by Vanessa Voltolina for

Looking to hit the road with your family’s dog or cat – or both? Bringing your pet along for a trip, both long and short, is a nice way to add some excitement to their day and explore new places. It may also cut down on paying for a kennel, cat sitter or dog watcher.


While it may seem like all fun and games, there is some preparation you must do before your cat or dog can feel comfortable on road trips for any length of time. Here are three steps for preparing your pet for car trips:

1. Get the Goods (Carriers and Meds)
For traveling with a cat, a carrier is your best bet. Try a hard-sided carrier with openings on the front and top, since this can make it less stressful for your cat to go in and out of its carrier. Allow your cat to get accustomed to the carrier before by leaving it open in the house for your cat to explore.

Prep your pet with short car trips before taking a long one and reveal any tendencies to get overly nervous or carsick. If you only take your pet to the vet, switch it up and go somewhere fun so they will begin to associate getting in the car with receiving a reward.

For pets prone to carsickness, ask your vet about motion sickness and sedation medications. For longer car trips, remember to also have medical and vaccination records for your pet in case of emergency, favorite toys, food and a leash.

2. Plan Ahead
There is no shortage of travel supplies for your furry friend—collapsible bowls and special luggage are all the rage. While these supplies are helpful, most important is that you have your pet’s regular food with you. Try to keep your pet’s mealtime routine as consistent as possible and keep plenty of bottled water handy.
A larger and more pressing issue for you and your pet while traveling may be the bathroom. Namely, how and when you can get them to go while in transit. Pick up disposable litter trays and be sure to use your cat’s regular litter in them. Changing litter suddenly can cause some cats to start going to the bathroom outside the litter box. When it comes to pooches, before your excursion, train your dog to go to the bathroom in unfamiliar places. This may require that you have a few crash courses before you go away with your pet. A few weeks before you travel, work to develop a bathroom cue, which can be an action or phrase that indicates he should go. When he goes outside of his comfort zone or in a new location, offer praise, and maybe a treat, too!

3. Speak with Your Vet
Car trips can sometimes bring about a side of your pet that you’ve never seen before — anxiety, nausea or both. If this is the case for your cat or dog, discuss with your vet ways that you can help your pet during the trip. Anti-anxiety medications or pheromone sprays may help a nervous cat. During your discussion with the vet, also ask about whether any of your pet’s current meds need to be changed up while you’re on the road. And don’t forget general best practices for traveling, including having a first aid kit on hand and programming your cell phone with emergency numbers.

When it comes to packing and planning for your next trip with your pet, remember that not every hotel is pet-friendly. Or, some that claim to be may have specific policies or red tape around these reservations. Be sure to call ahead to confirm that the hotel is happy to take you and your pets in during your travels.

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