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Traveling by car with dog

Planes, trains and automobiles: Essential tips for pet travel

Whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, travelling with a pet can be taxing. To help alleviate stress on both pet parents and pets, we’ve compiled some useful tips and information to make the trip smoother.

Pets on Planes

Let’s start with the most stressful form of travel: flying. We recommend reviewing the pet-travel rules for the various airlines and opting for a direct flight if possible.

The checkup. Some airlines require a veterinary exam 30 days prior to your flight, while others require an exam and rabies vaccination 10 days prior. Discuss your plans with the vet, and ask if your dog or cat will be able to handle the stress that comes with travel. 

Identification. Before you travel, be sure your pet’s information is current. If you pet has an RFID chip, update your contact information. The carrier should be clearly labeled with your pet’s name and address, any necessary medical information, and feeding and water instructions should he/she be waiting in cargo for an extended period of time.

Records. You never know what emergencies may arise when you travel, so having medical and vaccination records available on-the-go is important. The Figo Pet Cloud makes managing your pet’s records super easy—pull them up on any device and share them with any veterinary clinic or emergency hospital. Plus, the Pet Cloud can help you find nearby hospitals, pet parks, pet friendly businesses, etc. Note: The Figo Pet Cloud is only available to Figo customers, but it will be available for free to everyone in 2017.

Carrier. Be sure your pet’s carrier accommodates airlines requirements for safety and size, and provides comfort for the duration of the flight. It is best if you can have your pet’s carrier by your feet for the duration of the flight. If your pet must be stowed in the plane’s underbelly, there are a few things to consider: Some airlines will not allow a pet with a short nose (brachycephalic) or respiratory problems to be stored in cargo. Also, clipping your pet’s nails beforehand, ensures they will not get caught in the carrier’s doors.

The rehearsal. If your pet is new to travel, you may want to conduct a dry run. Consider putting your pet in a carrier and taking them for an hour drive. If the drive is stressful on your pet, airline travel may not be an option. At this point, you may need to consider an alternative: Give your pet a vacation at an airport pet resort, such as Paradise4Paws.

Pets on Trains

After a successful test pilot program, in early 2016, Amtrak began allowing small pets—cats and dogs under 20 lbs.—on certain routes. Pet carriers must adhere to maximum size requirements given on the Amtrak site. As with any type of travel, your pet’s comfort is important, and it’s always a good idea to have medical and vaccination records on hand. 

Pet friendly routes are posted on the Amtrak website, but keep in mind, if you plan to travel with your pet by train, you must book your ticket through an agent by phone or in person.

Pets in Cars

The preferred way to travel with pets is by car. If you are on a long haul, make sure you plan your trip ahead of time and find pet friendly hotels and rest stops along the way. Look for ways to decrease stress—like introducing the pet to its carrier beforehand, and dispensing treats for good behavior in the vehicle.

Keeping your safety in mind, it is important to crate your pets, especially cats, and keep them secured in the back seat. Don’t ever leave your pet in an empty car, as temperatures can rise quickly.

Traveling with your furry best friends can be cathartic, but be sure to plan ahead. And ask the question, “Will traveling cause more stress to your pet than traveling with your pet is worth?”


Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology--the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud--and the industry’s best pet insurance plans. 

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