Summer holidays and opportunities to travel often go hand in hand. Our pets want to be with us, and we love to bring them along when we can. To ensure that you both have a wonderful time, some advanced planning can make all the difference…
Before you go…
If you’re unsure whether your pet should join you, there are key questions you should ask yourself:
- Is it the first time they’re travelling with you?
- Are they on the older side?
- Do they suffer from stress easily?
- Do they have a health condition?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, it may be better for you and your pet to leave them at home. On the other hand, if your pet is a seasoned traveller, these are our top tips…
Before you go…
1. Find pet-friendly accommodation
If you plan to stay in a hotel during your holiday, be sure to call ahead and find out exactly how they define “pet-friendly”. It’s important to explain your expectations in detail in advance of arriving to make sure you’re on the same page. Some hotels will be fine with you leaving your pet in the room during the day, but others won’t allow that. If you’re renting a home, be sure you’re both clear as to the rules for having pets on the property.
2. Organise the essentials
Make a packing list for the trip to include things you know your pet will need. For example, one pet parent we talked with never leaves the house without a first aid kit. There are many other items to remember, including medications, plenty of water, enough food, travel bowls, a travel bed, a leash, and favourite toys. Your dog should always be wearing a collar with tags so be sure they are current, legible, and secure.
Also, be sure your pet is up to date on shots. Never leave home without a copy of your dog’s current vaccinations or any other important medical information. You might want to consider keeping a copy of these important records in your wallet or secured in the glove box of your car.
3. Get them used to the car
Some dogs are anxious in the car so may require getting acclimated in advance of a longer journey. If this sounds like your pet, build up to the longer trip by taking shorter ones locally. Once underway, consider offering a favourite toy or treat to associate the car ride with to hopefully make things go smoothly.
On the road…
4. Buckle up
The last thing any of us wants to think about is an accident, so it’s important to keep your pet secure while driving. A pet left loose in the car is dangerous for both the animal and the driver. Take the time to kit out your car and your pet with the right gear. A smaller dog will be safe and secure in a booster seat. Owners will have peace of mind when their dogs are secured using a safety harness.
5. Plan to make stops
On a long trip it’s inevitable that both of you will need to stop to use the bathroom, stretch your legs, and have a water break. Your pet will probably need a break every 2 to 3 hours, but if you have a puppy you will have to stop even more frequently. Be sure you pack a leash to clip on before safely helping your pet out of the car and consider using seat covers to keep your car interior clean from mucky paws.
Also, it’s imperative to never leave a dog alone in a hot car because they can succumb to heatstroke within 15 minutes.
6. Offer toys and treats
Many pets, especially active ones, get bored sitting still for prolonged periods of time. Pack a bag with their favourite toys and offer new ones periodically throughout the trip. For a special treat, consider offering dogs a bone or chew to keep them busy.
When you arrive…
7. Let them explore!
Once you’ve reached your destination, there will be so many new things to see and smell. Your dog will need to let off some pent-up energy and could benefit from some exercise. Let him take time to get acclimated to the new space and smells. Ideally, you can find a spot for them to run around or to take a swim.
8. Have fun!
Bringing your pet along on holiday can make your time away even more special. You’ll be out of your usual routine and can hopefully relax and bond together. Take lots of pictures, enjoy your new surroundings, and have fun making memories together!