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How to Succeed at Summer Travel (Without Losing Your Mind) — Part 3 Pets

The Sleep Club Editors

Bringing a furry companion on your summer trips is a blast. You get to bond and experience things in a carefree way that makes your vacation that much sweeter. Doing so, however, takes a bit of finesse and a lot of planning. So in this final part of our trio on summer travel, we’d like to give you a few pointers on making the most of hitting the road with your significant animal bff.


Scope out pet-friendlies

Before even heading out for your travel-ganza, map out spots that make bringing your pet worthwhile. There are tons of great hotels, campsites, hiking trails, and beyond geared toward domesticated animal lovers. As you prepare for your trip, suss those out and also look for great pet-sitters along the way. Just because you’ve chosen to bring your critter doesn’t mean you’re saddled with them. As with children, however, you don’t want to leave them alone in a strange place. You’d be surprised how many pet day camps and animal sitters you’ll encounter on your trip. Researching ahead of time makes your vacation a success.


Backseat panters

When driving, place your pets in the backseat with either a special harness that safely connects to the seat belt latch or in a carrier. Wandering animals tend to make their way to the front seat and can end up under foot, on laps, in your face — you get the gist. Also, if they’re not secured they can fall, get wedged somewhere, and more. Dogs, cats, pigs, bunnies, etc., roaming your vehicle is dangerous for both you and your pet. We love cuddling with our wondrous fuzzies just as much as you, but there’s plenty of time for that when you get to your destination or stop for a stretch.

RV’s and campers are a different story. These have a good amount of room to walk around and as long as you designate someone to keep an eye on your animals, you can treat it as you would your home — and we really do recommend you have a buddy with you if you’re bringing your creatures. If you are traveling alone with your pet, however, it is best to secure them even in those spaces. Regardless, this is a moving vehicle and it can be jarring for your animal. Being secured gives them a sense of stability.


Eat, Drink, and play often!

Your pet needs lots of cool, clean water and to be let out of their carriers and harness for walks, pees and poops, eating, fresh air, you name it, OFTEN. We cannot stress enough the frequency part of this. Just as you need to stretch your legs and grab a good bite at a decent restaurant, that goes a million for them. I once travelled from the middle of the United States to the West Coast with two rabbits, two dogs, and a six-foot two and a half-inch manchild. I stopped every hour for a few minutes to let all of them out of their respective confinement to walk — the bunnies were leashed as well — eat, drink, you name it. They were happy, it made my life way easier than I could have ever imagined, and we all enjoyed the trip. Who knew?


Ah, fresh air… on walks

Heads out the window, ears flapping, tongues lolling, big toothy smiles as the air rushes into their faces — and this is a particular dog thing (I don’t recall ever seeing a cat, ferret, turtle, rabbit, whatever with its face hanging outside a car window although I have seen a pig and a goat, but that’s another story). Unfortunately, it’s not good for them. Their eyes, nose, and mouth are targets for any flying debris, noxious fumes, bugs, and on and on. Also, the flap, flap, flap of their ears against their heads leads to irritation and tenderness that can cause swelling. Add to that road hazards, sudden stops, sharp turns, getting their heads stuck in the window by inadvertently hitting the electric opener, and (worst of all) falling out of the car. Crack the window for air, sure, but don’t let them put their whole head out. And the beds of pick-up trucks? Oh, no. Please, don’t. No matter how cool it seems. Give your animal fresh air on one of your frequent pet-friendly rest stops. But, this is all moot, isn’t it? They won’t even be able to put their heads out of car windows anyway, right? Because you’ll have them safely harnessed and crated, won’t you? Yes. Yes, you will. 


NEVER leave them alone in a car… EVER

I know this goes without saying but I’m, ya know, saying it anyway. Don’t, DO NOT, leave your pet alone in the car during summer travel — or anytime, really, but ESPECIALLY SUMMER. Cracking a window during the hottest months of the year does nothing. Just as you wouldn’t leave your children alone in the car — and we know you wouldn’t — you don’t do that with your animals. Even if you think, “I’ll only be a minute,” let’s be real, no one is ever just “a minute.” Truly. You may be five to ten, if you’re booking it. And in that time, the interior temperature can jump almost 20 degrees. That means, even if it’s 70ºF on the outside, in the time it took you to run into that fast food restaurant, use the restroom, wash your hands (because you’re washing your hands, right?), and come back to the car, the interior hit almost 90 degrees for your pet. Animals do not sweat like humans. In a hot car where the only air circulating simply brings more heat, conditions race from uncomfortable to life-threatening. When nature calls, take your animal with you. If it’s a rest stop or a hotel, you should be good. If, however, you find yourself somewhere that forbids pets, explain to the manager and keep your pet in its carrier if it’s small or by your side at all times if larger. 


(Don’t) Come Fly With Me

Let’s say your plan is to go on a long vacation far away, mapping out amazing pet-friendly places to stay and experience, and sitters for some “me/we” time. Bringing your critter has always been on the agenda since you came up with this multi-week extravaganza. You’ve booked everything including the flight but consider: How large is your animal? Where will it be traveling? What kind of conditions will it be in? Unless your animal is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, there’s no way they’ll be traveling comfortably or safely because they will be in the cargo hold, not the cabin. Even airlines don’t recommend putting pets in the belly of their planes because just as things shift in the overhead compartment during the flight, so do suitcases. That means, so will your pet and there is no guarantee of how they will be placed in there. It is traumatizing, unhealthy, and exceedingly dangerous. If you really can’t drive to your destination, then you may need to rethink bringing them along if it means having to fly. And for the record? Trains in the U.S. do not allow pets over 20 pounds unless they are service animals. Relocating long distances and to a foreign country, flying may be your only option. There are some nice pet tips for that, which we’ll get into with our series on moving coming up in January, so stay tuned.


Wherever we go, we do it together

A dog on a surfboard, a cat lounging on the deck of a beach house, a bunny snuggled up on your sleeping bag — these joys enhance your vacation. For many of us, the creatures in our home aren’t pets, they’re family. Their lives are so short that making the most of the time we spend together matters to us. It can be a handful to create an easy way to vacation with our furry wonders, but the laughter? The cuddles? The joy? They’re forever memories worth every ounce of tactical planning and logistical strategizing that goes into them. 

And we’ll cherish them always.

Night Sky Night Sky