Travelling with your dog? Travel tales to get you on the right path

We had been on the road for 12 hours when we arrived in Sedona, Arizona, and had never even stopped to eat. A mistake in the itinerary had taken us far out of our way, and I was completely depleted when my companion and I stumbled into our motel room.

pet travel

Yet she issued no judgements as I sat on the floor, quietly crying from exhaustion while finally eating some pizza from a restaurant next door. She just waited patiently, staring at my food until I offered her one of my crusts.

That’s one of the great joys of travel with dogs. No matter what goes wrong, they’re just content you brought them along.

Fortunately, that’s getting easier. Travelling with pets is on the rise, and the marketplace is adjusting to make room, with a widening selection of pet-friendly lodging, restaurants and activities. Even bringing a dog on a plane is more common and less expensive than it once was, redefining what travel with dogs can look like.

What I’ll remember most about Sedona is spending time with Sophie. But travel with dogs is not as simple as putting them in the car and hitting the road. It takes preparation, planning, and flexibility but – when done correctly – it can lead to wonderful experiences you never could have anticipated.

Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best

Kyle Ferari-Muñoz, a 31-year-old student and political fundraiser, knows a lot about prepping for travel with dogs in mind: he and his husband travel several times a week with 3 of their pups.

‘We travel with the dogs about 90 percent of the time,’ Ferari-Muñoz says. Though Geppetto, Smoochella, Thurmond Goodbright and Ferari-Muñoz have a reliable routine going, a lot of that is due to preparation.

Knowing each airline’s dog policies is essential, as is picking a preferred airline (especially helpful when relying on customer service for support). Ferari-Muñoz also recommends looking up the location of the animal relief areas at the destination airport.

Of course, accidents happen, which is where preparation comes in handy again. Packing a small clean-up kit in your carry-on is the best way to quickly deal with unforeseen messes.

‘It’s important to realize that travel can be stressful – even to pets like mine, who travel with me very frequently – and for every pet owner to know what is right or wrong for their pet,’ Ferari-Muñoz says.

Learning your dog’s likes, dislikes, limits and tolerances before setting out on an adventure will ensure everyone has a good time. Anticipate your dog’s potential sources of stress or calamity and head them off before they occur.

Planning makes perfect

For Ashley Halligan, founder of Pilgrim Magazine, road trips with a canine companion are all about planning as well. ‘I try to route my journey to include as many stops as possible at dog-friendly parks – be it local, state, or national parks,’ she says.

She also advises keeping the car equipped: she stocks treats in her door panel, keeps pillows in the front and back seats, and always has extra water – a must-have for anyone travelling with a dog. Halligan values flexibility. Rather than picking every hotel prior to the trip, she looks up ‘dog-friendly accommodations within a particular area where I’d like to spend more time.’ As an added resource, AAA publishes a thorough book of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

Many hotels also charge nightly pet fees and may not carry be capable of replacing anything dog-related you may have left at home. Planning ahead, even when you’re already travelling, can minimize these pitfalls.

‘One of the major things to consider when travelling with a dog is finding a setting that works for you and for them,’ advises the team from Getaway, a cabin retreat company specializing in dog-friendly accommodations. ‘A dog might not like being at the top floor of a high rise with no outdoor space, even though it feels like a great destination to you.’

Roll with the punches

Halligan has been travelling with her dog, Jack Cousteau, since 2015 and has struck a good balance between spontaneous travel and the ability to care for Jack’s needs. The confluence of the two has resulted in adventure.

‘Having a dog by my side has given me the courage to detour to places that I maybe wouldn’t detour to otherwise,’ she says.

‘From tucked-away places in the Siskiyou National Forest to remote sections of the Yuba River,’ Jack’s presence has taken Halligan places she never would have considered if she had been dog-free.

Ultimately, travel with dogs, like dog ownership in general, requires a certain level of flexibility. When things don’t go according to plan, you may need to make decisions that prioritize your pet’s happiness rather than your own. This could mean stopping more frequently during a road trip, booking a second seat on a plane, or eating somewhere that wouldn’t normally appeal to you just because it’s the only spot in town with outdoor seating.

That trip to Sedona might have been a struggle. But I don’t regret getting to explore a remarkable place with a travel companion who had no qualms with our messed-up itinerary. Planning a vacation around a pet may bring its own set of challenges, but they’re nothing compared to the love a dog can provide on the road.

How I bring my dog with me while travelling the world and working remotely

When I pictured my future, as much as I’d have liked it to include remote Portuguese Islands, a puppy, a surfboard, and a laptop, I’d probably never have come up with that. It looked more like business suits and handshakes… I’m really glad it went in the direction of the puppy and the laptop instead.

How I got my start with remote work

I didn’t start working remotely by choice. This, to me, was a concept I never knew about until one day it happened. I was fresh off an incredible snowboard season in the French Alps (if my family is reading I meant to say finishing my Masters in France), and working at a big firm which, like for most of my classmates, didn’t feel as inspiring as I initially thought. Thinking through things further, I felt a startup position would teach me a lot more.

I had my first startup opportunity in London, England working for PayWithTab out of Google Seedcamp. This was also my first experience working remotely. Independent coffee shops were our clients, which meant that owners were more than happy to have me work from their cafes while we tried getting our idea off the ground.

