Every year, millions of travelers embark on their worldwide adventures. Whether visiting a warm, tropical location is your dream trip, or a winter getaway is more your style, many people enjoy traveling to new places. However, traveling- whether domestically or internationally- can be stressful for many people. Between the long hours and constant airport chaos (especially during the holiday season), it’s no wonder why many people are not fond of flying. Just traveling via plane on your own can be stressful enough; so imagine how daunting the idea of traveling with your pet must be.
As travelers depart for their long-awaited holidays, oftentimes, their pets get left behind. Understandably, traveling- whether via car or plane- with an animal can complicate things. However, with the right plan and preparation, bringing your furry companion with you can be quite hassle-free. Not to mention, how amazing would it be to have your precious pup with you as you create some of your future fondest memories?
Meet Eva and Vilk
Eva zu Beck is one of the most influential travel bloggers, boasting a global following of over 4 million across her social media platforms. Solo cycling trips, mountain ascents, and marathons are just a few of the many worldwide adventures she’s documented on her YouTube channel. Through her breathtaking travel vlogs, her subscribers have also grown quite fond of a certain four-legged companion- her two-year-old German Shepherd, Vilk. Recently, Eva undertook an international journey from the United States to Amsterdam, accompanied by her loyal travel buddy, Vilk. Recognizing how many fellow dog owners yearn to bring their pups along for their adventures, Eva is graciously reflecting on her international flying experience and offering her best safety tips for flying with dogs.
How Did Eva Prepare for Flying with Vilk?
For Eva, the idea of flying with Vilk across the ocean was very nerve wracking. For many people, even just traveling abroad on their own can be incredibly difficult, so adding a dog into the mix can certainly complicate things. Eva, like many other dog owners, was initially skeptical about flying internationally with Vilk. “I had heard so many horror stories about dogs being traumatized by flying,” she said. “Plus, researching can scare you and freak you out even more.”
Many dog owners have heard about the rare instances where obstacles are encountered while traveling with pets. While the majority of the time everything goes smoothly during airline transport, every now and then, things can go wrong. Needless to say, the stories of when things go wrong is enough to scare any dog owner. However, the vast majority of the time, flying with pets goes smoothly and as planned. Researching and learning from others’ experiences traveling with their pets is a great way to begin planning your trip. In the time leading up to her trip with Vilk, Eva did just that. She joined many dog-centric Facebook groups where owners shared their experiences traveling with their furry friends. “It was great hearing people’s journeys flying with their dogs and what they did to prepare. Hearing other people’s positive experiences helped me,” said Eva.
First of all, one key fact that many dog owners have to keep in mind is that not every airline is pet-friendly. Each airline has their own individual rules and regulations, all of which are subject to change at any time. Thus, travelers should prepare to do some research into pet-friendly airlines before booking their trip. Eva recognized this was a very important part of flying with your dogs, so she was very thorough with her research into which airlines allow dogs to fly. After finding the best route and airline for her intercontinental adventure with Vilk, she was ready to start preparing Vilk for travel.
Preparing Vilk for his Trip
Before setting off on an international journey with your pup, it’s crucial that you plan ahead. As you’ve probably heard (many times) before; preparation is key. Indeed, when it comes to flying with your pet, this statement is 100% true.
Asked about her process for preparing Vilk for his trip, Eva responded, “I wanted to make sure he did not come out of the experience traumatized. I did everything I could to make the experience as smooth as possible, and that is where crate training came in.” Having conducted a lot of research into previous experiences shared by dog owners who successfully traveled with their pups, Eva noticed one common factor: those who had the most success had crate trained their dogs. Not only does crate training provide many benefits for pups and their owners, but crate training is also crucial for ensuring dogs have a smooth flying experience. In fact, for dogs to be allowed to fly in the cargo hold of a plane, they must be secured inside of an IATA compliant dog crate.
Crate training was not a new concept to Eva and Vilk, as Vilk has had his very own Impact Collapsible Dog Crate since he was 10 weeks old. “For months leading up to the flight, I tried to make the crate a comfortable place for him,” said Eva. “I wanted to make it a calm and safe space that he knew.” Simple changes, from feeding Vilk meals in his crate to rewarding him with treats in his crate, were instrumental to Eva’s crate training process. Not only did crate training ensure that Vilk was accustomed to his environment ahead of flying, but Eva noticed another benefit as well. With the sense of comfort and security that an Impact Dog Crate provides, the crate training also really helped Vilk manage his separation anxiety. Afterall, when it comes to managing separation anxiety in dogs, a heavy-duty crate is one of the most recommended solutions.
When reflecting on what preparation she found to be most helpful, Eva said it was her research ahead of time into the flight logistics and her commitment to crate training that allowed for a smooth traveling experience with Vilk. Focusing on crate training in particular, it was Eva’s consistency with crate training Vilk that ensured the best results.
