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Traveling with pets: Everything you need to know

More often than not, traveling with pets can be difficult. Packing up for yourself is already a chore itself and dragging a pet on a road trip or through airport security is a whole other level of difficulty. But then you see people on Instagram going on out-of-town trips with their doggies. Some even bring their pet with them every time they travel abroad. They make it look so easy! So, you’re probably wondering – how do people manage to travel with pets?

Pet Travel Essentials

pet travel essentials

There are five things you need to remember to bring if you’re traveling with a pet. The key to smooth travel is to pack smart and light. Given the very limited space you have, you only need to prepare what’s absolutely necessary. Additionally, take a look at this guide if you’re planning to fly with an emotional support animal.

1. Collar

A collar is arguably the most important pet accessory. It should be attached with a tag containing your pet’s name and your contact information. In case your pet wanders off, it will be easier for people to identify him. That way, your beloved pooch will be back to you in no time. Needless to say, your animal companion should have his collar on every time you’re going anywhere outside the house. 

2. Leash

If you’re traveling with a four-legged pet, you should have it on a leash every time it’s outside the car or the kennel. It may be the most well-trained pooch in the whole world, but most public spaces require pets to be restrained. It will make it easier for you to keep your pet under control and avoid any possibility of it getting lost. Keeping your animal companion attached to the leash is also a show of consideration for everyone’s safety and well-being.

3. Kennel/Cage

dog travel

Your pet must have its own kennel or cage especially if you’re traveling by air. Most airlines do not allow pets to sit on the lap or roam around the cabin. They have this policy to keep the crowded cabin in order. Moreover, kennels can offer enormous help during transitions. No need to tug on the leash every time you’re moving from one place to another. Just place the kennel on the luggage cart and push with ease!

4. Waste bags

As pet owners, it is our responsibility to clean up after our furry travel buddy. We must always have clean doo-doo bags prepared for whenever they need to go potty!

5. Toys

dog on a flight

You need something to keep your pet occupied. Giving them something to play with is a great way to entertain them throughout the duration of the trip. It can also help alleviate stress and anxiety that some animals may experience if they’re not used to traveling. You can bring chew toys, treat-dispensing balls, and other interactive playthings. Just make sure you take one that is compact and quiet. Squeaky toys should be avoided as much as possible.

6. Food

Travel can be exhausting for both humans and animals. That’s why keeping a stash of snacks as a source of energy is a road trip essential. If you are in for a long-haul drive or flight, remember to give your dog some food in its regular feeding schedule. You should also prepare treats to keep it happy during the trip. However, it is not advisable to feed your pet too much before the drive or the flight. Give your pet the right amount of food or maybe even less than usual if you’re only going for a short distance.

7. Water

cat on vacation

Keep your pet hydrated! It may be hard to give your pet some water in a shaky car or plane but there are clever ways to do it. You can use a collapsible bowl to pour the water in which you can easily keep inside your carry-on bag once you’re done using. You may also choose to give your pup water in the form of ice cubes. Dogs love their crunchy water!

Tips for smooth travel with pets

Here are some of the things that could help you have an easier time when traveling with animals.

Air travel

Dog air travel

1. Know the risks of air travel for your pet

Needless to say, you should learn as much as you can about your pet and the dangers related to pet travel before going. For example, pets with “pushed-in faces”, such as Persian cats, pugs, and bulldogs are vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and flights might even give them a heat stroke. You should also be aware that a lot of pets get injured, lost, or even killed on commercial flights. Have this in mind before you decide to travel anywhere.

2. Get answers to these questions from your airline:

Are pets allowed in the cabin?

Does the airline have any immunization or pre-health requirements?

Do you need any kind of a special carrier?

Are there any restrictions on transporting a pet in the cargo, if cabin travel is not allowed?

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend transporting your pet in the cargo and you should always try to…

3. Book a flight with an airline that allows cabin travel

airplane dog travel

Most airlines allow you to take your pet with you in the cabin for an extra fee. However, you will need to arrange this with the airline in advance, as there’s a limit to the number of animals that can be allowed on the flight. Also, you should make sure your pet fits the size requirements set by the airline. If this sounds like too much of a hustle, there are companies out there that can take care of the whole booking process. If you can’t find an airline that allows cabin travel for pets, you should at least…

4. Choose direct flights

Yes, direct flights can be significantly more expensive than flights with multiple layovers. For some people, however, it’s worth spending a few more bucks for convenience and efficiency. This could save you and your pet from a stressful travel experience too.

5. Don’t forget about the weather

cat air travel

If you’re traveling in the hot summer months, try to book a flight in the early morning to protect your pet from the extremely hot temperatures. Alternatively, if you’re traveling in the cold winter months, try to get a flight during the daytime to avoid the extremely cold temperatures in the nights.

6. Make them go potty before the flight

Airports have a designated area where animals can relieve themselves before going on board the flight. It is usually a patch of artificial grass where dogs and cats can do their business without judgment. Just make sure to clean up after your pet once it’s done.

7. Put your pet through some training

travel with pets

Familiarize your pet with airplane noises and other airport sounds. A few days before your flight, let your canine or feline spend some time inside the kennel. Give them a feel of the environment they are going to be in on the day of your travel.

