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Holiday Travel with Pets

2013-11-05



Whenever you leave to go grocery shopping, head off to work, or even step out for a quick jog, you’re given the ultimate guilt trip from your pet. You know, the kind you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. Those eyes! The sad cries! Why must Mr. Fluffy do this to you?!

With the holidays coming up, you’re going to have to visit your family members that live hundreds of miles away. In other words, your precious pup (or other animal) will be alone for days. DAYS. Your relatives might tell you to just have a neighbor stop by and feed the little guy, but your neighbor has family to visit too! In fact, now that you mention it, your pet is a part of your family, so why should he be excluded from the fun events?

At this point, there’s no other option–your furry friend is coming with you. But, before you go, make sure you prepare for your journey to ensure the utmost safety for your pet.

Tip #1: Travel by Car

Every year, animals get killed, lost, or injured while traveling in airplanes. Oftentimes, they’re placed in the cargo section, where extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, lack of oxygen, or rough handling gets the best of them. You can find horror stories about this if you search for it online, but I don’t recommend it, unless you’re in the mood to sob in front of your computer screen.

If you don’t like driving, get a Garmin GPS. Why Garmin? Well, I can barely figure out how to navigate through my own neighborhood (I’m directionally-challenged), so I’ve relied on that thing like a tourist relies on their camera. It’s worked for me.

Lands' End pet carrier

Next, you’ll need something to keep Winston in his seat (yes, that’s the dog’s real name in the picture above). You’ll also need something to transport him to and from your destination. Keep in mind, you’re going to have luggage, so using a leash might be challenging. For dogs (and other animals, I haven’t forgotten about you!) that are smaller than 11″ and weigh less 20 pounds, they can enjoy a home away from home with a snazzy canvas Lands’ End dog carrier.

Why this specific carrier? Well, if you’ve ever read about or purchased anything from Lands’ End, you already know their claim to quality is not, er, dog poop. This tote has a firm base, water-resistant base and trim, and a zip top to keep him secure. Five Thanksgivings from now, you’ll still have this thing in good shape. Best of all, if you read the reviews, you can see pictures of real dogs loving the carrier. Many of them even go to sleep in it when they’re not traveling!

Tip #2: Take breaks on your trip.

As you know, dogs have a large amount of energy that comes with a small bladder. They’ll need to go to the bathroom and just take a few minutes to run around and tire themselves out for a little bit. And, this may seem obvious, but I have to say it: you cannot leave your pet alone in the car, so the Lands’ End dog carrier will come in handy if you just want to make a quick stop.

Tip #3: Keep track of your pet!

In an ideal world, people wouldn’t have allergies, and we could just take our furry sidekicks everywhere we went. Oh, if only…

Garmin pet GPS

Unfortunately, situations will force you to be apart from your pet for short periods of time. For example, if you’re on the road and you need to use a restaurant’s bathroom, they might not allow you to bring any animals inside. Or, maybe your mom has a large, unfenced yard that you plan on letting Fido play in while you help her cook dinner.

Regardless of the reason, you’re going to have one concern: you need to know where your beloved sunshine is! You don’t want to spend your Thanksgiving creating “Have you seen me?” signs. That’s the epitome of depressing.

Garmin has created a specific device, the GTU™ 10, to help you keep track of your woofer, meower, mooer, cooer, or anything else that moves or can be moved. You can set up to 10 virtual boundaries with the GPS and get a notification when your curious cat, dog, moose, etc gets a bit too curious.

Tip #4: Keep your pet calm (and carry on).

You may have been planning your holiday travel for a while, but for your pet, the trip will come as a complete surprise. Unless you’re Dr. Doolittle, there’s no way to give your poor pup any advanced notice. He doesn’t know if he’s going down the street, to the vet, or to China (actually, he probably doesn’t know what China is).

The best thing you can do is make him as comfortable as possible by sticking to the familiar. He won’t care about eating out of his old bowl, but you should probably pack his favorite food, along with a few treats. You can spoil him new toys, but don’t forget that ratty, half-chewed one that he loves so much. A favorite toy will can keep him occupied, making the trip more comfortable.

Tip #5: Stay in a pet-friendly hotel.

They’re a rare breed, but pet-friendly hotels do exist. Throughout the U.S. (and the world!), there are IHG hotels that are happy to accommodate your partner in crime. As a matter of fact, make that double–many of their hotels allow you to bring up to two pets!

IHG

All you have to do is click here, and then narrow down your results based on where you’re headed. You can also go to each of the IHG hotels websites (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, etc) to discover pet-friendly locations. If you want to read about other pet-loving guests’ experienced, you can visit IHG’s Pets Are Welcome (PAW) Community as well.

See? That wasn’t so bad. Traveling with your pet doesn’t have to be so…ruff.