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Traveling with a pet for the first time can bring a lot of uncertainty. Will my dog be okay? What do I do about bathroom breaks? Will the airline even let them fly? Those are just some of the questions that might run through your mind.
As someone who’s taken two trips with my dog this past year, I’m here to provide some practical tips from my own experiences on what worked. There are a lot of different ways people can travel with pets. In some cases, your dog might be a service animal or have to travel in cargo. However, in this article, I will focus on traveling with a non-service dog in-cabin.
Most importantly, your pet should be in good health and old enough to travel on a plane. I recommend that you check with their vet to be sure it’s safe for them to fly.
Booking the Flight
1. Choose Your Seat Wisely
When I’ve traveled with our dog, Piper, I booked an aisle seat toward the front of the plane. I usually like to book aisle seats on longer flights in case I need to use the bathroom. However, with Piper, I think this gives her a little more room to breathe than a cramped window or middle seat.
However, the biggest help was sitting toward the front of the plane. Not only can you board the plane a little earlier, but you exit the plane sooner.
Before You Arrive at the Airport
2. Get Plenty of Water the Day Before
Just like people, dogs should be plenty hydrated before a flight. I always make sure Piper gets enough water the day before we travel so that she is well-hydrated.
3. No Food the Morning of the Flight
If your dog is going to be on a plane for several hours or more, you want to avoid reasons they’ll need to use the bathroom. With Piper, we will skip her morning meal so that she doesn’t eat before the plane ride. I know it doesn’t side ideal having your pet skip a meal, but it’s better than them needing to go No. 2 mid-flight.
4. Pack Treats
As mentioned, I skip Piper’s breakfast the morning of the flight. However, I do pack a bag of treats for her. There are two reasons for this:
5. Get Out Their Energy
This is especially true if you have a high-energy dog. The first time I flew with Piper, I took her on a long walk. She was fine on the plane but a little more restless. However, the second time, I took to her to the dog park the morning of the flight so she could run around. This was an even bigger help because she was more tuckered out and dozed off more easily during the flight. Even if you can’t take them out to run, though, any kind of exercise is helpful.
6. Plan Out Bathroom Breaks
Of course, you’ll take them out before you leave for the airport. However, I recommend planning their bathroom breaks at the airport ahead of time. Is there a pet relief area in your terminal? Or do they have to use the bathroom outside the airport?
Pet relief areas in terminals are very helpful since they can go right up until boarding time. However, if your pup has to relieve themselves outside the airport, I recommend checking in first and then bringing them out to use the bathroom before you head to security. That way, it’s a bit less time between their final potty break and the flight.
At the Airport
7. Have Them in the Carrier for Check-In
When you travel with a pet in-cabin, you have to check in at the ticket counter. Some airlines, like Spirit, will only issue your boarding pass after this. Other airlines, like Allegiant, will allow you to check in online, but you still have to go to the front desk to get a tag for your dog’s carrier.
I recommend already having your pet in their carrier when you go to the ticket counter. This way, the agent can see they fit in there just fine.
8. Stack Your Luggage
Trying to carry your pet on one side and your luggage on the other side can get heavy fast. A big help for me was stacking Piper’s carrier on top of my roller carry-on. Just be careful when going up and down ramps so your pet remains secure.
9. Let Them Walk Around After Security
Your pet has to be out of their carrier through security. Depending on the airport, you may be able to just walk them through security with the leash on or you might have to remove the leash and carry them through.
However, after security, I’ve been able to let Piper walk around the airport before it’s time to board our flight, though she always remains on-leash. This is helpful because it gives her more exercise and less time in her carrier.
10. Limit Water
When you’re at the airport, it’s okay to give your dog some sips of water. However, don’t overdo it. They may be more nervous or excited with all the commotion. Sometimes when this happens, they might be inclined to drink a bunch of water, but you’ll want to limit this so that they won’t have to go later on during the flight.
11. Last Call Bathroom Break
If your terminal has a pet relief station, you’ll want to do a final bathroom break for them. At this point, they may or may not have to go, but it’s still best to give them the option. And if they don’t have to go, it’s okay, as long as they went beforehand at some point.
12. Put Them Back in the Carrier Just Before Boarding
I typically put Piper back in her carrier about five minutes before boarding begins. This way, I’m not rushing during the boarding process or end up missing my boarding section because I can’t get her ready fast enough.
On the Plane
13. Keep Them in the Carrier
This isn’t just my tip; it’s a rule. If your pet isn’t a service animal, they need to remain in their carrier at all times. You might be tempted to take them out to cuddle them but don’t risk getting kicked off the plane. I know Piper can get nervous so I just put my hand in front of the carrier and talk to her during take off and landing to help comfort her.
14. Put Them Under the Seat in Front of You
You may already know this, but it’s good to still emphasize it: Your pet should go under the seat in front of you, not in the overhead compartment. Putting them in the overhead compartment can be dangerous since they won’t get enough oxygen. Instead, you’ll put your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment.
After the Flight
15. Take Them Out of the Carrier
One I get off the plane and am in the terminal, I’ll take Piper out of her carrier so she can stretch her legs. Just make sure your pet remains on-leash.
16. Bathroom Break Right Away
Next, you’ll want to look for the nearest pet relief area, whether it’s in the terminal or just outside the airport. Avoid getting into your transportation from the airport without giving your pet a potty break first.
