We get it. Traveling with a pet isn’t always a walk in the park, and factors ranging from pet anxiety to airline rules and regulations can make it feel like a stressful and complicated endeavor — But it doesn’t have to be.

To prepare you to road trip or jet set with your pet, we’ve compiled five key strategies to ensure a smooth journey and guarantee your pet makes it to your final destination in the safest, smartest way possible.

Bon voyage!

Pick a Great Crate

When it comes to travel with your pet, one of the most important things to consider is the crate, which is crucial in keeping your pet happy, healthy and safe throughout the journey.

Whether you’re traveling by plane, car or anything in between, size is of paramount importance. Too large of a carrier, and your pet could become anxious. Plus, it’s not safe to have your Maltese sliding around in a crate made for a Mastiff, and any animal will be cramped and uncomfortable in a crate that’s too small. Need help determining what size crate is appropriate? Your cat or dog should be able to comfortably stand, sit or lay down, and turn around.

It’s not just size that matters. When you’re flying, there are strict guidelines when it comes to carriers.

For a full list of requirements, regulations, and recommendations for pets traveling by air, check out this page from PetTravel.com, as well as the site’s compilation of pet policies for every airline.

Practice Positive Association

While dragging your pet through the airport every day in hopes they’ll associate the security line with Snausages is a practice that probably won’t be approved by TSA, there are other ways you can help your pet get used to their crate before a flight or a long drive.

Before your trip, take the time to acquaint them with their crate and ensure they see it as a safe, comfortable space.

Spruce it up with a sleeping pad or pillow, store their favorite toy inside, and try leading them in with a trail of treats or leaving treats inside for them to discover. You can also try placing them in the crate with a long-lasting treat. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend inside, allowing them to acclimate to the feeling of being inside.

By offering your pet positive experiences in and around the crate, she will feel more familiarity and less fear when it comes time to travel.

Try (Vet-Approved!) Products

Travel is anxiety-inducing enough as a human — it’s easy to imagine how stressed out an animal might get.

If you’re concerned about your pet experiencing extreme stress or anxiety — particularly on a plane, where in-the-moment treatment options are limited — it’s worth looking into preventatives and remedies.

There are a variety of products on the market that claim to combat pet anxiety — calming treats, CBD oil, natural remedies, the famous ThunderShirt, etc. — and your vet can prescribe an over-the-counter medication.

Do your research, but be sure to consult your veterinarian before you give your dog anything. While you know your pet better than anyone, a professional will be able to sort through your options and offer their expert opinion to help you find the safest and most effective way to help your dog calm.

Prepare Your Pet’s Docs

Your pet, much like a human, can’t fly without proper documentation, and there are also government rules associated with pet travel — particularly if you’re going abroad.

Be sure to do your research well ahead of time to ensure that your pet has the proper vaccinations for travel and that you follow the rules associated with both your country of departure and your destination.

Whether you’re heading to Alaska or Argentina, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a handy place to find the important information you need when traveling with or moving a pet.

Road Trip The Right Way

You can’t exactly ask the pilot to pull over mid-flight so your puppy can pee, but the beauty of a road trip is that you can pretty much stop wherever or whenever you want.

While the bathroom situation may not be complicated, when it comes to eating, sleeping and other activities, things can get tricky, and unfortunately, many establishments aren’t as fond of Fido and Fluffy as you are.

To avoid unfortunate surprises it’s smart to do your research ahead of time and plan your route to align with the most pet-friendly places to stop and stay.
To plan a long drive for you and your pup, we recommend checking out the trip planner at gopetfriendly.com, which offers tips for hotels, campgrounds, restaurants and more.

After all, they say life is about the journey — you might as well make it a good one!

Photo: Jimmy Conover via unsplash