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Tag Archives: airplanes

“P” is for Pets

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Still working my way through the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Stick with me!

Making travel decisions and arrangements can be difficult for pet owners, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. People feel strongly about their pets- our dogs, cats and hedgehogs can often feel like a member of the family. We don’t want to leave them behind, but we realize that not all pets are happy travellers all of the time. How we handle this is going to depend on the pet, the destination, the type of travel involved and a number of other factors. And even when you’ve got it all figured out, things can go awry; remember what happened to Jann Arden not too long ago?

Essentially, you usually have three or four main options:

  1. Bring your pet with you
  2. Board the pet at a facility, either at home or at your destination
  3. Hire a pet sitter
  4. Leave your pet with a friend or relative

We’ve taken the dog with us on several trips, but only those trips where we were camping or cottaging, or staying with relatives. Generally, it’s gone well, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many tourist-driven towns are dog-friendly. Several times, winding our way down the main street on foot, we’ve left one of our party outside with the dog, only to have store keepers come out and tell us we can bring the dog in, since we’re carrying him. Go North Bay, Fenelon Falls, Bracebridge and Muskoka! My daughter tells me that in Paris and Rome it was very common to see dogs accompanying their owners – unleashed, even!

Watching a city dog take on the cottage was a treat too -he was overwhelmed with all the squirrels there were to chase, the dirt there was to roll in, and the water there was to swim in. And when he’d had enough of the day, he figured out how to nose the zipper of the tent open and crawl on into bed! And he LOVES riding in the car, probably because we took him on an 8-hour drive only a week after getting him.

We did stay in a motel with him one night once, and that didn’t go as well. He had a tendency to sit at the door and howl. When we’ve gone places we couldn’t take him, we’ve been lucky enough to have a relative that will let him come to stay. Likewise the parakeet- a neighbour child is happy to bring him home for a week for $10.

Flying, or taking the bus or train with your pet can be complicated and costly – always find out the details well ahead of time.

If you’re going to leave your pet at a kennel, investigate ahead of time. There may be specific vaccinations necessary, or other arrangements you need to make first. And ask lots of questions to get familiar with the facility. There are some very, very nice facilities available; the new ones at Walt Disney World cost more per night than several of the people-resorts.

Remember too that your pet may behave differently away from home – see the aforementioned howling. No matter how well-trained your pet is, he can surprise you. I recall a very frightening moment in a parking lot when the dog bolted from the van before we could get his leash attached.

Petfriendly.ca has a very helpful database of articles relating to traveling with your pet. Be sure to check it out! Having a pet doesn’t have to stop you from traveling, it just adds something to the planning and preparation.

Do you travel with your pet? What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way?

“A” is for Airports

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It’s rare to find anyone who has anything very positive to say about airports. While much is printed, blogged and tweeted about the hassle involved in traversing this no-man’s-land between here and there (wherever “here” and “there” happen to be), I can’t recall reading or hearing about anyone who’s been particularly happy about spending time in an airport.

Until now. I love airports.

I’m not what you’d call a frequent flyer – I’ve flown perhaps two dozen times in my life. And none of that internationally. And I can’t say that I’ve a specific airport that stands out as a favourite. But I haven’t yet met an airport I didn’t like either.

From Denver (the largest airport I’ve ever been in) to Elliot Lake, Ontario (I recall it was about the size of my living room), there’s something about the coming and going that I find at once soothing and exhilarating. Leaving home, stepping into the airport is the point at which I begin to truly feel “away.” Coming back from a trip, it’s once again the arrival at the airport that turns my attention away from the vacation just passed and toward home. For me, the stress of traveling- going or coming- stops when I get to the airport, not the other way around.

The airport is the world in miniature; I’ve never understood those who glue themselves to a movie or book for two solid hours before their flight leaves. Oh sure, I read; I also people watch, shop, eat, wander, eat some more. I particularly like browsing the news-stands; were it not for the aforementioned Denver airport, I likely never would have discovered Mental Floss magazine, for instance. My gut reaction to the plot of The Terminal was “how cool would it be to live in an airport?” It’s right up there with the concept of living in a shopping mall (thank you Richard Peck)

I’m sure part of it derives from when I was little; my grandpa would often take me out to the local airport to watch the planes take off and land. This was back in the day when anyone could get through the gate and go right up to the window. We’d watch a few planes, then adjourn to a nearby truck stop for  a snack. I even loved watching the baggage pickup – staring at that hole in the wall, trying to guess when it would spit out the first suitcase, and who it would belong to.

I’m the first to volunteer when anyone I know needs a ride to the airport. And I’ll even pay for parking and go in to wait when I’m picking someone up. It’s not as much fun anymore, with all the good stuff on the other side of security, but I’ll take what I can get.

What’s your favourite airport experience?