Pretty much everyone has a pet these days. And the concept that a dog should be kept in the doghouse in the garden is long forgotten. Today, pets travel with their owners. Surprised? Then keep reading, because I myself was shocked out of my socks!
Say "yes" to a holiday with your dog, but… It won't be all that easy for either of you!
Travelling within the EU
If you own a dog, cat or ferret and are about to travel out of the country, your problem of placing your pets has just been solved. Take them with you!
I swear I’m not joking, traveling with your pet is easier than you might think. Especially within the European Union.
Despite that, there are some rules you need to follow. Your pet has to be equipped with a microchip or have a clearly visible tattoo that was made before July 3, 2011. It has to be vaccinated against rabies. Every animal you intend to travel with needs to be dewormed, although there are a few exceptions when this is not required. If, for example, you plan to transport your dog directly between Finland, Ireland, Malta and Norway, feel free to forget this information.
Last but not least, you need to have a pet passport for your pet if you are travelling within the EU, or an EU health certificate if you are coming from outside the EU.
European pet passport
The European pet passport is a document necessary for travelling around the European Union, which contains all the necessary information about your pet - i.e. information on the microchip or tattoo, rabies vaccination, but also contact information about the owner and the veterinarian who issued the passport.
EU veterinary certificate
Another type of document containing information about the animal (identification, health status, rabies vaccination); its appearance and structure correspond to the standard EU model.
If you travel to the Union from a country or territory outside the EU, you must obtain an EU health certificate for your pet, certified by an official veterinarian in the country of departure, no later than 10 days before the animal is transported to the Union. The certificate is valid for travel between EU countries for a period of 4 months from the date of transport or until the expiry of the rabies vaccination, whichever comes first.
In addition, you must fill in a written declaration stating that you are transporting the animal for non-commercial purposes. The declaration has to be attached to your pet's EU health certificate. This is required even if you entrust the transport of your pet to another person. In that case, you are obligated to pick up your pet within 5 days of your arrival in the EU.
Transport of a pet animal without an owner
Generally, pets are required to travel with their owners, but you can authorize another person in writing to travel with your pet in your stead. However, you are obligated to pick up the animal within 5 days of its transport to the EU.
And what if I want to go to places like Egypt or Indonesia?
If you don’t want to limit yourself to EU countries, you don't have to give up your dream either! But, yet again, you will have to comply with the conditions set by the country in question. In general, you’ll mainly need the following:
Before your journey, you have to take your pet to an approved veterinarian and have them vaccinated against rabies. Vaccination is considered valid if your animal is at least 12 weeks old and has already been marked with a microchip before the vaccination. Your pet can then travel with you 21 days after completing the vaccination protocol. Any further revaccination must be carried out during the period of validity of the previous vaccine used.
In addition to the standard requirements (microchip, rabies vaccination, echinococcal treatment if necessary, EU veterinary certificate), the animal must undergo a serological test for rabies antibodies no earlier than 30 days from the date of the vaccination against rabies and at least 3 months before travelling to the EU. An approved veterinarian takes a blood sample and sends it to an approved EU laboratory for examination.
The results of the serological test for rabies antibodies must be attached to the EU animal health certificate.
All right, that was the first step. Now, let’s move on. How will your buddy actually travel?
If you don’t plan to drive and prefer flying, it doesn’t have to be a limitation. Flying abroad with a dog or other pet is no longer unusual nowadays. Although it’s not quite common either. If you’re considering travelling by plane, because you simply want to take your best friend to the sea, you’ll need to prepare in advance!
Look before you leap
Before you decide to travel by air, give some thought to whether it’s really worth the effort, especially with regard to the animal itself. Dogs, cats and other animals usually get used to travelling by car easily, because if necessary, you can stop and let them out. Travelling by bus or train is a little worse, but even that is bearable for your pet. But when travelling by plane, animals are mostly locked up in a cramped cargo area, which is a different story. Logically, your pet faces a lot of stress during the flight - separated from the owner, alone in an unknown environment, locked in a small cage, with a relatively large noise surrounding them.
Not every carrier will allow it!
Sorry to let you down, but unfortunately, most low-cost companies don’t allow the transport of animals. And even if you’re flying with a company that has no problem with it, you need to know how to go about it. The requirements vary, but you need to make sure to meet them, otherwise, you might have to turn back at the airport and march home.
Some of the things you should be informed about are, the dimensions of the travel box and the ticket price - yes, your pet is definitely not going to fly for free, and you should find out in advance how much you’d have to pay for this luxury.
Prices for transporting an animal start at about 1,500 CZK, but in some cases they can go up to tens of thousands of crowns, depending on the specific destination and entry conditions for the animal ( in Great Britain, you can expect problems or significantly higher costs amounting to about 20 thousand CZ; when travelling to Iceland, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory upon arrival, etc.). Please note that some airports, such as London, Dublin, Eindhoven and Edinburgh, do not allow the arrival of animals at all. On the other hand, there are also places like Italy, where you can take your pet easily and without extra expenses.
Onboard or in the cargo area?
