For many of us, a family holiday just isn’t complete without our four-legged friends. So, if you’re planning a trip abroad or exploring more of the beautiful British Isles, Rachel Reditt from boating holiday company Le Boat shares their top tips on how to take your dog on holiday abroad.
As a nation of dog lovers, it’s no surprise that many of us can’t face leaving our beloved pets behind while we travel. In fact, online searches for ‘pet friendly short breaks’ have shown a 28% increase year-on-year, while searches for ‘dog friendly cabin holidays’ have increased by 80%. This is why independent adventures like self-drive boating holidays are an excellent option for pet parents, as you can enjoy plenty of fresh air, walks along the tow path, and dog-friendly pubs along the way. In this article, we’ll help you to take your dog on a holiday abroad with five helpful tips.
Check travel restrictions
The most important thing to consider when taking your dog on holiday abroad is meeting the correct legal requirements for the country you’re visiting. While the rules and restrictions for international travel may have changed slightly, after doing a little research and completing a few straightforward forms, you can easily bring your pup along on your next adventure.
The main update to the travel process is that pet passports previously issued in the UK can’t be used when travelling to EU countries or Northern Ireland. (Find out more via GOV.UK). Instead, these should be replaced with an Animal Health Certificate signed by a registered vet. To qualify for an Animal Health Certificate, your dog must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and for some countries, have recently received a tapeworm treatment. Your pup needs to have been vaccinated at least 21 days prior to getting their health certificate, and once issued, you must use this paperwork to travel within ten days.
If you’re travelling further afield, remember that entry requirements may differ in non-EU countries and it’s wise to research the government advice for your destination well in advance. Travelling with your pet will go smoothly if you have all the relevant paperwork prepared, printed off, and brought to the airport or ferry with you.
Ensure they travel comfortably
When travelling with your dog, try to keep them as comfortable and secure as possible. Dogs must always be safely restrained in your car, whether you use a travel grate, a spacious boot, or a harness attached to a seatbelt. It’s also important that they get plenty of breaks from the car, especially on long journeys. For this reason, it’s worth looking up the service stations on your route and seeing which ones are dog friendly, and even better, if there are any alternative stopping points with green spaces to stretch their legs and have a toilet break. When you’re on the road, be sure to keep your car cool and open the windows wherever possible.
Once you arrive at your destination, make sure you give your dog a chance to investigate their new environment by letting them sniff around and setting up their bed. After a long journey, it’s also best to take them on a short walk around the area to burn off a little energy and go to the bathroom.
Research the area
As well as reading up on the country’s entry requirements and travel restrictions, it’s also wise to research the area you’ll be staying in. For example, when bringing your dog on the family’s boating holiday, you’ll want to find out the best places to moor up and head out for a scenic walk. It’s also useful to have an idea of which parks, beaches, and other sightseeing spots are dog-friendly before you go, so there’s no unexpected hiccups in your travel itinerary. This might add a little extra time to your holiday planning, but it’s worth it to know that your pup won’t get turned away when you’re out exploring. For any emergencies, you may also want to note down the number and address for a local vet in the area.
Stick to their routine
While it’s undoubtedly an exciting experience for you and your dog, travelling to a whole new country can be a little overwhelming or disorienting. It’s therefore wise to keep up some elements of your daily routine even when you’re staying somewhere new, to help structure their days. This could include sticking to your usual walk times, such as always walking before breakfast or after dinner, or making sure to settle them in their bed at the same time each night. Most importantly, try to stick to your pup’s usual diet and pack their everyday food if you can. Switching up your dog’s food can be a tricky change at the best of times, and a trip abroad definitely isn’t the place to try something new!
Bring some home comforts
To help your pup feel more at ease when you’re travelling, it can often help to bring along some home comforts. Things like their favourite bed, blankets, and toys will have a familiar, comforting scent and can make your dog settle more easily into their new environment. Even packing smaller things like their lead or harness from home can have a reassuring impact, by providing your pup with recognisable things they associate with walks and playtime. And, of course, every pet owner knows the importance of bringing their favourite treats on any journey — no matter how long — to keep our furry friends happy and reward good behaviour.
Planning an unforgettable family holiday?
These five top tips will help you to take your dog on holiday abroad, all while travelling safely, securely, and legally. For more helpful guides and pet-friendly advice, be sure to check out our blog.