How to Plan the Best Summer Vacation For Your Pet (and You)!

Jake in his favorite mode of transportation, a 1980 Turbo Scout II!

If you haven’t already started making plans for summer travel, it’s time to start! Whether you’re planning a “staycation” at a local beach or dusting off your passport for an international flight, it’s never too early to start making plans for your pets.

With or without Fido?

When trying to decide whether or not to take your pet with you on vacation, the two main considerations will be cost and hassle. If you’re flying overseas, quarantine requirements usually make bringing your pet along a no-go. Even Hawaii requires animals to be quarantined a minimum of five days.

If your plans involve air travel, keep in mind the cost of transporting a pet. United has now adopted Continental’s PetSafe program, which most experts consider a worthwhile service. However, the costs are now significantly higher for animals not traveling in the cabin. Be sure to compare costs before choosing an airline for your and your pet’s trip.

Pet-friendly vacations

If you’re bringing your pet with you, there are some great resources available online for you and your pup! DogJaunt is a comprehensive blog dedicated to bringing your small dog with you – starring the writer’s own Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

photo courtesy DogJaunt

Other helpful pet travel resources include:

When you’re out and about, you can use this Dog Park Finder app if you have a smartphone to find convenient, close-by places for your dog to do his business.

Kennels vs. pet sitters

If you’ve done the math and figured out that bringing your pet with you on vacation is just too expensive or complicated, you should start making plans for where your pet will stay in your absence.

Cats and other small pets usually aren’t good candidates for boarding. Dogs who are immune compromised, not especially social with other dogs, or prone to separation anxiety usually don’t thrive in kennels.

If your pup would rather stay at home, or even sleep over with a friend, what’s the best way to pick someone to help? Yelp reviews are written by strangers, and notoriously unreliable. The best way to find your pet’s home away from home, or someone who will care for your furry friend as well as you do, is to ask a friend to pet sit.

Once you’ve found someone you can trust to pet sit, make sure they know all your pet’s likes, dislikes, medications, and what do to in the event your dog or cat gets sick. A comprehensive pet care checklist that you can share online or on paper can make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Don’t forget the meet-and-greet before you leave – this will help your pet feel more comfortable with their caretaker while you’re gone.

Good luck, and we hope your summer is as great as this guy’s!

Traveling In Style, Or Abuse?

Image

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ireneduma/3888443219/

This week, a Washington State Patrol trooper took to Twitter to show us how not to travel with your dog. Dogs on motorcycles and scooters are undeniably cute, and there was an older couple in my neighborhood who used to bop around locally on an old Vespa with a Pomeranian in a special bucket and harness. I like to think that this form of travel, with a dog who can handle the stimulation and temptation, is safe. Who doesn’t smile at the image of a dog in a motorcycle sidecar? But now I’m wondering about what the minimum restraints should be, and if there should be a legal standard.

Did the ticketed motorcyclist in Washington cross the line?

Holiday travel and pets

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image courtesy of flickr user michaelwhays

I recently came across a list of tips for traveling with your pet – timely, considering many of us are starting to plan for the holidays. The top tip – calculating expenses – got me thinking. How much does it really cost to travel with your companion animal nowadays? And is it really worth it?

Wildly varying in-cabin costs

We’ve all experienced the nickel and diming increasingly common among airlines. Baggage fees, booking fees, and the like make it nearly impossible to accurately compare fares. Once you add the wide variety in pet-related fees, the cheapest ticket may not turn out to be such a great deal.

According to the aptly-named AirfareWatchDog.com, fees for bringing your pet in the cabin range anywhere from $69 to $125 – double that for round-trip flights. 

Getting the right pet carrier

If you’re bringing your pet in the cabin with you in a carrier, it will be required to fit in the space under the seat in front of you, so it’s best to reserve a seat that isn’t in the bulkhead row. Airlines can enforce different restrictions on how big a carrier you’re allowed to use for your in-cabin pet. BringFido.com has collected the various airlines’ pet policies, with links to the airlines’ own pet travel pages.

If you don’t already own a carrier that conforms to your airline’s dimensions, buying a new one can cost anywhere from $30 to $100. Remember that your pet carrier will usually count as your one carry-on or personal item, so plan your packing accordingly.

Alternatives

If you have a long trip ahead of you, or just don’t want to submit your pet to the stress of travel, there are alternatives. Are they cheaper than traveling with your pet, though?

The boarding kennel I’ve taken my dog to here in Portland charges $25 per night for boarding with brief daily exercise included. Adding on walks and a bath (it’s always nice to come back to a clean dog!) costs extra. Portland pet sitters can cost anywhere from $20 per night for a cat who only needs looked in on once a day to over $50 per night to have someone stay overnight in your house and walk your dog several times a day.

Conclusions

Assuming an average pet carry-on fee of $100 each way and $50 to buy a carry-on approved carrier, it can cost $250 to bring your pet with you! For a four day trip (common for those of us visiting family at Thanksgiving), a pet sitter or boarding kennel will only cost between $100 and $200 – and you’ll avoid stressing yourself and your pet with the hassle of air travel.

All other things being equal, it may make more sense to find a reliable pet sitter or kennel to care for your pets if you’re traveling by air, especially for trips less than a week long.