If you're headed to Canada, save time by first consulting a guidebook. Some that you'll find useful are:
The Rough Guide to Canada
By Tim Jepson, Phil Lee, and Tania Smith ($19.95.)
It's a comprehensive guide to all sections of the country that's blunt about attractions that are worth your time and those that aren't.
The Rough Guide to Vancouver
(includes Victoria) and
The Rough Guide to Montreal
(includes Quebec City), $9.95 each
These little paperbacks manage to pack an enormous amount of information into volumes that easily fit in your hand. Color strip maps are placed at the back of each book for easy reference.
Fodor's Vancouver and British Columbia 2001 ($15)
This guide has the big advantage of being updated every other year, so you know the information is reasonably up to date. Another of its advantage is a standard-size fold-out map that can be removed from the back of the book and used separately.
Best Places Vancouver
Sasquatch Books, $18.95
In conversational style, local writers rank and discuss the city's top attractions, point out the best family activities, and save you money by noting good values. Restaurants are listed by stars and by neighborhood. A fold-out color map in the front is a nice bonus.
Trans-Canada Rail Guide
By Melissa Graham Trailblazer Publications, $16.95
You'll find what you need whether you're searching for luxurious guided train tours or the cheapest way to get from one Canadian coast to another. And once you're on your way, the book provides a mile-by-mile guide to what you're seeing.
You've just booked a great vacation package for your family at a fabulous resort across the country. What's more, the place is dog-friendly, so Fido can come along if you can work out the details.
A warning if you're flying: Be prepared for a huge investment in time and expense.
Over the past two years, the cost of flying a pet in the US has skyrocketed.
Depending upon airline and route, your pet's ride in cargo may cost more in some cases, a lot more than your own. And, that's only if you are fortunate enough to find an airline that will take him at the time you need to travel.
"Over the last two summers, the airlines have imposed new restrictions and much higher fares for pet lovers who want to travel with their pets," notes Dan Charleton of Best Friends Pet Resorts. "Gone are the days when a pet owner could arrive at the airport just before boarding and have the pet checked as baggage for a fee of $25."
While a few small pets (those weighing less than 20 pounds) may travel in the cabin often for an additional fee most pets today must be shipped as cargo. And, depending upon the airline, that can run as high as $300 each way.
According to Northwest Airlines' website, for example, its Priority Pet service costs $458 round trip for an average-size dog of 50 to 60 pounds, regardless of destination. That compares with "people" fares recently offered on the site of just $224 round trip from Kansas City to Boston or $240 from Chicago to Tallahassee, Fla.
Some airlines won't accept pets at all. Others place an embargo on pet travel during the peak summer months. And those that will carry your pet reserve the right to turn him away if the temperature is expected to exceed 85 degrees F. in either the destination or departure city. If you have a snub-nosed dog (bulldog, boxer, etc.), your pet will be turned away if temperatures are projected to exceed 75 degrees F. anywhere along the route.
Pet owners must navigate complex rules involving advance booking, health certifications, arrangements, and portable kennel requirements.
Additional airline requirements also exist for international flights. These rules may require extra ventilation, labeling, and a shipper's certification. Contact your airline for more information.
It's important for vacationers to have contingency arrangements in case a pet is refused passage by an airline.
Pet owners also need to be aware that regulations may go beyond shipping a pet. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Hawaii, US territories, and certain foreign governments have quarantine or health requirements for arriving pets.
For information on Hawaii's requirements, the USDA recommends that you contact your state veterinarian1s office. For US territories and foreign countries, contact the appropriate embassy, governmental agency, or consulate at least four weeks in advance.
Some experts suggest that a quality boarding kennel is a far simpler and more economical option for most pet owners who will be flying to their vacation destinations.
For more information on traveling with pets, see www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/petravel.html.
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