Spring on the Road Spring on the Road Spring on the Road

Travel With Your Pet the Smart Way

Individuals often view their pets as extended members of the family. People want to bring their pets along on vacations or while traveling to visit family and friends.

Until recently, it was more difficult to travel with dogs and cats. But as more and more hotel chains recognize the strong connection between people and pets, those chains are growing increasingly flexible in hosting four-legged guests.

For those who will be traveling with pets, there is a right and wrong way to do so. Having a plan of action is essential to safeguard the safety and comfort of all involved. Follow these tips to ensure everyone enjoys their R&R as much as possible.

* Establish the travel method and route in advance. Go online or scour travel maps to determine the best route to your destination. Depending on the length of travel, layovers may be needed to sleep, refuel and simply stretch the legs. Determine which areas will be safe for walking a dog roadside, and look for rest stops with areas to exercise pets. Experimenting with different routes virtually also enables travelers to choose the most direct, most scenic or another route that fits with their travel plans. Some GPS devices can also alert to lodging and traffic conditions.

* Stock up on supplies. Much as parents would bring along essentials while traveling with children, the same concept should be applied when traveling with a pet. Be sure to pack food, treats, toys, bedding, and any of the other creature comforts from home. It also may be a good idea to bring along a recent copy of the pet's immunization records to ensure that he or she is up to date on all shots. Bringing records can also serve as a safeguard if the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian while away from home.

* Purchase bottled water. While on the road, take the time to give pets the opportunity to drink water to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that once a pet grows acclimated to a certain type of water at home, a change in that water may cause temporary digestive upset. To avoid accidents or discomfort, travelers may want to bring water from home or purchase bottled water.

* Contact pet-friendly hotels. Many hotels allow guests to bring along a pet, provided a security deposit is given. Some may have requirements, such as the dog must be caged at night or when left alone in the room. Some pet-friendly hotels can also recommend restaurants that allow leashed dogs.

* Travel safely. When a cat or dog is riding along in a car, it is always best to have the pet restrained. This protects the animal in the event of an accident and also protects the other occupants of the car from injury. Pet seatbelts or harnesses can be used. For motorists with SUVs there are pet gates that can be installed to keep the animal secure in the back part of the vehicle.

Traveling with pets can be an enjoyable experience if proper precautions and planning go into the trip. Be sure to heed the requirements of the establishment where the family will be residing, and inquire as to the pet laws of cities, towns and provinces to act in a responsible manner when out exploring.