traveling with your dog: what to know

we got our ferdinand mostly because of his breed and size (but chose him specifically for his extremely calm temperament). with an on-the-go lifestyle, we needed a dog we could take everywhere… and we do! he only weighs four kilos (about 9 lbs) so he’s easy to travel with.

one of the first things we did when we got him was obtain his doggie passport. many people who saw this photo were baffled: “dogs have passports?” the answer, as far as living in the EU is, yes, but it doesn’t seem absolutely required. they are available, but i’ve noticed the information is exactly the same as in his medical booklet the breeder gave us. if you’re going to fly with your dog, the most important thing is making sure he is not behind on any annual vaccinations, especially for rabies. it is required that the dog get that six weeks before the date of travel.

we opted to get a passport to be on the safe side and also because one day ferdinand will probably move to the united states and we wanted everything to be as official and in order as possible early on.


we also started taking him on buses and trains almost immediately – in fact, the day after we brought him home. it takes a bit of time and patience, but within a few times, he began to get excited when the bus would pull up and even hops on himself! the main thing to do when you get a travel dog is immediately take him everywhere with you. take him on the bus, on the train, up and down busy streets, around crowd noise and tram bells. it’s the dog that stays home and is not exposed to any new stimuli that will be the most freaked out from traveling.

another thing we invested in early on is his travel carrier (below). because of his size, he is well-suited to fit in one! if your dog is too big to fit inside a standard airline carry-on sized carrier, it may still be prudent to invest in a “travel bed” – it seems to be a bed looking carrier with handles that the dog can sit inside and feel safe anywhere. this can be great for dogs that need more comfort when in a new place, although do keep in mind, a travel carrier fit for train or in-cabin airplane travel must zip up all the way as well as having a hard, impenetrable and waterproof bottom.


when on the road with your dog, don’t forget….

food and water dishes. instead of the fancy, expensive travel dishes you see at every pet store, we use empty food containers. we keep one with a serving of dog food in it, and another dish (without a lid) which can fit on the outside of the food dish for water. we pour some water from our own bottle in there, and just dump it anywhere when he’s finished. it’s great to place under our table when we go out to eat at casual restaurants, especially outdoor cafes.

to let your buddy have water often! while traveling in the summer, your dog will often be walking outside and will be as thirsty as you will be! as a rule, whenever we stopped for a drink of water, we gave him the opportunity to drink as well. as always, be mindful of a dry nose if he is active – it could be an indication that your dog isn’t getting enough to drink.

bring a towel! a towel serves as a covering for car seats (protecting from hair and fluids) as well as an impromptu dog bed at an accommodation. we would have been lost without a towel for our ferdie while renting a car this summer.

bring packs of travel tissues or wet wipes. for any kind of mess or a car-sick dog, you have no idea how much these were needed! i would place a layer of a few tissues on the towel with ferdie just in case car-sickness struck and it was a seat-saver.

to keep his routine as normal as possible. dogs thrive on routine, making them feel more comfortable like at home, and travel can shake this up a lot. if possible, try to keep feeding and ‘going outside’ times the same as you would at home, as well as any nighttime routine. 

to have a plan for what you would do in a pet emergency. fortunately when emergency struck for us, i asked our cottage host immediately where to find the nearest vet. however i can easily imagine a scenario where we might not have had internet or anyone to ask. it’s good to be prepared.


what to expect for train travel

on most european trains in central europe, dogs in a travel carrier are considered “luggage” and essentially free to take, as long as they stay inside the whole time. for an extra fee (varies by country, usually minimal), considered a “dog ticket”, you are allowed to have your dog on-leash without a carrier, but you must have a muzzle with you. typically, the conductors don’t make us put it on our little guy but some of the stricter ones do. without one, it is a breach of the rules, so i wouldn’t risk it!

on a long train journey with multiple connections, we try to get a toilet stop in before transferring to the next train. remember – dogs are not allowed on the seats.


what to expect for bus travel

in the czech republic, dogs are allowed on city (MHD) buses at no additional cost and regional buses at a small additional cost (but about half of the time, the driver doesn’t charge this). however, dogs are not allowed on international lines which is why we always take the train these days.

what to expect at the airport

when flying with your dog in a carry-on travel carrier, remember that you will probably have to buy a supplement at the time you purchase your plane ticket. the price varies by airline but i’ve seen anywhere from $30 – $100 charges per flight. it’s a good idea to buy your ticket in as much advance as you can when traveling with your pet because many airlines have policies of no more than two carry-on pets allowed per flight, so of course, you’re going to want to be one of the first two. also be aware that some airlines do not permit online check-in when traveling with your pet. these days, it can even cost an extra fee to check-in at the airport so be mindful about that when choosing whether to fly with your dog or not.

do mention your dog is with you when you check into your flight. the check-in agent may want to check his passport/papers and see your travel carrier. while going through security control, your dog should be in his carrier while in the queue and the gate agent will want you to remove him at that point so you can put his carrier through the security screening on the conveyor belt, and you will be instructed to carry your dog through the screening with you.


lastly, i would add that in central europe, dogs seem to be allowed in most restaurants, cafes and bars – a “no dogs” sticker on the door is the en vogue way these days to let customers know what the deal is. for mini-markets, shopping centers and supermarkets, dogs are almost always a no-go. in germany, i’ve noticed that any park that is also a playground is not dog-friendly, and all over europe we’ve noticed that many lake and beach areas are verboten for furry friends. fortunately for us, this is not the case at home in our laid-back south bohemia!

with more unconventional museums (read: not art galleries), it pays to ask. we were able to bring ferdie on a tour of one of the world’s largest underground wine cellars in retz, austria because i asked first.

one last note on traveling with your dog: do it. bring him or her on your next trip and see how it goes! it usually isn’t hard to find a dog-friendly property to stay in and it’s so lovely to have the whole “family” together instead of feeling like someone important is missing the whole time. at first it can seem limiting, but after awhile, i feel like there are few places we can’t go together.

is there anything else you would like to know or add? do you / would you travel with your pet?