Traveling With Pets: Your Road Trip Checklist


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- Updated April 12, 2023

Traveling With Pets: Your Road Trip Checklist

Traveling is an adventure with many great memories and experiences but can also be very stressful. For any person traveling, there are several things to prepare for, and with a pet, there are even more.

Whether you're bringing your pet along for a weekend getaway or working and living on the road, there are a few things you'll need to do to ensure your pet is comfortable, safe, and happy while traveling. From ensuring your pet is up-to-date on all their vaccinations to having the right supplies packed, use this checklist to help you plan and prepare before hitting the open road with your furry, four-legged friend.

Planning Your Trip

When you're planning your trip, the first thing you'll want to do is research pet-friendly lodging options. You'll want to consider your destination and whether it's a good fit for your pet. While some places may have plenty of open space for them to run and explore, others may be too crowded or have too many restrictions in place.

As you plan your route, be sure to factor in rest stops. Like people, pets need to take bathroom breaks and stretch their legs after being cooped up in the car for a long time. Try to plan your route so that you can make these stops at least every few hours.

Other things to take into consideration include:

  • The number of people in your traveling party.
  • Your pet's personality and how they do around other people and animals.
  • Any medical conditions your pet has that may need special care or attention.
  • The climate of your destination — will it be too hot, cold, or humid for your pet?

Once you've considered all of these factors, you can start to narrow down your destination options and begin planning the details of your trip.

Getting Your Car Ready


Whether you're driving a compact car, SUV, or van, there are a few things you'll need to do to get your vehicle ready for your pet.

Make sure to check off every box in the list below before you hit the road:

  • Do a safety check — Give your car a once-over to make sure there are no loose wires or other hazards that could pose a threat to your pet.
  • Create a comfortable space — If your pet will be spending time in a crate while in the car, make sure their crate is large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. If they'll be riding without a crate, consider using a pet seatbelt or other type of restraint to keep them safe and secure.
  • Bring a pet bed or blanket for them to lie on — This will help make them feel more at home away from home.
  • Pack the right supplies— In addition to food and water, you'll want to make sure you have all of your pet's essential supplies, including a leash, collar, ID tags, waste bags, and toys.
  • Bring litter box and litter — If you're traveling with a cat, don't forget to pack their litter box and enough litter for the duration of your trip.

While every pet has different needs and comforts, this checklist will help ensure your car has the necessities ready for them.

Up-to-date ID Tags

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your trip is to make sure your pet has up-to-date ID tags. If your pet should happen to get lost while on the road, these tags will help anyone who finds them quickly and easily get in touch with you.

In addition to an ID tag with your name, address, and phone number, you may also want to consider getting a temporary tag with your current location on it. This can be especially helpful if you're traveling to multiple destinations or unsure where your pet will end up at the end of each day. You can find these tags at most pet stores or make your own at home.

Vaccination Records and Other Important Documentation

Before you hit the road, be sure to gather all of your pet's necessary documentation, including their vaccination records and any other medical information that may be relevant. Have both a physical copy and a digital copy of these documents readily available.

In the event of an emergency, having this information on hand can be crucial. It can help your pet get the care they need promptly and give you peace of mind knowing that you're prepared for anything.

If you're traveling with a new pet or one that doesn't have all their vaccinations yet, be sure to check with your veterinarian to see if there are any recommended or required shots for your destination. This is especially important if you're camping or hiking in areas where there may be wildlife present.


No matter where you're going or how long you'll be gone, pet insurance is always a good idea. Insurance can help cover the cost of any unexpected veterinary bills that may come up while you're on the road. It's essential to understand what pet insurance does and doesn't cover, since some pet insurance services will cover different items than others.

Most pet insurance policies have some sort of coverage for accidents and illnesses but may not cover routine care or preventive measures, such as vaccinations. Additionally, many policies have limits on how much they'll pay out per incident or per year. Read the fine print of your policy so that you know what's covered and what isn't. Not sure where to start? Look at our top pet insurance services here.

Auto insurance is another essential piece of the puzzle when you’re preparing for a road trip. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see what coverage you have in case of an accident. You may also want to consider purchasing additional coverage, such as roadside assistance, in case you should find yourself in a bind while away from home.


If you're not already doing so, now is the time to start obedience training with your pet. This will help ensure they behave properly while in the car and make the trip smooth for everyone involved.

Start by teaching your pet basic commands, such as sit, stay, and come. Once they understand these commands well, you can begin working on specific behaviors that will be relevant to travel, such as not jumping on strangers or staying calm in unfamiliar environments.

If you're not sure where to start with obedience training, there are plenty of resources available online or at your local pet store. You may even consider hiring a professional trainer to help prepare your pet for travel.

Do a Short Test Run

Getting your pet used to being in the car before hitting the road is also a smart idea as it can help minimize their anxiety about being in unfamiliar surroundings.

Start by taking them on short trips around town and gradually working up to longer drives. This will help ensure they're comfortable in the car and won't get too stir-crazy on a long road trip.

Overall, adventures with your furry friend await, but it's always best to prepare first. By following these tips, you can help ensure that both you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable road trip.

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