consult with your veterinarian or a travel agent specializing in pet travel to ensure that you have all the necessary documents and that your pet is prepared for the journey.

Costs of traveling with pets

When traveling with a pet, there are several costs beyond the usual travel expenses. Below are the extra costs you should keep in mind when planning your trip:

Airline pet fees

Many airlines charge fees for pets to travel in the cabin or cargo hold. These fees can range from around US$75 to US$200 each way, depending on the airline and the destination. If you’re immigrating to another country, some extra import fees may apply for that destination.

Pet-friendly accommodation fees

If you plan to stay in a hotel or vacation rental, you may need to pay an additional fee for your pet. This fee can range from around US$20 to US$100 per night, depending on the type of accommodation and the pet policy.

Veterinary costs

Depending on your destination, your pet may need certain vaccinations or health checks before you can travel. These costs can vary widely depending on the type of pet and the requirements of the destination country.

Pet supplies

You may need to purchase supplies such as a specific-sized carrier, leash, or travel food and water bowls for your pet. The cost of these supplies vary depending on the quality and type of product you choose.

Travel insurance

Some pet owners choose to purchase travel insurance for their pets, which can cover unexpected medical expenses or other issues that may arise during travel. The cost of this insurance can vary depending on the type of coverage and the pet's age and health.

Considering these potential costs, you’re able to create a more accurate travel budget that includes your pet's needs. Remember to research pet policies and requirements for your destination, as these may also affect the overall cost of your trip.

More information about travel documents?

While it can be fun to travel with a pet, it’s crucial to prepare as you can read above. It’s also good to consider how fun it really is for your pet to be carried around or traveling in an unknown environment.

These great blogs provide more info about traveling with pets:

  • PetTravel: The ultimate resource for information about air travel with pets.

  • Long Haul Trekkers: Next-level dog-friendly travel inspiration!

  • Pawcurious: A blog run by author and veterinarian Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, including travel advice and more for pet owners.

Contact iVisa for more information about travel documents

If you have any questions about visa requirements and entry rules for your chosen destination, don't hesitate to contact our customer service team via online chat or [email protected].

Although we recommend the above resources when traveling with a pet, we’re happy to help owners get their visas and meet other requirements.

  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. For government source information, please visit our product pages.
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