Tips for Traveling With (or Without) Your Pet

Do right by your furry friend at vacation time.

By Casey Edwards

Few pet owners want to leave behind their four-legged sidekicks while on holiday. Thirty-seven percent of respondents to a July 2018 survey conducted by pet-service company have even chosen to skip traveling rather than be separated from a beloved animal. But if the urge to head out of town is too great, there are two choices: take your trusty companion along for the ride, or find a reputable pet sitter. Here are some tips and tricks for whichever you choose.

Put Health and Safety First

If traveling by car, Nicole Ellis, celebrity dog trainer and member of’s Dog People Panel, recommends that your pet be secured in a crash-tested harness or crate and not left free to roam about. Animals can also get motion sickness, so she recommends having ginger treats* on hand to calm their queasiness. If flying, check in advance that your pet carrier’s dimensions adhere to your airline’s regulations. “You can never have too much information attached to the crate,” she adds, including both your home and vacation addresses. But avoid giving your pet calming medication, unless instructed by your vet. “Especially if they’re flying in cargo,” Ellis says. “These drugs can interfere with your pup’s critical ability to regulate their body temperature.”

Be Prepared

Regardless of your mode of travel, get your pet ready for the journey with a light feeding no sooner than four hours prior to your departure to avoid any accidents. It’s also a good idea to run them around beforehand so that they’re worn out and more relaxed for the journey. And pack appropriately, such as extra doggie bags, a leash, a small towel, treats, a favorite toy, vaccination records, and of course, their usual food, since a new variety might upset your pet’s stomach. If it’s not possible to bring food along, Ellis advises making sure it’s available at your destination or ordering some online to be delivered to your resort.

Remind Them of You

If traveling together isn’t feasible, prepare for your absence by introducing your pet to your sitter ahead of time and leaving extra food, given that travel plans can change unexpectedly. Keep yourself close: “Dogs noses are incredible,” Ellis says, so to comfort your pet while you’re gone, leave behind something with your scent on it, such as an old shirt, which can also be wrapped around a favorite toy or stuffed animal. Other ways to spoil a fuzzy pal in your absence are with a favorite pet bed, homemade treats, or a playlist of tunes to be put on during the day. Or get creative: Some respondents to’s survey have even made an enlarged photo of themselves to keep their best friend company!

  • *Consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any medications or dietary supplements. Use all medications or dietary supplements as directed.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: September 2018