Going on a road trip with your pet can seem like a daunting experience. Most people assume that pets will immediately be stressed or hate travel, but many pets actually enjoy the ride, especially when their owners are calm and pack everything important. Regardless of whether your pet loves or hates traveling, it’s extremely important to be prepared.
Whether you’re hitting the road in a car or catching a flight, make sure you have all of these items packed before you leave!
1. The right carrier or harness
One of the most important things to have when traveling with a pet is a safe way to transport it. For cats and dogs, this means a hard-shell carrier, a crate, or a harness. Whether traveling by plane, train, or car, your pet will need to be secured safely in something so that it can’t roam around.
This is especially true in cars; some pet parents think that it’s okay to hold their pet or let it roam around in the back seat, but this can quickly become dangerous. The pet could leap to the front seat and become a distraction or become a projectile if you get into an accident.
Cats will be most comfortable in a carrier with sturdy, hard sides with something soft to snuggle inside. The carrier should be large enough to allow your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down in. In a plane or train, this carrier will likely need to fit under the seat in front of you, or it will need to be approved by the airline to place your pet in cargo. In a car, the carrier should be secured in the back seat.
For dogs, a hard-shell carrier will also be necessary when traveling by plane or train. However, in cars, your dog may prefer to have a little more freedom and sit in the backseat. Get your dog a harness for car travel that can be buckled in while allowing it to move around a little.
Additionally, always make sure your pet’s carrier has your information clearly listed on the side in case of emergencies.
2. Food and water
The next most important things to bring are food and water for your pet. You always want to be prepared for longer trips than necessary, just in case, so bring extra meals than you think you’ll need and a few water bottles for your pet.
During the trip, expect to make a few stops to allow your pet to eat and drink. Try to maintain the same feeding schedule as your pet is used to, but make sure it drinks a lot of water to stay hydrated throughout the journey.
Make sure you don’t forget food and water bowls, too!
3. Calming assistance
Some pets are totally fine with traveling, while others may be very scared and anxious about the process. Using a few items to help calm your pet can make the trip from point A to point B a lot easier.
One option is pheromone sprays, which you can use inside the carrier or on toys and blankets inside. The pheromones are designed to assure your pet it is safe and help it calm down.
Another option would be natural supplements designed to promote calm behavior in stressed pets. Giving a supplement to your pet shortly before your trip can help it adjust to the circumstances and remain calm until you arrive.
4. Comfort items
Comfort items are another important aspect of travel, both to keep your pet calm and make it happy. Consider bringing along your pet’s bed or favorite blanket to relax in while it’s in its carrier. A T-shirt or towel that carries your scent may also be useful in situations where your pet cannot see or be physically near you.
Depending on how you’re traveling, you may want to bring some toys to help keep your pet entertained on the trip. A chew toy or bone may be a good option for dogs, since they are small and easily portable. For cats, a catnip toy or plush animal might be a better fit.
If you’re traveling by car, bring a ball to play fetch with your dog on driving breaks. This will help keep your dog from getting stir crazy and let it stretch his legs a little.
6. Special considerations for the mode of travel
There may also be a few special items you’ll need depending on how you’re traveling. For example, on planes, you may need to pay for pet fare. You might also need a certificate of health from your vet stating it’s safe for your pet to fly.
For longer road trips, you’ll want to remember waste bags for dogs or a portable litter box for cats, so your pet can take care of business without a big mess to clean up later.
No matter how you’re traveling, always make a checklist to ensure you have all the essential items packed and ready before you depart. Traveling might be stressful for you and your pet but being prepared can help it go much easier. Happy travels!