This allowed me to be super productive, as I was able to lend a hand in-person if our software wasn’t running well. I also kept a good coffee buzz going all day/ every day which had me working and biking from cafe-to-cafe in warp speeds!

I’ve now been working remotely for a total of 3 years, with my last year and a half being at Buffer. It has allowed me to engineer my life in a way that makes me happiest. Whether that is working from coffee shops, working from home while I raise a puppy, or from co-work spaces to meet new people in different cities!

Adding a dog to the mix

I never had a dog of my own before working remotely. I always thought it’d be too tough to take on with a full-time job, especially the puppy stage. Landing a remote job at Buffer definitely spurred my decision to pull the trigger! I remember Danny, my role buddy during my first 60 days, asking me a question during our interview process. It was: “If you started working at Buffer, what would be one of the first things you’d do?”

I didn’t think twice as I blurted out: “Dog… I want Dog.”

Not only are dogs absolute lords, they’ll steer you towards a healthier lifestyle. Physically, they force you to exercise and spend a ton of time in fresh air. Dogs are also good for the heart and naturally get you to socialize more. People love dogs, it’s science.

I’ve always wanted to nomad while working remotely. Introducing a dog into the mix definitely raised some doubts about that ever happening. How would I fly with him? How on earth do you get all the paperwork together to enter another country with a dog? Are there vaccinations?

My guide to travelling with a dog

Nomading with a dog can be done without losing your mind or your dog. If you’re planning on doing it, I’d love to share some pieces of advice that might help!

Crate train your new best friend

People dread the idea of bringing their dog on a plane. If they’re too big, which was the case for Eca, they’ll have to fly in the undercarriage.

But, wait… this is not as bad as it sounds.

The plane’s undercarriage (where animals are stored) is set to the same air pressure and temperature as the cabin where we fly. If you want to compare these conditions to ours in the cabin, dogs get way more leg room as well. Eca’s crate was the equivalent of a king-sized bed.

Crate training them from day one will make this inevitable obstacle painless. I used Cesar Milan’s method and it worked like a charm. Eca was totally relaxed when we arrived at our destination.

Get your timing right with vaccinations and paperwork

This step in getting your dog ready to travel is where I almost blew it. Let’s make sure you don’t do the same.

Firstly, you’re going to want to review the customs laws of the country you’re travelling to. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-stop resource for this, as each country has their own. This step is super important! There are microchips, shots, and forms involved. Some countries won’t allow dogs from certain other countries to enter at all, and others will have a mandatory quarantine. Each country will require you fill out a pet passport for your dog. It sounds cute, but it’s no joke.

Personally, I botched the paperwork and only had it signed by my vet. Upon landing in Azores, customs let me know that the paperwork also had to be signed by another Canadian regulatory body and that what I had wasn’t useful.

They let me know that my dog could be quarantined for 14 days… Luckily Eca was begging for a belly rub as customs debated this. They settled on getting him another rabies shot at the local vet and merrily on my way I went…

…after customs gave Eca a belly rub of course.

Notifying your airline

So, your best friend has all their shots and paperwork ready, and their crate has been solidified as their second home. It’s time to get in touch with your airline to notify them that you’ll be travelling with a dog.

Warning: Don’t skip this! It’ll ensure things go smoothly once your trip comes around. While an airline will transport animals for one flight, that same airline might not for a different – let’s say international-route.

Make sure you are given written confirmation or something official that states that the airline has been notified you’ll be travelling with your dog. I didn’t and I was put on a later flight, prolonging my trip unnecessarily. Luckily Eca’s crate was filled with his favourite things on Earth. More on that coming up!

The trip

You did it. You’re at that glorious moment where you realize this might actually work. Your dog loves their crate, and the vaccinations and paperwork are organized. Now the trip itself is the next challenge. Here are some tips to make it a smooth one!

Fill your dog’s crate with some of your dirty laundry. I know, don’t judge me. But your dog will identify your smell and it will have a calming effect, I promise. Before you fly, make sure to take your dog out for a super rigorous session of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog, and you’ll want your dog on the brink of collapse for this. In fact, I’ve often been asked if I gave my dog any pills for the flight. In my opinion, sedatives aren’t the best option. Instead, working diligently to properly crate train your animal so they’re nice and calm in the crate (surrounded by your dirty socks), can really pay off.

Accommodation

Make sure your Airbnb or hotel is pet-friendly. I forgot to tell my friends about bringing Eca on this surf trip. Luckily, we snuck him into the hostel, although I was caught by the front desk taking him out late at night. It wasn’t my best moment, but to my surprise, they didn’t send me packing; the fact that it was 1 am worked in my favour! Plus, Eca was asking for another belly rub. As they faced the wall and called their managers, I slipped away to my room and set up shop with Eca on the balcony. I don’t recommend this as a way to go about things, please learn from my mistake on this one!

Going forward

So, despite a few minor hiccups (as expected when it’s your first rodeo a.k.a. first trip with your dog), bringing Eca was totally worth the effort. It went so well, I decided to continue the trip to Lisbon, Portugal and explore the coastline for a few months. In case you’d like to follow along with this adventure, our next stop will be the Canadian Rockies!

(Article source: Various) 

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