Family pets are often a big part of the family, and sometimes it's hard to leave them behind when you leave town, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) notes in its latest promotion of travel agents. With these simple tips, pets won't have to miss out on one fun moment of a family's big vacation, ASTA says.
“Traveling today involves countless details and decisions” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “Working with a professional travel consultant can ensure that you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable trip. Travel consultants know the right questions to ask and where to find the answers, which means that your pet can be the perfect addition to a perfect vacation.”
ASTA’s tips for travelers considering traveling with a pet:
* Check up before checking out. Before you take your pet anywhere, take him/her to the vet for an overall checkup, and ask for the number of an associate in the area where you will be staying. If you're unsure whether your pet is up for the trip— ask. Don't wait to find out that Fido couldn't handle the hike up the mountain— or even the plane journey. Most airline and state officials mandate a clean bill of health in the form of a health certificate dated within 10 days prior to travel before your pet can fly. And even if your pet is in top shape, traveling abroad sometimes assumes an automatic quarantine upon arrival whether or not there is an outbreak of a disease. Moreover, some states require certain pets to have entry permits issued by the destination state's regulatory agency, and may request to view the interstate health certificate in advance.
* Pooch papers. Always keep an ID collar with your name and phone number on your pet, and always travel with favorite toys, proof of vaccination and proper licenses. Bring color photos of your pet, too, in the unfortunate event he gets lost.
* Rules and regs. Because airlines limit the number of pets that can be on board at once, have your travel agent notify the airline of your pet when your reservation is made. Also ask for the allowable dimensions of your pet carrier. Regulations state that dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and fully-weaned before flying. Written instructions for food and water must accompany any shipped pet regardless of the amount of time they are scheduled to spend in transit.
* Flying the feline skies. If your pet is less than 15 pounds and you are on a domestic flight, you may be able to fit a small, airline-approved kennel (check with your travel agent) under the seat in front of you. On international flights, larger animals can be shipped (for a fee) in the forward cargo bins, which are climate-controlled. Contact your travel agent or the airline for specific information on fees and requirements.
* Traveling 'kennel' class. Let your pet eat and sleep in the kennel before you leave. Prior to departure, exercise, feed and give water to your pet, and place a dish for food and one for water inside the kennel. If you're shipping your pet, write the words "LIVE ANIMAL" on the crate with arrows pointing in the upright direction, and put your name, phone number and address on a well-fastened label. Check with your travel agent to learn about additional costs for your pet to travel with you.
* On the road with Fido. Be careful if you're driving to your destination. Countless pets die each year from heatstroke after being left alone in hot cars. As a general rule, if you leave your car, your pet should leave. If you park, make sure it's in a shaded area. Exercise is necessary - make frequent stops for water and exercise, keeping a leash on your pet at all times. If your pet is unaccustomed to car trips, take some practice drives. One piece of sugar candy - not chocolate - before hitting the road may quell motion sickness. And, leave a window of six hours before a car trip during which your pet is not eating.
* Your pets' and hotels. Ask your travel agent to call ahead to make sure your hotel or motel allows pets. Or, for a list of pet-friendly lodgings, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at your destination. Request a room at the end of the hall so other guests aren't bothered by the possible noise.
* Snakes on the plane. Travel is not recommended for smaller animals and birds because of the stress it causes them. Reptiles are especially discouraged because of their specialized requirements. Travelers should be advised that they may be held liable for any damage wild animals or reptiles cause to the plan or passengers.”
So plan ahead, ASTA says and bring the right supplies and work with a professional travel consultant. To find one near you, visit TravelSense.org’s ‘Find a Travel Agent’ search directory, or request a free trip quote online.