12/21/2015 10:08 EST | Updated 12/21/2016 05:12 EST

Do Pets Really Make Good Travel Companions?

Most pet owners don't want to leave their pets behind when they board a plane or pack the car for a long journey. But traveling with pets isn't always safe or easy.

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Profile of woman sitting in lounge with dog.

Guest Post by Bobby Heard

Most pet owners treat their furry friends like family. They don't want to leave their pets behind when they board a plane or pack the car for a long journey. But traveling with pets isn't always safe or easy. The following guide will help you determine whether you should make your pet your travel companion or let him relax at home while you explore.

Photo credit: Miles Cave

Is Your Pet Capable of Travelling?

Not all dogs or cats are suitable for air or car travel. Pets with snubbed noses, including bulldogs, Pekingese dogs, Persian cats and others, suffer heat stroke and oxygen deprivation more easily than other pets and should never be transported in the cargo area of a plane.

Pets are often required to be at least 8-weeks-old before flying, and the same rule should apply when travelling with your pet in a vehicle. Elderly animals or those with temperament issues are typically more comfortable staying behind with a pet sitter than accompanying you on a long adventure.

Is Your Pet In Good Health?

Photo credit: Jordan Wilms

Always visit the vet before you decide to take your pet on a plane or an extensive road trip. Your trusted veterinarian will determine whether or not your pet is in good enough health for a long journey. Pets with illnesses will be safer staying home with a trusted pet sitter or family member.

Do You Have Enough Time?

Travelling with a pet always takes longer than travelling by yourself. It is recommended that road trippers stop every four hours for at least 15 minutes to let their pets out of the vehicle. Your pet will be even more well behaved in the vehicle and at your destination if you play with him longer during each stop. Dog parks, beaches and grassy fields can be ideal places to pull over and get some fresh air with your furry friend.

Flying with a pet also takes additional time and extra precautions. You'll have to arrive at the airport early to check your pet into the flight, and you'll need time to pick up your pet upon arrival. Additional time will also be needed to play (or walk) with your pet to help relieve some of the energy and anxiety he experienced in flight.

Pet owners are strongly urged to purchase a direct flight (without any stops) to their destination when travelling with a pet. Tickets for direct flights are typically more expensive than those with multiple layovers, but the less time your pet has to spend in the airport or cargo hold, the better. It's a small price to pay to have your pet arrive safely and securely at your destination.

Is Your Destination Pet-Friendly?

Photo credit: John Wright

There are so many pet-friendly hotels available, that it can be hard to imagine not finding one at your destination. However, finding a pet-friendly hotel isn't always easy in a pinch. Many hotels have pet weight restrictions, others have hefty non-refundable fees and some simply don't allow furry companions.

Fortunately, websites like can help you locate pet-friendly accommodations, attractions and even restaurants at your destination. Do the research of ahead of time and make reservations to ensure you have a pet-friendly place to relax upon arrival. Once you've guaranteed that your pet is in good health and have made plans for your travels, it's time to enjoy an unforgettable adventure with your best friend.