September 22nd, 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling With Pets

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling With Pets

Traveling with pets can be a challenge, but these tips and packing list will making bringing Fido along a breeze. 

Traveling alone can be overwhelming enough without adding pets into the mix—after all, it takes a lot more than a neck pillow and travel blanket to satisfy your fluffy friends comfort on a long journey. In general, they’re used to following established routines, and any departure from that can be scary—for the pets and for you. But that doesn’t mean bringing Fido along on your trip has to be a nightmare. Before you hit the road, read up on these tips—and be sure to consult our handy packing list—to make the journey easier on everyone involved.

5 Tips for Traveling With Pets

1. Bring along some comforts of home. Pets can get a little freaked out by the sudden change in their surroundings, but you can help minimize the disruption by maintaining some level of familiarity. Bring some of your pet’s usual toys, food, bedding, and even things like the litter box (if you can fit it!) so they have at least a few familiar items.

2. Use a carrier. The Humane Society recommends keeping both dogs and cats in carriers while in moving vehicles. Cats in particular don't enjoy car travel, but carriers help to minimize stress and keep them stable. Don't forget to restrain the carrier by securing a seatbelt around the front, so it doesn't slide all over the place.

3. Read up on policies. If you’re traveling by plane, review the airline's pet policy in advance. The Humane Society strongly discourages putting pets in the cargo hold, for safety and stress reasons. Though on some airlines, that’s the only allowable way to transport animals, other airlines do allow you to bring a small dog or cat in a carrier as your carry-on item in the cabin. There tend to be stipulations with that, though, so make sure you research thoroughly ahead of time to avoid any issues at the airport.

4. Make frequent stops. You may be able to tolerate six hours of driving without stopping, but it's unlikely your pet can. If you're driving with your dog, make regular stops for bathroom breaks, stretching, and fresh air. Cats don’t need quite as many stops, but plan a few short breaks so they can get out of their carriers to move about the car and use the litter box.

5. Have an emergency plan. Hopefully all will go smoothly, but it’s important to prepare for the worst-case scenario at the off chance your pet gets lost or sick during your trip, Be sure your pets are wearing their ID tags, and have a few photos of them on your phone. Keep their medical records with you and bring a first aid kit in case of emergency. (Your vet should be able to advise you on what to include.)

Pet Packing List

In addition to the usual items you'd take with you on any trip (check out our list here), here's a list of pet-specific items to add to your pack. Focus first on the basic essentials such as food and waste receptacles, and add in comfort items like toys, towels, and grooming supplies as space allows.

  • Your pet's favorite toys and bedding
  • Litter box or waste bags
  • Leash/harness/collar
  • Crate or travel carrier
  • Food and treats with collapsible travel bowls
  • Drinking water (Especially if you’re going to be on a long road trip or journey during which water wont’ be readily available)
  • Medications and medical/vaccine records
  • A formal health certificate from your vet if necessary (many airlines require one)
  • Towel (for cleaning up messes or wiping wet paws)
  • Travel throw (to serve as a blanket or car seat cover)
  • Grooming supplies
  • Pet first aid kit

Do you have any other tips for traveling with pets? Leave a comment to let us know!

Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, offbeat destinations, urban adventures, and everything in between. He blogs about his travels at

by Scott Shetler

Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, offbeat destinations, urban adventures, and everything in between. He blogs about his travels at