How to Travel With Pets: The Info You Need To Plan a Trip

When we travel, we leave our lifestyle at home with it ready for us to resume when we return. Pets are a huge part of our lifestyle and not one we can’t put on hold like the mail service.

Of course, you can’t take a 75-gallon fish tank with you on vacation, and maybe it’s not a great idea to bring a pet rabbit along for a trip, but for pets such as cats and dogs, such a trek is feasible.

And now all the “what-ifs” start to pile on top of everything else swimming in your mind. Well, don’t panic! Our community has your back to help you make a solid plan on how to travel with pets.

Get out your notebook and take some notes as we go over the hairy details.

On the Road: Pets in the Car or RV

Road travel perhaps is the preferred way to transport pets on a trip. It may take longer to get where you’re going, but at least you aren’t checking their carrier into airline cargo or not being able to take them out for potty breaks.

Easing In

When taking children on the road, you can explain to them that you’re leaving home, about how long you expect to be driving, how many days you’ll be away, etc.

If only we could have this same talk with our animals.

If it’s been a while since your pet has been on a car ride, or maybe even the first one ever, it’s a good idea to familiarize your pet with what will be their mobile shelter for a day or more.

A day or so prior to departure put them inside your car or RV. Let them roam around and inspect every corner. If you will be using a carrier, place them inside the carrier and give them a chance to settle in within the vehicle.

Taking a quick ride with your pets in your car or RV will give them a preview of what’s to come and hopefully ease them into the change.

Cats will need to be in a carrier. Dogs can either be in a carrier or have a seatbelt clip attached to the collar. For long car rides it’s probably for the best that you have both so your dog can switch back and forth.

Put a favorite toy or a blanket beside them for comfort and familiarity.

Some may want a buffer by placing the animal carrier in a truck bed or the hitched RV, but this causes a problem.

You could drive for hours not knowing that something is wrong. In order to have a timely response to emergencies, it’s important to have your pets within seeing and hearing range.

Additionally, do not allow your animals to move around the vehicle without restraint while you’re driving. They could distract or impede the driver and this would cause a crash.

Pet Pit Stop

Be prepared to make several more stops than you normally would. Time in between stops for a break should not exceed 2 hours. 

Decide ahead of time which stops will be for meals in addition to potty breaks.

Road Trip Starter Kit:

  • Collapsible food dishes
  • Enough food for the trip portioned into baggies
  • Water dispensers that don’t spill
  • Blanket and a few toys
  • Medication
  • Treats
  • First aid kit
  • Cat litter
  • Mini litter pan
  • Waste baggies
  • Cleaning supplies

Here are some suggestions:

Check out this first aid kit made especially for pets.

Of course, dogs doing their business is pretty simple. Take them on a leash and pick up the poop with baggies.

Cats will need a little more help. 

For felines. get a small litter box and dispense a small amount of litter in the box. With all the doors closed to the RV or car, remove kitty from the carrier and place them in the litter box. If they potty, place all the litter in a baggie and discard. Clean the box with some cleaning wipes, and DONE!

We don’t recommend leaving food in the carrier. Plan feedings alongside stretch breaks for cats as you would for dogs.

In home pet care columbus ohio professional dog walkers columbus ohio

Photo by Charlie Solorzano on

One Step Ahead

Who wants to chase a loose pet all over the highway? WE don’t.

Both dogs and cats need regular breaks to stretch out.

Dogs are the privileged ones who get to step outside for some fresh air. Cats should stay inside the cab.

Let kitty out for a stretch inside the car with the doors closed. 

However, Murphy’s Law does show up for road trips, so it’s wise to invest in some tracking devices should your animal somehow get loose.

It happens. One person thought the other was watching, or one of the kids leaves the door open for an animal to slip out, there’s a leash malfunction, etc.

Recovery Tool Ideas:

Recovering your pet will perhaps be a huge headache, but at least technology can help you reunite with your animals.

Motion Sickness Woes

According to VCA, these are the signs your dog has motion sickness:

Signs Your Dog Has Motion Sickness:

  • Whining and pacing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

And this, also from VCA, is a very similar list for cats:

Signs Your Cat Has Motion Sickness:

  • Excessive vocalization (loud meowing or howling)
  • Pacing and restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Ask a professional you trust for anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medication recommendations and use as directed. The last thing you want is a miserable pet.

Traveling by car can be a lot of work, but it allows you more leeway to care for your animals in a way closer to what you would do at home.

In the Sky: Pet Accommodations By Plane

Oh, airlines. The check-ins, the fees, the delays. But sometimes, for one reason or another, it’s the only way.

