Tips for Traveling With Pets

April 15, 2024

Leaving your pets behind when traveling can be hard — so why not bring them with you?

There are several important elements you’ll want to keep in mind when traveling with your pets. Here’s a go-to guide on what to do beforehand to make the trip smooth sailing for everyone involved.


Preparing for a Trip With Your Pet

Traveling with a dog or a cat requires careful planning to ensure their comfort and well-being. Here's an essential pet travel checklist of items you should consider packing when traveling with your pet:

  • Pet identification (ID tags, microchip information)
  • Health certificates, vaccination records, and any necessary permits
  • A well-ventilated and appropriately sized crate or carrier 
  • Portable bowls for food and water
  • Comfort items like a blanket, dog bed, and their favorite toy
  • Waste disposal bags or a portable litter box and litter
  • Basic first aid kit for pets
  • Any necessary medications 
  • A leash or harness for walks and potty breaks
  • Pet-friendly cleaning wipes or sprays for accidents
  • A list of local veterinary clinics at your destination
  • If necessary, a portable pet gate or a pet seatbelt for car travel

Don’t forget: Consult your veterinarian before the trip to make sure your pet is in good health and able to handle the stress of long travel.

If By Land: Tips for Traveling by Car With Your Pet

Traveling with pets on a road trip can be fun — but it requires some additional planning, especially if your pets get stressed when traveling by car.


The first thing you’ll want to prioritize is their safety. Put them in a well-ventilated crate or use a pet seatbelt to make sure they’re secure and can’t roam around the vehicle. Any distractions while you’re driving can prove dangerous for both you and your pet. 

Also, as much as possible, try to maintain a consistent feeding and walking schedule to keep their routine as normal as you can and give them a chance to stretch their legs.

This helps to minimize your pet’s stress while traveling and can turn the road trip into a truly enjoyable time for both of you.

Don’t forget: If you have to make overnight stops, find pet-friendly accommodations along your route. 


If By Air: Tips for Traveling By Plane With Your Pet

Preparing your pet for a trip via airplane can be a little more complicated than prepping to travel by car.


Make sure to research the specific pet travel policies of the airline you plan to use, as regulations between airlines can vary. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and realize their carrier is too large or your pet doesn’t meet the weight requirements to fly in the cabin with you.

Arriving at the airport early to allow time for check-in is always a wise move. If your pet is small enough, you can bring them in the cabin with you as long as they are safely secured in a carrier that complies with your airline’s regulations. Larger pets may need to travel in the cargo hold, so check the airline's guidelines for both options.

If you’re able, book direct flights to minimize travel time and reduce stress for your pet.

Don’t forget: Clearly label the carrier with your contact information, including your destination address and phone number!

Managing Your Pet’s Anxiety During Flights

Many pets get agitated in crowded areas like airports. The loud noise and air pressure of a plane may cause them extra stress. Here are some ways you can help diminish their anxiety and provide a more comfortable flight for them:

  • Familiarize your pet with the carrier in advance, making it a comfortable and safe space for them.
  • Bring familiar items, like their favorite blanket or toy, to provide comfort and a sense of security in their carrier.
  • Stay calm and reassuring during the flight to help soothe them.
  • Ask your veterinarian if they can prescribe or suggest a calming spray or tablet to relax your pet and help them sleep during the flight.

After the flight, give some extra cuddles and spend quality time with your pet to help them relax and recover from the journey.


Protecting Your Pet’s Health and Safety During Travel

First thing’s first: Always schedule a pre-trip visit to the veterinarian to assess whether your pet is healthy enough for travel. They can recommend any necessary vaccinations and discuss any travel-specific concerns you may have.


If your pet is prone to stress or anxiety, your veterinarian can suggest certain strategies or medications to help alleviate their discomfort. Calming products like pheromone sprays or anxiety wraps are a great way to calm your pet’s nerves. 

Even more importantly, make sure not to exhibit high levels of stress yourself. A pet can read your energy and body language. If you’re stressed, they’ll be stressed.  

Plan regular breaks for exercise, play, and bathroom breaks to keep your pet’s spirits high while you travel, and avoid feeding your pet right before departure to prevent motion sickness and give more time until the next bathroom break.

A well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for addressing potential health issues during travel. Essentials include:

  • Any necessary medications
  • A pet-specific first aid manual
  • Bandages and antiseptic wipes
  • Tweezers for removing ticks or splinters
  • A digital thermometer

Make sure to include a copy of their prescriptions along with their medication just in case you need to restock during the trip. It's also wise to pack your veterinarian's contact information and the contact details of local veterinary clinics at your destination.

Don’t forget: Regularly check your pet's well-being throughout the journey and be prepared to address any health concerns right away so they don’t escalate! 


Extra Resources for Traveling With Your Pet

If you want to take your trip planning to the next level, here are some recommended readings and websites to give you in-depth insights on traveling tips for pet owners:

  • The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip by Amy Burkert: This book provides insights and tips for traveling with pets, including pet-friendly destinations and accommodations.

  • BringFido: This website provides over 500,000 recommendations for where to stay, play, and eat while traveling with your dog.

  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): For veterinarian-approved pet travel advice, the AVMA provides helpful information on traveling with pets, including health and safety tips.

Educating yourself on best practices for traveling with your pet can prevent headaches down the road.


Pet Well-Being On-the-Go

Whether it’s a road trip or a flight, being well-prepared and planning ahead will save you from potential setbacks during your time away from home.

Familiarizing yourself with pet requirements at your destination and packing all the essentials to make the trip easier for your pet will make the process smooth and much more enjoyable.

To make sure that your pet has everything they need and are healthy enough to travel, schedule a wellness check at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic.

Related Articles:

Tips for Pet Owners

Tips for First-Time Pet Owners + New Pet Owner Checklist

Read More
Tips for Pet Owners

Dog-Friendly Restaurants & Pet-Friendly Activities in Charlotte

Read More
Vet Visits

Common Information Needed for a Pet's First Vet Visit

Read More