We came across Happy the Travel Dog's Instagram feed last year and was super inspired by his travel photos! Latte's papa and I always wanted to bring her overseas one day. But travelling with pets involves a lot of planning and paperwork and the thought of it has deterred us from fulfilling that dream.
Recently, we are seeing more and more people travelling with pets and that has given us renewed motivation to do it sooner than later!
If you are also dreaming of travelling with your pet, then this interview with Jasmine, Happy's mom, will definitely be useful to you.
Travelling with pets: Happy the Travel Dog shows us how it's done!
Smiling at Lake Louise, The Canadian Rockies
1. We are in love with Happy's travel feed! What gave you the idea to bring him for vacations?
Well, it all happened four years ago when two of our close friends moved to Canada. We wanted to visit them and extend our stay to explore the big country. That's when we looked into the possibility of bringing Happy along.
Our Singapore passport allows us to travel for six months in Canada but if we don't bring him along, we could only travel for two weeks (we didn't want to part with him for too long).
2. Where have you been with Happy so far?
We brought him to Canada, Paris, the United Kingdom (UK), Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
Posing with Niagara Falls
3. Why did you choose those destinations?
It's quite a long story... Canada was the first country that we brought him to and we were there for one year. We couldn't return to Singapore directly from Canada as he would be quarantined back home for 10 days. To avoid that, the only way was to bring him to the UK first.
The UK is a Category A country and there would be no quarantine when dogs return to Singapore from there. However, there's one condition - Happy had to stay in the UK for six months because he had just been to Canada, which is under Category C.
We thought, "why not?" as we hadn't been to the UK before. However, because London does not allow pets to fly in through cabin, we flew to Paris first, travelled for 2 weeks, before taking the Eurotunnel over to the UK.
That was how our first trip went. The second trip, which happened recently, was to Scandinavia. They are under Category B, which also does not require dogs to be quarantined upon returning to Singapore but requires more procedures like blood test etc..
Editor's note: Whether a pet needs to be quarantined when returning to Singapore depends on the departure country or region's rabies risk category. To find out what category a country or region belongs to and other information, you can visit NParks' website. Similarly, whether your pet needs to be quarantined at your travel destination depends on the country or region's own import regulations.
4. Where are you planning to go next and why?
We would love to bring Happy to explore Japan and Switzerland as these are the countries under Category B that he hasn't been. The rest of the destinations either require quarantine upon reaching or return.
"It's a shame to wait till tomorrow" - hotel in oslo, norway
5. Would you say it's difficult to travel with dogs from Singapore?
I wouldn't say it's difficult but you have to follow the procedures strictly and ensure that there are no mistakes in the documentation. I only recommend cabin travel for dogs though, not as check-in baggage or cargo.
Editor's note: Most airlines only allow pets to travel as checked baggage or cargo. Your pet can only travel in the cabin with you if the specific airline's pet policy allows it. Usually, your pet will have to weigh less than 5-10kg, including the carrier. Other restrictions apply.
6. Did you hire an agency to help with the pet travel paperwork?
No, I didn't hire an agency. I did all the paperwork myself. It's tedious and stressful though. It's better to hire an agent if you have no time.
7. Which airlines would you recommend for pet travel and how much did Happy's flights cost?
There are many pet-friendly airlines. We've taken United Airlines, Air Canada, Swiss Air, and Lufthansa. All are fine. Happy's flights were all about 100 USD or 100 Euros per way, depending on airlines.
8. For pet parents who are thinking of bringing their dogs overseas, what should they expect?
Even in European countries, not all places are pet-friendly. Be prepared that you wouldn't be able to visit any indoor attractions like museums, churches, and theatres, most shopping malls, etc.
Most restaurants only allow dogs in their outdoor seating. You can't leave them alone in hotels too in case they bark. Therefore, when we travel with Happy, he stays with us 24/7 and we only visit outdoor attractions and go to places that he likes (e.g. parks, fields, forest walks, and hiking).
We hide him in his bag when we go to places that do not allow dogs, such as supermarkets. He has learned to keep very quiet when he is inside his bag.
Happy's 1st time seeing snow!
9. Did you have to train Happy before travels?
For his first trip, I bought him a cabin approved bag a few months before travelling. That was actually his first carrier as he loves to walk so I have never put him in a carrier or pram before.
I began to train him to stay quietly in the bag for a short time before slowly extending the duration. I found ways to get him to love his carrier and be comfortable in it as he would need to stay in the carrier throughout the long flight. He was also trained to pee before bedtime and hold his pee until morning (about nine hours).
Checking in at the airport
10. Is Happy good on the plane?
I'm glad that he is used to taking flights now. Other than whining when I leave my seat to go to the restroom, he is quiet and sleeps most of the time throughout the flight.
I remember his first flight to Tokyo (transit to Canada), he whined all the way for about eight hours! Luckily, the engine was loud enough to cover his whines so I was the only one who could hear him.
11. Any tips on making plane travel for pets more comfortable?
You may consider putting your pet's favourite blanket or toy or your shirt in their carrier to make them feel safe. Also, reduce their food and water intake before the flight to minimise their need to pee and poo.
Hiking on the Isle Of Skye
12. What's your favourite travel memory with Happy?
Hiking with Happy is definitely my favourite. The most recent one would be hiking the Pulpit Rock in Norway.
Conquering the Pulpit Rock in Norway
At the age of 10, he still amazes me every time with his ability and stamina. I love to see him running freely in the lush green meadows too! These are activities that can't be done in Singapore, especially in our warm weather.
13. What advice would you give pet parents when picking a travel destination to visit with their pets?
Actually, we don't have many choices as I do not recommend countries that require quarantine overseas or return.
On the subway, Sweden
European countries are very pet-friendly as compared to Singapore. You can take public transport with them and almost everyone there loves dogs so it would be a pleasant experience.
Eiffel Tower as the backdrop
14. Any other advice for pet parents who want to travel with their pets from Singapore?
I think you have to understand your pet well before deciding whether you should bring them travelling.
Some pets get nervous and stressed when exposed to new surroundings. It might not be enjoyable for them to travel, especially if it's just for a short period. They require time to adjust to new environments and temperatures.
They also need to be toilet trained as most hotels are fully carpeted. Being physically fit would also be good as you would be doing a lot of walking overseas.
All in all, travelling with your pet can be the most wonderful experience but prior preparations and training need to be done well to avoid any stress or trouble. :)
Photos courtesy of Happy the Travel Dog. See more of his adventures over at his Instagram account - @happy_thetraveldog.
Looking for an in-flight carrier? We recommend the andblank pet carrier that functions as a regular carrier, an in-flight carrier (subject to individual airlines’ criteria), and a car seat.