When you were a youngster, family vacations were all about fun. Now that you’re in charge, you probably realize that “adulting” is harder than you thought, and those amazing trips you took as a kid required behind-the-scenes planning you never knew about.

These days, there’s an additional factor in planning the perfect vacation—pets. According to a recent survey:

  • 78% of respondents considered their pets part of their family
  • 34% of respondents said their pet was their “favorite child”
  • 67% of respondents thought of their pet as their best friend

Based on those results, it’s no surprise that for many people, the family vacation is not complete without their four-legged family members. Bringing pets along definitely changes the travel game plan, but the following tips will help.

Pet-travel regulations

The rules regarding travel with companion animals are maintained and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Detailed information regarding both interstate and international travel can be found on their website

The ultimate road trip with a pet

If your idea of the perfect vacation involves you, your family, and a road map, a road trip is right up your alley. Including furry family members in this type of vacation is easy, provided they enjoy car rides, but before you hit the open road, you should check off a few boxes to ensure your pet’s safety throughout the trip:

  • Print out and pack your pet’s medical records so you’ll have proof of vaccination and your pet’s medical history should a medical emergency arise away from home. 
  • Ensure that your pet’s collar has up-to-date tags.
  • Microchip your pet, or call the microchip company if she’s already microchipped and ensure your contact information is current. 
  • Pack a pet first-aid kit that includes gauze, veterinary wrap, plastic bags, hydrogen peroxide, styptic or cornstarch for small cuts or bleeding toenails, saline solution, antibacterial ointment, scissors, and tweezers. 
  • If your route is already planned, look up veterinary emergency clinics so you don’t need to spend precious minutes looking for a clinic for your pet should an emergency arise. 
  • Ensure your pet is safe inside the car. You’d never think of taking a road trip without buckling your seatbelt, and the same holds true for your pet. In an accident, an unsecured pet becomes a heavy projectile who can injure passengers, or be ejected from the vehicle through open windows or the windshield. Your pet should be buckled in with a seatbelt harness or riding in her secured travel crate. 

A different train of thought for pet travel

The train is an iconic mode of travel—the scenery is beautiful, the seats are large, and you’ll never encounter turbulence. If your travel plans involve riding the rails with your small pet, you’re in luck, because Amtrak now allows pets under 20 pounds to travel with their owners, with a few exceptions. Check out Amtrak’s pet policy here

A pet’s flight of fancy

Air travel is the way to go if you are going a long distance with limited travel time. Pets are welcome on most domestic and international flights, in the cabin and the cargo hold, although some restrictions will apply. Check with your airline for their regulations regarding travel with four-legged family members.

Moving on up with your pet

If you’re moving, your travel plans are a necessity rather than a luxury. Moving is stressful, and is often cited as one of life’s top 10 most stressful events. When you have to manage moving with pets, the stress factor increases. Follow the advice in the previous sections for travel by car, rail, and air, and triple-check that you have your pet’s medical records handy during your trip. 

Health certificates for pets

A photocopy of your pet’s medical record will not always suffice when you are traveling. If you’re crossing state lines, or visiting other countries, you may need a health certificate as proof of your pet’s health. We can issue health certificates for both regional and international travel for your pet, but you should first check the specific rules regarding her travel documents. 

If you’re traveling by air, you’ll likely need an original health certificate issued within 10 days of the flight. If you’re travelling internationally, regulations will depend on the laws of the country you are visiting or moving to. For instance, rabies-free countries will have specific rules regarding your pet’s entry into the country.

We do our best to stay up-to-date on travel requirements, despite the 195 countries in the world today. If travel or a household move are in your future, call us for help with the details. If you’re traveling or moving abroad, you may want to check into a service that takes care of all the pet details, such as the company Air Animal, which lets you tick moving your pet off your to-do list. For a fee, they will handle all the nitty gritty details, which is particularly helpful for international moves.

Whether you’re planning the perfect vacation with your pet, or trying to survive a relocation, we can help. As soon as travel with your pet appears on your radar, give us a call and schedule an appointment to discuss your travel needs. If the thought of managing a household move is enough to send you packing, consider using a moving facilitator, like Air Animal or Happy Tails Travel.