One of my favorite holiday traditions has always been “going home for the holidays”. When I was younger it meant that we would drive from Florida and later Virginia to visit my grandparents in Missouri. In college, it meant coming back to see my parents in Virginia from upstate New York. Now that we have moved across the country to Colorado, it means visiting both my parents in Virginia and my boyfriend’s family in California. And, of course it means bringing the dogs along for the ride whenever possible.
When I first started traveling with Luna, I learned that it took a little more effort than just throwing everything in the car and going like I used to do pre-dog. I also started to wonder about her safety and what steps I could take to ensure she wouldn’t be harmed or at risk for getting lost. When you have a hungry beagle who has been stuck in the car all day, it takes a little bit of effort to keep her from jumping out as soon as a car door opens if she is not restrained! And, then this year I learned about the adventures of flying in cabin with pets for the very first time.
This post is sponsored by Sleepypod. I am being compensated to help share information about Sleepypod, but Beagles & Bargains only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers.
I personally hope that every pet parent has the opportunity to travel with their pets at some point if not regularly. I know that it’s not always in the cards for everyone because of time, distance, money, or some other obstacle. But when it is time for pet friendly travel, I hope you do it safely and so that everyone can enjoy the adventure.
Though traveling is generally fun, it can also be stressful and time consuming. With the holidays near in sight, that only multiplies! To help guarantee your holiday travel is a success, I’ve shared my top tips for traveling with pets by car and by air below. I hope you find at least one helpful.
Do you have a helpful travel tip for pet parents? Leave it in the comments below!
Road Trip Tips for Pet Parents
Practice Makes Perfect
Before you go on a long road trip with your dog, go on a few practice runs. Try driving to a park a little further away or just drive around town for a bit. This will give you insight into how your dog does in the car and if you have to make any adjustments for your longer upcoming trip.
When we first started traveling with Luna, she would often throw up in the car. For us a seat cover is a must! We also learned that restraining her actually helped because she wouldn’t be able to pace back and forth as much. Not feeding her right before we left also helped lessen the chance of barf happening.
Get a Crash-Tested Car Harness
My number one goal all the time is to keep my pets happy and safe. Sometimes safe wins out a little over happy, but a dog mom has to do what a dog mom has to do! I ensure my dogs are both safe in the car by keeping them restrained, so they can’t jump all around or out as soon as a door open.
I elect to use the Sleepypod Clickit Sport car harness because it is crash tested and easy to use. You just put it on your dog with two buckles. Then pull the seat belt through the two loops on the back and buckle them into place! Plus, Ralph & Luna look pretty darn adorable with their bright colored harnesses!
Have Plenty of Water Accessible
If you are driving for hours at a time, it is important to have a way for your pets to drink some water if they need it. So many pet parents forget this while on road trips and only offer a drink during pit stops and at the final destination. Often, this is okay but keeping your pet hydrated is so important that it’s not worth the risk.
I highly recommend investing in a spill proof water bowl that you can use in your car. When I travel with Ralph & Luna, I set our Yummy Travel Bowl from Sleepypod on the back seat so they have access to it. When I have a full car and am traveling with another person, I may keep it closed but frequently offer the pups a chance to wet their whistle if they need it.
For super long trips, I also like to freeze the entire bowl. The ice melts over time, but allows Ralph & Luna to enjoy fresh, cool water every time. You can also make fun refreshing recipes in these travel bowls like our Watermelon Cucumber Mint Frozen Refresher for Dogs!
Keep Treats Close
Just like humans, dogs can get super bored while stuck in the car for hours at a time. Try to plan frequent breaks to give everyone the chance to stretch their legs, but in the mean time you or your passenger (if you are driving) can distract your pups with small training treats. Make sure they are small enough that they won’t cause extra bathroom breaks, but tasty enough they keep your dog’s attention.
Ralph & Luna say it’s not a pet friendly road trip without tasty treats along the way!
Follow Leash Laws
Really you should always keep your dog leashed in an unknown place, especially when it’s near a major highway or lots of car traffic. Even extremely well-trained dogs can get spooked and accidents can happen. Resist the urge to let your dog jump out of the car in a busy parking lot even if it’s just to stretch their legs and take a bathroom break. Rest stops are often also busy with other people and their pets who you know nothing about. Stay safe and keep them leashed.
Always Have the Camera Ready
Road trips are exciting adventures. You never know what you might see along the way. Keep your camera handy because you’ll want to remember this experience with your pet, even if they seem like they are a pain in your butt while you’re doing it.
For more road trip tips, visit our post on Tips for Planning a Successful Pet Friendly Road Trip.
Air Travel Tips for Pet Parents
Pick a Trusted Carrier
Not all planes are equal, so make sure you read the requirements of an airplane pet carrier for the airline you are flying each time! No one wants to show up at the airport to find out their pet carrier doesn’t meet the required standards. Then what do you do?
