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Checking in with Spike? 6 Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid When Traveling with Your Pet

Small dog maltese sitting in the suitcase or bag wearing sunglasses and waiting for a trip
Written by Suzy Guese

From Poodles to Persian Cats, traveling with your pet brings up its own set of challenges. When you simply just can’t leave your beloved pup at home or you want your kitten to experience new places with you, you’re bound to make mistakes when hitting the road with your furry friends. Before you pack up the water bowls and squeaky toys, be sure you aren’t making these classic mistakes when traveling with your pet.

You’ve Never Traveled With Your Pet Before

Man with red backpack and small yellow dog sitting on a mountain and looking at sea horizon

Your dog might be as easygoing and low-key as they come while at home, but getting him or her on the road is a whole different story. Travel can spook pets, especially if you have never traveled with them before. If you are contemplating bringing your pet, whether it be on a road trip or an airplane, you need to be sure that they have time to get used to the journey. You can go on practice runs locally such as day trips and drives to see how it goes with your pet on the road. Just as travel can be overwhelming for a person setting out for the first time, you have to keep in mind it is the same for your pet who has never left home.

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You Failed to Check the Hotel’s Pet Fees and Restrictions

You might just book a hotel that is advertised as pet-friendly. You show up and find that “pet-friendly” means a pretty penny. Most hotels, even if they are pet-friendly, will charge some sort of pet fee. These fees can vary, ranging from daily charges for every night of your stay to pricey deposits just for bringing your four-legged friend. Also, some hotels place restrictions on what types of pets they will allow and what size animal. You don’t want to show up to your hotel for the night with your new puppy only to find out puppies aren’t allowed in that property.

Your Pet Doesn’t Have a Clean Bill of Health

Cat sits inside pet carrier.

Most airlines won’t let your pet fly with you if they don’t have a health certificate. This is usually issued by your veterinarian. To be sure your veterinarian includes all of the proper information, check to see what your airline specifically requires within the health certificate. In most cases, these certificates are for pets who are going to be kenneled and checked on the aircraft. Also, if you are traveling with your pet internationally, you need to see what the country you’re traveling to specifically requires of pets, from immunizations to rabies certificates.

You’re Planning on Booking Your Hotel Room Last Minute

If you like flying by the seat of your pants or just book your hotel rooms on the fly, you will most likely meet problems with finding an available room for you and your pet. While many properties are pet-friendly, they often only have a set number of pet-friendly rooms on site. If you don’t book in advance, they might not have any of these rooms available. To avoid being left out in the cold with your cat, be sure you book your hotel room well in advance.

Your Pet Lacks I.D.

man embracing his dog looking at camera at airport. Dog breed is Border Collie

Your pet might like to roam freely without a collar of I.D. tags, but when you travel, this can lead to heart-breaking problems. Since travel can scare some pets, you don’t want to have your dog or cat bolt the second you get out at a rest stop. Also, if you haven’t already, now might be the time to microchip your pet, which can help someone identify you as the owner if your pet gets away.

You Don’t Have the Right Carrier

If you are flying with your pet, your pet carrier has to meet certain guidelines. Before you run out and by the first carrier you see, be sure that it is fit to fly. Even if you aren’t traveling by plane, you don’t want to take off on a road trip with a brand new carrier your pet has never seen. Your pet should get accustomed to the carrier well before your trip so that they will know it is a safe place if they get stressed or scared in transit.


What mistakes have you made when traveling with your pet? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at