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Pet Travel Minus the Stress

Take your beloved pet along on your next trip? Here are some things to make it a good trip for everyone involved.

a dog and cat sitting on top of a suitcase, image
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Photo: Emolaev Alexander/Shutterstock
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Taking Fido and Fifi on a trip can be fun for all if you plan ahead.

When you travel with pets, you shouldn’t think of them as four-legged luggage. You need to consider pet-friendly lodging, transportation logistics, and proper etiquette when you add another species to your passenger list. Here are tips to keep everyone happy.

Pick a perfect place

The latest edition of Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook lists more than 14,000 hotels and campgrounds that allow animals. But it pays to know just how friendly your pet-friendly spot will be. Some hotels allow only small animals; most charge nonrefundable pet fees, require additional damage deposits, and won’t allow you to leave an animal unattended in your room, even if your pet is in a crate. Check these details before you book.

Keep animals safe

Pets in cars should always be confined to the backseat and secured in a carrier, crate, or harness attached to the seatbelt. It’s safer for them, for you, and for everyone on the road. It also prevents a travel-spooked pet from bolting as soon as a car door opens. Never let your dog stick its head out the window of a moving car. As enjoyable as that may seem, flying objects can cause serious injuries. Check your hotel room for hazards, such as exposed electrical cords and chemically treated toilet water.

Practice good “petiquette”

Even the most pet-friendly hotels have areas that are off-limits to animals. Don’t allow pets on furniture, and clean up after them immediately, checking with management on how best to dispose of pet waste.

Bring your papers

When traveling with an animal across state lines, it’s always a good idea to bring along a copy of your pet’s current vaccination and license documents. International borders are another matter—be sure to check requirements in advance if you’re driving into Canada or Mexico. If you’re flying, be aware that Hawaii and many foreign countries have animal quarantine periods that make vacationing with your pet impractical.

Practice, practice, practice

If you’re going on a long car journey, acclimate your pet by taking shorter trips first. Plan these trial runs far enough in advance to make other arrangements if things don’t go smoothly.

Be realistic

Some pets simply aren’t meant for travel. If they’re anxious, ill, elderly, or excessively vocal, leaving them with a pet sitter or a good kennel may be a kinder option.

Pick up the new edition of The AAA PetBook (member price $14.50) at AAA branches. Find one near you at AAA.com/locations.

This article was first published in November 2015. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.