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(TNS)—You’ve quarantined together, deepening the bond. Or perhaps the unexpected time at home seemed like the perfect season in which to add a four-legged friend to your tribe. Either way, as we plan vacation time, the mere thought of leaving our furry friends behind can cause consternation. Fortunately, pet-friendly lodging and restaurants are plentiful. You’ll also find a slew of gear and other pet products, making it easier than ever to take your cat or dog along for the ride.

Here are five tips to consider:

1. Plan ahead.
You may need to take a few extra steps to include your pets in your upcoming adventure. Don’t let that dissuade you from traveling with your four-legged friend. Loop your children in for help as you make a list of the extra gear and supplies you will need as well as researching pet-friendly options in your destination. When making air travel plans, know that airlines can refuse your reservation if there are already too many pets scheduled for a flight. So, let them know as soon as you decide to include your pet in the travel plan. Choose a direct flight when possible, decreasing the chances your pet will experience weather changes on the tarmac or rough handling during a quick transfer to a connecting flight. And be sure your pet’s carrier is labeled with your contact information.

If you travel by car, pack your animal’s food, litter, waste disposal bags, leashes, toys, beds, medications and pet carrier. To be on the safe side, include notes regarding your pet’s medical history as well as your veterinarian’s contact information.

2. Practice round.
If your dog or cat isn’t accustomed to car or plane travel, introduce him to a USDA-approved pet carrier well before your departure date. Toss a favorite toy or familiar object into the carrier and take a spin within familiar territory. Be sure the carrier is airline-compliant and sturdy enough to make the trip.

3. Keep moving.
Just like humans, pets need as much exercise away from home as they do in their own environment. On the road, make plenty of stops to allow every member of your family to stretch their legs and breathe fresh air. At your destination, include your pet in hikes, walks on pet-friendly beaches or visits to local parks.

4. Drink up. Stay safe.
Make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water throughout your travels. Just like the human body, a pet’s consists of a large percentage of water. Proper hydration is key to good health at home and on the road. Temperature extremes can put your pet’s health at risk. Beware of leaving your favorite animal in a hot car, even with the windows open. During chilly weather, a car can get too cold for comfort.

5. Have fun
.
Enjoy this extra-special time with your family and pet. Take photos and include your cat or dog in your vacation photo album. Visit a local dog park, pet-friendly coffee shop or restaurant. It’s likely your pet will introduce you to new friends along the way.

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com

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