This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Reminder: Make sure to check the country’s covid guidelines before travel.
Courtney and I have been pet owners for a long time now. We really thought we had all the essentials for pet travel. Boy, we were definitely wrong, especially when we started to travel by air with our pets. It has been a huge learning curve making sure we have our pets’ needs in mind while flying or driving with them, and it has taken us some time to put together our Pet Travel Packing List, but we are excited to share that it is ready! We hope you enjoy this and it helps you prepare for fun road trips with your pets or flying with your pets!
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST US
It is important to take advice from people you trust, especially when it comes to your pets. Over the years, we have racked up experience with long road trips with our dogs and cats. We also lived in Mexico for 10+ months and traveled by air and car with a small dog multiple times. Sharing our insight with you is so important. Many mistakes have been made along the way. We want to save you the stress and prepare you for it all. This article will break down what to expect while traveling by air or car with your pet. As well as our must-have pet travel packing list you can’t leave home without.
PET TRAVEL BY CAR
What to expect with cats
Pet travel is easy by car, right? Well, it depends. I’m sure you have done it multiple times, we have too! This doesn’t mean that it still can’t be done more efficiently. The biggest issue we have run into with pet travel by car is making sure all the animals have their own space to relax. Despite having traveled on many road trips with our pets in our Toyota Corolla, we only feel like we have recently mastered car travel with pets.
Cat travel by car looks different for every cat. Our cat is easily stressed, so much so that we had to take him to the vet and get anxiety medication, special cat food to help with digestion, and a stress diffuser. Honestly, he is high maintenance and it shows. First, we wanted to find a crate that gave him more space and even room for a tiny litterbox for long drives. Our cat does not do well outside of a crate in the car, he tries to climb under the seats and that can get really dangerous really quickly. This bigger crate made a huge difference as he is a big cat and typical hard crates are too small to move around.
Having a large crate that has room for a litter box while driving makes it less stressful for you especially if you are wanting to pull over and go for a hike with your cat in a handy cat backpack. I worry so much about my cat if they haven’t had access to a bathroom, but I have fun plans for my road trip I don’t want to miss out on.
Don’t get me wrong, even with this fancy crate, he still managed to meow for 9 hours straight. This was because we decided to try out vet-prescribed anxiety medication. Even after testing it out on him before our trip, he still reacted badly to it. We took another 9-hour drive at the end of our trip and did not give him the medication, he did not meow at all! Every cat reacts differently, don’t be alarmed if they don’t react well.
What to expect with dogs
We have a large dog that weighs 70 lbs and a small dog that weighs 5 lbs. Both are easy-going in the car, but the larger dog used to get really antsy after just a couple of hours driving. We tried a new dog bed that gave him plenty of room to sleep and be comfortable while having familiar smells around him. We also gave him some CBD treats which helped him relax and sleep more.
For our small dog, we use a Sherpa soft carrier for car trips, I have it linked again below. He is used to the crate and has traveled by air and car plenty of times in it. We put a blanket in there, give him some CBD treats and let him sleep!
PET TRAVEL BY AIR
So we did the work and wrote an entire article dedicated to breaking down everything you need to know about pet travel by air, but here is the shortened list below. Be sure to read our other article as there are a lot of airlines with specific requirements for pet travel that are necessary to know before booking a trip.
PET TRAVEL PACKING LIST: AIRPORT INFO
- Be sure to arrive at the airport EXTRA early, you will have to go to the check-in counter and speak with an airline employee in order to complete the check-in process. Lines can be long and there aren’t generally special lines for pet check-in.
- Walk pet before arrival
- Bring vet records
- Read all the details in our Pet Travel By Air article as it breaks down exactly what you need from the airline.
What to expect with cats
If you are traveling by air, traveling with a cat that will be in the cabin with you can be more stressful than with a dog as they don’t like being confined for long periods of time. From experience giving them medicine like Xanax or CBD can make them more anxious. Our vet advised us to try out Xanax and the CBD before a long trip. For some reason, all cats react differently to these things.
Cats that are being checked into the cargo must have empty water and food bowls that you can attach to the inside of their crate. We forgot to do this and had to go buy water bottles in the airport and actually cut them with scissors and zip tie them to the inside of the crate. This is required. Also, be sure to line the bottom of the crate with pee pads and a blanket that has a familiar smell.
In case of a layover between flights, even if it is short you will be required to check in with the airline regarding your cat in cargo. I had to run all the way across the airport with little time (I also had 2 kittens in a soft carrier in my arms).
Know that you will have to take the cat out of the carrier through security. Be sure to have a harness and leash on them to ensure they cannot escape. Ask for a private screening at the front of the security line to alleviate this part with a crowd. A private screening allows you to go into a room that is closed and they take your cat out and examine it in a much less stressful environment.
What to expect with dogs
Dogs can sense your stress, which means when you are sprinting around the airport your dog may become more stressed. Giving them a couple of CBD or Hemp treats can help calm them down.
Dogs that are being checked into the cargo must have empty water and food bowls that you can attach to the inside of their crate. We forgot to do this and had to go buy water bottles in the airport and actually cut them with scissors and zip tie them to the inside of the crate. This is required. Also, be sure to line the bottom of the crate with pee pads and a blanket that has a familiar smell.
If you think your dog may need to use the bathroom in the airport with no pet relief station in sight, take a pee pad and go to the bathroom and see if they will use it.
PET TRAVEL PACKING LIST: MUST HAVE SUPPLIES
PET CBD/ HEMP OIL
SEAT COVER FOR DOG HAIR
PET HAIR BRUSH
CAT STRESS DIFFUSOR
Like this Pet Travel Packing List Article? Check out our other related articles!
Like this Pet Travel Packing List Post? Pin it for later!
I’m Sam and I may only be 5’3 but I’m feisty and enjoy a lot of sarcastic humor. I’m addicted to travel as well as feeding and advocating for street animals in every country I travel to. I’m married to Courtney and we’re super gay or whatevaaaa. We’re both extroverts and love meeting new people everywhere we travel. We are in love with Latin American culture but can’t wait to explore more of the world!