Once your settled in at your destination, I recommend taking your pet on a nice walk or to a dog park for some exercise. They’ll probably really need this if they’ve bene on a longer flight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take my 50 lb. dog on a plane?
You can take your 50 lb. dog on a plane under two options. The first option would be to have them travel in the cargo section. I personally am not a fan of this because it can be really traumatizing for dogs, but I also understand some people may have no other option. I would only resort to this if you are moving, but I wouldn't recommend it for just leisure travel.
The other option is if your dog is a registered service animal. In this case, they are allowed to travel in-cabin with you and not in a carrier. However, it’s still a good idea to check with the individual requirements of each airline in case they have weight or breed limits for service animals.
Can my pet sit with me on a plane?
If your pet is small enough, they can fit inside an airline-friendly carrier that would go under the seat in front of you. Service pets, on other hand, can sit with you on the plane outside of their carrier.
Does TSA require pet health certificates?
I have not had to provide any pet health certificates when flying with my dog in-cabin on domestic flights in the United States. If you travel internationally, however, pet health certificates may be required. You should always confirm the requirements of your specific destination before your trip so that you’re fully prepared.
Los Angeles is one of the biggest cities in the world, quite literally. It’s so sprawling that most visitors need access to a car just to try and see everything. As you might imagine, a city this size also has an abundance of different neighborhoods, each with its own vibe and pros and cons.
Even if you have a car, where you stay when visiting LA is important because of the traffic and how long it takes to get places. With that in mind, I’ll break down some of LA’s top neighborhoods to stay in and where I think you should avoid staying.
The Best LA Neighborhoods to Stay
West Hollywood is one of my favorite LA neighborhoods and is a rare gem here because it’s very walkable. In WeHo, you’ll find plenty of great restaurants, bars, and shopping. It’s also home to the famous Sunset Strip. For those who plan to bring their dog to LA, WeHo is very dog-friendly; I love to take our dog, Piper, to the West Hollywood Dog Park at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente. It’s also clean, safe, and central for easier access to other LA areas.
The downsides to WeHo are that it can get pricey, and parking is hit-and-miss since many neighborhoods have permit parking overnight.
The Silverlake area is great for those who prefer to stay in an area without many tourists that also has more of an artsy, eclectic vibe to it. Silverlake is lined with local eateries, coffee shops, bars, and stores, so there’s plenty to do in the area. Also, it’s not too far from Hollywood for those who still want to visit big tourist sites. This hipster-friendly neighborhood is a great find, but keep in mind that it’s not close to the beach, so getting near the water will easily be a day trip with the city’s notorious traffic.
With plenty to do, including its iconic pier and the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica is a great option for those who want to stay close to the ocean (except for any beachfront Airbnbs in Malibu, of course).
Santa Monica is home to many hotels, so there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to lodging. Plus, you can easily access other beach areas, including Venice, which is right next door.
Consider Burbank if you’re looking for somewhere quiet and safe with more affordable hotels. This valley neighborhood has more of a suburban vibe, and it’s where Warner Bros. Studio is located. It’s also right next to Universal City, which houses Universal Studios here in LA. The downside to Burbank is that you’d definitely need a car, though downtown Burbank is fairly walkable and has plenty of shops and restaurants. Another advantage of Burbank? It has its own airport, which is way smaller and less crowded than LAX.
Where to Avoid Staying in LA
Normally, you might assume a city’s downtown is the place to be, but that’s not the case with LA. Though there are some cool spots worth checking out, downtown is one of the less safe areas of LA. The upside to downtown LA is subway accessibility, but personally, I would avoid staying here and opt for another neighborhood.
Hollywood might be on your Los Angeles bucket list, but it’s not the ideal place to actually spend the majority of your trip. Loud, crazy, and filthy are just some adjectives I think of when it comes to Hollywood. You’re constantly dodging poop on the sidewalk, and Hollywood Blvd., in particular, is overwhelming. Instead, plan a day to visit Hollywood.
Though it’s a famous LA neighborhood, Venice has seen an uptick in crime in recent years. Venice is worth visiting, including the boardwalk and Abbot Kinney Road. However, I recommend staying in a different beach neighborhood, such as Santa Monica, because it is safer and less rowdy.
By the Airport
Unless you’re only here for one night, staying by the airport just isn’t worth it since you’re not really close to anything unless you take a drive or an even longer bus trip. Even though hotel deals can be better around the airport, you’ll make up the cost in Uber rides or gas.
When my husband and I go out for vegan breakfast in LA, we usually end up ordering a burrito. However, not all vegan breakfast burritos are created equal. In fact, some are pretty bad. That’s why it's worth writing about when you find something truly great.
This year, we visited a new coffee and breakfast spot near us called Blackwood Coffee + Bar on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. As usual, we ordered a vegan breakfast burrito, but this time, the burrito ended up surpassing our expectations. Honestly, this was the best vegan breakfast burrito that I’ve tried thus far in LA.
The burrito costs $15 but is quite large, so you definitely get your money’s worth. It comes with ‘just egg,’ ground ‘soyrizo’ (soy version of chorizo), kale, mushrooms, oven-baked potatoes, and melted vegan cheddar. Regarding parking, you can either park at a meter out front or find parking in the residential neighborhood off Santa Monica Blvd. According to their website, Blackwood Coffee’s West Hollywood location is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Sleep Advisor, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com