A few days from now Edie and I are hitting the road to spend Christmas with my folks. Whether by plane or car, this little moppet mutt is my ultimate ride or die copilot and carry-on companion. I love being able to travel with her. I estimate we’ve logged around 5000 miles in the car together and she has been on 15 or 16 planes, so I came to develop a routine for her to make the points between our destinations easier for her. And for me! Wherever you and your pet are heading this holiday, there are ways to make holiday travel plans with pets go smoothly. My advice is for when you are road tripping or bring your pup in the cabin of an airplane as I have not checked Edie into the cargo hold. She’s carryon size… 7 pounds. 7.6 on a heavy day. Usually 8 ½ pounds at the end of a trip to see Gigi and Gramps on the farm…. Oh, Edie!
Make a list and check it twice! Santa’s not the only one who ought to be list making and checking. Plan out how much food you need for your travel. Include enough for an extra couple of days in case you have any flight delays or cancellations. Last year, my flight was delayed three days because of bad weather! Along with food, bring collapsible bowls for easy carrying and packing.
To add to Edie’s comfort I bring her favorite toy. If we are flying, I freeze peanut butter inside her kong in a plastic bag and tape a note to my phone to remember to grab it from the freezer before heading to the airport. This gives her a good, comforting distraction when I put her in her carrier. I also put in a small towel for her to snuggle with during the flight. This is going to sound weird but I will sleep with the towel the night before so she has a familiar smell among all the added airplane smells. Edie literally is my carryon when we fly! When we drive, I bring her bed and favorite blanket. No matter the transportation mode, an absorbent potty pad and extra bags are always on hand.
Safety and furbaby well being! If you are flying, make sure you know what your airline requires for pets as carry-ons. Among the various airlines I’ve flown there have been differences in their requirements. Most will require you to bring a veterinary healthy pet certificate verifying your pet has been examined and determined to be healthy within 10 days of the departing flight. It’s an added expense and one I find annoying but if you don’t have that certificate and flight crew asks you to show that certificate, well, you may have another delayed flight to reschedule. Edie has flown on 15 or 16 flights. I’ve been asked to show the certificate at check in once and at boarding one other time. So for all the times I was annoyed to have spent the money, the two times I was required to show them that piece of paper I was really glad I covered that base! When meeting with your vet, discuss your pet’s anxiety levels. Edie is high anxiety and very fear based. Her first couple of flights I had the tiniest Valiums in my pocket and I did use the
m on one flight. She has since become a seasoned traveler and is an easy traveler. There is no doubt in my mind that is in part to me having a plan and preparing her for the journey.
Make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date, your pup wears her collar and tags, and all of your contact information is current. If you have not microchipped your dog yet, please consider doing so.
Carry-on carriers need to fix specific dimensions. I’ve used the same carrier for each flight and multiple airlines, and mine is a no frills bought at Petsmart variety. If you’re driving, there are various seat belt harnesses you can use to help keep your pup secure.
When in doubt, snacks!!!!! If you fly, unless your pet is a service animal, your pet will be your carryon and will need to remain under the seat the entire flight and you are not supposed to open the carrier or allow any scenario in which escape is possible. That isn’t to say I haven’t unzipped a tiny bit to tuck a couple of treats to Edie throughout the flight. And that isn’t to say I haven’t also had to wrestle her little snout back into the bag to zip up. I give her the kong and a couple of treats as soon as I place her in the carrier and she gets treats when we get off the plane. Snacks also help to give a little bit of positive reinforcement.
Wear them out! A tired pup is a less anxious pup. Traveling can be very stressful for your pet so giving them a good exercise session before hitting the road or arriving at the airport will help them relax. When we road trip, I’ll take Edie for at least a 30 minute walk before we begin the day’s travel. When we are driving, I’ll make stops every 3-4 hours to let her stretch her legs. Even when I schedule ridiculously early flights, I’ll take Edie on a long walk before my Uber ride takes us to the airport. We have gone on walks as early as 3:00 am to let her burn off energy. Terrier mixes for the kinetic energy win! Depending on the airport and how busy the airport is, you might be able to get away with letting your dog walk between connections. I’ve found airports to be of varying levels of enforcement. Some have been really staunch on making sure she’s in her carrier as soon as we get through TSA and some have been too busy for me to risk letting her walk on leash because of the crowds. Some airports have pet depots which make travel really nice!
Dress rehearsal. If you are flying and the first time your pet meets the carrier is at the airport when she is already feeling high stress, woooooo are you setting both of y’all up for a rough flight! Introduce the carrier ahead of time to give your pup a chance to get to know the carrier in a positive and secure environment.
Do you travel with your furry family members?