Fur-Flung Adventures: Tips for Road Trips with Your Pet

You love sharing all the experiences with your four-footed family members, including road trips. Whether you’re traveling with a dog or a cat, hitting the open road with your eager companion can be a rewarding adventure as long as you plan thoughtfully, pack smartly, and prepare for speed bumps along the way.

Test Drives

If your dog or cat isn’t used to car rides, or at least the specific vehicle you’ll be using, try taking your pal on short drives near home, then gradually increase the duration to get them more comfortable with the experience. Offer treats and praise to create a positive association with car rides — still a tougher sell with cats, but it’s worth a shot.

Health Check

Before leaving town and the vet who knows your furball best, get a checkup on the calendar and make sure your pet is healthy and has up-to-date vaccinations. Cats in particular can be sensitive to changes in their environment, so it’s essential to address any health concerns before traveling. Ask about motion sickness options with your vet if your pet tends to get queasy during car rides. And when you’re packing, remember to bring along any medications your dog or cat needs, plus copies of your pet’s medical records just in case you need to see a vet while on the road.

cat and dog looking out the back of a parked vehicle loaded for road trips

Emergency Gear

No matter how carefully you plan and prepare, the unexpected can happen, leaving your best pal with a minor injury or sudden illness. Research ahead of time and make a list of pet hospitals and emergency vets in the areas you’ll be visiting. Include a pet first aid kit with your travel supplies — they’re available in different sizes and configurations to suit your pet and level of adventure. You can also assemble your own! Check out our article on building and customizing a pet first aid kit.

Car Carrier

Your pet’s safety is your top priority, so you’ll want the sturdiest carrier you can get. Secure the carrier in your car using a seatbelt or other restraints to prevent it from shifting during sudden stops or turns. Although you might have a separate carrier for your accommodations, this carrier should stay secured inside your vehicle for the duration of the trip. And while dogs love the freedom of a harness in the car, carriers do a better job of protecting small dogs from the potential harm of airbag deployment.


There are more and more pet-friendly hotels, rental properties, and campgrounds out there, so invest some time in finding something that not only allows pets, but also caters to them with amenities for your furry friend. Some accommodations may come with restrictions or additional fees for pets, so be sure you understand their pet policies before booking.

Food and Water

Sudden changes in your pet’s diet can cause an upset tummy or loss of appetite, so bring plenty of their regular food and bottled water. If your four-legged friend’s food and water dishes from home are tough enough, it’s best to bring along what they know. However, if their usual dinnerware is breakable, pick up a shatterproof set for traveling.

Comfort Items

Just like we do, our pets find comfort in the familiar. Bring along well-loved bedding, toys, or blankets to help your cat or dog feel more at ease during the journey. Even the scents on these items can create a sense of reassurance in strange surroundings.

Eye Protection

If cats could roll their eyes, they absolutely would at this iconic dog delight: the open car window. But sticking that fuzzy dog face into a rush of air is risky, with eye damage a real threat. Even at low speeds, a small insect can pack a punch. If you have to indulge your pup’s open-window activity, protect their eyes with dog goggles — see how much our very own Mickey loves his Doggles!

Rest Stops

Offer your dog or cat opportunities to get out of their carriers, stretch their legs, and use the bathroom — just keep them on a secure leash or harness when outside the car to prevent them from wandering or being startled.

For the canine crew: bring plenty of plastic bags and paper towels — just like you would for a walk around the block, but enough to last the length of your trip. If you’re someplace with no trash can, you’ll want a large resealable container or airtight bag for temporarily storing your cleanup.

For the cat crowd: bring a portable litter box for road trips or overnight stays, plus a small bag of used litter from their home box to help them identify what the travel pan is for. Cats are creatures of habit and can become stressed if they can’t find their litter box.

Be Alert!

Any time you stop and park the car, dogs in particular will probably be anxious to get out, thinking you’ve brought them to some exciting destination. However, don’t let cats fool you — they can seem deceptively disinterested, then bolt off into unfamiliar surroundings and hide quietly, making them extra difficult to find. Be wary of your pet whenever they’re out of the carrier and a door is opened, and stay mindful of what’s around you in terms of traffic, people, other animals, and so on.

Microchip and ID Tags

Car trips are full of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells that can disorient and stress our four-pawed pals. Make sure your pet has a microchip with up-to-date information, and consider using a collar with an ID tag that includes your contact information. GPC Smart tags are a new generation of collar tag with QR and NFC technology — anyone who finds the lost pet can scan the tag, ID the pet, and geolocate it in real time!

Quiet Ride

Blasting tunes and singing along is a road trip trope, but try to keep the noise levels low and carve out periods of quiet and calm as much as possible. Loud music and sudden noises can add to the travel stress for your pet. Cats, especially, are sensitive to sound and could become highly agitated.

Relax and Roll With It

Be patient and understanding with your pet during the trip, especially if they’re not accustomed to traveling. Give them time to acclimate, and offer reassurance and comfort to help alleviate any anxiety or stress. You’ll feel better for it as well. Traveling the open road with your dog or cat will create lasting memories and strengthen the bond you share. With careful planning and consideration, you’ll explore new destinations and enjoy every mile of the journey together.


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