Tips on Traveling with Pets Across the Country

by Alejandra Leyva

Ever caught your feline gazing out the window as if longing for a cross-country escapade, or your pup’s tail wagging at the sound of car keys? Could it be wanderlust or just simple curiosity?

The bond we share with our four-legged companions runs deep, so much so that surveys indicate that nearly 37% of pet owners travel with their pets yearly.

But before you strap in Fido or whisk Whiskers away on a grand journey, traversing the nation with your beloved animal sidekick requires a fusion of preparation, patience, and a pinch of adventure.

As captivating as the idea might sound, challenges lie ahead. Don’t let that deter you; we’ve got the roadmap to making every mile a memory.

Dive into this guide to ensure your trip isn’t just about the destination but an unforgettable journey with your furry friend.

Pre-Travel Preparation: Laying the Groundwork for Pet Journeys

Setting the stage for a flawless journey with your pet begins with thorough preparation. Start with a trip to the vet to ensure your pet’s health, get vaccinations and secure a health certificate.

Familiarize your furry friend with travel by taking short trips, and meticulously plan your route to include pet-friendly stops. To ensure you are organized while traveling, assemble a comprehensive travel kit tailored to your pet’s needs, from food and first-aid to their favorite toy and vitamins for dogs if you’re traveling with a canine companion.

Tim White, Founder of Milepro, adds, “Ensure they have a proper ID tag and consider microchipping for an added layer of security. Investing in a comfortable, well-ventilated carrier that they recognize as safe is paramount, and for their dietary needs, time a light meal a few hours before setting off.”

Your pet’s comfort and safety hinge on a blend of forethought and adaptability. By gradually introducing them to the sensations of travel, ensuring their health, and planning ahead for every eventuality, you’re setting the stage for a memorable journey for all the right reasons.

Choosing the right mode of transport

Stepping out of your home with a pet in tow can feel like directing a movie with a superstar with precise demands: from the snacks they prefer to the seat they’ll take. The choice of transport is similar to picking the perfect set for a pivotal scene. Let’s ensure your co–star– a Chihuahua or a Siamese – gets the A-list treatment they deserve.

1. By Air

• The Right Airline: Not all airlines are pet-friendly, and even those that are might have varying policies. Always check airline-specific guidelines. Some even offer loyalty programs for pets, turning those miles into treats!

• Cabin or Cargo? Smaller pets often fly in the cabin, but size and weight restrictions apply. Larger pets might need to fly in the cargo hold, which is temperature-controlled and pressurized. Understanding the specifics can ease anxieties.

2. By Land

• Car Comforts: If taking your car, ensure you’ve got a comfortable pet carrier, or use safety harnesses for larger pets. Stop for regular breaks, which is essential for comfort and to ensure they stay healthy on trips. Also, never leave your pet inside a parked car. Remember, vehicles can heat up quickly!

• Train Trails: Some trains allow pets, albeit with stipulations around size and duration of travel. A cozy crate and familiar toys can help them feel more at home on the tracks.

3. Buses and Boats

• Bus Basics: Many bus companies don’t allow pets, but those that do will often have strict guidelines. Always enquire ahead and book early.

• Boating with Buddy: If you’re considering a ferry or a boat, ensuring a pet-friendly cabin or designated area is essential. Sea journeys can be unsettling for pets, so keeping them in a familiar environment with a piece of home, like their blanket, can help.

Remember, every pet is a unique individual. What works for Whiskers might not necessarily work for Wags. Tailor your choices to what’s best for your animal companion.

Accommodation Considerations

In the excitement of plotting a course across the map, charting scenic detours, and earmarking must-visit spots, the question of where you and your furry sidekick will lay your heads at night often lingers.

Coty Perry, CMO at Anglers, emphasizes the importance of making adequate accommodation plans. “You need to ensure accommodation is a top priority on your preparation list. After all, the last thing you want is a tiring day on the road, followed by the surprise that Mr. Whiskers isn’t welcomed at your chosen resting place.”

Let’s ensure you and your pet have a cozy, comfortable, and hassle-free stay, no matter where your journey takes you.

1. Research, Research, Research: Start by scouring hotel or lodging websites catering to pet owners. Websites like BringFido or TripAdvisor have sections dedicated to pet-friendly accommodations. Don’t rely on just the “pet-friendly” tag. Delve deeper to understand any restrictions.

2. Understand the Fine Print: Some hotels may welcome pets only up to a certain weight or breed. Others might levy extra charges or ask for a deposit in case of damages. Before booking, clarify the nitty-gritty to avoid unexpected fees or complications.

3. Space Matters: Your Great Dane needs more space than your tabby cat. Consider accommodations that offer enough space for your pet to move, especially if they’re larger breeds. Extended-stay hotels or vacation rentals might offer the added room and comfort your pet needs.

4. Location is Everything: It’s not just about the room. Nearby green spaces or pet-friendly parks can be a blessing for those morning and evening walks. Lodging near such amenities can make the experience more relaxing for you and your pet.

5. Neighborly Considerations: If you know your pet is a nocturnal wanderer, vocal, or tends to get anxious in unfamiliar environments, ground floor rooms away from main areas might be ideal. This ensures minimal disturbance to other guests.

6. Emergency Provisions: Proximity to a vet clinic or a 24-hour pet emergency center can be a significant factor, especially if your pet has specific health concerns. It’s always better to be prepared than caught off-guard in an unknown city.

7. Reviews are Gold: Before finalizing your stay, read through reviews by other pet parents. Their firsthand experiences can shed light on aspects the hotel’s marketing might not cover.

Remember, when traveling across the country with your beloved pet, their comfort is just as paramount as yours. Choosing the right accommodation can set the tone for your entire trip, ensuring happy memories for both two-legged and four-legged travelers.


Traveling with your pet is more than a mere relocation from Point A to B. It’s about shared experiences, mutual discoveries, and forging memories that will echo in the rhythm of their wagging tail or the content purring by the campfire. So, as you embark on your next adventure, remember: the journey is as enchanting as the destination. Together, you and your pet will write stories, one paw print, and one footstep at a time.

©Alejandra Leyva, for Legends Of America. Submitted August 2023

Alejandra LeyvaAbout the Author: Alejandra Leyva is a food enthusiast, digital nomad & content creator. She follows #deleteBigTech and practices Live Slow & Do More way of life. Find her on X (formerly known as Twitter) and via her website here.

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