When you are planning to travel abroad with your pet, always consult your veterinarian first. Especially in warmer areas*, your pet may be at risk for contracting certain diseases that are less common in more moderate climates. Also, health certificates and/or vaccinations may be needed.
Travelling with your dog can be great fun if you make the right arrangements. However, poor forward planning can make the experience stressful for both you and your pet. Once you've decided your dog is coming away with you, the first thing you need to do is buy a collar with your current identification and keep it on your dog at all times. A microchip may also be beneficial for extra security. Before you travel, your dog would benefit from some basic training so he will be well-behaved during the trip. Then, plan the transportation, what to take and where to stay as not all hotels are dog friendly!
Travelling by car
The car is usually the best and most common method of travel with dogs and chances are your dog has already ridden in it for trips to the vet or the park. However, it's fair to say that some dogs suffer anxiety when riding in cars so try to make the experience as enjoyable for him as possible by ensuring you vary the end destination. For example, if he only ever travels by car to visit the vets, he may associate the car with negative experiences. Take him to the beach, the park or the pet shop to get a treat however and he may start to look forward to road travel!
If your dog is still restless and unable to settle in the car, long journeys may not be advisable and anti-anxiety medications are available from your vet if necessary. If your dog is happy to travel on long trips, remember that much like humans, dogs need to stretch their legs and relieve themselves, so make sure you plan to stop every 3-5 hours. All dogs are different though so if you know your dog is likely to get restless every couple of hours then make your stops more frequent.
What to take
Here's a small list of items you may want to pack in the car to give you and your dog peace of mind:
- Dog seat or crate/kennel
- Water and bowl
- A toy
- Blanket/dog bed
- Waste bags
- First Aid Kit
- Your dog's medical records
- Health certificate
- Grooming supplies
It's also advisable to make a list of accessible (and open!) veterinary hospitals along your route, just to be on the safe side in case your dog needs professional assistance.
Travelling by air
Generally speaking, air travel with dogs is not ideal. Although some airlines will allow you to bring your pet in a carrier if it is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, larger pets are not so lucky and have to travel in cargo.
Some pet-friendly airlines do exist though. One such airline is Pet Airways, a pet-only airline that allows pets to fly in the main cabin. However, these flights are only available in a limited number of cities.
Staying in hotels
Planning and researching your hotel in advance is essential if you're travelling with your dog. Some hotels actually welcome dogs and offer special dog beds, turndown service (down to the treat on the pillow), dog spa services and doggie day care. Ask what amenities are available for your dog but remember to find out what cost is involved. Many hotels charge a non-refundable pet deposit upon arrival, then a daily pet fee on top of that.
Staying in bed and breakfasts
B&Bs that allow dogs are few and far between but they do exist so make sure you keep an eye out for them.
Again, not all campsites allow dogs so make sure you check before you book. Camping is a great way to spend time with your dog outdoors though so make the most of it!
*travelling to (sub)tropical areas, such as around the Mediterranean, bears certain risks to contract diseases