While you may be a seasoned solo-traveler, jet setting with your pet can be a bit harrier. So we turned to Brian Kelly, travel expert and founder of The Points Guy, to ask for his personal tips on flying with Miles (pictured), his adorable French bulldog. You need only to scroll through their Instagram feeds (Brian and Miles each have their own) to be impressed by this dynamic duo.
Here are Brian’s top four tips for flawless pet travel:
It’s not as stressful for you OR your pet as you think: I think my major concern before traveling with my puppy was that it would be too grueling and tiring for him, but he seemed to handle everything in stride. During our time at the airport and on the plane, I'm within his sight at all times, and as long as he can see me or feel my hand on his travel carrier, he's absolutely fine. The same is true in hotel rooms – Miles is just happy to be wherever I am and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t at home.
Originally, I thought I’d have to take something for myself in order to cope with the stress of traveling with a pet, but I tried to stay outwardly calm in order to soothe him, and because he was being so calm, it actually soothed me. Sure, it involved extra time packing and getting through security, checking into hotels and getting his stuff set up in our rooms, but it was easier than I thought, and I was able to relax before long.
Budget extra time: I’m a last-minute packer and I’m often throwing things in my suitcase as I rush out the door, getting to the plane just as the doors are about to close, but that’s not possible when traveling with a pet. Not only do I have to get all my stuff together, but I have to make sure Miles has everything he needs, from food and treats to his bed and any meds, and that his carrier bag is in order and I have my tickets and the confirmation for his ticket ready to go when we get to the airport. Plus, since he counts as my carry-on, I think I’ll almost always have to check a bag, which means getting to the airport early as well- plus you can’t check in online when you have a dog with Delta or American (Southwest did allow it), which means you need to go to the ticket counter and have them swipe your card and sign a couple forms. Not ideal if you are running against the wire to catch your flight.
Bring extra provisions: Traveling with an animal is like traveling with a small child – you have to bring lots of extra just-in-case provisions with you. After doing some research on the subject, I made sure I had plenty of extra water and treats in case he got dehydrated or hungry, extra bowls just in case the ones I checked got lost, a little bit of his food (again, just in case his food got lost and I needed to feed him once or twice before I could get to the pet store) and extra toys. And I had to get all that into my one carry-on since his bag took up the space under my seat. I have so much more respect for parents who travel with children now!
Be aware that it is expensive: Although in the back of my mind I realized people must have had to pay to bring their pets on a plane and board them in a hotel, before I got a pet myself, I don’t think I ever really considered the expense of it all, however, just Miles’ tickets cost $125 each way on American and Delta and $75 on Southwest for a grand total of $450. Then there were the hotel bills: a $75 cleaning fee at the Park Hyatt (and that’s just the cleaning fee, no damages or anything – he was a good boy!) and at the St. Regis it was a cool $150 one-time cleaning fee! If your dog is certified as a service animal or “emotional stress” dog, most of these fees are waived, which makes it much more affordable.
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.
Photo courtesy of Brian Kelly