More pet owners these days view their furry friends more as family members than they do as pets. For these people, family road trips and vacations are no fun when their four-legged companions can’t tag along. Fortunately, businesses, including resorts, are becoming increasingly pet friendly, which means Fido can finally be part of the holiday shenanigans. Now you just need to figure out how to get him to your destination safely and comfortably — and without sacrificing the sanity of the rest of your companions.
1. Prepare Your Pet
Some animals naturally love car rides, while others … Not so much. You don’t know what category your pet falls into until you’ve taken him on a few short drives in your neighborhood. Prepare your pet for the upcoming journey by taking him on a short drive around your neighborhood. Gradually extend the distance that you travel each day to increase your pet’s comfort level in the car.
2. Invest In a Secure Crate
Your pet will need a well-ventilated and secure crate or carrier in which to sit for the duration of your travels. A quick search online will reveal that there are a variety of models available in hard plastic, soft-sided and wire mesh. Read the pros and cons of each and pick one that is large enough for your pet to move around, lie down and stand in comfortably.
Ideally, you should purchase the crate as soon as you decide to take your dog, cat, monkey or goldfish on vacation with you. Take the crate along for your short drives around the block to get him used to the idea of being in it for extended stretches of time.
3. Get Your Pet Microchipped
The last thing you want to think about when planning a family vacation is possibly losing a member of the family, but the truth is, animals have a tendency to run off — especially when in unfamiliar surroundings. Hope for the best but plan for the worst by ensuring your pet has a microchip that contains all your information, as well as a dog tag that is imprinted with your pet’s name and your contact information (including home address).
4. Pack a Travel Kit
Just like you have a toiletry bag, so too does your pet need a to-go kit. Pack it with your pet’s papers, leash, waste scoop, plastic bags, bowls, food, grooming supplies and medications. You should also pack a favorite toy, blanket or pillow to ensure your pet feels safe in a strange place.
5. Feed Your Pet Well In Advance of Departure
No matter how much you try to get your pet accustomed to traveling in a crate in the back of a moving vehicle, there is the very real possibility he will get car sick on an extended journey. To prevent messes, feed your pet three to four hours in advance of departure, and never, ever feed your pet in a moving vehicle.
6. Plan To Stop at Pet-Friendly Rest Stops
You should never ever leave your pet alone in a parked car, no matter how ideal you think the weather seems. The inside of a vehicle is always 10 to 20 degrees hotter or colder than the outside, depending on the time of year it is. Make sure your pet can tag along with you when using the restroom, grabbing a bite to eat or even just going in to pay for gas.
7. Bring Your Pet’s Papers
Though it’s always a good idea to have your pet’s vaccination records on hand every time he’s with you, you should make it a point to stick them in the glove box or your pet’s travel kit if planning to travel across state lines. Laws vary from state to state, so you want to be sure your pet can cross without issue going to and from your destination.
8. BYO Water
You wouldn’t drink water from a faucet at a rest stop, so why would you want your furry family member to? The answer is, you probably wouldn’t. Err on the side of caution and bring along a gallon or two of drinking water for your pet.
Bringing your pet along on the family vacation is a great way to make memories with him or her. However, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, pack accordingly and prepare your pet for the journey to ensure smooth travels for everyone involved.