Look for a carrier that allows your pet to have enough room while still fitting underneath the airplane seat in front of you. You’ll also want a carrier they can’t break out of, but allows you reasonable access to your pet if you need to soothe them.
Our go to airplane carrier is the Sleepypod Air. I love that they looked at ALL airline and TSA requirements when designing this carrier. It’s hard to design a one fits all carrier, but they managed to do it by adding flexible pieces to the design. The Sleepypod Air can compress from 22 inches in length to either 19 or 16 inches by folding up one or both ends of the carrier. In most cases, you have to fold up an end to get it under a seat, but after take off and before landing you can pull out and turn the carrier to give your pet more space and yourself extra room to stretch your feet.
The Sleepypod Air is also made incredibly well. I was blown away when we received our first one. Each small feature was designed with special attention and it’s made with luggage grade ballistic nylon. My favorite part is that both the top and ends can open for easy access to your dog or cat and it can be converted into a pet bed with you’re not flying. It can also be used in the car and is crash tested!
Train, Train, Train!
No, not choo-choo trains… this isn’t Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. We’re talking about dog training!
If your dog (or cat) isn’t comfortable in their carrier today, they aren’t going to be magically comfortable on the day your plane takes off. In fact, they are probably going to be WAY less comfortable because they have to be crammed under a seat and listening to the loud sounds of the airplane, especially at take off.
We began practicing at least a month in advance, starting with introducing Ralph & Luna to their carriers. Then we moved on to encouraging them to get inside, closing up the carrier, having them stay inside for longer and longer intervals, playing airplane noises, and even transporting them in the car for a bit of movement. If you have an Amazon Echo, you can ask it to play airplane sounds surprisingly! It’s just a 30 minute track of sounds from an airplane, but it’s a great way to introduce your pets to the expected environment.
Try Out Any Medications or Relaxants in Advance
If your dog is often anxious or you think you might want to give them something like Benadryl or a hemp based treat to help relax them, definitely try this out in advanced. Though most of the times it is perfectly safe to give your dog something like this if you follow the dosage, some dogs may have reactions. The LAST THING you want is for your dog to react to a new medication or treat while you are 30,000 feet in the sky. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done at that point so I always like to do a trial run to help rule out the possibility.
You can easily do this as part of your training. Though, don’t overdo it because you don’t want these medications or oils to lose their effect before you get into the air.
Give Your Seatmates a Heads Up
You never know how other people feel about dogs or cats, but a good pet parent is always respectful of others feelings and fears. It’s always a good idea to let them know upfront that you are traveling with a pet. If a neighbor has an issue, they may be able to switch seats with someone who doesn’t or just move to an open seat if the plane isn’t completely full. Hopefully there won’t be an issue, but if so you can tackle it head on! Who knows you might even find a fellow pet lover.
It’s also good to let you seatmates know if you anticipate any outburst from your furry travel companion or the need to get up during the flight. Trust me, not all pets are perfect travel companions!
Greet Your Flight Attendants
It’s always a good idea to treat people with courtesy and respect! It’s possible that you may need their assistance or something extra during the flight, so I like to put my best foot forward and make a good first impression. It’s also a good idea to let the flight attendant know that you do have a dog with you in case you do need something later on.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Water for Your Dog
Planes can be unpredictable temperatures and super dry. Your dog needs to stay hydrated too. I brought along a few pop up Dexas bowls that I could easily transfer water and ice cubes into so Ralph & Luna could get a quick drink. Ice cubes are also great at helping cool down your pet if need be. If you pet tends to get warm, bring along an extra blanket. Just don’t over hydrate them! There are no dog potties on a plane.
All in all, don’t be afraid of asking for an extra glass of water especially if you’ve already let your flight attendant know that you are traveling with a dog or cat. Don’t be embarrassed – I’m sure they’ve had even weirder requests!
Bring Along Treats and Chews – You May Have To Keep Your Dog Occupied
On our first flight with Ralph & Luna back in September, Ralph was a perfect angel who didn’t even make a peep while Luna whined and whined they entire trip. I had to keep her entertained by feeding her itty bitty pieces of treats and allowing her to poke her head out of the bag for some fresher air. The Training Treats from Full Moon worked super well for this. They are already pretty tiny, but since they are soft I could tear them into even smaller specks. The small size ensured that she didn’t get too full while we were stuck on the plane, but the meatiness of them kept Luna interested.
For this first flight, my attention was almost completely directed to her. There was no time for Netflix or playing Candy Crush. I would give her a tiny treat and then push her limit of how long it took her to start whining again. Once it got to the point I thought it might bother someone, I would give her another piece and repeat the process.
Expect Something To Go Wrong
Be prepared to think on your toes. Something may and probably will come up, so being mentally ready for it is the first step. And if it doesn’t, it will feel even that much more of a successful trip!
What is your favorite way to travel with your pets? And where is your favorite place to go?
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Disclaimer: I am being compensated to help spread the word about the Sleepypod. I received no other compensation or additional benefits for mentioning the brands or products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business.
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