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Pet Travel: Should You Bring Your Dog on Vacation?

Updated on October 28, 2011
Enjoying a hike while on holidays
Enjoying a hike while on holidays

My dogs, both now seniors, have traveled their whole lives. They took their first trip to the seaside when they were just over a year old and have traveled with us ever since, climbing mountains with us, hiking through rainforests, canoeing on lakes and rivers, and romping oceanfront and chasing waves. They're not alone either -- on our travels we've met many happy dogs vacationing with their families and having a grand time.

Not all pets, however, should travel. Some pets don't even want to travel, preferring instead to stay in a familiar environment with someone they love (my cats throw a fit if they even suspect that we're trying to get them into the car). Here are a few ways to figure out if you should bring your pet with you on vacation.

  • Is your pet healthy? Pets that are ill, have limited mobility, on medical treatment, or are elderly, may not be the best candidates for travel. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you best.
  • Does your pet have the right temperament for travel? Traveling means new sights, new sounds, new surroundings, and new people. Well-socialized animals are much more likely to enjoy themselves. Pets that are anxious in new environments or nervous around strangers will likely not have a good time - nor will you, if you're constantly trying to sooth a distraught pet.
  • Has your pet traveled before? If he has, you'll have a better idea of how he reacts to long trips and unfamiliar surroundings. If he hasn't yet traveled, try starting out with shorter trips to get him accustomed to it.
  • Can you travel to your destination by car? Most people who travel with their pets do so by car, since it allows you to keep your pet near you. Re-consider if you must put your pet on an airplane since you won't be able to monitor his well-being.
  • Is your dog a barker? This is an especially important question if you're going to be staying in an accommodation that has other guests nearby. No one likes to be disturbed by a barking dog (and the hotel isn't going to be too pleased with you either).
  • What do you plan to do on vacation? If your idea of a holiday is to take in the local attractions - attractions that do not allow pets - then it might be best to leave your pet at home with someone you trust. For example, if you're planning to spend the entire day skiing then it's probably not appropriate to bring your dog. Leaving him alone all day long isn't any fun for him and he could get upset or anxious in the unfamiliar setting of your hotel. Even the quietest, calmest dog may become barky and destructive when he's not at home! On the other hand, if you enjoy spending your holidays basking by the lake and roaming the local parks, then it could be a perfect fit to bring your dog along.
  • Are you planning to travel with a pet other than a dog? Most pet-friendly accommodations allow dogs but not necessarily cats or other pets. Always check with your accommodation first to make sure your pet is welcome (even if you're bringing a dog, since many lodgings also have restrictions on dogs). Although some people do take cats and other pets on holidays, it's much more difficult to find lodgings that will accept them.

Traveling with the family pet can be a lot of fun. Just be prepared and make sure Fido is too! My dogs love to travel and their perfect day consists of exploring new sights and smells. Maybe your pets will love it too!


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    • centp002 profile image

      centp002 5 years ago

      My dog hates car rides, airplanes, etc. I feel sad when I have to take it to the Vet or when we move. I wish I could travel with him more often. Thanks for the article.

    • StephenSMcmillan profile image

      StephenSMcmillan 6 years ago

      Great tips.

    • janiek profile image

      janiek 6 years ago

      I love this hub. My dog's are very well traveled too. We typically rent a home and take them to the beach with us every year. Although last year I lost my senior lab (16 years) and we rescued another this year. Her name is Maggie (3 years old) and she lived in a dog house outside her entire life. Her owners never took her anywhere or walked her. Her skin was bad and she had pressure callouses on her elbows from laying in the dog house. Now 7 months later, the pressure callouses are gone and she truly is in heaven. I took her on a test run down to a local stream to see if she would like the water and she went nuts! The beach is going to be a blast for Maggie.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image

      ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great info. I've always boarded my dog, but plan to take her on her first trip with me in a few weeks.

    • profile image

      Pet Friendly Hotels 7 years ago

      These are great tips for people who are considering bringing their pet with them on vacation. You have to consider their health, and whether they will be happy on the trip with you and your family or better off staying in one place with responsible people to take care of them.

    • Tilly Holiday profile image

      Tilly Holiday 8 years ago

      I wish more New Zealand destinations were dog friendly. It is quite hard to find places here that will allow you to bring your dog with you (unless it is absolutely tiny). I'd love to travel in a country that encourages doggy travel!

    • dogsdogsdogs profile image

      dogsdogsdogs 9 years ago

      Hello RFox! Glad you've found a kennel for your dog that she enjoys - it's always good to have a backup. There have been a couple of occasions where we had to leave our dogs behind, and we've found an amazing pet-sitter who the dogs adore. Like you, I'd rather take them with me, but when I can't, I'm glad I have a good alternative. Thanks for commenting!

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 9 years ago

      Great hub. My dog is well traveled and has seen so many new places. Lately, however I have been traveling to places and for reasons that do not suit taking my beloved pup. I prefer to have her holiday with me but in cases where I can't I have found an amazing kennel which she actually enjoys! So now I don't feel so bad.