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“What’s the plan?”

So, you’re planning a trip and you’re not sure whether or not you should bring your pet with you. You love your fuzzy friend, but you’re a bit overwhelmed by what all is involved in driving or flying your pet to your destination. Should you take Mittens with you or leave him at home? If you’re going on a short trip to a faraway place, it’s probably best to leave your pet at home. And if you’re taking a more long-term trip, or even a moving to a new place permanently, you’ll likely want to take your pet with you. But what about a trip that falls somewhere in the middle? We’ve listed some of the pros and cons of each option below to help you decide what to do with your pet when you travel.

Bring Your Pet With You

The Skinny

According to a recent PetRelocation Pet Travel Survey, more than half of surveyed pet owners plan to travel with their pets this summer. People are increasingly taking their pets with them when they travel, and companies (hotels, airlines, etc.) are making it increasingly easier to do so. Traveling with a pet often involves making special travel arrangements, having equipment (such as a travel crate), and adhering to various regulations (such as those enforced by airlines, hotels, or national pet importation laws).

two dogs car window

“You know you wanna take us with you!”

Pros

  • Don’t have to worry about your pet being taken care of properly if he never leaves your side
  • For pets with separation anxiety, staying with their owner may prevent stress and/or destructive behaviors
  • Don’t have to worry about making boarding arrangements or roping a relative into watching your pet (apparently a common concern of traveling pet owners)
  • For young pets, exposure to various people and places is good socialization training, which contributes to better future behavior
  • The companionship of your pet, of course!

Cons

  • Can be quite expensive, especially if traveling by plane
  • Can be stressful for pets with travel-induced anxiety
  • Requires a lot of planning well in advance of the trip, especially if crossing borders is involved
  • Requires that your pet be crate-trained in order to travel safely and comfortably
  • Not all pets are capable of travel, especially very old, young, or sick pets

 

Leave Your Pet at Home

The Skinny

While traveling with pets is on the rise, many pet owners still find traveling with their pets to be too stressful and complicated, and opt to leave their pets at home. There are multiple options for leaving your pet at home, including: leaving him with a friend or relative, hiring a pet sitter (independently or through a pet sitter service), and boarding him (either at a pet boarding facility or the home of a qualified host). There are plenty of services out there for finding pet sitters or boarders, such as Rover and DogVacay. Check out tips for boarding your pet here.

two dachshunds dog bed

These dachshunds would rather stay home

Pros

  • Can significantly cut down on travel expenses, especially for shorter trips
  • Less planning in advance (there’s still planning required if you’re going to leave your pet in a boarding facility, but less than if you take your pet with you)
  • More comfortable for your pet to stay in one place, rather than getting in and out of a series of cars, planes, and hotels. Especially comfortable if your pet is staying at home with a sitter.
  • Pet is in a more controlled, stable environment. Especially beneficial for very old, young, or sick pets who cannot easily travel.

Cons

  • Pets (or humans!) with separation anxiety might find being apart very stressful
  • Long-term boarding can become very expensive, as opposed to the one-time cost of moving the pet
  • If boarding your pet somewhere other than home with anyone other than familiar faces, your pet will need to be properly socialized with other pets and people in advance in order to prevent anxiety or aggression
  • Lack of pet companionship, which can be especially rough on longer trips or permanent moves

 

What do you think? When do you travel with your pet and when do you leave him at home? Does your pet prefer one option over the other? Let us know in the comments below.

 
 

Pet Travel Debate: Road Trip or Flight?

Thursday, July 11, 2013 by

chocolate labs travel debate

Boys, let’s not fight.

There’s a lot of planning that goes into traveling with pets. Perhaps the first consideration to make (after deciding to take your pet with you) is how you will be traveling to your destination. Some trips necessitate a specific mode of travel—for example, if you will be traveling overseas you know that you will not be able to drive—but others, such as domestic trips within a country, can be taken by either plane or car.

Which mode of travel is right for you and your pet? We’ve made lists of pros and cons for each option to help you decide whether you will be flying or driving with your pet on your next trip.

 

Hit the Road

The Skinny:

Travel by car is the most popular mode of transportation in the United States. In fact, a recent survey by the US Department of Transportation shows that 9 out of 10 long-distance summer trips are taken in a car. Because of extensive highway systems in most developed nations, travel by car is an option even for trips that span thousands of miles. Depending on the pet owner and the size and preferences of the pet, pets who travel by car will ride in either the back (or front) seat of a car, or in a crate in the enclosed cargo area of a larger vehicle. Check out our tips on pet road travel if you decide a trip by car best meets your needs.

giant dog in car window

Dog in car via Wikimedia

Pros:

  • Often cheaper than flying with a pet, especially when traveling shorter distances
  • Gives you more control over your pet’s care and safety, as you remain with your pet through the entire journey
  • No baggage limits—you can bring everything your pet (and you!) will need for your trip without worrying about any weight or size limits
  • Less regulations—flying with a pet requires adherence to airline rules and standards, whereas driving is much less regulated
  • Can be less stressful for pets with separation anxiety

Cons:

  • Road trips often last much longer than plane rides, often several days if the distance being traveled is far
  • Requires planned stops, including booking overnight stays at pet-friendly hotels which might charge extra fees for bringing pets
  • You will need to respond to all of your pet’s needs on the road, including potty breaks, travel anxiety, and potential carsickness
  • Many pets only ever ride in cars for unpleasant reasons, such as traveling to the vet, and have built up negative associations with car rides which can lead to travel anxiety
  • If not properly restrained, pets can be a distraction or even a hazard in a moving vehicle

 

Book a Flight

The Skinny:

Travel by airplane is a popular mode of transportation for those traveling longer distances, especially trips over 1000 miles. While not all towns have their own airports, air travel can take you to most places you’d want to go. Due to size restrictions, the majority of pets traveling by plane will ride as cargo or excess baggage, with only the smallest of pets being allowed to ride in-cabin with their owners. Different airlines have different regulations regarding pet travel, and some are considered more pet-friendly than others. If you decide air travel is right for your needs, be sure to check out our air travel checklist.

cat on plane

Kitty, get down from there. That’s not how pets travel on planes.

Pros:

  • Much quicker than a road trip—even the longest international plane rides last less than a day, and most domestic flights last only a few hours. This means that time spent traveling is minimized, which can be good for pets with travel anxiety
  • Statistically, air travel is safer than riding in a car
  • More convenient—it’s much less work to be a passenger than it is to be a driver
  • Might be the only option, if traveling overseas
  • Pets are handled by trained professionals in a controlled environment—you may love your pet, but that doesn’t mean you are necessarily the most qualified pet transporter

Cons:

  • Often more expensive than traveling by car
  • Requires an airline-approved travel crate and a crate-trained pet
  • Lots of regulations and paperwork required (especially for international travel), so you will need to prepare in advance
  • Some pets (such as very young, very old, or sick pets) may not be capable of safely traveling by plane, and snub-nosed breeds are only able to fly during certain months of the year
  • Can be difficult for pets with separation anxiety or those who have not been crate-trained

 

What is your preferred method of traveling with your pet? Do you have any stories about driving or flying with your pet? Let us know in the comments below!