Have Dog, Will Travel: Moving Miloš (and other pets) Through Europe
I was twenty years old when I took my first international trip, but my dog was only three months old at his first border crossing. I had to work two jobs in college to pay for airfare and hostels; Miloš merely hops in the car. Is it weird that I’m a little jealous? I’m also happy he can travel with us so easily. If anyone wants to bring a furry friend to Belgrade (or beyond), here are five tips based on our experiences.
1. Start with the paperwork. At a minimum, you’ll need proof of a rabies vaccine to enter another country. Other requirements by country can be found here. If you’re traveling from Serbia into the EU, things are a little harder. Owners need proof of vaccinations three months before travel, and some countries still might require quarantine. EU regulations are slightly complicated, but they have a good website.
Since Miloš was born in Hungary, he qualified for an EU Pet Passport. The passport doesn’t get stamped-it’s simply a record of his vaccinations, location of his microchip, etc. If you live in the EU but your dog wasn’t born there, you can still get an EU Pet Passport. Whatever your pet paperwork is, don’t forget to take it along road trips! Border guards have asked us for Miloš’ papers.
2. Find a pet-friendly hotel. Many hotels in Europe accept pets, but always ask. Some websites list pet-friendly hotels by country or city; see which Belgrade hotels are pet-friendly here. If a hotel website doesn’t specify whether they accept pets, email the owner and ask.
3. If a hotel is gracious enough to accept pets, be gracious in return. We pack biting deterrent and cleaning spray in case Miloš starts chewing on furniture or has an accident. Most importantly, we pack a collapsible training crate. Miloš stays in the crate when he is alone in the room. Hotel owners and cleaning staff always mention how much they appreciate it.
4. Walk your dog responsibly, especially around the hotel. Pick your pet’s waste, even if you don’t do it at home. And if you don’t do it at home, please start. Dog waste attracts rats and disease.
5. Ask yourself a hard question. Is traveling right for your pet? We’ve been able to travel with Miloš starting at an early age, and he deals with it well. He doesn’t get carsick, doesn’t bark in hotel rooms, and is (fairly well) house-trained. If your pet seems stressed in the car, hates being left alone in strange places, or if you plan to be away from your pet for most of the day, you and your pet may be happier apart.
These tips are for car or rail travel only. We haven’t flown Miloš anywhere, and don’t intend to until we move back to the states. His flat little face makes it hard to him to breathe in a cargo hold. If you want to fly your pet to Belgrade or elsewhere, check out the International Air Travel Association cargo rules for pets. I haven’t researched airlines, but I’ve heard that Lufthansa is particularly pet-friendly. If you have any tips for flying with pets, feel free to leave them in the comments. Happy tails trails to you!