Samantha Brown's Best Tips For Traveling With Your Pet

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If your dog comes running when he hears the rattle of his leash or your cat responds to the sound of a can opener, you know that pets can be very aware of what's happening around them. Many pets also understand the meaning of a suitcase that's laid out in the bedroom. Quite often it indicates that their owners are going on a trip without them. The next time you plan a trip, however, surprise your pet by bringing him along. Samantha Brown, the beloved travel expert who has hosted a variety of television programs over the years, offers her favorite tips on how to travel successfully with a pet.

Brown explains, "These days, travelers are saying no to the guilt, the droopy eyes and the crying, opting instead to bring their pets with them," according to Travel Channel. It can be rewarding to share the memories of a trip with a pet alongside you. However, Brown cautions that it's a good idea to do a trial run before the big trip. For instance, take the dog on a short road trip to see how well he handles the experience, or place your cat in a carrier and take her on an overnight stay. Brown explains that this experience will help your pet adjust to the idea of leaving home for an extended period of time. If you think your dog or cat is comfortable during this trial period, then the door has opened to a bigger adventure.

Research you can do beforehand

It's best to do some preparation before you begin your journey. For example, update your pet's vaccinations before leaving town, and make sure you've included plenty of identification. "Imbedded microchips with all your pet's information are extremely popular with owners who travel consistently with their pets," Brown suggests. She also recommends attaching two collar tags, one with regular identification and an additional one with the address of where you're staying during your trip. Having a current photo of your pet is also a good idea. If you're staying in a hotel, call ahead to ask questions about extra charges or cleaning fees, rules about weight or breed restrictions, as well as the policy for leaving a pet alone in the room.

When traveling by air, Brown cautions that each airline has different rules regarding pets on a flight. "Since planes have limited room for animals, don't assume there will be enough space," she says. She also advises, "If your dog is small enough to stand in a carrier that can go under the seat in front of you, you may be able to carry the dog on board, but there are no guarantees." While there is generally a fee of around $500 to keep your pet in the cabin, she discourages placing a pet in the cargo hold, which can be uncomfortable. Direct flights are also easier on the animal, as well as traveling during the time of day when the temperatures are the mildest.

Ways to keep your pet comfortable

Traveling by car can be an easy way to build memories together. "Dogs love road trips! This is by far the most popular way of traveling with your pet," Brown says. She offers several suggestions on how to stay safe while traveling. Always position your pet in the back of the car and never in the front seat, where he might be harmed by an airbag. Place your cat in a carrier to make her feel secure and keep the driver safe from distractions. The carrier can be stabilized by strapping a seat belt across it.

Dogs should not be loose in a car, either, for their own protection as well as the safety of other passengers. "Just like people, dogs need to wear seat belts," Brown observes. There are a variety of specialty car restraints that are specifically designed for dogs, such as this safety harness from Amazon. Make sure that the animal can breathe easily and still has room to adjust his position. Then be sure to take regular rest stops. "Stop every two hours for a bathroom break and a run," Brown suggests. Be sure to bring water and treats. She also points out that "it's good to bring a Frisbee or a ball, as well as toys" to entertain the dog and give you both some exercise. Following these tips will help you plan a trip that's safe and full of wonderful memories for your pet and your whole family.