This is a bit of an ambitions title! If you and your pooch have travelled the world you probably already know everything I’ve written here. However, if you have never travelled with your dog before I’m hoping this guide will serve as a good place to start your journey. What I’m aiming to do is give you an idea of the things you need to think about before travelling with your pet.
The first thing to decide is where you want to take your dog. If you are thinking of a staycation in the country that you live it but don’t plan on driving there, skip ahead to the transport methods section. If you are taking a staycation but plan on driving, skip ahead another section to accommodation.
A staycation can be a good way to test the waters before taking a trip abroad. It gives you and your dog the opportunity to see how you find packing, journeying and staying in a new place together. It’s kind of a lower risk test-run to see how your dog copes with the change in environment. Although most dogs can learn to cope with anything, before considering taking a trip abroad, it’s better to know whether they are actually enjoying themselves.
Our first trip abroad with Pebbles was spending 4 months travelling 25 countries in Europe. We have travelled the world extensively without Pebbles but we found we were missing her more and more each trip we took. We figured that we love Pebbles more than anything but we also love to travel, so why not combine the two. It seemed easy enough to head on a trip through the EU with her so we decided to use it as a test run to see if Pebbles enjoyed travelling. It also seemed like a good way to learn the ropes of travelling with a dog.
It’s possible to take your dog away for a few days, a few weeks or even a few years. You just need to figure out where you want to go, whether the area or country is dog friendly and what the requirements are.
Just like human travel, entry requirements vary drastically depending on where you are. Some countries requirements are (the EU) but some are super hard (Australia and New Zealand). For the most part correctly vaccinated dogs don’t undergo quarantine in most countries.
Travel Within the European Union
Within the EU the EU Pet Passport exists to allow the freedom of movement of pets between member states. Most vets within the EU are able to issue Pet Passports. To get a passport your dog will need to get a rabies vaccine, amongst other things. Check our this post on how to get a pet passport.
For most countries within the EU the rabies vaccine is the only treatment you’ll need. However, your dog will needed to be treated against Echinococcus multilocularis if you are entering the UK, Ireland, Finland, Malta or Norway. This treatment is given in the form of a tablet. It needs to be given by a vet between 5 days and 24 hours of entry and recorded in the pet passport.
Travel Outside the EU
If you are travelling outside the EU you will need to look into the countries requirements. Start with a Google search along the lines of taking my pet from x to y, because where you are travelling from determines the rules of where you are going to. Generally you will need a health certificate showing proof of rabies vaccinations (some countries also require other vaccinations). Your dog might need to be treated against internal and external parasites. You may also need an import and/or export certificate issued by the relevant body.
To travel from the UK to Canada we only needed Pebbles’.Pet Passport. To travel from Canada to Mexico we needed to get a Health Certificate from a Canadian vet that included information about her rabies vaccination history and internal and external parasite treatment. The requirements change frequently so please don’t take our experience as fact!
This very much depends on where you are going. We have driven through countries, taken trains, long-distance busses, ferries, boat and planes with Pebbles. Admittedly transporting a small dog is a much simpler process than transporting a big dog, but it’s still possible.
Driving is often the easiest option – you have the freedom to plan your own schedule, toilet and rest stops and don’t have size requirements. Some car rental companies won’t allow dogs.
Trains and Busses
Small dogs are often allowed on trains and busses, but larger dogs may need to travel in luggage areas or not be allowed on at all.
Some ferries have onboard kennels which cater to all dog sizes, other ferries even allow dogs into passenger cabins. Please note that not all ferry companies allow foot passengers to carry pets.
We have a blanket rule that we will only ever fly with Pebbles in cabin (because of the risk associated with brachycephalic breeds travelling in the hold). So far we have flown with Air Baltic, Air Transat, Norwegian and Transavia with Pebbles in the cabin. Air Baltic and Norwegian have weight limits of 8kg (this is the weight of the pet and carrier) and Air Transat and Transavia have limits of 10kg. You have to pay extra for this and the charge is usually per flight.
If you have a bigger dog, you can consider flying your dog in the hold or via cargo. I don’t have any advice on this because we have never done it!
These days accommodation options are endless. We primarily use booking.com or Expedia for hotels. If we plan on staying somewhere for longer periods we use Airbnb to get an apartment or condo.
There are pet friendly filters on most major accommodation sites. The wording varies but it’s usually something along the lines of pets allowed or pet friendly. This allows you to narrow down your search to places your pet will be allowed. We usually send a message before booking to double check the property is definitely dog friendly, if there are extra charges and what the rules are about pets in common areas.
Hotels will often charge a per night pet fee or an additional cleaning fee (sometimes both). Expedia listings have to list all the extra costs, so we recommend checking the hotel’s Expedia listing to know what to expect. Airbnbs are also supposed to list any extra charges on the accommodation page. Most other comparison websites don’t list the prices, so be careful about booking somewhere if it mentions a non-specific “fees may apply”.
Things To Do
Actually finding things to do with your dog can be a bit of a pain, depending on where you are. Rules vary from country to country and even from city to city.
We start with a Google search along the lines of “dog friendly things to do in location”. There often aren’t great results (sometimes there aren’t any), which is part of the reason we started this website! If nothing is jumping out at you, find things that you would like to do and work backwards to check if they are pet friendly. You’ll often find information in other travellers reviews (you can search Google or TripAdvisor reviews for words like pet or dog). And if that doesn’t work, you should get in touch with them directly!
Most parts of the world have dog friendly parks, sections of beaches (if not the entire beach!), shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and the like. Wineries and breweries are some of the most dog friendly places we have been.
If you can’t find specific things to do, just walk! You can find walking routes for most major cities online.
Eventually this site will include comprehensive guides for all of the places we’ve been!
Just like humans, dogs can end up needing emergency medical treatment. In the UK a lot of pet insurance policies actually allow for travel outside of the UK for a certain amount of time per year. You should double check the wording of your policy to see if there are location limitations.
If your dog needs to see a vet, we have found Google to be the most useful. So far on our travels we have been to vets in:
- Split for a UTI
- Copenhagen, Tallinn and Mykonos for anti-Echinococcus treatment
- Toronto for a health certificate
- Playa del Carmen for an allergic reaction
- Crete for a malignant tumour
Most of the time we have found a vet on Google (if there’s options we’ll usually choose based on who has the best reviews). In the case of emergencies, like the tumour, UTI and allergic reaction we have just walked in to our first choice vet and been seen to straight away. For planned treatments, like Echinococcus and the health certificate, we have called or emailed beforehand to schedule in an appointment.
There is often a language barrier. With patience, hand gestures and Google translate we have always gotten by.
Most of the time the treatments have cost us significantly less than they would in the UK.
We also recommend travelling with a pet first aid kit. A basic kit should include things along the lines of bandages, some sort of saline solution, eye wash and booties. I won’t recommend anything specific but a lot of the medicines you’d pack in human first aid kits are suitable for pets (when the dosage is correct) if you can’t get to a vet quickly.
I hope this post has been useful – over time I will cover each section in detail in their own posts!