“I practiced crate training with him every single day,” she said. “It's a process that can take months, it doesn't happen overnight. Take the time.”
So why is it so crucial that your dog is well adjusted to their crate before your departure? The airport can be anxiety-inducing for us humans, so imagine how nerve wracking it must be for our dogs. In the midst of all the chaos and noise, having a safe space that is familiar to them will give pups a sense of security. Going into her journey, Eva knew Vilk was going to be in an unfamiliar environment, one filled with lots of new noises and movements. Not only that, but some dogs may be especially sensitive to overstimulation or busy environments. “Especially if you have a dog that tends to get anxious, it is super super important to give them that opportunity to get used to that crate setting,” Eva emphasized.
Eva's Tips for Flying with your Dogs
Thanks to the amount of research, preparation, and training that Eva did ahead of her trip with Vilk, it is no surprise that they both had an overall pleasant flying experience. After reflecting on her journey leading up to departure, as well as the day-of experience, Eva shared with us some of her #1 tips for dog owners contemplating traveling with their pups soon.
When a dog is flying for the first time, the constant movement of the aircraft will most likely be unfamiliar and rather strange to them. To help prepare Vilk for that noisy environment, Eva did so by replicating it. Ahead of her travel plans, Eva and Vilk- who was secured in his crate, went for long drives together. While still two different environments, the shakiness and loud noise produced by cars can closely resemble those produced by airplanes. By allowing Vilk to get accustomed to spending time in his crate while in a moving environment, this ensured Vilk was better prepared when it came time for the actual flight. In total, Eva spent over 20 hours traveling with Vilk like this, something that she found particularly helpful when preparing for their departure.
In the two days after arriving in Amsterdam, Eva did notice Vilk was more tired than usual. “Dogs do get jet lagged,” she noted. “And I definitely noticed that with Vilk.” International flights can be quite long and tiring- for humans and dogs alike. This is why Eva suggests rather than immediately taking off on your adventure as soon as you land, instead try to stay in one place for a few days. Doing so will allow your dog to rest, minimizing the amount of jetlag they experience.
When discussing how she prepared Vilk on the day of their departure, Eva emphasized the importance of recreating his daily routine. For fellow dog owners with upcoming travel plans, she recommends taking your dog on a super long walk beforehand to tire them out. It’s important that dogs are relaxed before flying, so utilizing exercise to get rid of their pent-up energy is a great trick that will come in handy.
Lastly, flying with dogs is very safe and doable. However, every dog is different and may react differently to new environments- such as planes. So what is Eva’s final tip for dog owners planning on flying with their pups? Consult with your veterinarian beforehand. Needless to say, veterinarians are the experts when it comes to your dog’s emotional and physical wellbeing. So, before embarking on a long flight with your dog, it’s a good idea to be extra prepared by scheduling a check-in with your local veterinarian.
Why Eva Chose Impact Dog Crates to Protect Vilk
As every dog owner knows, the safety of our precious pups is always our biggest priority. That being said, it’s crucial that dogs are receiving the maximum protection during vehicle and airplane transport. This is where a dog crate comes in. Perhaps one of the most important steps of preparing your dog for flying is choosing the right IATA compliant crate for them. Afterall, not all crates offer the same level of protection for our furry friends. So why did Eva choose Impact Dog Crates to safeguard Vilk during their international flight?
“Impact has some of the strongest and most durable crates on the market,” said Eva. “It’s really important to protect our furry family members. Nothing is getting in or out of the Impact Crate, so I knew it was the safest option.”
Unlike flimsy wire or plastic crates, Impact Dog Crates are constructed from heavy-duty aluminum and built to last a lifetime. This is why thousands of dog owners worldwide have made the switch to Impact Dog Crates, forsaking low-quality crates that will only last a few uses. “You see photos of these plastic crates that people travel with, and dogs with anxiety will chew them. Vilk has a strong jaw, and so there was no way I would choose that crate.” Eva affirmed. When comparing Impact Dog Crates to other crates on the market, Eva also pointed out the lack of large crate sizes available from other crate brands. Vilk, being a male German Shepherd, is larger than most dogs- and thus required a larger crate where he could comfortably move around and rest in. Fortunately, the Impact Collapsible Dog Crate (available in 6 sizes) was there to do the job.
“I would recommend Impact Dog Crates for anyone considering traveling with their dogs- whether international or domestically,” Eva asserted. “It's not within everyone's budget but it's a great investment into the safety of your dogs. That is priceless.”
So after settling in Amsterdam with Vilk, what’s next for Eva and her canine companion? “For now, I will be traveling around Europe with Vilk,” said Eva. “That flight gave me the boost of confidence that we can do it again. I am hoping to go to Scandinavia with him during the winter.”
Thank you so much, Eva, for trusting Impact Dog Crates to keep Vilk safe and secure throughout your journey! We cannot wait to follow along as you embark on your next adventures, and we are so happy to know our crate will be protecting Vilk every step of the way.