If you would ask me about my favorite moments of my travels, I could say the countless breathtaking sunsets I watched, or stellar views I have seen. Yet, those are not at the top. It’s the moments I have shared with my dogs I hold closest to my heart. Sandwiches shared during our breaks of hiking, zoom sessions in the snow we were able to find or those big sighs when Tron and Aki curl up in a husky swirl at the end of a long day. Between us we share tens of thousands of kilometers of roads traveled. On buses, trains, cars and planes. We’ve gotten absolutely soaked in the pacific north west forests, camped in the Rockies and dipped our toes in cold streams between the rice paddies. We get asked how we do it all, and I’m excited to share information on how to pick a destination, how to get there, and what you need to do when you arrive.
But first, ask yourself if your pet is suited for travel. It’s stressful, and your pet needs to be able to handle crowds of people and extended time in small, confined spaces. But if your pet enjoys travel, you’re going to have a lot of fun!
Pet import regulations vary by country and can be very strict. For example, Iceland and Japan’s rabies regulations can result in a 30 to 180-day quarantine for your pet. Therefore, picking the destination is the most important step. Quarantine can have a serious impact on your pet and your wallet. Unless you are moving for a longer period of time, it is not worth it to put your pet through quarantine. Find more information on specific import regulations at COUNTRY REGULATIONS
You also need to consider safety, how pet-friendly the destination is, how long it takes to get there, and the climate. Your husky might not be thrilled to go to a tropical destination or there might be a high rate of pet theft – you always have to be careful!
The second step is figuring out the mode of transportation. You can travel with your pet by plane, train, boat, car, and by foot. Each mode of transportation presents a different challenge.
If you need to fly, there are a few options. Small pets might be allowed in a pet carrier in the cabin (usually only cats and dogs are allowed). Airlines have regulations regarding size (around 46 cm length x 28 cm width x 24 cm height) and weight (maximum of 8 kg) of the pet and travel bag combined.
If your pet is too big to fly in the cabin, it might be an option to transport it as extra checked baggage. This means that your pet will travel in the temperature and pressure controlled part of the hold of the plane. You will have to drop off your pet at the airport of departure, pick up your pet at the airport of destination and organize all necessary paperwork yourself. Fees are calculated based on the size and weight of the pet including crate. If you are not able to book your pet as excess baggage due to airline regulations or length of the flight, you can book the transport of your pet through a cargo company specialized in pet travel. This is the most expensive option; however, you will have a specialized team looking after your dog before, during layovers and at the airport of destination. Always book direct flights with the least amount of travel hours to minimize stress. Make sure you inquire about all restrictions on pet travel with the airline you will be flying with. Some airlines have restrictions on breed (mostly snub-nosed dogs due to increased risk of heat stroke) and time of the day/year (temperature restrictions).
For specific airline regulations, you can have a look at AIRLINE POLICIES
If you want everyone to enjoy traveling, you need to prepare. The most useful way to prepare is crate training. Providing your pet with a safe place is essential and makes traveling by plane, train or even car so much more enjoyable.
An International Air Transportation Association (IATA) approved travel crate for your pet is a must for travel by plane (if it is not able to travel in the cabin). Your pet needs to be able to stand erect (ears not touching the roof of the crate), sit, turn around and lie down in a natural and comfortable position. For more regulations regarding airline approved travel crates, you can have a look at TRAVEL EQUIPMENT
Our favorite way of spending the night with our dogs is camping. It requires a bit of practice and preparation to make sure your dogs won’t bust out of the tent, but once you have it all figured out, camping is a lot of fun and a great way for your pet to explore the outdoors.
Lots of other types of accommodation can be found if you are not the camping type. Several websites cater to pet parents and let you filter accommodations by whether or not they’re pet-friendly. Think of Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com and Expedia. Always call or inquire before booking about the specifics of the pet policy and also be prepared to pay a pet fee either per night or per stay.
Just like humans, pets can get jet lagged after traveling through several time zones. Therefor it is important for you and your pet to get time to acclimatize. Look for low energy, disorientation or general malaise signs. Make sure your pet is able to hydrate properly and have the contact details of a local vet on hand. A big walk exploring the new destination definitely helps with shaking it off faster.
Traveling with your pets can be an amazing way to strengthen the bond, but it is not without risk. Prepare for any kind of situation and always have a plan B ready. The most important thing is for everyone to enjoy their time!