It’s hard (and sometimes impossible) to leave the furry members of your family at home. And why should you? With pet-friendly destinations all over the world and protocol in place for making sure pets have a comfortable flight, traveling with pets is definitely possible, even if it’s not always easy! Here are some things to keep in mind to keep your pets happy and yourself sane when you’re on the road.

Get Your Pet Cleared to Fly

Traveling with your cat

Figuring out how to travel with your pet isn’t as easy as just booking cheap round trip flights and showing up at the airport. Some countries require that your pet possess a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. This needs to come from a licensed and fully accredited vet. This means that the animal will need to be examined by a professional prior to travel. The certification indicates that the animal is healthy enough to travel and is not experiencing any visible signs of contagious disease.

You’ll also need to ensure that your pet is up to date on his or her vaccination schedule. It’s also a good idea to have your pet checked again when you return home to make sure that they didn’t pick up any illnesses or parasites while on your travel adventure. Lastly, take the time to make sure that your pet has their current identifying information on his or her tags. The consulate of the country you’re flying to will be an invaluable source of information as you figure out all of these details. There are also pet moving services that can provide any assistance that you need for an additional fee.

Research Your Airline’s Rules

In addition to knowing the general rules of taking your pet with you when you fly, every airline publishes its own set of rules as well. Just because you’ve flown with your animal before with no issues doesn’t mean that the same rules will apply this time around. Before you commit to traveling with your pet, it’s vital that you take the time to make sure that you understand the specific rules of the airline that you are using.

For example, some airlines will let passengers bring their pets into the cabin of the plane if they fit into a compliant animal carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. Other airlines are not as flexible with this practice and require that they fly as accompanied checked baggage. Age is also an important factor with some airlines requiring that the animal is at least 15 weeks old before flying with them internationally. Pets that are traveling internationally should also be fitted with a microchip.

Check if They’ll Need a Passport

Dog getting a passport

That’s right, even pets have to pose for passport photos. The types of documents needed vary by pet type and country (and some countries have quarantine policies), so make sure to do some research before booking Fido’s tickets for his world tour. For more information, visit this comprehensive list.

Get Ready to Pass Through Security

If your furry friend is traveling with you in the cabin of the airplane, you’ll both have to pass through security. Once you get to security, you’ll need to take your pet out of its carrier and present it to the TSA agents. The pet carrier will most likely have to pass through the baggage scanner while you and your pet stroll through the upright metal detector. Also, regulations for flying with pets vary from airline to airline, so make sure all is well before trying to board the plane!

Related: Does my Pet Need a Passport? A Guide to International Travel Docs for Pets!

Choose a Pet-Friendly Destination

Puppy in paris

Nothing’s worse than being surrounded by people who don’t appreciate your fur baby as much as you do. Avoid potential awkwardness by booking pet-friendly hotels and resorts. Luckily, there are plenty of international options that welcome pets of all kinds! Another thing to keep in mind is that there are also some cities that are more accommodating to certain types of pets than others. For example, New Yorkers and Parisians tend to own and love dogs, which makes these two cities a prime place to take your four-legged friend. There are dog parks for your baby to stretch his or her legs, and many businesses and restaurants welcome dogs (outside). Choosing the right destination for you and your pet can mean the difference between a relaxing vacation and a stressful ordeal.

Go With the Flow

Cat travel

You know your pet’s personality better than anyone. To make the experience enjoyable for both of you, make sure you have everything your pet needs (special food, toys, scents, etc.) to keep him or her calm and happy on various modes of transportation or when you’re out and about. If you can tell that your pet is getting irritated or tired, change locations or activities. This will keep both of you happy and in a vacation mood.

Keep Your Pet Calm Throughout the Flight

Puppy at the airport

One of the biggest challenges of traveling by air with your pet is keeping them calm during what may be a stressful experience for them. An easy trick to build comfort with your furry pal is to put a worn piece of clothing into the crate with them. The familiarity of your smell might help to keep them calm during this uncertain time.

Swaddling your animal like a baby will also help to ease their anxiety. You may want to consider buying a specially designed shirt or blanket to keep them calm. Aromatherapy may also be a useful tool in your arsenal when your goal is to bring peace to your nervous pet. Lavender is a particularly soothing scent to consider using. Arriving early for your flight will ensure that you’re calm and not feeling rushed. This will transfer to your pet, helping both of you to enjoy the flight with a better frame of mind.

Do you travel frequently with your pets? What are some things you’ve learned along the way? Let us know in the comments section!

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About The Author

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) and Bouchard Design Co.