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We love taking our pets with us wherever we go, and the increase in pet-friendly businesses and accommodations makes traveling with our companions easier than ever. And while taking your pet along on trips can be fun, including pets in travel plans also means planning for pet-friendly accommodations, taking care of them on the road, or worrying about them during a flight.

For some people and pets this can cause stress that takes some of the fun out of a trip, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By doing a bit of extra planning and keeping these important things in mind before you jump on a plane or hit the road with your furry companion, you can help take the stress out of travel and focus on relaxing and enjoying your trip.

Have a Plan in Place to Help Ease the Stress of Travel

Important Things to Know Before Traveling with Pets


Taking care of a few items ahead of time can help take some of the stress out of traveling with pets. If you’re doing a road trip, make note of pet-friendly accommodations along your travel route for expected and unexpected overnight stops. For travel by air, research different airlines, as some will allow a select number of pets to ride in the cabin for an additional fee. The spots are limited and usually include size restrictions, so book tickets in advance and read the fine print to avoid surprises when you arrive at the airport.

Make a list of pet essentials and pack everything ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about last-minute items as you’re heading out. Items you should include are: a refillable bottle for water, food, travel bowls, an extra leash, a travel bed, a pet carrier, and pet waste supplies.

Eating on the road can be harder when you have pets, so you want to be prepared when hunger strikes. Check for pet-friendly establishments along the route, and pack a few snacks and sandwiches to munch on in case stopping for food isn’t an option. Also remember that it’s never okay to leave your pet in a vehicle for an extended period, especially in hot or cold temperatures. If you’re traveling with another person, take turns going into rest stops so your pets aren’t left alone.

Take The Necessary Steps to Help Keep Pets Safe 

Important Things to Know Before Traveling with Pets

David Martyn Hunt/Flickr

Your pet’s safety should always be a priority. Sure, it’s tempting to let your companion ride in the front seat or curl up on your lap, but both situations are incredibly unsafe for you and your pet. A wiggly dog or cat might jump down by the pedals or interfere with your line of vision, causing a dangerous distraction. And in the unfortunate event of a collision, your pet can get seriously injured or killed if they’re not properly restrained.

To keep pets safe, have them ride in a sturdy travel kennel that’s large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and comfortably lie down. Place a soft blanket or pad inside to make it more comfortable and secure the kennel in the back seat or rear area of your vehicle using the seatbelt or tethers. You can also use a car harness for dogs, but make sure it’s properly fitted and made with sturdy straps, and that your pet can comfortably sit or lie down. The reliability of some car harnesses in crash tests has been questioned, so do your research before making a purchase.

If you’re traveling by air, check with the airline ahead of time for requirements and restrictions on pet carriers, and make sure the product you choose is certified for air travel. Your pet carrier will need to be properly marked for carrying live animals and include identification for your pet.

Remember to Monitor Your Pet’s Comfort and Health During Travel

Like people, travel can leave pets dehydrated and exhausted. Always monitor your pet to make sure they’re comfortable, and whenever you stop for breaks, give them a short break as well. Offer them water to help them stay hydrated, then give them a few minutes outside to relieve themselves and stretch. Always keep your dog on a harness and keep a good grip on their leash, and make sure all pets are wearing a collar with ID tags attached.

If you’re traveling by air, give your pet plenty of water beforehand and allow time for a few bathroom breaks before boarding. After your flight, hydrate them again and allow them to stretch. Storing animals in the cargo area of a plane can be dangerous and many animals die as a result, so if the airline will only let you store your pet as cargo, it might be best to opt for a boarding facility or pet sitter instead.

If your pet has travel anxiety, speak with your veterinarian about calming supplements or medications that can help them relax. And always take extra care with elderly pets or those with medical issues.

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