According to a national survey of pet owners, nearly 40 percent take their dogs on vacation with them. Ten years ago, it was only 20 percent. And keep in mind that many airlines won’t allow you to ship your dog in cargo.
Ah, the holidays.
If you live away from your family, you may be traveling across the U.S. or to another country to spend time with them. But if you have pets, you may not want to leave them at home, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety.
I remember the first time I flew home for Christmas.
It was 2009, and I was living in Chandler, Arizona and decided to fly home to Parma, Ohio (southwest of Cleveland) for Christmas. I had two cats (still do) and decided that Benny (highly attached to me) would travel with me. CeCe, my other cat, is the epitome of “independent cat” and would stay home.
I took Benny to his veterinarian and secured the proper health documentation along with tranquilizers. Not for me, for him. Ha!
Benny needed a travel regulated carrier, so I bought one. He’s since outgrown it.
I booked my flight and paid the pet fee and we were all set to fly to Ohio.
I’ll never forget the trip.
It was Christmas Day 2009 and Phoenix Sky Harbor was packed with cranky travelers. I kept my sanity by reading and listening to music. Benny was secured in his carrier without a care in the world.
I’ll never forget the ticket agent asking people to wear their coats because the overhead bins were needed for passengers’ carry-on luggage. Some travelers were not happy about the request. It wasn’t a problem for me because I’m usually cold.
Benny and I boarded the airplane and he went under the seat in front of me and didn’t make a sound the entire flight.
It wasn’t until I took him out from under the seat in front of me that my fellow passengers realized I traveled with a cat. Everyone remarked how quiet he was. Of course, some of them wore a scowl when they spoke because our flight had families with screaming children.
Hey! Kids scream.
You can either embrace it or get annoyed by it.
When I fly, I usually tune out, unless, of course, I’m sitting next to someone who strikes up an interesting conversation.
Holiday travel with your pets doesn’t have to cause chaos. Here are some tips to get you through what’s considered the most stressful time of the year so that you can enjoy your holiday travel and have a great experience!
Tips for Traveling with Your Pets During the Holidays
Gather the Required Documentation for Your Pets
Before you or your travel agent books your domestic flight, take your pets to their veterinarian. Why? Because you may be required to show a health certificate for them – it may happen. Even if you’re not asked for it on your initial flight, you may need to show proof on your return home. Keep in mind that if you travel to another country, they may require additional documentation due to stricter laws.
Buy the Right Pet Carrier
Each airline has different pet carrier specifications. Make sure you buy the right one for your pets. You may want to put a blanket or towel in the carrier along with their favorite toys. If you still have questions, ask your travel agent to call the airline.
Bring a Water Dish and Treats
Make sure your pets eat and drink water and go to the bathroom before you leave. However, you may want to bring a travel water dish and treats with you just in case they get thirsty and hungry. But use your best judgment. Chances are your pets will sleep during the flight because they may be too scared of the noises and people around them.
Believe it or not, you can remain centered and at peace when you travel during the holidays. You don’t have to get sucked into other people’s drama. If you’re empathetic (take on or absorb other people’s energy), meditate before and during your flight. You may want to wear a quartz crystal necklace or pendant or hold one during your flight. Crystals are believed to absorb and clear energy.
Are You Ready to Embrace Holiday Travel with Your Pets?
Some people find traveling during the holidays, and the holidays in general, stressful. Believe me, I understand.
The “idea of family” can be different from the reality. For some, it’s like traveling through a minefield. You have to know your triggers and where to tread lightly. You want to stay calm and centered, so you don’t have a huge argument with your parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. It helps to find something positive about each person instead of focusing on what they may or may not have done to you. Everyone has their story!
When I first moved to Chandler, Arizona, I spent my first Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself. I checked out Casino Arizona (it was okay) and went hiking. It was one of the best times I ever had. The peace, the quiet, the sun…It was absolute paradise.
The next year, I spent Thanksgiving with people from a Meetup group. Again, it was one of the best holidays I ever had. Each person brought a dish. We had a wonderful, fun, and harmonious holiday. I was grateful for the experience.
If you’re spending the holidays with your family, you may want to travel with your pets because they’ll bring you comfort and keep you sane.
But keep in mind that if your pets have never flown before, you may consider leaving them at home with a pet sitter.
Happy travels and holidays!