8. Read airline policies

Different airlines have different policies regarding kennel dimensions, permissible dog breeds, and required travel documents and numbers. Check with the airline to make sure you have everything you need. Having all this information can help you avoid problems and delays during check-in.

Road trip

road trip with dogs

1. Plan rest stops

Check your map and plan your stops. Take a break from your long drive every few hours and give your pet plenty of opportunities to rest. He needs to go relieve himself at some point and it better be outside vehicle!

2. Keep your pet in the back seat

dog on the back seat

Pets should sit on the back, inside a kennel, strapped with a seatbelt. Also, it is not okay to let your dog ride at the cargo area of a truck type vehicle. Keep him inside where it safe and cool.

3. Keep their heads inside and buckle up

When traveling, you should never allow your pet to stick their heads through the window, especially on the highway. When driving with high speed, the cold air gets forced into your pet’s lungs and can make them sick. Also, you never know what kind of drivers you’ll come across on the road and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

4. Don’t leave your pet alone in the car

dog alone in car

You might think a quick stop on the road isn’t a big deal but you should never live your pet alone in the car. Have in mind that in the summer months your car gets heated very fast and can reach up to 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. And the same applies for the winter. Even if you’re sure you won’t take a lot of time, you should still seriously think twice before living your pet alone in the vehicle. Finally, check out this article for more details about traveling with a cat.

Train travel

train travel with pets

I would probably have to write a new article about train travel with pets because regulations vary between different countries. Every country has different train companies and national carriers and they all have different regulations. For example, in the United States of America, pets have to ride beneath seats, be at least eight weeks old, and all owners are required to sign a document before carrying their pets in which they agree to be responsible for their pet’s well being. Before planning a journey with your pet, you should always learn about the procedures of the country in which you’re traveling and the carrier you are going to travel with.

Boat travel

boat travel with pets

Except for assistance dogs, pets aren’t usually allowed on most tourist boats. However, there are a few cruise lines that are pet-friendly, but usually only for ocean cruises. Different cruises have different policies and you should contact them in advance to learn more about their policies and whether you must use the ship’s kennel or not. Finally, if you have no other choice but to use the ship’s kennel, make sure it’s protected from all outside conditions and keep an eye on your pet as frequently as you can throughout the journey.

Schedule a checkup with your veterinarian

Finally, you shouldn’t forget to schedule a checkup with your pet’s veterinarian to make sure everything is fine and whether your pet is fit enough to travel. Also, make sure to take all the medications they might need and that they took all the necessary vaccinations before traveling to a foreign country. You can use this coupon and save 20% on your purchase on all pet supplies and medicines you might need for your trip.

Helpful resources for traveling with pets

To get the best flight deals for you and your pet, use this special offer by Qatar Airways and save up to 30% on all flights.

Planning to rent a car for you upcoming trip? Get up to 15% off on car rentals worldwide.

For the best travel insurance deals for you and your pets, check out SafetyWing.

Looking for pet-friendly accommodation? Use my Booking discount code and save up to 20%.

The idea of traveling with a pet can be intimidating. However, if you prepare yourself with all the necessary things and information you need, we are sure you’ll have a great time with your animal companion. Have a safe trip!

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how to travel with pets
how to travel with pets
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Monday 20th of February 2023

Thanks for sharing such an informative article. I really appreciate it. I'm writing stuff on cats' basic needs and utilities: like the best brushes for long-haired ragdoll cats or the best food and treats, and also about litter and cat toys.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 4th of March 2023

Thank you for your support, Gopetco and I wish you a lot of success with your website

Daniel Rusteen

Monday 4th of May 2020

Hi there! This is really useful!

Personally I travel solo, but I am a HUGE animal lover. I've been trying to convince Airbnb hosts to allow pets in their rentals, and created a list of things I considered would be good to have at a STR for guests traveling with their furry family. Is there anything you would consider crucial when choosing for a place to stay when traveling with your pets? Have you had any AMAZING experience or surprise at the places you have stayed? I would love to hear.

Best, Danny

Passport Symphony

Thursday 14th of May 2020

Hi Daniel, thank you for your comment. Personally, I'm very picky when it comes to accommodation and my dog is not very different :) So, honestly, we didn't have a wow experience so far but we didn't go through anything bad (thankfully).

esther morgan

Saturday 25th of January 2020

Thanks for this its a great content

Passport Symphony

Saturday 25th of January 2020


blair villanueva

Monday 29th of April 2019

Thanks for your tips. Travelling with pets is like travelling with kids. Do they have separate compartment inside the airline or they can sit next to the owner?

Passport Symphony

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

Indeed it is, Blaire! Well, that depends on the airline. That's why one should be very careful when booking with different airlines.

Thelittlelai: Beyond limits

Sunday 28th of April 2019

This made me remember my pet named, Jaunti who is very smart and adorable. I have always dreamt of bringing him with me whenever i travel, but I always didn't able to make it. Thank you so much for sharing these tips with us, which is truly a big help for someone like me who's always planning to travel with a pet, but don't know what to do.

Passport Symphony

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

Thank you for sharing your experience and I'm sorry you never got the chance to travel with Jaunty but I'm also glad to hear you could get some useful tips from this article