Passport? Check. Medical history? Check. Snacks and a favorite blanket? Check. Leash? Check. As more people travel with their pets, it's now pretty common to see little Snickers wagging his tail peacefully in line ahead of you. Looks easy, right? Not quite. Before you consider traveling with your pet, you need to know what's allowed (or not) in the rapidly expanding world of pet travel. First of all, you should think long and hard about taking your pet with you in the first place - your pet's age and temperament could easily make traveling with it a hassle.
Consider the same travel precautions you'd take for yourself, and apply them to your pet. Take a list of your pet's medications and medical history along with you, as well as a recent picture of Fluffy in case it gets lost. Don't forget to make copies of your passport and your pet's ID tag numbers in case you need them. Make sure you have your vet's number handy, and research a couple of animal clinics at your vacation destination before you leave town [source: Mandell].
If you're traveling overseas, check with your embassy in your destination country before taking your pet with you [source: US State Department]. Quarantine lengths and restrictions may vary, and if you hate waiting in line, imagine a long wait with an anxious puppy! You should also know that pets will not be saved if an emergency evacuation is needed and military aircraft is used to evacuate people, though service animals will be rescued if possible [source: U.S. State Department].
If you've decided to hit the road with your pets, then you should read this article to learn what you can and cannot do when traveling with pets on trains, buses and cruise ships. First, we'll find how to take Fluffy cross-country by train.
Prohibited Travel for Pets on Trains
Amtrak does not allow pets on its trains. If you have a service animal, both of you must adhere to a series of rules. If you're traveling with a service animal, make sure it's under your control at all times. The animal must be in its carrier for the duration of the trip unless both of you are either boarding or getting off the train. If the schedule permits, both you and the service animal can get off the train at certain stations for brief walks. There's not much time to linger at these stops, though, so Amtrak recommends staying near the train and re-boarding as soon as the conductor says to do so. If bathroom breaks are necessary, tell the conductor as soon as possible. Conductors will stop the train immediately and turn your service animal over to animal control officials if it seriously misbehaves or loses control.
In Europe, the Eurostar line allows only service animals, and you must make special arrangements because animals are not normally allowed in the sleeper cars [source: National Rail]. In the First Great Western Sleepers, for example, animals can ride if they're muzzled, labeled and kept in a container approved by National Rail officials. In the First ScotRail Sleepers, animals can ride if you've taken the entire cabin for yourselves and have paid an extra fee. Animals are not permitted to ride in the cargo area, but special arrangements will be made for service animals. Let's jump the rail lines and head to the bus depot in our next section.
Prohibited Travel for Pets on Buses
If you've ever taken a bus across town -- or across the country -- you know how hard bus travel can be on your luggage, your back and your body in general. Think of your pet before you plan a bus trip with it, but plan ahead if you must travel with your four-legged friend. Know the pet travel regulations that govern your bus line and your planned destination, and do all you can to ensure your pet's safety and your sanity. One more thing: Don't be surprised if it's nearly impossible to book a bus trip with your pet.
Ironically, Greyhound doesn't welcome its namesake on board. Pets are not allowed on this bus line, although service animals are. If you can travel with your pet on a bus (possibly on a smaller charter line), your pet will be able to travel freely across state lines as long as you have a recent health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination from your vet on hand [source: Humane Society]. These certificates allow officials to see that your pet is in good health and current on all vaccinations should any health problems arise.
In addition to a current health certificate, you might want to consider bringing along identification papers and a list of any medications or health concerns so that any unexpected visit to the vet goes smoothly. If cruising in luxury is more your style, our next section will tell you what to do when planning a cruise with your pet.
Prohibited Travel for Pets on Cruise Ships
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 made cruising with canines and kitties -- and their owners -- a top priority in 2006 when it expanded its offerings to include a spacious 12-kennel pet area aboard the ship [source: Cunard]. The ship offers everything from fresh doggie biscuits to unique bedding options. There's also a complimentary "crossing certificate," a portrait photo and a selection of top-notch food offerings for your pet to choose from. Pets are fed, watered and cared for by a kennel manager, and you can take advantage of the spacious walking area and spend time with your pets throughout the day [source: Cunard].
Cunard is unique in its offerings: Carnival Cruise Lines, for instance, does not allow pets on board, although service animals can come along. Ports-of-entry have special requirements for pets, and it's up you to contact the Agriculture Department to learn what those requirements are. These requirements vary by country, so you should contact the embassy in your destination to find out what you should do if traveling with a service animal [source: Carnival Cruise Lines].
Now that you know a little more about where your pets can go and where they can't, you're finally ready to hit the road. If you'd like more information about pet travel before you split, see the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- "Canine Travel Tips." American Kennel Club. (01/21/09)http://www.akc.org/public_education/travel.cfm
- Chase, Jackie. "Cunard Unleashes New Amenities For Pampered Pets." Cunard. 02/15/06. (01/21/09) http://www.cunard.com/AboutCunard/NewsReleases.asp?Cat=&View=ViewArticle&Mode=News&ContentID=5547&Active=News
- "Guests with Special Requirements." Carnival Cruise Lines. (01/21/09) http://www.carnival.com/CMS/Static_Templates/EMB_guest_special_requirements.aspx
- "Guide Dogs and Service Animals." Mobility International USA. (01/21/09) http://www.miusa.org/ncde/tipsheets/servicedogs/
- Haitch, Richard. "Follow-Up On the News; Pet Insurance." The New York Times. 01/09/83. (01/21/09) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9400E2DB1338F93AA35752C0A965948260
- "Import and Export." APHIS. (01/21/09)http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/index.shtml
- "Know Before You Go." The Humane Society. (01/21/09) http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/caring_for_pets_when_you_travel/what_you_need_before_you_travel.html
- Mandell, Deborah. "Pets on the Go- 5 Tips for Traveling With Your Pet." American Red Cross. (1/3/09)http://www.redcross.org/article/0,1072,0_312_7598,00.html
- "National Rail Enquiries." National Rail. (02/21/09) http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/site_help/search.html?query=pets
- "Pet Insurance Increasingly Popular Work Benefit." National Public Radio. 01/16/08. (01/21/09) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18137718
- "Service Animals." AMTRAK. (01/21/09)http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1080080554551
- "Services for different passenger categories." VR Group. (01/21/09) http://www.vr.fi/heo/eng/palvelut/palvelut.htm
- Tabor, Mary B.W. "Pet Who Died In Jet's Hold Ruled 'Baggage.'" The New York Times. 02/16/94 (02/21/09) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DEED81F38F935A25751C0A962958260&n=Top%2FReference%2FTimes%20Topics%2FSubjects%2FA%2FAirlines%20and%20Airplanes
- Tips for Traveling Abroad." US Department of State. (1/03/09) http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html#pet
- Traveling with Your Pet." American Veterinary Medical Association. (02/21/09) http://www.avma.org/careforanimals/animatedjourneys/livingwithpets/traveling.asp