With AAA Travel bookings now exceeding 2019 levels, and a reported increase in pet adoptions during the height of the pandemic, many vacationers may consider bringing their new furry friend along for the journey. Whether you’ve had your best friend for a few months or a few years, it’s important to know that you’re ultimately responsible for your pet's welfare and behavior while traveling.
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“Since animals cannot speak for themselves, it is up to pet owners to focus on their pet's well-being every step of the way,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “Including a pet on vacation is fairly easy, so long as you plan ahead. Many pets respond well to travel, a fact that isn't lost on the tourism industry.”
According to AAA.com/PetTravel, more than 13,000 AAA Diamond properties from coast to coast are pet friendly, and people traveling with pets were on the rise prior to 2020. It’s a trend that is expected to return now that demand for travel in the U.S. is surging.
Getting Your Pet Road Trip Ready
Before embarking on a vacation with your pet, it’s important to make sure both of you are prepared for the journey ahead. Here are some tips from AAA Texas to follow before taking off on that next adventure.
- Update your pet's vaccinations, check their general physical condition and obtain a health certificate showing proof of up-to-date inoculations. Such documentation may be necessary if you cross state or country lines.
- If your pet is taking prescribed medicine, pack a sufficient supply plus a few days' extra. Also take the prescription in case you need a refill.
- Be prepared for emergencies by getting the names and numbers of clinics or doctors at your destination from your veterinarian or the American Animal Hospital Association.
- Acclimate your pet to car travel. Even if you're flying, your pet will have to ride in the car to get to the airport or terminal, and you don't want any unpleasant surprises before departure.
- Pack as carefully for your pet as you do for yourself. Make sure they have a collar with a license tag and ID tag(s) listing their name and yours, along with your address and phone number. An additional identification method is to implant a microchip under their skin.
- Choosing the right carrier or crate is essential to ensuring your pet’s safety when traveling.
Driving with Your Pet
- AAA Texas recommends that you restrain your pet in the back seat of the vehicle to avoid distractions as well as to protect the animal and other passengers in the event of a collision. The front airbag can be deadly to a pet during a crash, even if the pet is restrained. Options for restraints include harnesses and crates that can be strapped down.
- To help prevent car sickness, feed your pet a light meal 4 to 6 hours before departing on your trip. Do not give an animal food or water in a moving vehicle.
- Never allow your pet to travel in the bed of a pickup truck. It's illegal in some states; they also can jump out or be thrown, endangering themselves and others on the road.
- Don't let your dog stick their head out the window during your trip, no matter how enjoyable it seems. Road debris and other flying objects can injure delicate eyes and ears, and the animal is at greater risk for severe injury if the vehicle should stop suddenly or be struck. If it is hot outside, run the air conditioner instead of opening the windows, and be sure that the air flow is reaching your pet.
- AAA Texas recommends that drivers stop every 2 hours during a trip to stretch their legs and take a quick break from driving. Your pet will appreciate the same break. Plan to visit a rest stop every 4 hours or so to let him have a drink and a chance to answer the call of nature. (Cat owners should bring along a litter box; dog owners should clean up afterward.)
- Be sure your pet is leashed before opening the car door. This is not merely a courtesy to fellow travelers; it will prevent them from unexpectedly breaking free and running away. Keep in mind that even the most obedient pet may become disoriented during vacation or in strange places.
- NEVER leave an animal in a parked car if you stop along your trip, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk. Also, animals left unattended in parked cars can be stolen.
- Always be prepared for a roadside emergency. Make sure there’s enough water for you, all human passengers and your pets.
For more tips on traveling with a pet by car or air, visit AAA.com/PetTravel. There you can also find dog parks and pet friendly national public lands, or search the attraction and restaurant listing for places to play and eat.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 62 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.