Typically, you have two options: carrier carry-on next to you or the dreaded checked cargo.

Service animals are typically permitted to board without being contained and may stay beside their person as long as they are not blocking the path.

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Child In Wheelchair with Service Dog Source: on Facebook

At one time, putting carriers in the overhead bin was one way to go, but this practice is phasing out due to serious safety concerns.

We would like to think other humans will be careful with our pets in cargo, but those responsible for our pets in carriers are trained to move luggage around rather than to properly care for animals.

The consequences of checking pet carriers into cargo can be tragic.

Unisys seems to fully understand this pain point as they unveiled their Digi-Pet™ product last year.

This app-based system is like a baby monitor for animals, but it also helps you book flights. Important alerts about the animal are sent to airline staff as well as pet owners.

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Our Check List for Traveling By Air with Pets

Don’t assume an airline is going to be careful with your pets just because you forked over the fees. They aren’t required to know the particulars on how to travel with pets.

For example, United Airlines’ reputation has taken a hit with a puppy dying when a flight attendant forced use of the overhead bin, a dog was sent to Japan instead of Kansas, as well as one Greyhound owner’s horror story of negligence.

Research the airline. 

2018 Animal Airline Deaths

  • Hawaiian: 3
  • Delta: 4 (+3 injuries)
  • United: 2 (+1 injury)
  • American: 1 (+1 injury)
  • SkyWest: 0 (+1 injury)
  • Alaska: 0 (+1 injury)

Airlines Transporting Animals with Zero Incident in 2018

  • CommutAir
  • Compass Airline
  • Endeavor Air
  • Envoy Air
  • ExpressJet Airlines
  • GoJet Airlines
  • Horizon Air
  • Mesa Airlines
  • Republic Airways
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Shuttle America

And we also have Pet Airways which is 100% devoted to safe and comfortable travel for pets, but it will set you back several hundred dollars.

Here’s a handy guide on the best airports for those traveling with pets.

Air travel calls for quite a bit of consideration, so it may be best to hold off on booking until you’ve taken plenty of time to think about everything.

Thanks to for the info! Visit their website for a complete travel planning resource.

Was all this plane talk nerve-racking? Your Columbus Ohio in home pet care and professional dog walking service will take care of everything while you fly the friendly skies. We’re all booked up for 2019, but make sure you call or text us for your 2020 travel plans at: (614) 439-1621.

All Aboard: Traveling with Pets By Train

Traveling by rail, you can avoid air sickness and hefty airline fees. However, services like Amtrak have relatively tight restrictions.

Amtrak Pet Travel Rules:

  • Trip cannot exceed 7 hours
  • Pets only allowed in coach class area
  • One pet per customer
  • Cannot be a multi-ride trip
  • Pets must fit comfortably in a carrier no larger than 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high
  • Maximum weight allowed is 20 pounds INCLUDING carrier weight.
  • Carrier counts as one piece of carry on
  • Pets must remain in carrier while on board and in the train station
  • Pet carrier must be kept under the owner’s seat (“except on Amtrak Cascades trains where you can put your pet carrier on the floor in front of the seat next to you.”)
  • Pets may not travel unaccompanied
  • Pets must be: 
    • At least 8 weeks old
    • Healthy & up to date on vaccines 
    • Odorless 
    • Well-mannered

Whew! So many rules. If by some miracle your pet situation passes all these criteria, our tips are rather simple.

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Our Check List for Traveling By Train with Pets

Where to Stay: Planning Lodging with Pets

If you aren’t staying with family or friends, you’ll need to find pet-friendly accommodations. 

Lucky for you, there are websites out there that know all about how to travel with pets. Check them out to find the best place for your family:

Of course, you can use search filters on your favorite booking sites like Expedia,, Priceline or AirBnB.

Just be prepared, dear dog owners, for frequent trips outside to potty and possible barking at whatever is in the hotel hallway.

Is that perfect hotel booked or too expensive? You can still be a happy camper. Read our blog about camping with pets!

In home pet care columbus ohio professional dog walkers columbus ohio

Adorable Dog in Camera Bag. Source: Roberto Nickson/Unsplash

The pet parents community has your back. Use all of this info based on real-life experience to use when you make your plans. Bon voyage!

Fur Star In Home Pet Care and Professional Dog Walkers in Columbus Ohio has your back! We are booked for the rest of 2019, but if you have BIG travel plans for 2020, we’re here to take care of your pets while you’re away. Call or text us at: (614) 439-1621.

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