The last time I packed for a getaway, my cat jumped into my bag and refused to get out. I was about to walk out the door on a previous trip when I realized my passport cover had a small bite mark on it, thanks to one of my dogs. Luckily, the customs agents in Japan had a good sense of humor. For most of us, our family consists of at least a furry friend or two, and they can pour on the guilt if they think we’re going somewhere without them. That's why many of us choose to travel with our best buddies whenever possible. Not only do we miss them when we’re away, but it’s nice to avoid that evil eye we’re bound to get if we leave them behind. Many who frequently travel with their pets have gotten the process down to a science for domestic trips. But international travel can be a bit trickier. SafetravelRX, an app focused on mitigating travel risk, has some tips so that you can enjoy a primarily stress-free experience with your best friend.
Research Vaccination and Rabies Requirements
Vaccination and proof of vaccination requirements can vary widely depending on your destination. In certain countries, pets must be quarantined, although that is not the norm. For traveling with your pets (originating or returning to the United States), refer to the CDC’s Federal Registrar Notice for the latest country-by-country guidance. The UK’s rabies risk categorization is widely used as a guide for pet travel within the EU.
You'll also need to check pet entry requirements at your port of entry. In most cases, you'll have to go to the airport's vet and present your pet and the USDA APHIS paperwork to them, which they'll then sign and stamp before letting you clear customs.
Make an Appointment with Your Vet
Talk to your vet at least a month or two before your departure, so you have time to get any necessary vaccinations or treatments. Ensure your vet is USDA accredited; they must provide paperwork, including a health certificate. Your pet may also be required to get a 15-digit ISO-compliant microchip. Before meeting with your vet, refer to this checklist, so you are prepared.
Research Airline Regulations
Some airlines do not allow pets or will only transport furry friends of a specific size. You should always reserve as far in advance as possible because there may be restrictions on how many pets can be on a particular flight. Refer to this helpful list of all airlines that will accept your dog and associated fees. If you have a layover, make sure your connecting flight allows pets. Many airlines will no longer transport animals via cargo, which can be extremely dangerous. If you have a larger pet that cannot be in the cabin with you, some companies specialize in safely transporting pets, and you can find options here.
Fortunately, finding a place to stay with your pet is much easier than getting them there. Many hotels not only allow pets but also cater to their specific needs with special room service menus, comfy beds, and even spa treatments. Of course, ensure you're prepared for the hefty price for those perks! Certain hotel chains like Marriott-Westin almost universally allow pets, but plenty of others will be happy to welcome you and your friend. Here is a list of some of the top pet-friendly hotels worldwide. If you can't find a hotel that meets your needs, search on Airbnb for animal-friendly residences instead.
If you’re traveling with only your four-legged companion, it’s wise to consider how you’d care for them in an emergency. While SafetravelRX’ can keep you personally safe with features such as an emergency call button that works globally and vetted doctors or hospitals, what about your pet? What would happen to them if you required hospitalization? Fortunately, there are health insurance plans that can cover you for unexpected emergencies while on the road. Some also provide accommodations for your pet, whether that means finding a place for them to stay or transporting them home to be taken care of by family or friends while you recover. However, do your research to ensure that you get a reputable plan that will work best for you and your furry friend.
Take a deep breath and enjoy
You have finally arrived at your destination after doing all the heavy lifting, so now it's time to enjoy the experience. Cities like Paris and Berlin are extremely pet friendly, so you can take your buddy to most restaurants, parks, shops, etc. For a list of some of the most pet-friendly cities in Europe, click here. Always make sure to bring along extra water, treats, and your travel documents in case you are asked. But most importantly, take time to relax and remember how lucky you are to have an adventure with your best friend.
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