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Tuesday March 31, 2015

Going on holiday? Don't forget your dog

Pet holidays are the cat's whiskers!

As we edge ever closer to summer, an increasing number of friends in the UK are opting to take their beloved dogs – and even cats – along on the family holiday. This means that the majority are booking villas and pet friendly hotels in their chosen destination with Spain and France topping the list.

If recent surveys are to be believed one third of Britons now take their pets away on vacation and 25 per cent admit to having passed up on holiday breaks rather than leave their precious pooches back home. Of course these days it’s a lot easier to transport pets around Europe but it often comes with a hefty price tag. Aside from the associated travel costs, there’s also the need for an up to date rabies vaccination and all animals must have a pet passport and microchip.

Although some airlines will accept animals in the hold, many owners dislike the trauma involved for their pets and prefer either to accompany them or find a suitable overland carrier. Another important consideration is that airlines such as British Airways require animals to be delivered to the airport using a pet travel agent such as Jets4Pets which will naturally charge a commission fee on top of the flight costs. For those really willing to splash the cash, pets can travel with their owners in great luxury on a private jet such as Fly Victor with its Furrs Class service or find a suitable airline with Private Fly. A growing number of expats use such services and argue that in reality they represent good value for money, costing not much more than traditional airlines and offering a stress-free experience.

For holidaymakers and expats travelling between the UK and other European destinations there are various transport services operating such as Pet Moves and Pet Chauffeur Europe that allow owners to accompany their pets. Other companies such as Pets2Go2 which ferries animals between the UK and Spain offers a door to door service or agrees a central meeting zone for pet owners in various Spanish and UK locations. It is of course the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their felines and hounds have passports and that their vaccinations are up to date.

A cost effective – though often more onerous option – is to transport pets by rail, car and ferry, staying if necessary at dog and cat friendly hotels en route to the European destination. I attempted to try this once but my Mini Cooper gave up the ghost with three passengers plus luggage and three accompanying cats on board.
The most important aspect of pet transport is to make arrangements well in advance of the planned trip. Taking Rover, Marmaduke or Tinkerbell on a bucket and spade jaunt to the sun doesn’t have to be an arduous and stressful ordeal given that there are plenty of transport options and many ways to skin the proverbial cat.

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