You can either take your pet with you onboard, or have them travel in the cargo area, but in most cases, they will have to fly with the luggage. In order for the pet to stay with you in the cabin during the entire flight, they must be small enough - their weight, including the weight of the transport box, should not exceed 8 kg. The dimensions of the box should be approximately 48 x 32 x 29 cm and it needs to fit under the seat in front of you; it also has to have air holes and an impermeable bottom. Of course, the animal must not leave its travel cage during the flight and should not bother the passengers with odour or noise. Police, rescue and service dogs for the visually impaired are an exception and can be transported without a cage and free of charge. However, such animals must have a validated training certificate as well as a muzzle.
Animals in the cargo area
If you own a larger pet, unfortunately, you won’t be able to have it with you. And let’s be honest here, this option of travel is often stressful not only for the animals themselves, but also for their owners.
You should therefore make sure to take all the necessary precautions, so that your pet would be able to handle the journey.
What guidelines to follow?
Walk the pet before departure.
Do not feed them 24 hours prior.
Do not give them too much water approximately 8 hours before the trip. It is recommended to attach a bowl to the box before check-in and put ice in it, letting it melt gradually.
Since the pet might have to pee, be sure to line the box with newspaper.
Most importantly, make sure the shipping box is marked with your contact details - both in your home country and the location you are headed to.
Travel boxes for animals can be bought in various e-shops, and if you don’t mind paying extra, also at most international European airports.
Time to pick accommodation!
Finding a nice hotel that allows dogs isn’t always easy. The "pet-friendly hotel" label, which says both you and your pet will be welcomed with open arms, will make your search easier.
That's why it's always a good idea to start planning your vacation well in advance. Although all popular holiday destinations offer several hotels that allow their guests to book a stay with a pet, the capacity of the most conveniently located places may be limited.
"For easier orientation, we offer those interested in travelling with an animal a special category, in which we list only hotels willing to accommodate them. The rules and accommodation prices for dogs differ from hotel to hotel, which is why you should present all your requirements to hotel staff well in advance,"
comments Michal Tůma, marketing director of the travel agency Invia. According to his words, accommodation prices for a dog most often range from 5 to 15 euros per night.
Beaches are a bit iffy
Pets are typically not allowed on the beach. That’s why so-called “dog beaches” have been popping up in popular holiday destinations, where dogs are allowed to roam freely both on dry land and in the sea. These beaches are often unofficial, created by local dog owners who gradually lay their claim on a certain section of the beach, usually on the edge of the resort, where they start walking their dogs. However, lots of official, properly marked dog beaches have been established as well. Italy is a pioneer when it comes to dog beaches.
“Especially the northern part of Italy is very dog-friendly. In the popular resort of Bibione, for example, there is a beach called Pluto, where owners have leashes, hygiene bags or dog showers at their disposal. They can also register their pets for various training activities,"
describes Michal Tůma from the travel agency Invia and adds that this paid beach is open from June to September.
More official dog beaches are located in Porto Santa Margherita and Lignano-Sabbiadoro, and you shouldn't really have a problem in finding one in other parts of Italy either.
But dog owners aren’t banned from other popular holiday destinations either. Croatia, for example, offers a large number of dog beaches. A wide selection of beaches with access for your four-legged partners can be found, for example, in the Kvarner Riviera, the town of Rijeka in northern Croatia or the island of Krk. And you can also go for a swim with a dog on the beaches of Istria or Dalmatia. In Spain, Barcelona and other local resorts are equally welcoming to your four-legged friends. In Greece, on the other hand, bathing with your dog isn’t all that usual, and you probably won’t be able to find special dog beaches here. However, if your dog is well-trained and kept on a leash, you can take him to a normal "human" beach. The best place to swim is one of the secluded beaches on the outskirts of the resort.
And how much will it cost?
With Czech Airlines, for example, you’ll pay a fee of 59 EUR/1530 CZK for the transport of a pet for a one-way trip, if you chose to have the animal with you in the passenger cabin.
However, should your pet travel in the cargo area, the price of transport is 119 EUR/3100 CZK for a one-way trip.
What do the cynologists say?
The eCanis dog portal advises that if you’re an avid traveller who doesn’t like leaving their pet at home all the time, you need to prepare your four-legged friend for the trip, and you also need to be careful, patient and give it some time.
If you're travelling by car, it's a little easier. Mostly because you’ll have plenty of time to make your pet well-acquainted with the vehicle. Keep in mind that each trip to god-knows-where is stressful for the animal - very stressful at that.
What definitely helps, whether you go by car or by plane, is to place the animal’s favourite toy or a piece of the owner's clothes into the travel box to make the pet feel at home.
My friend also wanted to take her pet for a vacation, but….
She was planning a trip to Dubai, and it’s not easy to travel there with a four-legged friend. For more than one reason.
Firstly, the flight is awfully long, which can be very stressful for the dog. Secondly, pets living in the temperate climate zone might have trouble adjusting to the local tropical temperatures and suffer from overheating. The biggest problem of all, however, is the approach of the more conservative part of the population, which still considers dogs "unclean". That’s why you won’t find many beaches and parks in the UAE where dogs aren’t prohibited.
"Dubai was my dream. But because I'm also an avid dog owner and I take my four-legged friend as a regular member of the household, I wanted him to fly with me. Once I’ve found out out all the necessary information, though, I gave up on the idea, because taking my dog to a country where the weather is relatively hot and having to leave him in a hotel didn’t seem to me like a good idea.
Whatever option and destination you decide on, first take some time to think about whether your pet can really handle the journey, or whether it is just your wish to have them with you, regardless of their needs and overall comfort.