Dabl at Home
The Secret To Successfully Traveling With Your Dog
Making travel reservations for your dog may be more complicated than you’d expect, but we’ve gathered everything you need to know to have a smooth trip!
Whether you are moving to a new state or want to bring your dog along for the fun on your next vacation, you will have to be prepared to navigate a slew of complicated policies to allow your pup to travel by your side. From booking air plane tickets to reserving a hotel room, you will likely have to work through more questions and paperwork for your dog to be allowed passage. But when you know what to expect, you and your furry friend can be prepared early for your next trip and avoid unpleasant surprises at the last minute. Therefore, we’re clearing up some confusion on what to expect when you’re at the airport, checking into the hotel, or cruising in your rental car.
At The Airport:
Each airline will have specific pet policies regarding which pets may travel and how, as well as booking policies for your pet. While some airlines allow you to reserve your pet’s spot online, others will only accept pets onto the flight on a first come, first serve basis at the airport. Once you choose which airline you will be flying with, make sure to research its specific pet policies so you are clear on requirements and what to expect on the day of travel.
You will also have to decide if your pet will be flying as cargo in a temperature controlled portion of the airplane, or if you want your pup to fly in the main cabin with you. Most people like to keep their pets by their side in the main cabin, but either option is a safe way to transport your beloved fur baby. Depending on the airline and which option you choose, you may need to bring different documents or specific carriers to present at the ticket counter upon check in. For example, some airlines require a recent letter from your vet stating your dog is in good health and proof of certain vaccines, such as rabies. If your dog will be flying with you in the main cabin, many airlines will make your pet your carry-on item and will want your pet to be comfortable staying in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Other airlines have weight requirements for dogs that fly in the main cabin, but that doesn’t mean bigger dogs can never fly. Always check with your specific airline for clarity on requirements and possible exceptions.
Requirements may also vary depending on where you’re going. Some locations, such as Hawaii, require arriving dogs to undergo a period of quarantine before they will be allowed to join you on the island. If you are traveling to a particularly far destination, you may also need to prepare to fly on one or more connecting flights instead of a direct flight if you plan to bring your dog onboard. Many airlines won’t allow dogs to fly in the main cabin on flights that will last longer than 8 hours in order to protect their health and allow them to access water and bathroom breaks. That said, you will still likely get chances during the flight to love on your dog and provide water if they are flying with you. If your dog is in cargo, they should be given water and monitored by certified trained staff or a veterinarian for the duration of the flight.
It’s also important to note that unless you are traveling with a service dog, you will likely have to pay a fee to allow your dog to fly with you. The fee isn’t usually more than $100 to $200 each way, but it should be accounted for in your vacation budget. While passengers used to be able to receive discounts or free passage for emotional support animals, that system was heavily abused by pet owners lying about their pets’ service status to take advantage of the perks. Now, most airlines only grant special privileges, namely the pet’s ability to travel in the main cabin for free, to owners who have legitimate paperwork to show their pup is a working service dog. If you have a service dog, make sure to ask your airline what documents are required at check in.
Picking Up The Rental Car:
Getting your dog in a rental car is typically much simpler than putting your dog on a flight. If you choose to do a road trip instead of flying, you may find you save money and can leisurely journey to your destination while stopping for water, stretching, and bathroom breaks as you see fit. However, we wanted to remind you to always read the small print when booking your rental car. Some companies have restrictions in place that won’t allow dogs in the car, or they may charge you an extra pet deposit in addition to the car’s normal cost and deposit. Since a damage deposit is pretty standard, we recommend putting down towels and keeping your pet clean to avoid messes or damage in the back seat that the rental company might charge you for later.
Checking Into The Hotel:
Always make sure to clarify all the information before booking a room in a pet-friendly hotel for you and your dog. Make sure you are okay with the hotel’s policies prior to booking your trip. For example, the hotel may forbid your pet from staying in the room alone, so you will need to find a local doggie daycare or be prepared for your dog to accompany you at all times. You may also need to pay a non-refundable pet deposit, sign a pet owner agreement with the hotel, and only take your dog to the areas of the resort where he is permitted. If you have multiple pets traveling with you, make sure to look for policies that specify the maximum amount of pets that can stay in a given room. These rules will vary depending on where you stay.
When booking your hotel room, always be sure that you are booking a pet-friendly room. Some hotels have pet-friendly floors or towers where your dog can be with you. If you don’t book a pet friendly room or note your pup’s attendance on your booking, you could arrive at the hotel only to find out your dog isn’t allowed to stay in your reserved room. Even on a pet friendly floor, you will need to be sure you can trust your dog to behave. Many hotels have a no-tolerance policy for barking and can ask you to leave if your dog is deemed to be a disturbance.
That said, most pet-friendly hotels are full of animal lovers who are eager to make your experience wonderful. Some hotels will give your dogs special treats or water bowls upon arrival, and even have a dog concierge as a featured amenity. As long as you are clear on the hotel’s policies, you shouldn’t have any issues that get in the way of your fun trip!