Parker's 1st Birthday & How I Travel With Her
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Wow! I can't believe our sweet girl is already a year old! I definitely spent the morning looking back at all the pictures and adventures we've had with this girl over the last year. I've shared a few of my favorite pictures at the bottom of this post, so be sure to check those out! I also made sure to link all the items we purchased to celebrate Parker's special day, which you can shop by clicking below.
To celebrate Parker's 1st birthday with all of you, I decided to finally talk about how I travel with her. This is probably one of my most requested topics, so here goes nothing!
This year we were lucky enough to be within driving distance of Nick, so Parker and I have spent a lot of time in the car. After dealing with her anxiety, throwing up, and crapping in the back seat, I think it's safe to say we've mastered this one.
Tips for driving:
1. Get a seat cover
This is going to save your life and your seats. Trust me, you do not want to try getting shit out of your seats and all the little crevasses. The seat cover I have linked below is durable, water resistant and super easy to clean. I also love the seat cover because I fold it up before taking it out of the car and it keeps all her hair in one place.
2. Consider medication
Before you take your first road trip, you might want to consider giving your dog Benadryl or Dramamine. This will be a trial and error process, as some medications don't work the same on dogs. For example, Parker just tries to fight the Benadryl and ends up working herself up and getting sick. So we learned the hard way that this sleepy time pill was not for her. Also, make sure you roll down the windows every few hours, this really helps them get fresh hair and can keep them from feeling uneasy.
3. Keep cleaning supplies in your car It doesn't hurt to keep a spray bottle of cleaner or even Clorox wipes in your car if there is an accident. You don't want to be stuck with a bad smell the whole trip if you only have water and napkins
4. Pack a portable water bowl and treats
Parker gets extremely dehydrated when we're driving so at every stop I take time to let her drink water. She usually drinks at least a full bottle of water on an 8 hour trip. Then just keep treats for her during the trip. I don't let her eat the morning of the road trip because I don't want her to get sick. A great treat to invest in if you're going to give them medicine, is pill pockets, which I'll link below.
5. Take time to stop
Parker and I stop every 4 hours for gas and a bath room break. I make sure she goes #1 and #2 and I let her walk around for a little bit to stretch her legs. I don't plan stops based on dog friendly areas, as most gas stations have plenty of room for her to do her business and walk around.
6. Book a pet friendly hotel
If you are staying in a hotel for you trip, call and ask about their pet policy. Sometimes their online policy or fees can be outdated and it's best to check with the hotel. Luckily Parker is an emotional support animal, so all hotels have to accept her and there can legally be no pet fee charged to the room. I'll get more into this at the end of the post.
7. Don't forget to pack for your dog too!
I have linked the best travel bag for your dog. It can store toys, treats, up to 30 cups of food and so much more! I love having this little number because we just keep it packed and restock the food and treats before each trip. It's so nice to have all of her belongs in one place and ready to go, so that I don't have another thing to worry about before the trip.
Ps. I linked Parker's favorite toy because it goes one very trip! It's one of the first ones she can't completely destroy.
8. Talk to your Vet
This is just a good rule of thumb. Before any trip you want to call your vet and make sure that your pup is up to date on vaccines and that it is safe for her to travel!
Essentials for driving with your pet:
This is a tricky one and things will vary depending on the size of your dog.
For this part of the post I am going to talk about flying with Southwest and a little with American Airlines for comparison. I would love to research each and every airline for you guys, but I just don't have the time. Hopefully going over Southwest's policy will help you have a better understanding.
If your animal is not a service dog or an ESA animal, your little baby will need to fit in the approved Federal Aviation Administration carrier.
This carrier has the following dimensions: 18.5" long X 8.5" high X 13.5" wide. Not only does your animal need to be able to fit in the carrier, it needs to be able to stand up and move around. Parker didn't even fit in this thing when she weighed 10 pounds, so make sure your dog can actually move around in the carrier before showing up to the airport. You will not be able to fly with your dog if this task can not be performed in front of an airline employee.
Tips for airline travel:
1. When you purchase your ticket note that you will have a service animal, ESA animal or carried on pet. Airlines only allows 6 animals per plane, 2 in first class, and 4 in the main cabin, so you'll want to make sure they know you'll be on the plane with a pet. If you are flying with a service animal or emotional support animal, the number of those is unlimited per flight. Also keep in mind that you are only allowed one pet per ticketed passenger. Your dog is also subject to a $95 pet fare each way. This fee is paid at the ticket counter, not when you book your flight.
2. Southwest does not check animals. If your pet is too big, you will need to fly on another airline. Southwest doesn't have the required compartments that are safe for a dog to travel as a checked item. Most airlines do have pressurized and heated luggage compartments for your pet. If you do go the checked route keep these things in mind:
Checking a pet is first come, first serve. For example, American Airlines only allows 7 kennels per flight and if they put you on an American Eagle flight, they only allow 5
The weight of your pet and the carrier should not exceed 100 Ibs
You must provide a health certificate for you pet that has been issued within 10 days of your travel date
For AA the charge is $200 per kennel and $125 for a carry on kennel
There is a long list of dog bread restrictions for airlines, even if the dog is being checked, so check that out before you purchase your flight
3. Why you might not want to check your dog for a flight:
The first problem could be that your pet could be sent to the wrong place. It happens with luggage all the time and your pet's kennel isn't protected from a routing error.
Although most airlines pet policies ensure your pet will not be exposed to extreme cold or extreme heat, we can't know that for sure. Animals may be left in extreme heat, cold or rain while handlers transport and load them into airplanes from the tarmac. Even after loading, pets may sit in sweltering or frigid conditions until the airplane takes off and the climate control kicks in.
Finally, there's the chance that your pet's kennel may get tipped, crushed or opened accidentally during transport, loading or unloading.
4. Things to consider if you decide flying will work for you and your dog:
Try to book a nonstop flight. If you can't take a non stop, try to be cautious of a flight with a longer connection so that handlers can actually check the well being of your checked pet. A longer connection also gives you time for food and potty breaks for your smaller dog.
All airports have a pet relief area, but they aren't always in the airport. For example, in Austin, you have to go outside passed security, and then come back in and go through security again. For this reason, we brought potty pads for Parker. There was no way we were going through security AGAIN. Other airports like LAX have designated spots near the terminals for easy access. To check your desired airport, click here.
Potty pads are also nice to have to help you clean up, because your pet could have an accident at the airport. Parker peed in the terminal waiting area..on carpet. So it happens and you're not alone if it does. Just clean it up and move along.