When I was growing up, we often took family trips to the Florida Panhandle. The drive took about three hours from my hometown of Albany, Georgia. Our dogs, Moses and Missy, loved going along with us to the beach. My best friend, Allatia, usually joined us too.
Allatia’s mother would send us off with a large Tupperware full of delicious chocolate chip and coconut brownies called “Congo Bars.” While these treats were meant to last the week, we would devour most of them during the trip. I usually got car sick, but I never learned my lesson.
Of course, none of us wore seat belts. Kids and dogs climbed back and forth freely from the back seat to the front seat. By playing car games and singing, we survived what seemed like an eternity on the road as we eagerly anticipated diving into the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Travel has changed a lot since I was a girl. We are more safety conscious for one thing. Hopefully we all wear our seat belts. Air travel has become much more common, and pets are often accompanying their families on those flights. While my little dog Sueshi has flown with me many times, my childhood pets never traveled in an airplane.
Experts are predicting holiday travel will return to pre-pandemic levels this year. With that in mind, I imagine many of you will be traveling with your pets this holiday season. Bringing your pets along requires some prep work. Be sure to do your research well in advance and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy a fun family getaway
Prepare a packing list: Before you hit the road, assemble a travel bag with your pet’s food, water, bowls, harness, leash, bathroom supplies and any medications. It’s also a good idea to bring a few of your pet’s favorite toys, as well as beds or blankets that carry the smell of home.
Practice makes perfect: For air travel, get your pet used to being in their travel carrier or crate as early as possible. For road trips, start by taking short car rides with your pet, adding more car time with each trip.
Dot your I’s and cross your T’s: Make sure your pet is up to date on all their vaccines before traveling. Air and international travel often require health certificates provided by a veterinarian. Each airline and international destination have different requirements, so be sure you understand what is needed at every step of your journey.
Destination pet-friendly: Many hotels and vacations rentals offer pet-friendly accommodations. Some hotel chains even provide your pet with their own bed, toys and other amenities like a doggy room service menu. When booking holiday travel, be sure to select the pet-friendly filter and read the fine print before you book.
Check the chip: Your pet should always wear an up-to-date ID tag when traveling. It’s also recommended that you get your pet microchipped in advance of travel. If your pet is already chipped, please remember to update your contact information with the chip company if you’ve moved or changed phone numbers.
As you can see, traveling with your pet requires some thought and preparation. For everyone’s safety, once you are on your way, do not let your pet roam freely in a moving vehicle and never leave them unattended in a car. And if you are traveling with tasty baked goods, take a tip from me, and save some for your destination.
Bon voyage and safe travels!
Dia DuVernet is the president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.