Tips for Prepping a Road Trip with Your Pet

Tips for Prepping a Road Trip with Your Pet

Embarking on a road trip can be one of the most exhilarating and liberating experiences you and your pet can share. Whether you’re heading to the mountains for a weekend of hiking or crossing state lines for a family reunion, the open road offers an array of possibilities for adventure. But preparing for a road trip with a furry companion isn’t as simple as tossing a leash into your vehicle and taking off. There’s a lot to consider to ensure the journey is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for both you and your pet.

Research Pet-Friendly Destinations

Picking pet-friendly destinations is the first step in planning a successful pet-inclusive road trip. Not every hotel, park, or beach welcomes pets, so it’s vital to do thorough research before you set out.

Pet-Friendly Hotels and Accommodations

Thankfully, finding pet-friendly hotels, Airbnbs, or other accommodations is easier than ever. It’s as simple as setting these filters on an Internet search and seeing what comes up along your route. Keep in mind that pet-friendly lodging may come with additional fees, so you should budget accordingly for any extra expense your furry companion may incur.

Pet-Friendly Attractions and Parks

Research attractions, parks, and other sites you plan to visit along your route to ensure that pets are allowed. National parks, beaches, and botanical gardens often have special sections or days reserved for pet visitation, allowing your pet to experience the fun of these outings safely.

By planning ahead, you can map out not only where you’ll be stopping but also where your pet can join in on the fun.

Pack Essential Supplies for Your Pet

Much like you have a packing list for yourself, your pet also needs a preparedness plan. When preparing for your pet, think about the everyday items they need and some extras for the road.

Essential Food and Water

Pack plenty of your pet’s regular food, and bring more than you think you need. Unfamiliar diets can cause stomach upsets, which is not something you want to deal with during a long drive. Additionally, bring along a jug of water from home if your pet is sensitive to changes in water sources.

If possible, look into having your pet’s food delivered to your final destination in advance. Some hotels are happy to hold an item for you before your arrival so you can have essentials on hand when you get there.

Travel Bowls

Collapsible bowls are perfect for saving space. They make it easy for your pet to eat and drink comfortably, whether you’re at a rest stop or your destination. Or, purchase a water bottle that dispenses into a bow at its spout so your pet can always have a drink on the go.

Leash and Collar with ID Tags

Ensure your pet’s collar includes an identification tag with up-to-date contact information in case you get separated. A sturdy leash will be essential for potty breaks and maintaining control in new environments. In addition to having pets microchipped, you can also attach a tracker tag to their collar or carrier.

Medications and Comfort Items

Don’t forget any medications your pet may need, as well as comfort items like favorite toys or blankets, and treats. Having familiar items can provide a sense of security for your pet, especially when they’re away from their usual surroundings.

Ensure Your Pet’s Safety in the Car

Just as you wouldn’t hit the road without proper seat belts, your pet needs to be secured for their safety and yours.

Use a Secure Pet Carrier or Crate

For small pets, a carrier that can be safely strapped in with a seatbelt is the best option. For larger pets, a safety harness can be secured to existing seat belt systems or used in combination with a pet barrier to prevent them from becoming a hazard in the event of a sudden stop.

Keep Windows Secure

It may be tempting to let your pet hang their head out the window to catch the breeze, but it’s not a good idea. Aside from potential injury, debris and insects thrown into the air from passing cars could harm your pet. Instead, enjoy stops along the way for fresh air and a change of scenery. Either keep the windows up with the locks on or install removable screens around your car door windows that act as a barrier while still allowing your pet to catch a whiff of the world outside the vehicle.

Plan for Regular Breaks

Depending on the length of your journey, you’ll need to plan for regular breaks, every two to four hours, for your pet’s comfort and well-being.

Frequent Bathroom Breaks

Take note of rest areas and other stopping points along the route where your pet can relieve themselves. If you’re traveling with a small pet, consider portable potty solutions like a travel kitty litter box or puppy pads.

Exercise and Play Time

Use breaks as an opportunity to stretch your legs and let off some energy. Bring a favorite toy for a quick game of fetch or enjoy a brisk walk together. Ensuring each stop is a positive experience for you and your pet may make the drive time between stops more comfortable for both of you!

Keep Your Pet Comfortable

The interior of a car can be a stressful place for pets, so do what you can to make it comfortable.

Provide a Cozy Den

Create a space in your vehicle that’s dedicated to your pet. Whether it’s a crate, bed, or a cushioned spot on the back seat, this space should be their retreat for the journey. Their cozy spot should also be safe and provide a way to secure your pet in the vehicle to avoid injury to themselves and other passengers.

Regulate Temperature

Be aware of the temperature in the car and how it feels to your pet. In extreme cold or hot conditions, this can mean taking extra precautions or even changing your travel plans to ensure your pet’s safety. Before you even fill the gas tank and hit the road, be sure your air conditioning is tuned up and ready for warm temps on the road. You can charge it yourself, or rely on the experienced team at Master AutoTech to inspect and maintain it for you before your adventure. 

Minimize Noise and Stress

Seal your pet’s area off from loud and potentially stressful road noises. Familiar sounds, like a soft playlist, can provide comfort without distracting you from the road. Be sure to take some practice runs together in your vehicle so they’re used to being in the car.

Get Them Groomed Before the Trip

Speaking of stress, it’s important to get your pet prepped to hit the road without adding to their distress. While you probably love a freshly-groomed pup or cat, they’re not always wild about self-care. To help ensure your pet’s fur and nails are in tip-top shape for your adventures, why not have a mobile grooming service come to you? Having your pet groomed in a familiar environment can help them feel better about the experience, and you can save some time while prepping to depart. 

A service like Furry Land caters to pet owners by bringing grooming services on the road so you can avoid the stress of a vet or groomer visit. Or, maybe you can locate mobile groomers while traveling so you can keep up with your pet’s coat and nail trims with ease.

Prepare for Emergencies

Having a plan for emergencies is critical, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Pet First-Aid Kit

Pack a first-aid kit specifically for your pet’s needs, including but not limited to bandages, antiseptic solutions, and any veterinary-prescribed specifics for your pet.

Local Vet Contact Information

Research and compile a list of local veterinarians along your route. Should any health issues arise, you’ll know exactly where to turn.

Consider Pet Insurance

Investing in pet insurance can offer peace of mind. You’ll know that if any accidents or ailments emerge during the trip, you won’t be caught off guard by hefty veterinary bills.

Create Paw-some Memories

A successful road trip with your pet is not just about the destination; it’s about the journey you share. By taking the time to prepare, researching pet-friendly stops, and being mindful of your pet’s comfort and safety, you can create incredible memories that both of you will cherish. Remember that the key to a great trip is in the details, so plan ahead, stay flexible, and enjoy every moment of this special time with your furry friend.