The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Pets

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Considering canines long ago earned the title of “man’s best friend,” it’s unsurprising so many people want to bring them along when they hop town for vacation. The same goes for cats, which add soothing purring sounds and lots of snuggles to any trip. That’s why everyone is trying to figure out traveling with pets.

But despite the appeal, a good deal of planning is required if you want a furry travel companion. Here are some tips to help travelers decide on a pet-friendly destination and then figure out to best way to go about traveling with pets.

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Pets

Traveling with Pets Part 1: Planning a Trip Around Furry Friends

Hipmunk recently ran crunched some data on pet-friendly hotels and found that just 41% of hotels have that designation here in the U.S., while the proportion varies dramatically by city and state. The most pet-friendly cities in the U.S. are:

  1. Scottsdale, AZ.
  2. Albuquerque, NM.
  3. Lincoln, NE.

That data is a great place to start when choosing what city a furry-legged friend can enjoy. And once the right city has been chosen, it often makes sense to start by perusing pricier hotel options there as opposed to attempting to snag a bargain when traveling with pets. According to our data, two-thirds of five star hotels are pet-friendly, compared to just 36% and 44% for three- and four-star hotels, respectively. Beyond that, be sure to double-check there isn’t a limit for size or number of pets.

A few pet-friendly hotels in Scottsdale, for example, are:

  • The five-star Fairmont Scottsdale Princess allows one pet under 25 lbs for a fee of $25 per stay.
  • The five-star Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North allows two pets 30 lbs for no additional fee.
  • The four-star Westin Kierland Resort and Spa allows cats and dogs of all sizes for no extra fee and offers a complimentary “pet kit.”

Globally, the percentage of pet-friendly hotels drops to 34% although Europe is a bright spot when it comes to traveling with pets, as it boasts 23 of the world’s 25 most pet-friendly countries. The top countries in the world for bringing along pets are:

  1. Czech Republic.
  2. Germany.
  3. Slovakia.

With these discrepancies in mind, travelers should choose a destination based on the availability of pet-friendly accommodations— and the availability of speedy, pet-friendly direct flight, if you are traveling by air. Which brings us to our next batch of tips…

Traveling with Pets Part 2: Getting There (Pet Included)

Perhaps the biggest challenge for traveling with pets is deciding what means of transportation make the most sense for actually getting a furry sidekick there. Folks traveling by car have it easier, as the same car trip basics apply to a longer road trip, including frequent rest stops, a crate to secure the pet in the backseat and the cardinal rule of not leaving a pet alone in the car.

Things get a bit trickier when travel takes place in the sky, though. The image of a dog sticking its head out the window is far more common than the image of a dog boarding an airplane, for good reason — but airplanes are indeed an option. Pets can be transported as checked baggage, carry-on items or cargo.

There are risks with traveling with pets via air, including injury, death or loss of your pet — which is why the Humane Society of the United States actually recommends avoiding it “unless absolutely necessary,” But for travelers that decide it’s worth the risk, some due diligence can help ensure the process is as smooth as possible. Most airlines will only transport dogs and cats, while different airlines come with different breed and destination restrictions. A few examples:

  • American charges $200 per kennel to bring a pet as a carry-on within the states. Delta, on the other hand, charges $125 for the same type of trip.
  • Delta does not allow pets to travel in the cabin to or from Australia, Barbados or Dakar, to name a few. American has restrictions to and from Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, to name a few.
  • On both airlines, breed restrictions center around brachycephalic animals like boxer, bulldogs and Persian cats. Because of their pushed in faces, breathing can be difficult in the cargo holds.

For travelers who decide to go the cargo route with a different breed, always travel on the same flight as the pet and notify the captain and a flight attendant that your pet is in the cargo hold. For travelers bringing a pet on an airplane in any form, a few more tips can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth trip for all parties:

  • Opt for a direct flight whenever possible
  • Attach both a permanent and travel ID to the pet’s collar
  • Make sure nails have been clipped for comfort
  • Avoid feeding the pet for at least four hours before the trip
This post was posted by Fiona Moriarty on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on July 18, 2015

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