Whether you’re on the road for vacation, a move, or a visit with friends or family, it takes some extra planning if your pets are along for the ride.
Before You Go
Prior to anything longer than a day trip, make sure your pets are in good health. Ask your veterinarian about preventive care, like vaccines and parasite protection. Remember that different regions and environments have different disease and parasite risks, so make sure they’re protected for every stop along the way as well as your final destination.
If your pets aren’t microchipped already, before you leave is the time to get it done. And be sure to register that chip before you go! But don’t let the high-tech replace the tried-and-true; get well-fitting buckle collars on those pets, with tags clearly showing your cell phone number so you can get calls while away from home.
Put together a folder with your pets’ vaccination records, especially rabies, along with their microchip numbers and clear photos of your pets in case one goes missing en route.
On the Go
While in the car or, for the lucky families that travel in style, RV, you’ll want to ensure your pets are safely confined in a carrier or crate or with a harness and seatbelt that have been crash-tested and approved by the Center for Pet Safety.
Weather is also a big safety and comfort concern, whether traveling in the winter, spring, summer, or fall. That’s because the interior of a car can heat up to deadly levels in direct sunshine even on a cool day, and pets who are locked in a parked car when temperatures turn frigid can become uncomfortably and even dangerously cold.
It’s easy to misjudge your pets’ vehicle-bound experience when you park an air-conditioned or heated vehicle and then go into a climate-controlled restaurant or store. Consider picking up a vehicle temperature monitor that will text you if temperatures exceed or fall below safe levels. They’re widely available at RV supply retailers; those with back-up batteries are safest.
As for smaller-ticket items, bring along a non-tip water bowl or bucket so your pets can stay well-hydrated, along with a generous supply of pooper-scoop bags for your dogs, and plenty of litter and disposable litter boxes to keep your cats’ cage clean – just the way cats like it!
Hotels and Houses
Whether you’re staying at a low-cost motel chain, a five-star luxury resort, or your sister’s home, you’re going to want to keep the experience clean, safe, and pleasant for everyone involved, whatever their species.
Once you reach your stop for the night, take your dogs out for a potty walk, and keep walking until they’ve done their business. (That can take a long time for pooches not used to pottying on a leash, so you might want to get them in the habit long before you travel.)
Once indoors, be sure your cats have a familiar, secure place to hide while adjusting to new surroundings. Most people I know who travel regularly with their cats bring a very large dog crate in which they place the smaller carrier along with a litter box and the pet’s food and water, well-separated. The cat can use the carrier as a secure hiding place, and get on top of it to satisfy their need for height.
If you’re staying in one place for more than a night, you’ll probably want to let your cats out to roam and get some exercise. Bring along some scratching surfaces, or they’ll use the carpet or furniture to get that essential stretching done! Hotel or family home, no one will appreciate that.
Finally, bring a generous supply of your pets’ regular food along with disposable bowls.
Because accidents happen, don’t travel without essential cleaning supplies. Whether it’s your car or RV, a hotel, or someone’s house, a coating of pet fur and eau d’urine won’t make anyone glad you came.
Tools to have on hand include:
For longer trips, consider bringing along the BISSELL SpotBot Pet portable carpet cleaner – your host will never know your pooch graced their carpet with a little midnight upchucked grass, or worse!