Tips for traveling with pets

Plenty of families will be hitting the road with Fido this summer. We get it: our dogs are part of our family, too! If you’re planning to bring your dog (or even cat) on your family vacation, we have tips for traveling with pets!

travel with pets

Tips for traveling with pets by plane:

In general, we recommend traveling with pets by plane only when you have to, such as during a long-distance move. This is especially true if your pet will need to be transported in the plane’s cargo hold instead of in the cabin. We have written an extensive post on air travel with pets, which can help you decide whether air travel is right for your dog, cat, or even bird. Pay attention to various airline policies, as they do differ, and the fees related to flying your pet. Always check with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy enough for air travel, too.

Tips for travel with pets by car:

In many ways, traveling with pets by car is easier and simpler than by plane, simply because you have control over the situation. We all know to NEVER leave a pet unattended in a car, especially in summer, but there are additional things to remember when road tripping with your dog.

  • Road side rest stops and public parks are man’s best friend’s best friend: At rest stops and parks, pets on a leash can get out of the car, relieve themselves, and get some energy out. Remember that many state parks and county parks do not allow dogs at all, so it’s easiest to stick with city parks and roadside rest stops. Getting to a stop and realizing your dog can’t get out of the car is the worst! Always carry a leash, even if your pet knows how to behave without one, because they are required in almost all public spaces. Be sure to know if there are natural dangers to your pet that may not exist at home, such as foxtails growing nearby, ticks, or predators.
  • Look for dog parks and dog beaches en route: Even better than a public park (but sometimes harder to find), dog parks allow well-behaved dogs to run unrestricted by a leash. Our kids love them, too, because they get to love on many different dogs. I guess it’s dog therapy on the road! Designated dog beaches are available along many coastlines and at large lakes. Find a dog-friendly beach by state.
  • Call campgrounds ahead of time to confirm pet policy: The last thing you want to do is arrive at your campsite to realize pets are not allowed. Almost all have leash laws, but some also have noise ordinances you may need to note if you have a dog that likes to bark. Plan activities that include your pet, to minimize the number of hours Fido is ‘home alone’ at the campsite.
  • Look for pet-friendly hotels ahead of time: There are actually a surprising number of pet-friendly hotels. Most hotel booking sites have a pet-friendly search option, but we prefer looking on Official Pet Hotels. When budgeting for your vacation, remember that often hotels tack on extra fees for traveling with your pet, or place you in pet-designated rooms.
  • Pick a hotel that is not only pet-tolerant, but pet-loving: If you’re willing to pay, luxury hotel brands such as Ritz Carlton and Fairmont embrace pets, rolling out the red carpet with doggie beds, a pet room service menu, and more. Our favorite hotel brand for pet travel is Kimpton…many of their hotels have pet mascots in the lobby, showing their pet-friendliness day in and day out.

Gear you’ll need for traveling with pets:

Of course, you know you need your pet’s leash and collar (with ID if the pet is not micro-chipped), but consider bringing the following as well:

  • Bedding and/or old beach towels for your pet: The beach towels can double as mud and dirt control after your pet has played in the sand, water, or park, and then Fido can sleep on them at night.
  • Pet-designated water and food bowls: You can buy collapsible soft-sided pet bowls on Amazon, which are easy to clean and pack. Or, any durable, non-breakable set of bowls will do.
  • Crate: If your dog is crate trained, bringing his or her crate makes a lot of sense. Your dog will have a designated place to sleep and rest, and it can help contain your pet in the vehicle, too.
  • Dog medical kit: Yes, you read that correctly. I’m sure you carry a first aid kit for your family when you travel, and your dog needs one too. We love Adventure Medical Kit’s Adventure Dog Series; the Trail Dog kit we use is only $24 on Amazon. In the kit, you’ll find a splinter picker/tick remover, plenty of bandages, including an elastic bandage that doesn’t stick to fur for wrapping injuries. You also get wound-cleaning supplies, hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, paw care items, and saline solution, all in a waterproof zip-lock style baggie for safe-keeping.

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About the author

Pit Stops for Kids

AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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