Traveling with your pets is like traveling with furry family members, because for many of us they are more than just companions… they’re part of the family. With recently traveling from South Africa to the UK (during the Covid-19 pandemic) we found it quite stressful having to plan travels with our two toy Pomeranians, as there is limited information on how to go about doing this. However, I have learned that with a little patience and extra planning, taking your furry friends along on your travel adventures is indeed possible!

Dearest D-RAVEL Traveler,

My name is Amy (@amy_g_wilkins94), and being an animal lover and a very proud dog mom means having my fur-babies with me wherever I go. This meant having them in-cabin with us on our repatriation flight from South Africa to the UK. I have put together a few tips that I’ve learnt during our travels and plan to continue using!

How to Travel with Pets |
How to Travel with Pets

Have your pet passport

Before you plan your next adventure with your pet pal, you’re going to need to apply for a pet passport. This is something that your registered vet should be able to advise you on. However, if you come from an unlisted EU country, like we did, you’ll need to follow the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) guidelines in order to obtain the correct documentation needed to avoid having your pet being at risk of going into quarantine. 

Remember to always double and triple check the requirements, as they may vary from country to country.

Research, and more research

With travel restrictions forever changing, it is important to do additional research. We made sure to check with our local veterinarian on what health checks were needed to ensure our pets were given the green light to fly. It is also important to contact the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) to ensure the information obtained is still valid.  

For example, not all airlines allow pets in-cabin, and those that do have special requirements that your pet needs to meet to ensure a safe flight. Also note, some ferries do not allow your dogs aboard unless you are in a car, and in our case, we had to hire the help of a pet taxi service to get us from Amsterdam to Folkstone in the UK. 

How to Travel with Pets |
How to Travel with Pets

Pet insurance

Make sure to contact your pet insurance provider to ensure your fur-baby is covered internationally for any unforeseen injury or illness. After all, we care about them so much, I for one would never forgive myself if something had to happen to my beloved Brodie and Penny while on our excursions. 

Preparing for your journey

There are a few key things that I’ve learnt while traveling on how to prepare your furry companion for your future endeavors. A pet crate is needed, regardless of the type of travel. I recommend training your pet to acknowledge their pet carrier as a positive, safe space.

We did this by slowly introducing our fur-babies to the crates and then let them get comfy in them. After, we let them sleep in the crates and rode with them in the car about 6 months before we were due to travel. We reassured them with treats and praise to ensure they felt safe when in their pet crate, especially on the airplane, as it was quite a traumatic experience for our two poms. Maybe put their favourite toy in their crate and keep their blanket unwashed a few days before as it will have their scents. 

We also made sure to pack puppy pads and had one in each of their pet carriers in case they had an accident.

How to Travel with Pets |
How to Travel with Pets

Pet essentials

It’s difficult knowing how much to pack and what to pack to make your furry friends travel experience easier, as well as your own. 

  • Make sure you make space in your luggage bag for spare bedding, pet jackets, water bottles etc. I ended up dedicating half of my hand luggage to my furry friend. 
  • Travel containers – packing easy access pet travel water bottles and collapsible food bowls made traveling that much easier! 
  • Food pouches – your four-legged pal might not have much of an appetite, so make sure not to force them to eat. However, what I found helped was packing soft food dog pouches that were easily accessible and didn’t need to be refrigerated. Trust me, the last thing you want to do in a tight space is battle to open a dog food tin or try to find dog food. 
  • Medication – make sure you have a letter from your veterinarian stating what medication you are carrying and why. Our two Poms are on chronic meds and needed to have their medication at scheduled intervals. 
  • WET WIPES! If there is any advice I can give, it would be to make sure to carry Wet Wipes. They’re great in case you spill any dog food. I made sure to use them to wipe my fur-babies down after each bathroom break to ensure they stayed smelling and feeling fresh. 
  • Leads, harnesses, muzzle – If necessary, and dog tags. Make sure you have these at arm’s length to ensure quick access for those emergency doggy toilet breaks. 
  • Poop bags – have these in a handy place, they double up as great bin bags for that extra rubbish, especially if you’re planning on going on a long car journey. I found them super handy on our 17-hour journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
How to Travel with Pets |
How to Travel with Pets

Before you go

Never be afraid to ask questions. The only way I learnt what I did is by constantly asking questions. The more you ask, the more likely you are to find out that there are a lot more pet friendly hotels, areas and travel destinations than you thought. For example, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most malls, pubs and restaurants allow pets here in the UK. 

If you’d like to know more about traveling with your pet abroad follow these links:

With these tips, you can now plan that trip and include your furry friends. As always, happy traveling!