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Preparing for a Road Trip with Your Dog or Cat

Mug sitting in car


When you’re itching to hit the road for an adventure, why wouldn’t you want to bring your best friend along with you? But if your furry pal freaks out over car rides, taking them with you on a long drive can be more frightening than fun. Whether your dog or cat loves to travel or doesn’t have a choice in the matter, what’s the best way to prepare for a pet-friendly road trip?

Should You Bring Your Pet on a Road Trip?

Sometimes, you don’t have a choice when it comes to bringing your dog or cat with you on a road trip. For example, if you’re relocating or going on a lengthy trip and can’t afford to board your pet, keeping them with you makes sense. However, if it isn’t necessary, and your pet gets anxious or sick on long car rides, it’s worth looking into alternate options.

But some pets love to go on an adventure. You might plan a trip solely for the purpose of traveling with your furry friend. Either way you slice it, bringing your pet on a road trip is a personal choice. No matter why your cat or dog goes along for the ride, it’s essential to prepare well for the journey.

Tips For Preparing for a Pet-Friendly Road Trip

The most critical part of traveling with your dog or cat is to take the necessary time to prepare. These tips will help things go smoothly when you’re on the road with your pet.

1. Make riding in the car a pleasant experience — Before setting out on your pet-inclusive vacation, it's worth taking time to get your cat or dog used to car rides. For example, if the only time you put your dog in the car is to take them to the vet, they might not be a fan of the idea. But over time, working in small chunks and using rewards and praise helps build positive associations. 

2. Know your pet —Your fur friend is a special part of your life, so you know all their quirks. For example, if your pet tends to get motion sickness, plan to take frequent breaks. If your dog needs tons of exercise, search ahead of time for some dog parks along your route.

3. Gather supplies and make a list — Don’t wait until you need something to realize you don’t have it. Make a packing list for your pet just like you would for yourself before taking a trip. If you’re missing anything, get it before you leave. Expect the unexpected, and plan for it the best you can.

4. Look for pet-friendly accommodations — Be prepared. Anywhere you plan to stop overnight needs to be pet-friendly. Don’t bank on sneaking your pal in to save a few extra bucks. Be honest and look for hotels or rentals that welcome pets. Many places might even offer pet packages that include a cozy bed, treats, and food and water bowls.

5. Plan fun activities to do with your pet — It’s not much fun to go on a vacation and get stuck in the hotel room the whole time. You wouldn’t want this, and your pet doesn’t want it either (at least not unless you're there, too).  Make sure to plan some pet-friendly activities that you and your best fur pal can do together during your vacation.

What To Bring on a Road Trip with Your Pet

Use this handy checklist to make sure your pet has everything they need while on the road.

  • Car safety harness
  • Pet bed or blanket
  • Collapsible water and food dishes
  • Fresh water, either in a jug or water bottle 
  • Easy to access food and treats for during travel
  • FurDozer pet hair remover to clean up your seats
  • Kennel (your pet might feel safer during the journey in their kennel. Or you may also need it for your destination hotel or vacation rental.)
  • Harness and leash
  • Poop bags
  • Travel-friendly litter pan, litter, and easy-to-use scoop
  • Updated ID tags
  • Current medical records and vaccination certificates
  • Consider getting a GPS collar or tracking chip
  • Updated pictures of your pet
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped
  • Your pet’s favorite toy (plus a few extras)
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Grooming supplies if necessary
  • Any medications your pet takes
  • Trip-specific items (for example, dog booties if you’re walking your pet on hot or cold terrain, doggy sunscreen if you’ll be spending lots of time in the sun, etc.)
Dog with owner in front on RV

What If Your Pet Doesn't Like Car Rides?

Talk to your vet about calming supplements to help ease anxious feelings. You can also try calming products like Adaptil spray or Feliway. If the main issue is motion sickness, your vet can recommend medications for your pet.

Give your pet plenty of space during the trip. Don’t cram a bunch of suitcases and bags around them to where they feel trapped. Offer your pet some goodies during breaks to help ease their mood, like a tasty snack in the Neat-Lik Mat or the Rolly Cannoli. These items encourage your pet to lick, releasing endorphins that help keep them calm.

It’s also a great idea to give your pet ample opportunities for exercise and stimulation during the journey. Take frequent breaks to play fetch, go for a quick walk, and let your dog or cat get some fresh air.

RVing with Your Pet

When traveling in an RV with your pet, you have a whole other set of challenges to consider. It’s important to keep your pal safe while you’re bopping along in your RV. Create a designated safe place for your pet, including their bed, toys, and food. To limit spills and messes, use the Neater Feeder instead of regular pet dishes. 

If your pet gets a bit nervous, bring out the Neat-Lik Mat, and make sure to use the tray with it to keep it in place. But for anxious pets, the best thing is to secure them using a safety harness or their crate. It’s essential that your pet feels secure during your travels to help keep them calm and happy. 

Since you’ll likely be staying in your RV during your trip, don’t forget to bring something to keep pet hair at bay. A tool like the FurDozer is perfect for on-the-go pet hair removal.

If you’re parking at various campgrounds, always make sure they’re pet-friendly. Don’t assume because you’re staying in your own RV you can automatically bring your cat or dog.

Have Pet, Will Travel: Time to Hit the Road!

When you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a fun, pet-friendly road trip. Remember, it’s your pet’s vacay too, so consider them when you’re planning every aspect of your travels. Never leave your pet unattended in your vehicle, follow local leash laws and pet guidelines, and make sure your pet is well-behaved around others.

For more helpful tips on pet parenting, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog. You’ll find suggestions on fun activities to do with your pets, pet-friendly places, and much more. Are you planning an upcoming pet adventure? Let us know! We’d love to hear about how you travel with your furry friend.



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