Do you have plans to hit the road and go exploring with your pet this year? Traveling by car is a great way to get out and explore the world around you. Just the image of driving off into the horizon with your pet hanging out by your side instantly puts a smile on the face of most pet parents. Before you can enjoy the excitement, there are a few important points that you need to consider. Here are 9 tips for successful pet-friendly road trips.
Anytime that you travel with your pet, there are safety concerns that need to be addressed. This isn’t to say that you should be afraid to travel together. However, a little careful planning will go a long way! Whether you’re planning on taking a cat on a road trip or heading cross country with your dog, we have some tips to get you started!
So, let’s get to it, after all, the open road is calling…
Check Out These 9 Tips for Enjoyable Pet-Friendly Road Trips
1. Check All Identification Before Leaving
When was the last time that you checked the contact information on your pet’s ID tag? If you aren’t sure or it has been a while, you aren’t alone.
With approximately 10 million pets going missing each year in the United States, pet parents need to do everything that we can to improve the chances of bringing our pets home safe and sound in the event of an emergency.
Before you start planning road trips with dogs and cats, take a moment to verify their identification. Check that all information included on your pet’s ID tags is accurate and up to date as well as the information on file for your pet’s microchip.
2. Put Together a Pet Travel Passport
The idea of a pet travel passport is often discussed when crossing international borders or booking a flight. However, it’s also a great idea to keep yourself organized when taking a road trip with your pet. This ‘passport’ is a file or package containing necessary information about your pet that you may need along the way.
For your cat and dog-friendly road trips, there are several pieces of important information you should have close at hand. You will need to include a copy of your pet’s vaccination records, any information pertaining to medications that your pet may be taking, and a recent photograph of your pet (for identification purposes if your pet is lost).
While you can keep this information stored on your phone, it is recommended to have a hard copy on hand. You never know when your electronics might fail you or batteries will die. By putting together a small file, you can slip it into the glove box for safekeeping in the hope that you will never need it.
3. Pack A Pet First Aid Kit
In addition to having all your pet’s important medical information, you should always carry a pet-friendly first aid kit.
While many of the items that should be included will be the same as a standard first aid kit made for humans, there are a few additional items that you should consider packing such as styptic powder to stop bleeding, vet wrap for bandages, and activated charcoal to address toxins.
Not only should you have a first-aid kit on hand for your pet-friendly road trips, but it’s also something that you should have around on a daily basis!
4. Properly Secure Your Pet in Their Own Dedicated Space
When packing your vehicle, make sure to leave a dedicated space that is large enough for your pet to lay comfortably during the trip. Depending on the pet, this may mean leaving space for a travel crate or for an open space on the back seat for your pet to rest.
To prevent injuries in the event of an accident, your pet should be secured either in a travel crate or using a pet-specific seatbelt restraint system.
Not only will this prevent your pet from climbing into the front seat of the vehicle and distracting the driver, but it will also stop your pet from being tossed around in an accident. Allowing your dog or cat to ride loose could be dangerous not only for your pet, but also for the other occupants of the vehicle.
5. Air Circulation and Fresh Water Are a Must
Any time that you are packing the vehicle for road trips with cats or dogs, pay careful attention to the area in which your pet will be riding. Avoid blocking the air from the vehicle’s fan or air conditioning unit from traveling back to your pet. This is especially important during the hot summer months, as they can overheat quickly.
You can also use an extra sun visor on your side window to ensure your pet is not in direct sunlight during your journey. Just make sure not to block your own vision!
Always bring a water bowl when you’re on the road so that you can give your pet access to plenty of fresh, cold water. If possible, pack some fresh water in a cooler so that you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to pick it up or freeze some water bottles, using the water as they thaw along the way.
6. Plan for Frequent Rest Stops
You may be a road trip pro, powering through hours upon hours of travel without having to stop, but this likely isn’t going to be the case for your pet. When planning out your route, take note of where you will pass rest stops with a designated pet area or dog park where you can both stretch your legs.
Experts say that the average dog will need to urinate approximately once every four to six hours, so plan your stops accordingly. While you’re there, give your pet enough time to ‘take care of business’, remembering that it’s a new area with new sights, scents, and smells. Don’t forget to clean up before you leave.
For cats, you may decide to get a cat carrier or crate large enough for your cat to fit comfortably and to hold a litter box inside. If that’s not the case, then you’ll need to make sure that your cat has access to a litter box at least once every 6 hours.
7. Research Your Planned Destination(s)
Before you start your road trip, take some time to research the area that you are planning to visit as well as any overnight or longer-term stops that you’ll do along the way. Verify that your accommodations are pet-friendly and read up about any rules and regulations that are in place such as leash laws and pet-free zones. This will help you avoid any mistakes along the way.
If you plan on going out for dinner or visiting a local attraction, investigate their policies on whether it’s feasible to bring your pet along. If there is a place that you have your heart set on that doesn’t allow pets to visit, look into the pet boarding services and doggy daycare facilities that come highly recommended in the area.
And whether you’re staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or at a loved one’s home, make sure to understand if dogs, cats, or other pet guests are welcome.
8. Be Prepared for A Mess
If your vehicle is your baby and you can’t stand the idea of your pet making a mess, you may want to reconsider taking your dog or cat along for the ride. The truth is pets can be dirty. Going into your pet-friendly road trips with reasonable expectations will make it far less stressful when you do start to notice the signs that a pet has been around.
Dogs shed and drool on a regular basis and, as most dog owners can tell you, they can make some incredible ‘doggy nose art’ on your windows. If you’re outdoors playing at the dog park at your rest stop, they can also track mud and dirt back into your vehicle.
Meanwhile, cats are also known for their ability to shed. If you’re traveling with a portable litter box for your cat, you may also find yourself vacuuming up all the stray litter that they manage to shoot out when digging around for the perfect spot.
9. Make Memories with Your Best Friend
The most important thing that you need to focus on along our road trip is simply to enjoy yourself, bond with your pet, and make memories that will stay with you for years to come. This may mean being flexible and letting things go, but it will be worth it! The best road trips with dogs and cats require you to go with the flow and make the most of the moment.
Have you ever taken a road trip with your pet(s)? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips for pet-friendly road trips that you learned along the way in the comments section below.