Traveling with Pets

My new friend, Heidi Casper, wrote today’s Guest Post. Heidi is a children’s writer currently working on her middle grade novel (for 8-12 year olds). The story features children of an army dad.

Precious the Road Dog
Precious the Road Dog

Traveling, and everything that goes along with it, can be a challenge. However, traveling with pets can be downright daunting for both pets and owners.

As an Army family, we have moved cross-country several times, and always with pets. Our most recent move from Kansas to Virginia was no exception. This time, however, we staged our most difficult pet move yet with three dogs and a cat.

In order to make the smoothest transition for our animals, with the least stress for us, I began planning weeks ahead.

Travel Tips for Traveling with Pets
• You may need a health certificate to take your pet across state lines, so plan to have a current vet visit completed before your trip.
• If your animals don’t like car rides, ask your vet to prescribe sedation pills that you can give them for the drive.
• Purchase ID tags and/or make sure your pets have micro chips in case they get away.
• Be sure to have pet carriers that are the right size for your animals.
• Purchase collars/harnesses and leashes for both dogs AND cats.
• If your animals aren’t used to riding in a car, you may want to take them on several mini trips around town before your actual trip. This will give them some adjustment time beforehand.
• If you have to stay overnight while traveling, book a room with a “pet friendly” hotel.

Several hotels allow pets. However, a little research should lead you to the best option for your situation. For example, some hotels don’t accept cats, and the nightly fee per animal can vary. Hotels may also limit how many animals you can have in the room.

I was fortunate to find a hotel that allowed all four of our pets with a minimal $10 fee per animal for the night. We stayed at the Quality Inn and Suites (a chain that accepts pets).

Careful preplanning can help alleviate much of the stress that traveling with pets can bring. However, there are still more considerations on the day of travel.

Traveling through the Appalachians
Traveling through the Appalachians

My veterinarian advised me to give my pets the sedation pills he’d prescribed at least 30 minutes before leaving. This gave the medicine time to relax them before getting in the car. He warned the sedation wouldn’t work as well if I gave it to them when they were already excited.

For my small pets’ safety, I kept them in a pet carrier rather than letting them wander around the car. Keeping them in the carrier helped maintain their calm and allowed me easy access to them when needed.

Our two pugs shared one medium-sized carrier, so they had each other for comfort. I also left the harnesses and leashes on all our pets while in the carriers. This way, they were ready to go when I let them out. I didn’t have to worry about them running off while I attached leashes.

"I told you, I do NOT want my picture taken."
“I told you, I do NOT want my picture taken.”

I debated about having a carrier big enough to put in a small litter box for my cat. In the end, there wasn’t enough room in my packed car for anything but the cat carrier.

I placed a filled kitty box in a garbage bag and put it in the car to take out at stops. I tried letting her use it at a rest stop halfway through the first day, but the noise and confusion were too much for her. 

Our cat never did use the box until we stopped at the hotel for the night. The second day of driving I didn’t even bother to offer her the box. Cats are much better at holding it than dogs!

Since we sedated our two pugs, they were quiet and comfortable for several hours. Our first day of driving ended up being fourteen hours so we stopped a couple times to let them take a break.

While the sedation can be given every few hours, I found that my animals only needed one dose in the morning to calm them and they were fine the rest of the day.

Settling into the hotel that first night was probably the hardest part of the trip. We had four discombobulated animals that had been cooped up all day. They had no intention of sleeping when we did, even though it was nearly eleven o’clock at night! Fortunately, our two older dogs did finally settle on the beds with us, and the cat was happy to be in a bathroom where she could move around. Our youngest dog, a small, female pug, struggled all night to get attention, usually right under my arm on the edge of the bed.

Home at Last

Our second, and final, day of travel was somewhat shorter – about 12 hours. Needless to say, we (and our pets) were relieved to finally pull into the driveway of our new home. While long, the trip had been a success, four pets and all.

Precious, Gimli, Oaklee and the cat, Eowyn, didn’t take long to settle in. Precious, our oldest dog, gained a new nickname – Road Dog. She was perfectly happy to sit on the bench seat in the moving truck with my son and husband and watch the countryside whiz by.

Here’s to all your Road Dogs, cats and other pets that make the journey with you. Happy and safe traveling!

~Heidi Casper


Thank you so much for these excellent tips, Heidi. I’m impressed with your organization and your willingness to travel with so many pets.

To learn more about Heidi, please visit her blog:

Until next time…Travel Light,
© 2016 SuZan Klassen

2 thoughts on “Traveling with Pets

    1. Heidi did a good job! She’s certainly had years of experience moving since she’s an army wife. Please thank your Dad for his service. And thank you to you, too. In a sense you served as well being the child of a military man.

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