Being digital nomads with a pet is not impossible, but it’s also not without its challenges. After almost two years of frequent travel with our little yorkie, we have a few tips for traveling with furry loved ones:
- Travel Requirements: Start early. Check airline policies and research what is required for domestic travel and international travel. Some requirements are time sensitive, and you may need a few months to make the proper appointments and snail-mail certain documents. Make sure you get appropriate international documentation, make paper copies, and keep digital copies as backup. Also, remember to factor in tickets, vaccinations and fees into your travel budget.
- Calming Drops: To say Bach Rescue Remedy has been a lifesaver is a wild understatement. Our little guy goes from a shaky, nervous wreck to a super chill pup in minutes. We use these miracle drops on flights, during stormy weather and anytime there are fireworks.
- Exercise: Take your pet on a long walk or to the park before you travel. If they are tired, they are less likely to feel anxious when traveling, which means you will be less anxious as well.
- Food: A healthy, steady diet can help your pet cope with being an international jet-setter. We decided to transition our pup to Hill’s Science Diet because we found it was healthy and easy to get abroad. (Royal Canin is another one that is sold internationally, but our diva dog did not like it.)
- Grooming: Remember that not everyone likes animals. Just because you’ve gone nose blind to your fur baby’s smell, it doesn’t mean the other passengers have. If your pet is well-groomed and has fresh breath, it will be much more comfortable for all parties involved.
- Carrier and Blanket: Check what the pet carrier requirements are for your airline. Also, bring a small blanket in case it’s cold or to make the carrier feel cozier. As with food, it nice to provide a sense of stability for your nomadic pet. Consider the travel carrier your pet’s portable studio apartment. When you are at your destination, put the carrier somewhere easily accessible so that your pet always knows he has a safe place wherever he/she is.
- Bodily Functions: Always have poop bags. Because traveling can disrupt your furry loved one’s digestion schedule, you never know when they might have an emergency dropping. Bonus tip: if you see that it’s going to be messier than usual, you can flatten a baggie and sneak it under so it’s easier to clean up and you can avoid leaving stains or smells.
- Leash: We have been very surprised by how relaxed some countries are about leashes and picking up mess. Regardless of what you see locals do, always use a leash and poop bags. Just because you see others do it, it doesn’t mean it’s legal or safe. It’s not worth risking getting a fine, or worse, having your pet taken or hurt.
- Feeding times: Most pets have regular feeding and outing times. Use this information to your advantage. For example, if you know that your pet usually goes out four hours after he/she eats, take this into consideration when scheduling your feedings on your travel day and plan accordingly. If you need to alter meal times, make sure to bring treats to help keep your pet calm if he/she gets hungry.
- Pee Pads: Now that we travel more (and now that he’s getting older), using a pee pad helps him feel more comfortable going at home and in airports. It also helps us be safer by not having to go out at regular intervals or late at night, both of which can make you an easy target, especially when traveling in foreign countries. Training our elder pup, was not easy, but it turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Admittedly, the beginning of our journey as digital nomads with a pet was rough. The first time I flew with my little fur baby, he was a wreck. He cried the whole time and halfway through the five hour flight, he crawled out of his carrier and had diarrhea all over my shirt as I attempted to console him.
Needless to say, we had to make changes very quickly if we wanted to maintain a nomadic lifestyle with our little man, and these tips have helped make our travels less stressful and, dare I say, even pleasant.
Do you have any tips or products that have made traveling with a pet easier? Let us know in the comments section below!
Other Pet Travel Resources:
- CDC: Traveling with Pets
- U.S. Department of State: Pets and International Travel