Lola, my cockapoo, is passionate about meeting new people (that’s an understatement!). So when I took her on her first airplane trip, she was exuberant. From the moment we pulled up to the terminal she was on a mission to meet every person she could. The waiting area by the gate turned into a meet and greet. People came over and pet her, took selfies with her – even FaceTimed their family members to share their experience with Lola.
I started bi-coastal life in 2017 and Lola was part of it. I started loving the plane adventure with her so much that I looked forward to the experience. Yes, it was more of a hassle, but so many things we end up enjoying are!
To make your airplane (or other mode of transportation) trip as hassle-free as possible, here are pet travel products and accessories I recommend:
Lola is 16 pounds, too big for a purse, but easy to carry when needed. I first tried a carrier with a shoulder strap and that was uncomfortably heavy. I typically also carry a backpack for my laptop. I looked for options that were light and kept me hands free.
This is my go to carrier because it’s built like a suitcase but fits under the airplane seat (this is a requirement). It also functions as a backpack. Snoozer has pockets so there’s room for her food, bowl, treats. As I’m rolling Lola, I have a separate carry on for myself (having your arms free is key.)
I love this pet backpack and opt for it when going on hikes with Lola. The backpack is built really well, has extra storage in it and a little space for her to peep out. It also converts nicely into an under the seat bed during our flights. During road trips it doubles as a supplies backpack.
A great way to carry Lola around when shopping or for short walks. I keep the sling in my trunk and use it when she’s tired and I’m rushing around doing errands.
A great set of four for $9.99 for travel. They collapse and are dishwasher safe, you can clip them onto your carrier and have them with you for a quick drink of water or dinner.
Just as we carry water bottles around, this pet accessory is great for hikes and travel because it holds the water and your furry friend can drink straight from it too.
I love anything collapsible! Handy for food measuring (and I sometimes borrow it for measuring my oatmeal in the morning 🙂
Nothing worse than a smelly pet on a trip! I always carry good smelling wipes for paws and face, especially useful if hiking!
For airline travel, here are tips for how to be happy in transit with your pet in the cabin with you:
- There are a limited number of pet spots on each flight, and it’s a first come first serve basis – so reserve early. The first time I flew I got ESA (emotional support animal) certification so Lola could fly free and accompany me on the airplane as my support. That seemed fitting at the time, after all she’s a therapy dog! After one trip I decided to pay the pet fee, which is about $150 per flight, depending on the airline. Things have changed with COVID-19 and ESA is no longer an option.
- Pet relief areas can be found in most large airports either right before security or after. These are usually outdoor gated areas with grass or astroturf, poop bags and lots of pet smells to make yours feel right at home. The signage is clear – but I never noticed them before I brought Lola on an airplane. I recommend using the pet relief before you go through security or outside because inside the terminal the pet relief area is a astro turf lined shower stall and pets may be disoriented.
- Reduce the amount of water your pet drinks a few hours before the flight if you’re going a long distance. Lola doesn’t drink a ton, nor does she pee often like some dogs, but if yours is younger and needs to go more frequently then don’t offer too much water right before you board.
- I recommend putting your pet into the carrier before you walk into the terminal. Walking a dog through the airport is not easy. The floors are slick and there are crumbs and people everywhere. Walking Lola through the airport is like walking on a zig zag obstacle course and results in apologies and sweating.
You’ll have to walk your doggie through security, but then you can put him/her right back after the carrier bag goes through.
- When boarding, feel free to get in line with the “children under 2” section and go on the plane early. You need time to set up, convert the carrier into an under the seat bed and get yourself settled. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re holding up the whole boarding process.
- Consider booking a window seat. I typically like the aisle when flying alone, but learned that with a dog it can be a challenge – especially when meals are served :-). The window seat allows you to be tucked in and reduce the stimuli so that napping (for both of you) is possible.
- I recommend bringing a CBD treat or Benadryl to make your pet sleepy at the right time, especially if your dog is anxious or super energetic.
Don’t assume that everyone is a pet person.
- You may sit next to someone that is not pleased there is a furry passenger in their row. Don’t let your pet sit on the seat next to you thinking it’s ok till someone comes. Ask your neighbor if they like pets or care if your pet sits in your lap for a little while. (According to regulations on the plane, they cannot sit on your lap and must be under the seat at all times.)
- When you land, take your pet to the first water fountain you see and give them a long drink and a treat for being so good. Planes dehydrate us so I’m assuming that happens to Lola too! When I fly west, once we land it’s Lola’s dinner time, so I pack a meal and feed once we deplane. Then finding the pet area is easy – or just exit the airport and find some grass!
- Have a day of rest after your travel – expect your pet to be a little tired and dehydrated from the journey. It’s a lot of stimulation in one day, and even though your pet might sleep the whole time, it’s probably not the same as curling up in their dog bed at home. Don’t worry if they need a day or so to recover and want to be a little lazy.