‘Tis the season… to travel with your pets. Hotel chains and other forms of accommodation are becoming more open to having dogs and cats stay as guests with their pet parents. That’s a great thing because pet parents don’t want to leave their fur babies behind. They consider their dogs and cats part of the family so it’s only natural they’d want them along. Holiday road trip travel tips for pet parents involves making the trip to the destination enjoyable for everyone.

If you’re traveling with your pet for the first time, this list of travel tips can be printed out and kept for reference. If you and your pet are seasoned travelers, this article will be a great refresher; we know it’s easy to be so relaxed that you walk out the door and realize hundreds of miles later that you forgot your dog’s favorite chew toy… yikes!

Holiday Road Trip Travel Tips For Pet Parents

Make a list. We are proponents of making lists, especially if you’re traveling with your pets. Each pet should have his own list as each pet is unique. If you have a pet on medication, put that on the list. If your dog has a favorite blanket or bed, that needs to be on the list. What about a cat who has a favorite scratching post? We suggest bringing that because your cat may feel stressed from the travel and with being in an unfamiliar location and scratching alleviates stress — best to have her favorite scratching post so she doesn’t scratch your hosts’ favorite couch!

Each pet should have his or her own list and it should include:

  1. Dog food
  2. Cat food
  3. Favorite toy
  4. Leash/harness
  5. Cat box
  6. Cat litter
  7. ID tags (or making sure your microchipped pets’ information is up to date)
  8. Bed
  9. Cleaning items for unexpected messes
  10. Medications
  11. Pet first aid kit
  12. Pet medical records
  13. Favorite treats
  14. Sweaters or clothing needed if you’re traveling to a colder climate than where you live

This list is a jumping off point for pet parents to begin packing for the family road trip.


Holiday Road Trip Travel Tips For Pet Parents


Make reservations. If you’re staying in hotels or bed and breakfasts along the way, make sure they will accommodate you and your pets. Don’t sneak your pets in and think you’ll get away with it — you won’t. If your trip will take more than one day, pre-plan where you will spend the night; don’t leave it to chance.

Add extra time to the trip. When you travel alone, chances are you can drive straight through. When you travel with pets you need to plan potty breaks for the dogs. You also need to have a space in the car where you can set up a portable litter box so your cat can do his business.

Don’t wait for the cats to start howling and the dogs to start whining to look for a place to stop. If you’ve been driving for more than a couple of hours, find a place to pull over and let your dogs out to stretch their legs and relieve themselves.

Safety first. Don’t open the doors of the vehicle until you have your dogs safely in a collar or harness and leashed. If you open the door, they may bolt and because you’re in an unfamiliar location, they may be too scared to come back to you.

The same thing goes for the cats and the litter box. Do not open the car doors when you let your cat out of his carrier. Set up the litter box, then let your cat out. Once he is done, put her back into her carrier. Then open the doors to empty the litter box. Be a responsible pet parent and don’t simply dump the litter on the side of the road. Cats should also wear collars when on road trips — get them accustomed to wearing them at home so they will wear them when you’re planning a getaway.

People are turning their time, attention and money to their fur babies more now than they ever have and because of this, their dogs and cats are part of travel and road trips. Make your holidays and year-round road trips safe, fun and happy for everyone! Don’t forget to share these holiday road trip travel tips for pet parents with the dog lovers in your life!

Robbi Hess, Woman In The Pet Industry Solopreneur Finalist and award-winning author, is multi-petual. When not caring for her pets or taking them on walks, she is a speaker, efficiency and effectiveness guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof/Crimeless Cat.