Driving is the most popular way to travel with pets, but it can still present challenges if you're not prepared. Want to bring your furry friend along on your next road trip? We've compiled the top tips for ensuring your travel goes smoothly, both for you and your pet.
Make sure your pet is okay with travel
First, consider whether your pet has the temperament for travel. If they are anxious or don't like being away from home, put their feelings first and call a sitter or a boarder.
If Fluffy can hack the car time, great! It's a good idea to get a pre-trip checkup with your vet to be sure you have enough medication and their vaccines are up to date.
Get them comfortable in the travel environment
Decide ahead of time how your pet is going to travel, and familiarize them with the car and carrier. If you are using a crate, make sure the space is comfortable and not too small to turn around in. If your dog prefers to be out in the car, secure its leash or harness to a seat so it's protected in case of a crash.
Pack for your pet
Make sure you have all the essentials for a comfortable trip. Pack enough food to last the trip, or make sure you can get the same brand at your destination. Changing food at such a stressful time can make your pet sick. Take enough water for the car ride, a leash and harness, a litter box and waste bags, and a comfort object like that teddy bear that's in pieces. Make sure you have proper identification for your pet and that their microchip has up-to-date contact information.
Research the pet requirements of your destination
Know the rules regarding your pet in your destination state and city. Some states ask you to carry a health certificate signed by a vet. For the specific rules and regulations that may apply to your pet, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association's website here.
Find pet-friendly accommodations
Check with your hotel or Airbnb ahead of time to make sure they will accept your pet. You don't want to find alternate accommodation for Fido last-minute! Thankfully, lots of websites like GoPetFriendly.com, BringFido.com, and TripsWithPets.com curate pet-friendly hotels, parks, restaurants, and nearby vets for you. If you do book a hotel, you may want to ask for a room on a lower floor to avoid any accidents.
Exercise before the trip
This is good advice for you and your pet! If your trip is long, be sure to make pit stops to give your pet an opportunity to stretch its legs and use the bathroom. On that note, try to feed your pet a few hours before your trip, so they are satisfied but not full.
Keep to a schedule
If your pet has regular feeding and bathroom times, try to keep to that schedule as much as possible. The more routine you can introduce into your trip, the less stressed your animal will be.
Make a safe space for your pet at your destination
Once you arrive at your new temporary home, create a small area of the room or house that belongs to your pet. Stay with them for a few hours while they adjust to the new surroundings and become comfortable in the space. They'll be up to their normal antics before you know it!
The best way to make sure you and your pet have a great trip is to do your homework ahead of time. This means (1) researching the requirements of your destination and your accommodation, (2) preparing a safe space for your pet both in the car and at your hotel, and (3) sticking to your pet's normal routine as much as possible. Follow these tips, and your pet will thank you for a happy, stress-free trip!