Thursday, March 3, 2016

Happy Trails! Traveling with pets

A family vacation is always nice, but it’s (often) even better if your pets can come along. Most of us regard our dogs and cats as part of our family too, but often when we travel, they have to stay home — either in a kennel, or with a friend.

There are ways, though, to bring your furry friend with you on the trip. Here are some tips for making it work.

Drive, don’t fly.

It is theoretically possible to bring an animal with you on a flight, but as a practical matter, it can’t be done without at least the risk of terrifying your buddy. A very small dog or cat might be able to fit in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you, as airlines require, getting to spend hours in a cramped, unfamiliar place with many unknown sounds around. And if your pet is too big for that, into the cargo hold he goes.

Your pet will be happier in the car around her beloved human family, especially if she’s already used to coming along on short trips. (Repeated short trips are also a good way to get her used to the car and prevent motion sickness.)

If you’re concerned about safety, you can put the animal inside a pet carrier, or buy a specialized “leash” that snaps into a seatbelt buckle to restrict movement. (Please use this with a body harness, not a collar around the neck; a sudden stop at high speed with your pet tethered by the neck could turn tragic.)

Pack some treats, toys and water, and enough food to last for the duration of the trip. Bring along lightweight travel bowls, along with a portable water bowl to use along the way. (The Water Rover, which we received as part of a Petbox, is a good choice.) Stop for a break every three or four hours to give yourselves and your pet a chance to eliminate waste, quench thirst and maybe eat a little.

For cats you can bring a portable litter box, but also have some disposable pet waste bags — for either a dog or a cat — to pick up any solid waste.

You'll also want to pack picnic type meals and snacks for the human travelers, to avoid leaving your animal alone in the car while you have a leisurely restaurant meal. 

IMPORTANT: Be sure your pet has registration and rabies tags on at all times while traveling, and either a microchip or an identification tag as well. It wouldn’t hurt to also bring along a copy of his vaccination records to show that they are current if anyone should need to know.

Find pet-friendly hotels.

Many hotels disallow pets, but not all do. An online search will easily find pet-friendly accommodations along your planned route. Expect to pay a bit more, but if you plan to stay somewhere for more than one night you can often find hotels that charge for pets per stay rather than per night.

Drury Inn is one east-coast chain that happily accommodates pets.

In Nashville, go for the Hotel Preston, which welcomes four-legged guests with a bag of treats and toys for their own, and will provide you with a goldfish or lava lamp for the night, as well as offering an entire menu of specialty pillows to use (body pillow? Just ask!)

An online travel site such as Expedia or Travelocity can help you quickly locate pet-welcoming accommodations for you to consider.  Pets Welcome can also put you onto the right accomodations for your four footed friends.

Tip: If using such a service, always call the hotel before booking, to ensure that the website’s information is correct and up to date - you don't want to scramble to find alternate arrangements at the end of a long day of travel.

Bring along familiar bedding for your pet. If your companion is canine, take him out for frequent potty breaks — a soiled hotel room carpet could leave you with a hefty cleaning bill. For both dogs and cats, consider a travel crate.

Even if he doesn’t normally sleep in a crate at home, the ability to drift off to sleep knowing that your companion won’t find a convenient spot of carpeted floor to relieve himself on during the night counts for a lot.

(Admittedly, this can be harder with animals that have never been crate-trained. Consider letting your pet sleep in the crate at home at least some nights for a few weeks before leaving on the trip, so it won’t seem like a sudden departure from the norm.  We found that our dog, even after a lifetime of no crates, took to it immediately as her 'turf', especially since that was where her favorite blanket was.)

Sightseeing with four-legged tourists

You might not be able to take your companion with you to tourist attractions, shopping or restaurants, but you should be able to find a daycare center or a boarding kennel.

They are usually easy to locate, and will let you entrust your companion to the temporary care of professionals while you enjoy the delights of your destination city.

Set this up before you leave, to ensure that a spot is available and be sure you understand their policies and requirements, so you have your paperwork with you.

If you’re going to be at the destination for several days, explore good dog-walking routes, off-leash dog parks and other pet recreation facilities. Your pet will feel included if at least some of your excursions involve her. An indoor cat, however, is probably safer left in the room, possibly in the crate if her litter training is in doubt.


Before you leave, ask your veterinarian’s office if they know of a good vet in your destination town. If they do not, then look up a local vet or veterinary emergency clinic near your hotel. Keep the phone number and address handy while you are traveling. The chances are slim that your pet will need care while you’re away (unless he has an ongoing condition that you can plan for), but it’s better to be prepared than hurriedly trying to find a nearby veterinarian while your pet is in pain or suffering an injury.

Traveling with a pet is more complicated than traveling with just human companions, but it can also be fun for everyone involved. Your animal might not understand that the alternative to this long car ride is hours and days in a kennel, but you will know — and you’ll be glad you brought him. 


  1. Useful Information! We keep fantasying about adopting a pet, but I keep wondering about these little things... I'm still apprehensive. What about long haul flights? the inter continental - 3 flights to get to your destination? what about individual country laws- about taking in and out a pet? what if certain airlines have weird rules about not allowing small pets on board at all? I will not want to adopt only to put the little fella through all this :(

    Would love to see your posts in the Practical Mondays Link Up:)

  2. Thanks for these great resources. We are trying to book a beach trip and can not find a pet friendly place in our price range. I will check these sites.

  3. We love taking our pets (we have 5 dogs) on camping trips! They love all the new sights and sounds of a new place, plus they sleep r e a l l y good when we get home!! We haven't brought them along to a hotel, because we usually have so much sight-seeing to do, they would be stuck in a crate. If we are gone a long time, we get a house sitter so we are comfortable and can have a good time and the dogs are comfortable in their own home. Thanks for sharing these tips! I will be pinning!

  4. This is great! We know that future family vacations will probably include our dog (camping vacations) so this is perfect for us. Our dog used to get carsick, though, but thankfully he seems to have outgrown that.

  5. Great tips! I've stayed at pet friendly motels while on a road trip and it's a life saver!
    Thank you for sharing this week at Brag About It link party on VMG206 (Mondays at Midnight).
    ~ Megin of VMG206

  6. So useful! We love taking Roxy with us, but sometime it's just not possible. She especially loves the beach. #letsbefriends

  7. Wow! What an informative post! I imagine it could be challenging to bring your pet along on vacation, but it would also be a lot more fun!
    Love the last photo!
    Thanks for joining The Maple Hill Hop this week!

  8. These are some great tips for traveling with pets. I'm sure they would come in handy for anybody with a fur baby.

  9. This is so enlightening. I am sharing it with my friends who have pets. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips for traveling with pets at the Healthy Happy Green Natural Party! I'm Pinning and sharing this!

  10. These are excellent tips! I have a number of friends who have pets and it's so good to be able to travel with them. Sharing. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Hop.