How to decide whether to bring your dog on your next trip

3 min read

Hi there!

I am Sonali, the co-founder of Petminded. Over the past year, I have been asked many questions about traveling with Ella, my 6-year-old rescue. I am sharing a bit about why and how we started traveling together.

My husband and I adopted Ella in June 2018. Ella is fondly called “chi-terror” because she created havoc the first few months we had her – mainly because we realized she has severe separation anxiety and hates being without us. This was the initial trigger for us to start traveling with her. Though now it has become an obvious choice. The more we do it, the more fun we have!

I realize that it’s not that easy to envision traveling with your pets, so I thought it may be helpful to share my decision-making process, and what goes into the planning these trips. Also to be clear, I don’t advocate for bringing your dog (or cat) on every trip. I think it’s important to consider your pet’s health, temperament, etc, and also what you want to do on the trip before making the decision.

Okay, let’s get started…Our most recent travel adventure with Ella was in April when we spent a week in LA. Given the 6 hour flight from NYC and the primary purpose of the trip (a friend’s wedding), my husband and I were actually debating whether we should bring Ella or leave her at home.

Here’s the pro/con list that I went through in my head:

The pros for bringing her along:

  • Ella loves getting out of the city and exploring new places and we love making these memories together as a family
  • We love traveling so we figure its good to get Ella accustomed to all types of travel while she’s young and healthy. I am not saying you can’t travel with an older pup, but chances are it will be slightly harder to do
  • With Ella in LA, we could stay longer and enjoy a relaxing week with her vs. feeling guilty and worried about leaving her at home. Yes, I am one of those people who have taken shorter vacations in the past because I was worried about my dog or cat being sad without me.
  • It would actually be less expensive to take her to LA compared leaving her at home (we live in NYC where dog boarding and sitting expenses can add up!)

The cons:

  • How will she handle the longer flight? She has been on many subway rides, car trips, a train, and a short flight previously. Will she be calm and comfortable on a 6-hour flight?
  • If we run into issues at the airport, will this make her more anxious?
  • Will it be easy to find accommodation in LA?
  • Will it be easy to find pet sitters while my husband and I are participating in the wedding activities?

To help make the decision, I contacted Ella’s vet and former trainer to get their advice. Happily, both were supportive of taking Ella on the trip and gave me some helpful recommendations to help get her (and me) travel ready.

The trainer’s recommendations:

  • Make sure Ella is comfortable in her carrier (we were pretty confident about this, since she has traveled in her carrier before)
  • During the flight, pack a familiar blanket to soothe her
  • And lastly, stay calm at the airport and on the flight. Animals pick up on our anxiety. An anxious me would make for an anxious Ella. A calm, relaxed me would make Ella feel secure and comfortable. More on this topic later….

The vet’s recommendations:

  • Pack motion sickness medicine in case Ella feels sick
  • Adjust Ella’s feeding schedule a few days in advance to accommodate potty breaks
  • Keep Ella hydrated as much as possible

None of these recommendations seemed too complicated to manage, and the idea of a new travel adventure with Ella was exciting. So I spent a few hours contacting Airbnb hosts and reviewing hotels. Ultimately we picked an apartment in Venice Beach, based on friend’s recommendations. I also knew a great dog sitter who had recently moved from NYC to LA. So the problem of watching Ella while we were at the wedding was solved pretty easily.

All in all it took about six to eight hours of research and an hour to finalize all these details.

And then we were off to LA… Follow our IG Stories to see our pics!