Is it possible to be a pet owner and still get to travel long term? Yes and no – because it depends on your way of traveling and your budget.
No, you can’t go for a backpacking trip with a dog (obviously), but you can do other kinds of trips with your pet. After all, why should you get to see the world, but your best friend has to stay home with a sitter? If you’re looking to hit the road with your furry friend beyond a weekend getaway, you need to be prepared.
Before you even start to follow these tips you may consider how to register an emotional support animal that will give your best friend more respect and visibility in busy areas. Proper paperwork and an obvious vest will save you from needing to convince others how necessary your dog is.
So let’s jump right into it and get you on a vacation with the whole family this time.
1) Crossing Borders? Get Ready!
Every country has unique rules and regulations for allowing pets in. For example, the European Union requires all dogs to be micro-chipped and almost all countries require proof of a recent rabies shot.
Actually, if you live in EU, then traveling to other EU countries with a dog is much easier than traveling to other continents. Here’s a simple checklist for those who travel with their pets within the EU. Just to summarize, here’s what you will usually need:
- A valid pet passport, and / or an animal health certificate,
- Having microchipped,
- Proof of your dog being vaccinated against rabies,
- Proof of treatment against the tapeworm if the destination is free from tapeworm.
If you enter a new country, be sure to declare your animal at the border. It can be easy to forget if you have a small dog asleep in a carrier, but a hefty fine will come after you if you accidentally sneak your dog into a foreign country.
2) Are You Flying? Think Twice
Flying with a dog can be a very stressful experience for both you and your pooch. I would tell you to avoid it and look for other options if you can. If you can’t, then opt for the shortest journey possible.
If your buddy is too big to fit underneath the seat in front of you, you will be required to put your dog in the cargo area with the luggage.
Airlines refer to this as “shipping an animal” and it is by no means a pleasant experience. Dark, crowded, loud, and lonely, some dogs will really suffer after extended hours in this environment. Some vets will recommend an approved sedative to make the journey calmer or even sleep through it.
If you plan on taking your pup on an airplane, always check with your vet and your airline, so there are no surprises when you show up at the airport.
3) Instead Go on a Road Trip
The best way to travel with a dog is by road. We have a detailed post about traveling on a van in Europe, be sure to check it out.
A classic trip across the open road can be a dog’s dream vacation — if you plan it right.
Give your pooch an area they can call their own. You wouldn’t make your kids crowd in if there were not enough seats, so give your dog enough space to be comfortable.
Plenty of room to take a nap, look out the window, and relax will make the trip much easier and smoother for everyone involved. Always keep a small bowl of water in the back though, your dog shouldn’t have to wait to have a drink.
4) Get A Good Road Trip Routine Down Before You Go
Spend a few weeks or months before you set out getting your pup used to all the aspects of a road trip. Drive around the neighborhood and practice everything you’ll be doing when it’s go-time.
That means practicing timed bathroom breaks when humans are ready, and meal times only when stopped.
5) Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
Leaving your pet (or just anyone) in a locked car can be fatal, especially in summer months. I remember seeing something on Oprah Winfrey Show about a baby dying in the car because the father forgot to take him out when he went to work.
You may think that you will return in just 2-3 minutes back to your car but if you spend an extra few minutes than the situation can turn into a nightmare..
Believe it or not, it takes just seven minutes for the heat in your locked car to turn deadly. This happens because of the greenhouse effect inside a locked car.
6) Consider Train Travel
Pets are allowed on trains in most of the countries. There are some train operators such as Eurostar that don’t allow pets but there are always other options.
Keep in mind that if you have a large sized dog then some train operators may not allow them on the board. In some countries like Spain, there is a weight restriction of 10 kgs for pets.
Most of the train companies let small dogs travel for free and charge a child fare for large dogs. Cute – because sometimes dogs are like children.
As a dog owner, you should always clean up after your pet. If you’re traveling on a train then start small and do a shorter journey instead to begin with. Carry a pet carrier because that’s mandatory on some trains if you’re traveling with your dog.
7) Feed Less or Skip a Meal on the Day of Travel
Sounds harsh? But this was recommended by many veterinary doctors.
Dogs get anxious and it results into stress diarrhea. Even if they don’t appear stressed, but just motion sickness can cause an upset stomach.
Feed them less food or skip an entire meal on the day you have to take them on the train or car or even an airplane. Don’t keep them hungry throughout the day but skip just the last meal that you would normally give them just before the journey.
8) Keep the Well Hydrated & Give them Enough Toilet Breaks
If you’re traveling by road, then try to find a way to attach the dog’s water-bowl to their crate. Dogs can get dehydrated very quickly on journeys.
Give them enough toilet breaks if you’re traveling on car. If you’re on a train then arrive early at the station so that they have enough time.
9) Carry a toy to keep them occupied & Pack their Familiar Things
Even gave your dog one of those toys with a treat inside that he has to work hard for? Find one and carry it for your dog to keep him occupied. Don’t overdo things by carrying too many toys. Carry just one or two toys and let them be the good ones.
Pack your dogs favorite blanket, bowl and bed with you to keep them calm. When things are familiar, then it will help them with their anxiety.
10) Be Ready For Bursts Of Play
10 hours on the road is tough for humans, but an energetic dog will start to go crazy without letting off some steam. Invest in a chuck-it, Frisbee, or even a reliable ball that you quickly play with at rest stops. Your dog deserves just as much exercise as they would get during a day at home.
Plus, you don’t want to be ready for bed when your dog is eager to go on a run. A successful day on the road ends when everyone (human and animal alike) is exhausted and quickly falls asleep before doing it all over again.
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