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How to road trip with your pet like a pro

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

Spring is fast approaching, which means

a.) you’re sick of the cold and itching to drive south to find sunshine


b.) your kids’ spring break offers the perfect opportunity to escape reality for a little taste of summer vacation.

If you have pets, though, it’s not that easy to pack up and leave. You may have a puppy you’re not ready to part with or simply can’t bear the thought of being away from your sweet fur baby for more than a day.

So, what do you do? Pack up the food bowls, cross your fingers, and hope for the best?

It’s not always safe to assume traveling with your pet will go smoothly, but your level of preparation will certainly help. There is plenty you can do to increase the chances of having a good experience traveling with your pet.

Know your pet well before hitting the road

Every pet has a distinctly unique personality.

For instance, I have two dogs that could not be more different. On a trip to Florida, our puppy Elley surprised us by getting carsick and seasick during what we thought would be a carefree, beach getaway. We learned that she did not do well in a closed crate in the car, but possibly did even worse on a sea excursion where she panicked and slobbered excessively all over me and the towel I held her in. The only things that somewhat saved us were the Chillax™ Chews and CBD Mega Chews I brought with us to combat pet anxiety.

Needless to say, it was a long boat ride and I’m much more apprehensive to take Elley on trips now.

However, Maggie is obsessed with the car and has never been carsick, though she has been covered in Elley’s vomit in the backseat. Poor girl! Thank goodness for groomers and veterinarians that make house calls.

If you aren’t sure how your pet will respond to travel, I recommend taking them on a short day trip so you know what to expect. Bring two different crate options to see which your pet responds to best. See how your animal responds to eating, drinking, playing, and going to the bathroom in an unknown place. This practice run will help you see what you might need to be prepared for on a longer road trip.

How to prepare before travel day

In addition to packing your pet’s essentials, there are a few other things you’ll want to take care of before pulling out of the driveway.

  • Consult with your veterinarian. Make sure your vet agrees it’s safe to travel with your pet, especially if your pet has any health issues. There may be additional precautions to consider that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. Your veterinarian will also recommend that you get your pet fixed and microchipped if you haven’t already. What if your pet runs off while in heat? Implanting a microchip under your pet’s skin will help you find your lost animal quickly and possibly prevent unplanned and unsafe pregnancy.

  • Book pet-friendly accommodations. Especially if you’re a new pet owner, it’s easy to forget your pet can’t go just anywhere with you. Find a hotel or Airbnb that allows pets or make sure the person you’re staying with is prepared to host a cat or dog.

  • Pack these travel essentials

  1. Safe harness and restraint system. Having a dog or cat roaming around the car while you’re driving isn’t safe for you or your pet. The last thing you want is an animal jumping into your lap at a busy intersection. You also don’t want your animal getting injured because you had to make a sharp turn. If you don’t put your pet in a crate, make sure to harness them securely so there’s no funny business on the road.

  2. Water and food dishes. Of course, your pet will need some type of container for food and water, but bringing their dishes from home can provide a sense of familiarity that will make them more comfortable in a new place.

  3. Food, treats and water. Since you won’t have the convenience of running water or refrigeration in the car, you’ll need to think ahead. Designate a gallon-size jug of water for your animal and a cooler for food, depending on the type of food you buy. You may consider portioning the food ahead of time to make things even easier on your trip. A bag of all-natural pawTreats always comes in handy to reward your pet for good behavior.

  4. Waste bags. Don’t be that guy. You know, the one that leaves smelly surprises for other people to step in. Have a healthy stock of waste bags to clean up your pet’s doodoo and everyone will be happy.

  5. Urine eliminator, stain remover & odor eliminator. Accidents happen. It stinks (literally), but it comes with the territory. Your pet may have an accident if you’re in an unfamiliar place. Be prepared with the same items you would use at home if your pet had an accident.

  6. Paper towels & fabric towels. You never know when a major mess will strike. Urine in your trunk. Slobber everywhere. A knocked over water dish. You also never know when a rainstorm might strike. Imagine your very hairy dog gets drenched on your morning walk. You’ll be glad when you have plenty of towels on hand to soak up the situation fast. Make sure to also bring a few large plastic bags to store soiled towels in.

  7. Photos of your pet. Chances are you already have hundreds of fur baby photos on your phone. If you don’t have any that are recent, snap a few. That way, if your pet runs off, you’ll be able to show photos to people in the area who can keep an eye out.

  8. A collar & two leashes. Of course, you’ll want to be prepared to take your pet on a walk to see the nearby sites and scenery without worrying about them running off. Bring a spare leash just in case!

  9. Anti-nausea chews or Benadryl. Even if your pet doesn’t traditionally get carsick, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Keep anti-nausea chews on hand to prevent sickness or treat it when it happens.

  10. Travel-sized pet grooming kit. Oh boy, this is something you might never consider needing, but trust me. It comes in handy. One of my dogs managed to get a wad of chewing gum stuck in her fur. What a mess! Luckily, I had grooming scissors on hand to cut it out. A grooming kit also comes to the rescue when the inevitable sticker finds its way into a paw.

  11. Toys. Less is more when it comes to bringing your pet’s favorite play things. If you road trip with your pet in a crate, don’t dump a bunch of toys in there to keep them occupied. Too much clutter will most likely create an uncomfortable space. Instead, bring one or two favorites that they can focus on for a longer period of time.

Things to consider when you’ve reached your destination

Even if your pet is fully vaccinated, there is plenty of opportunity for them to get sick. Opt to stay away from dog park areas and find more secluded outdoors spaces to keep your pet feeling well through your trip.

You’ll also want to plan ahead so you never have to leave your pet in the car alone, especially in warmer months. It’s actually illegal to leave a pet unattended in a locked car in these states. Look for pet-friendly restaurants or opt for takeout. If you’re going to a national park, state park, or beach, make sure pets are welcome.

Recognize when boarding is the best option

Every pet is not suited for travel and every trip is not suited for pets. A road trip full of museums, restaurants, and theme parks will be impossible to pull off with a pet. However, a cabin getaway with plenty of open space to explore could be heaven for everyone in your family.

You are not a bad pet owner for leaving your dog or cat with a trusted friend, family member, or at a pet boarding facility. Put your animal in great hands and they might feel like they’re on vacation, too!

Keep in mind that if you decide against road tripping with your pet, they’ll

  • Be less likely to contract a communicable disease

  • Avoid getting carsick

  • Avoid getting lost far from home

  • Be less likely to disturb neighbors

And, you’ll have the flexibility and freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want while enjoying your much-deserved getaway.

Happy travels!



Dr. Diaz’s nurturing nature led her into medicine where she became a Board Certified Anesthesiologist. While she loved her career and her patients, she also wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. After retiring from her practice and achieving her goal of being a home-based parent, Kristi began looking for ways to give back to her community. At the same time, she and her husband were looking for home-based business opportunities.

Kristi knew she found the perfect opportunity when she discovered pawTree. The value Kristi placed on diet and nutrition for health and wellness, coupled with her family’s love of animals, aligned with pawTree’s company values.

Dr. Diaz’s philosophy is that diet, genetics, and luck all work together to create the quality of a pet's life. We can't control the genetics and we can't control the luck, but their diet is something we can control. Pets count on us their entire lives for their nutrition. Feeding them high-quality food and supplements will give your pet the best chance to live healthy, vibrant lives.

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