If you’re on the fence about bringing Fido or Fifi along on your vacation this summer, consider this: Many household pets respond well to travel, a fact that isn’t lost on the travel industry. According to Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook, there are more than 13,000 AAA-rated hotels and campgrounds across the country that are pet-friendly.
“It’s a misconception to think that travel produces unnecessary stress for a pet,” said Jim Prueter, travel spokesman for AAA Arizona. “Many pets not only enjoy travel, but make for great companions on the road.”
According to the Travel Industry Association of America, more than 29 million Americans have traveled with a pet on a trip of 50 miles or more in the past three years. In addition, the percentage of pet travel increases during summer months when more families travel, according to the association.
“While pets enjoy the sights and smells of a new city, there’s also an added perk for pet owners,” Prueter said. “The cost of taking a pet on a trip is often more economical than paying for a pet sitter or boarding your pet over the duration of your trip.”
For the second week of AAA’s Summer Travel Survival Series, the auto club would like to offer the following tips featured in The AAA PetBook on traveling with a four-legged companion:
Before you go…
• Consult your veterinarian to ensure your pet has a clean bill of health and is current on vaccinations. Obtain documentation showing proof of this and ask about potential health risks at your destination and the necessary preventive measures.
• Research your destination to determine what types of documentation will be required and other restrictions well in advance. In addition, identify locations, such as dog parks, where dogs can play, exercise and socialize with other dogs at your destination.
• Reconfirm travel plans prior to departure, especially with lodgings and airlines; their policies may have changed after you made the reservations.
When traveling by car…
• Put safety first. Pets should be confined to the back seat, in a carrier or a harness attached to a seat belt. If your pet isn’t accustomed to this, begin to practice in the weeks leading up to your road trip. Also, refrain from allowing your dog to stick its head out of the window. This position puts animals at risk to be injured by road debris if the vehicle stops suddenly or a collision occurs.
• Train or re-train to view a ride in the car as a reward. If the only time your pet gets a ride in the car is for a trip to the vet, they may not have a positive association with riding in your vehicle. However, this can be quickly changed with short, regular trips to places that are fun for animals, such as a park or pet store.
• Prevent carsickness by limiting food or water while the vehicle is in motion. Rather, schedule breaks every four hours to give your pet water and let them answer nature’s call.
• Never leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on a pleasant day, temperatures inside a car can soar to more than 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. In addition, animals left unattended in parked cars can be stolen.
Air travel risks, precautions
• Investigate the airline’s animal transport and welfare policies. Airlines are subject to basic animal welfare regulations, but standards vary from one company to another. Also inquire about insurance, keeping in mind that an airline that won’t insure animals in its care may not be the right one for your pet.
• Decide where your pet will fly. Most animals fly in the hold as checked baggage or as cargo when unaccompanied. Small pets may be taken into the cabin as carry-on luggage if the pet is well-behaved and fits comfortably in a carrier that meets regulations.
• Plan ahead and budget accordingly. Airlines accept a limited number of animals per flight. As a result, reserve space for your pet when you arrange your own tickets, well in advance of your travel date. One-way travel fees for pets start around $100.
Heading into the Great Outdoors?
• Be sure your pet is permitted at campgrounds, parks, beaches, trails and anywhere else you will be visiting. Pets other than service animals usually are not allowed in public buildings.
• At parks and campgrounds, refrain from leaving your pet unattended, to mitigate the risk of a disagreeable encounters with other travelers or wildlife. In addition, crate your pet at night to protect him from the elements and predators.
• When hiking, stick to the trail and keep your pet on a short leash. It is easy for an unleashed pet to wander off and get lost or fall prey to a larger animal. Also, be aware of indigenous poisonous plants, or those that can cause physical injury.
Additional tips, tools and information on pet travel can be found in The AAA PetBook. Published annually, the comprehensive guide is designed to help animals and humans have a fun and hassle-free trip. The book is available for purchase at AAA branch offices, as well as online at Barnes and Noble.
Submitted by AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA.