A Guide to Traveling With Pets

August 12, 2019 · 8 minute read

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A Guide to Traveling With Pets

If the thought of hopping in a car for an epic road trip to has you excited, we’re right there with you. But, if you have a furry friend at home, the thought of leaving them behind may tug at your heartstrings.

For some, traveling is especially rewarding with someone to share in the adventure. So why not bring your four-legged friends along too?

Traveling with a pet is becoming more and more popular. According to the 2017–2018 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), some 85 million American families own at least one pet. Of those owners, about 37% travel with their furry companion every year.

But adding a pet to the mix can make for more complicated logistics. There’s the mode of transportation and finding a pet friendly hotel to consider.

Traveling with a pet may require a bit more planning before you jet off on your adventure. Here are a few ideas on how to travel with pets so you can avoid leaving your furry best friend behind.

Finding a Pet-Friendly Destination

If you want to travel with your beloved animal, you might first want to find a place willing to accept them. For most Americans, that means traveling domestically.

Traveling internationally can be a pain with a pooch (or other animal, for that matter). That’s because the laws of entry vary from country to country and can include lengthy stays in quarantine for your animal.

You may find that traveling domestically comes with fewer restrictions. Within the United States, you might want to check that your hotel or rental accommodation allows pets, or if there are any extra fees or rules surrounding animals on the premises.

Thinking About Your Travel Method

Once you figure out where you’re going, it might be time to think about your mode of transportation. According to the Humane Society , it’s often a better choice to drive to your destination with your pet than fly. And you might want to think carefully before traveling with a cat—as the Humane Society said on its website, “Cats are almost always better off in their own home.”

If you decide to take a dog or cat along for your road trip, you might want to ensure your little buddy’s safety. According to the Humane Society, animals should be safe and secure in a carrier or crate in the back seat. While this could help keep your pet safe, it might also help you, the driver, stay focused on the road.

But what if you don’t want to take your own vehicle? Some rental car companies allow you to take your pet along with you, but you might want to call ahead to find out if there are any restrictions.

Before hitting the open road, it might be a good idea to plan out where you can stop to water and feed your pet and let them relieve themselves. But when you get out of the car, you might want to make sure your animal does too. Leaving pets alone in a vehicle can be dangerous, especially on warm days.

And if you’re thinking about cruising with your pet, be warned: It’s fairly difficult to find a cruise that is pet friendly. Some cruises allow service animals, but rules vary by company .

There is only one transatlantic cruise that currently allows passengers to bring their pets—Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 —and it only allows pets on a select few itineraries. Even then, all pets are housed in kennels, but owners are allowed to visit during specific hours.

If you absolutely must fly, the Humane Society suggests you weigh the risk vs. the benefits. The organization noted it can be particularly dangerous for animals with “pushed-in” faces. like bulldogs and Persian cats. That’s because their short nasal passages make them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation.

Ensuring the Airline Accepts Your Pet

If you decide to take your animal with you on a plane, first ask the airline if it accepts animals in the cabin. Policies vary by airline , but many allow cats and dogs in the cabin that are under certain weight limits and can be kept in a carrier throughout the journey.

Some airlines only allow pets in the cargo hold, while others, like Southwest and Jet Blue , only allow crated pets of a certain size in the cabin, and no pets at all in the cargo hold. In addition, some airlines may require animals to fly with a certificate from a veterinarian stating that the animal is in good health.

When flying with a pet, the Humane Society recommends flying direct routes, making sure your pet has an I.D. tag, and giving your pet only medications or tranquilizers prescribed by a veterinarian. It could be helpful to talk to your veterinarian to see what they recommend before flying.

And finally, you might double check that the airline you’re flying with allows your animal’s breed onboard. For example, you cannot fly with a “pit bull type dog” on Delta Airlines , even if it’s a service animal.

Making Sure Your Pet Can Come Along

Like we said earlier, road tripping with your pal might be easier because you don’t need approval to take them in your own car. However, you might need to check if your hotels along the route not only allow pets, but whether they allow animals to stay in the room alone, among other restrictions.

Next, you could think about what you plan to do along the way. For example, pets are only allowed in certain areas of most national parks , such as in campgrounds and developed areas. They may be restricted from certain trails, so you might want to check the rules before you go.

And driving across the border with your pet may not be the easiest thing either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , animals can cross over the border and return with their owners, but they must have valid documentation from a veterinarian.

And U.S. border agents reserve the right to refuse entry to animals that appear ill. So if your pet gets sick in Canada or Mexico, you might have a difficult time getting them back home.

Packing the Right Things

Sure, you may know what you need to pack for a vacation, but do you know what your little friend needs too? For your trip, you might want to pack enough food for each day, along with a spare meal or two just in case you’re delayed. If you’re going on a long car journey, you might make room for a spare gallon of water for your pal too.

Like you, pets need to have a good time, so you might want to bring along their favorite toys to not only keep them stimulated but to also help them feel more like they are at home. A few things that you could consider packing—their favorite blanket, a few treats, and any medications your animal may need.

Factoring in the Extra Costs

Once you have a destination and travel plan in place, it might be time to consider how to pay for it all. Owning a pet comes with its own expenses, and so does traveling with one. While planning your pet-included adventure, you may pad the budget a little bit more than if you were traveling solo and consider looking into vacation loans.

Like the additional fees for air travel, you might run into additional fees if you travel by train, as well. For $26, Amtrak allows pets up to 20 pounds to travel with their humans on some trips for up to seven hours.

Once you arrive at your destination, you might have to pay a bit more for your pet too. Though many hotels now allow pets, they may require a fee. Policies vary from hotel to hotel. Even home shares may require pet deposits or ask that renters pay an additional fee, so you might check in with the owner before making any reservation.

If You Can’t Bring Your Pet Along

If you find it’s too unreasonable, or too pricey, to bring your pet with you on your trip, don’t despair. There are plenty of other options for how to take care of your pet while you’re away. First, you could go to a trusted family member or friend to ask if they are willing to watch your pet.

If your typical go-tos aren’t available, you could check out dog-sitting services in your area. One option,
, connects pet owners to pet sitters in their area. Owners can filter would-be sitters by experience levels, price, and even whether they are willing to sleep over at your house with your pet.

You might also consider boarding your pet at a kennel. Many offer amenities like doggy day care and spa packages for your furry friend. Some even offer the comforts of home, like queen-size beds and televisions.

Taking SoFi Checking and Savings With You

Bringing your best furry friend with you should be fun, not stressful. You could help limit financial stress on the road with a reliable checking and savings account, like SoFi Checking and Savings®️, that you can take anywhere. With SoFi Checking and Savings, users can save, spend, and earn all in one place.

You could use the card to pay for all the expenses along the way, including your roadside snacks and your pup’s favorite treats, and cover those pesky airline fees for your cat. You have access to your money around the world (at 55,000+ ATMs), without any ATM fees.

Looking to hit the road with your pet pal? Learn more about how SoFi Checking and Savings®️ could help simplify your spending on the road.

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