The Top 7 Tips for Traveling with the family pet

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Learn about 7 pet travel tips to make your family vacation a memory of a lifetime!

Hit the road

The summer of 2021 means the return of the family road trip. Thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic finally easing up and masks flying off, people are super excited to once again hit the road running! After going quarantine crazy, the outdoors sounds better than ever. Hence, the ole family road trip has regained its popularity, and this includes the family pet.

Humans are not the only ones who felt the stress of the pandemic, our pets have felt it too! Do you really think your cats enjoyed us working from home? Our dogs sure did, that we know. So, what’s the next best thing to do? Bring them along! If you have ever vacationed with an animal, you are already familiar with the special needs that require attention. Below are the top 7 tips for traveling with a family pet.

top 7 pet travel tips

Ready the car!

As with any road trip whether you bring the fur-babies or not, you need to make sure your vehicle is ready for the miles. Before I go on a trip, I always make an appointment for a check-up with my mechanic. The worst thing that can happen is to break down while on the road. In addition to prepping the car, you also have to pack the snacks! Refer to my post on the top road trip snacks to pack!

Top 20 Road trip Snacks

Make space

When bringing the family pet, make sure to make enough space in your vehicle for the animal carrier, toys, food/water, treats, and any other special items your pets may need. For your convenience, I’ve included a FREE Pet Trip Planner. Just click the pic and download or print it out. When I traveled across America with my 2 cats – which are way smaller than dogs – but they ended up taking up so much space! The items that took up the most space are the litter boxes, extra litter, and the cat carriers. There are people out there who love to travel with their cats! I found the soft pet carriers are a little less space intrusive than the hard carriers. This really cannot be a last-minute thought, as your pets’ comfort is as important as your own.

Don’t skim on the pet products

If your dog suffers anxiety and you suspect a road trip might be rough for them, you may want to consider purchasing a Thundershirt, as it is a non-medical anxiety-reducing solution. For dogs, you can find it here. Believe it or not, they even exist for cats too! Make sure to pack their travel food and drink bowls, medications, treats, toys, and their favorite blanket or bed. I found this amazing backpack that accommodates pet items for small pets. It could be especially useful if hiking or out and about once you arrive at your destination

top 7 family pet travel tips

To protect your car seats from pet accidents or wet and dirty paws, you may want to invest in a waterproof car seat protector. Bring an extra roll of paper towels too to wipe those paws before getting back into your vehicle. Something I swear by is Composure to help my cats relax. For dogs, you can find it as a delicious chew. My cat prefers the liquid formula. Remember to bring copies of the vaccination records and ID tags. Finally, don’t forget the leashes! The family pet is going to have so much fun!

Prepare your pet

If your animal is not used to being in a car, you may want to prepare them by taking them out for short car rides as practice. Start with small trips around town and gradually work up to an hour. Take the long route to the park so the pet is used to happy experiences once the car stops. If your pet shows anxiety with the short rides, experiment with stress-reducing techniques such as the Thundershirt or Composure. Speak with your veterinarian about all your options.

family pet travel tips

Take breaks

We all know cats live on their own terms and do not “break” on command. When I drove from Ohio to Arizona, I made sure to stop several times just to stretch my legs and get my cats out of the car. Yes, they wore cat leashes. They were so peeved at me. Both cats just stood there and glared laser beams at me. They did not use their litter boxes until we checked into the hotel. Dogs, on the other hand, are a little more willing to get along with others. Every 2 hours is a good rule of thumb for breaks, or if your pet has a more structured time frame, try to stick with it the best you can.  Keeping your fur-babies toilet routine as best as possible will keep everyone happy.

Pet friendly destinations

If bringing the family pets on vacation, the destinations will have to be pet-friendly. This takes more time to research lodging and destinations that allow dogs. Not all hotels, motels, VRBO, or Airbnb’s allow pets. The ones that do typically only have a certain number. Booking ahead will save the hassle of being sold out of the required rooms. Make sure the destinations also have pet-friendly areas. The worst thing you can do is to arrive at your destination and find out pets are not allowed. You do not want to leave your pet alone in a hot car. If you need assistance with planning pet-friendly vacations, check out these two websites. I have no affiliation with either one, but I found them helpful. Both of these links provide information on lodging, destinations, and other topics at this “pets welcome” site. In addition to pet-friendly destinations, we are still in a pandemic, you may also want to consider other post-COVID travel tips. You can find them here under the article “Post COVID travel – What you Need to Know”.

1st Aid apps

Of course, there should always be a first aid kit in your vehicle for all road trips, but did you know there are 1st aid apps for your pets too? The American Red Cross has an app for pets and is highly recommended.

travel tips with family pet

Finally, as we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, follow all CDC guidelines of washing hands frequently for up to 2 minutes, continue with physical distancing, try to avoid large groups of people in close quarters, and wear facial coverings. Take extra care of your family pet and limit their exposure to random others wanting to pet them.

Happy Trails

Traveling with pets takes planning and at times can be challenging. But the joy of having your fur-baby with you as the family travels together making new memories is worth all the efforts. So, plan ahead for happy trails with wagging tails!

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Looking for extra funds to spend on travel fun? Check out my post on Making Money with a Side Hustle – the Top 15. OR learn how to write a travel blog! Read How to Start a Travel blog – the bare bone basics to get you started.

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