If you’ve ever tired to go on a vacation with a pet unprepared, you know how hit and miss everything can be. Whether you are driving, flying, cruising, or biking there are different rules and regulations based on where you begin, where you plan to go, and where you end. For basic travel tips, see here. For pet only traveling advice, keep reading.
My own experience in traveling with a pet involves a small MadDogge… When we got MadDogge we were told Hilton Head was a great place for dogs. Everyone said Hilton Head allowed dogs everywhere. So off we went with only an AirBnB for planning. Turns out, they weren’t exactly right. You couldn’t bring a puppy anywhere on that island except for the beach after 6 pm. There were a few overpriced eateries that allowed pets, a dog park, and a lot of nothing. While it ended up being a fun trip, it was not the trip we had in mind. Since then, we have learned how to do our research.
Rule #1: Know your laws
The most important part of doing research is knowing the laws. For example, Atlanta doesn’t allow pets into festivals; however, many festivals won’t say that until you show up with a dog. There are many rules like this that change from city to city and country to country. In some places a therapy dog is good enough, in some places it needs to be a service dog.
If you plan on traveling to a new country, you need to know even more. Some countries don’t allow bully breeds (to live there), while others require pets to have many different shots to even get off the plane. Before you go to a new country you should do your research via google, contacting the local embassy, and going to your vet. Make sure you are ready for everything by keeping all important documents for your pet with your own.
City laws. Country laws. What about travel laws?
Traveling can be it’s own ordeal. Are you flying, biking, driving, or walking? Maybe you are taking a bus, train, tube, or taxi. Each of these has rules for what can and can’t be done and where the pets have to stay. Take flying for example, when you fly you must pay for your pet to fly and keep them in a kennel the entire time. (This assumes that it is a pet and not registered for anything, check laws if it’s registered) These rules can also change per the company that you fly with.
Getting into taking trains and tubes can be even more complicated. In some cities, animals might be okay, while in others, they are banned. In New York, you can bring your pet if you can carry it. In Atlanta, you can’t have pets unless they are service animals. As for all other modes of transportation, the same rules apply. Check local laws, check state laws, check country laws, and even check company laws for whichever companies you plan on using.
Sleeping in the Barn
After you arrive at your destination, you may think the hardest part is over. Depending on where you are, that may be right; however, in some places the work is just beginning. You need to know how to get to the place you are sleeping, if they allow pets, what their rules are, and if pets can be left alone while you go out. You will have the option of camping, a hotel, a hostel, Couch Crashing, Airbnb, or even real BnBs.
How do you find information out at these places? If you book online, you need to look at their policies first. If you can’t find anything, call them. If you book through a travel agent, trust them. Assuming you got a good one, they know way more about the laws than I do. There aren’t many other things that you can do. Airbnb is usually pretty specific as to if animals are allowed or not and most hotels can tell you quickly if its not on their website.
When looking at campsites, the usual answer is yes and I have found that if pets are not allowed they are pretty clear on the subject. If you want to make extra sure, just ask over the phone like the other places. When it comes to Couch Crashers, it’s a free service I talk about in the vacationing tips post. Some will let you while others won’t. It’s by the people so every couch is different.
Deal: Do you want $40 off your first $75 purchase on Airbnb? Click here!
Sometimes, however, there are stipulations (breed, size, intact or not, and even gender). This can come from the animals already there or just the establishment owners preference. It’s best not to “flex these rules” as you never know how serious they are. If you get there and they kick you out, you could run into a real housing problem.
If you have a traveling cat like we do, or maybe even a bird or a gerbil, things can get complicated really quick. Not all places specify if all pets or just dogs are allowed. Some places will let anything with a heart beat in and others accept dogs and cats only. If you are traveling with a “unorthodox pet” you should definitely call first to make sure it’s okay. As with all other laws (at least in the US) if you have a registered service animal (like a seeing eye pony, yea those are real) then they can’t say no.
You’re on vacation, you’ve unpacked at your hotel. Snickers has eaten and relieved himself. Now what? You need places to go with your beloved pet. Time for even more research. If you want jump start in making this easy, go somewhere where you can explore the great outdoors. There will always be places to go shopping and you can leave Suzi at home for a hour or two to do those things. It’s going to be hard to find pet friendly vacations things to do when you’re in the middle of a city, so if you plan on bringing your pet, think about those things at the very beginning.
If you are looking for some places, being with a simple google search. Like “vacationing to Ireland with a dog” or “traveling to St. Louis with a dog.” If you want to be even more specific try the name of a place like “what to do around The Grand Canyon with a dog” to being your pet vacation search.
A Note on Gear
If you plan on hiking with your pet, make sure that you have water for both you and your pet. Make sure that if you bring a treat for yourself, that they have a treat too. For help on what to pack on a hike, read this, my adventure at Alum Cave Trail & Hiking Tips.
You’re hungry, so is Georgie so where do you go to eat? Will he be allowed in, or even on the deck? These questions are best answered with a phone call. As a rule of thumb, you can expect your local places to be more accommodating than chain places. You don’t necessarily need to do any research ahead of time, but a few phone calls an hour before you think you’ll want to eat might be a good idea. If push comes to shove, you can put your pet up for the hour that it takes you to eat, assuming you can go back to the hotel and they are okay with unsupervised pets.
Some people, myself included, find kennels useful while traveling with a pet. This is especially true if you plan on taking a longer trip and would like even a little bit of them time to just relax. The basic premise here is that you find a kennel close to your hotel and kennel your pet for a few days. Rover is great for this, if you are in the US (I don’t know how popular Rover is elsewhere).
Say you plan on taking a two month trip to New Zealand and jut have to bring Zuzu. You might want to spend a week out of the trip in a big city exploring. During this time, kennel Zuzu somewhere close to your hotel or hostel. Now only will you be able to find a cheaper hostel, but you will be able to explore the city without worrying!
Deal: If you are new to Rover and want $20, click here!