Today we were fortunate to be able to Interview Pet Owner and International Dog Traveller, Ali Preissing.
Hi Ali, what's your story?
In short, I moved from the USA to Europe with my dog, Soto...she’s named after Sonia Sotomayor. I travel frequently and where I go, she goes. She’s been to 15 countries. I’ve been to 22 myself. She has an EU Pet Passport.
Ali and her dog Soto in Brugge, Belgium.
What's it like travelling with a Pet? Do you have any tips?
For anyone that would like to travel with an animal, it is possible! While it is much more difficult in some cases, there are ways to do it.
A few points to consider: Larger animals are hard. The weight limit for non service or ESA animals is 8 kg or roughly17 pounds with carrier included. If they are over, they have to be put in cargo. There are not any loopholes to this. Traveling with smaller animals is much easier because you keep them in the cabin. Some dog breeds are restricted, such as breeds that are viewed as aggressive (stupid, I know). Or breeds with short snouts, like pugs etc because the pressurized travel makes it challenging for them to breath.
Traveling with animals will be more expensive. Nearly every low cost airline will not accept animals. Many don’t allow service animals. You will also pay extra fees to allow animals that are not service animals to join you. I pay because I am not using my dog as a fake service animal under any circumstance.
Soto in Ali's bag being carried in Vienna, Austria.
Anything else we should know?
To enter into many countries, you need health certificates and other paperwork that are both expensive and sometimes challenging to understand. There are age restrictions with dogs. New puppies cannot travel. They have to be at least 3-4 months. I am not aware of any with older dogs, but travel with older dogs is not recommended. They will need medical treatment before traveling....vaccines, deworming etc.
Ali and her dog Soto in Venice, Italy.
Ali's dog, Soto outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
Ali and her dog Soto in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
What's it like travelling with other passengers? Are they pretty accomodating?
If you don’t like animals or if you don’t want a pet on your flight, pick an airline that doesn’t allow them. You will probably save some money. For those judging who do bring animals, it’s a long and expensive process. Don’t spread misinformation when you have no idea what the process is. Some people judge and don’t understand but I try to live by “what they think of me is none of my business.” Keep calm and carry on. The animals on your flight are healthier than most of the passengers traveling. You have to inform the airline of the pet days in advance so they can confirm the reservation. Sometimes there are too many dogs or any other issue that could arise. Rule of thumb, book your pet reservation when you book your tickets. Airlines will typically work with you. That being said, if you have allergies, tell the airline. My dog is my responsibility. Your allergies are yours. If your animal is not a service one or ESA, it needs to stay in a special carrier under the seat. The animal will not lick or bite you. If it’s a service one, they have training not to do that so don’t worry about unruly behavior. If your animal is an ESA or service, make sure to understand the difference in airline policies. Countries don’t have the same rules toward ESAs typically.
How Soto has to sometimes be carried around.
Do all countries allow travel with Pets? Or are some more difficult than others?
Most hostiles/Rogue Countries do not allow animals. Airbnb choices will be fewer. Some countries are off limits until I have a sitter. For example, Australia is a dream of mine. They also have intense quarantine to protect their ecosystem. I will wait to go there until I can sort a suitable sitter for my best furry friend. Some countries aren’t suitable for pets to travel. Many countries that still have issues with rabies or other diseases will it make it difficult (more paperwork or quarantine) to re-enter into the USA or countries that don’t have issues with rabies. RESEARCH!!!!!! You can screw over your dog and yourself by not understanding policy or country culture.
Ali and her dog Soto in Munich, Germany.
What about travel once you arrive at your destination?
Say goodbye to travel by bus as many companies because many don’t allow animals. Some do, so make sure to do research.
Unless you are going for an extended time or traveling, it’s best to leave them at home. I’ve gone on a couple weekends trips and haven’t taken her because it’s not worth the stress. While they are few and far between, dealing with snarky travelers that don’t like animals drives me crazy but it’s another thing to deal with. I have done all the above, a process that most don’t understand, and it can be frustrating. Please be kind to people with animals traveling because it is incredibly stressful and no person needs extra judgement. The crux of my advice: you can’t just randomly choose to bring an animal on a flight. This being said, it is worth it. I love my dog more than anything. She is more behaved than most humans and I’m glad she goes wherever I do.
Thanks Ali for your tips and for sharing your terrific travel photos with Soto!
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