Whether it's camping in the wilderness, road-tripping coast to coast or jetting off to some tropical destination, a summer vacation is a pretty standard tradition for most families. In the past, heading out on a week-long family vacation meant having to leave the four-legged members of your family at home. But now with more and more hotels and airlines becoming pet-friendly, it's possible to travel with your entire family- even the furry members of it!
WF spoke with Animal Planet host and Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner about what you should expect and what you should plan for when traveling with your pets.
First off, understand that traveling with your pets is a commitment. You'll need to make sure you pack their own suitcase full of toys, food and medication, as well as scope out local parks near your hotel for walks. If you're planning on a relaxing vacation, you may want to find a pet babysitter.
"It's going to be a more active vacation," says Schachner. "If you're there strictly to relax, it's like saying like i'm traveling with kids. Am I really there to relax? Like no, you're not going to strictly relax."
Once you've determined you're quite alright with spending a day outside hiking on a new trail versus being pampered inside of a spa, your next step is to research, research, research. If you're flying to your destination, make sure your airline can accommodate your pet.
"The key is to call up your airline," says Schachner. "Find out about the specific airplane that is assigned to you route. What is the size of the airplane? You're gonna want to know the dimensions of the seat in front of you, because that is where you dog or cat is going to have to be stowed...remember not every airline is going to be the same...so call ahead of time make sure that your pet will be comfortable . See what the process is going to be like at the airport, if you do that, the process will be a whole lot less stressful."
In between reading the Yelp reviews for restaurants around your hotel, and checking out travel blogs for the best activities to hit up, you should also make sure to scope out some local parks.
"Know the immediate area around you," says Schachner. "Find out if there's a close enough dog park, a public park, some good walking trails or even wide sidewalks. [These are] things that you may not be thinking of ahead of time...and that kind of stuff can go a long way with helping you out."
Knowing what to pack for your pet can also make your trip a lot more pleasant. Of course you'll need to bring food bowls, leashes and litter, but there's plenty of little things you may miss, especially if it's your first time traveling with a pet.
"Make sure that your pet is properly ID'ed," says Schachner. " Whatever collar they have on them, we want their name, your name, also a contact emergency number in case you do get separated...have up-to-date vaccinations and medical records...toys from home that they're comfortable with, their favorite toys their favorite treats...if they're on any medications make sure that you have an extra batch of it on the side, so you can not have to scramble to the vet in case you run out."
It may seem like it takes a lot to take your pet along on your next trip, but Schachner urges people to think about what they're gaining- and what they're saving.
"Pets are just members of our family now," says Schachner " If you think of the cost of taking your dog with you versus the cost of boarding them at home it's actually cheaper to travel with them. If you got the time, and you can do the research ahead of time, it's gonna be great, I highly recommend it."