how to prepare for traveling with Pets

By Sam M. •  Updated: 02/02/24 •  8 min read
traveling with pets

Traveling with pets can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Whether it’s a small pet accompanying you as a carry-on or a trained service animal, it’s essential to understand the guidelines to ensure a smooth journey. When planning to travel with a small pet as a carry-on, remember that your pet must meet specific age requirements. For domestic travel, your pet should be at least 8 weeks old, and for international travel to the US or the European Union, the age criteria vary. Additionally, there are regulations regarding the number of pets allowed per kennel, ensuring their safety and comfort during the trip.

As a pet owner, it’s crucial to adhere to airline policies to avoid any inconvenience or disruptions during your travel. Failure to comply with pet policies, such as keeping your pet in the kennel at all times while in the airport and onboard, could result in restrictions on future travels with your pet. Whether you’re embarking on a short trip or a long journey, understanding the requirements for traveling with pets can help make the experience enjoyable for both you and your beloved companion.

Preparing Your Pet for Travel

Visit Your Vet

Before traveling with your pet, it’s crucial to schedule a visit to your veterinarian. Ensure that your furry friend is up-to-date on all vaccinations and is in good health for the journey ahead. Your vet can also provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your pet’s specific needs.

Consider Your Pet’s Needs and Comfort

When preparing for travel, consider your pet’s comfort throughout the journey. Pack their favorite toys, blankets, and any comfort items that will make them feel secure. Familiar scents and objects can help reduce stress and anxiety, making the travel experience more pleasant for your pet.

Vaccination and Health Requirements

Check with your veterinarian or the airline for specific vaccination and health requirements for traveling with your pet. Some airlines may have regulations on the type of vaccinations needed or health certificates that must accompany your pet. Ensuring your pet meets these requirements in advance can help prevent any last-minute issues during travel.

Choosing the Right Mode of Travel

Traveling by Car

When considering traveling with your pet, opting for a car ride can be a comfortable and convenient choice. It allows for flexibility in scheduling rest stops, ensuring regular breaks for your furry companion. Before hitting the road, I recommend securing your pet in a carrier or using a pet seat belt to keep them safe during the journey.

For car travel, it’s crucial to pack essentials such as water, food, and your pet’s favorite toys to ensure they are comfortable throughout the trip. Additionally, I suggest making a checklist that includes items like waste bags, a leash, and any medications your pet may need.

It’s important to note that acclimating your pet to car travel beforehand can help reduce stress and anxiety during the journey. Taking short practice drives and gradually increasing the duration can help your pet become more accustomed to being in the car.

By preparing adequately for car travel with your pet, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend.

Traveling by Plane

Guidelines for Cabin and Cargo

When traveling by plane with your pet, it’s essential to understand the guidelines for both cabin and cargo transportation. Here are some key points to consider:

When preparing for plane travel with your pet, make sure to inquire about the airline’s policies regarding cabin and cargo transportation to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for both you and your furry companion.

Traveling by Train

Preparing the Pet Carrier

When traveling with pets by train, ensuring they are comfortable in their carrier is crucial. Start by familiarizing your pet with the carrier well in advance of your journey. Use a well-ventilated carrier with both top and side openings, allowing your pet to acclimate to it. Begin by encouraging your pet to explore the carrier with treats, gradually progressing to short periods of being inside rewarded with treats.

Pet Transport Regulations

Most train companies require pets to be in a carrier while onboard. Service animals may have exceptions, but it’s essential to double-check the specific regulations of the train company you’ll be using. Prepare for your pet to stay in the carrier for an extended period during the journey.

In-Cabin Travel

Small dogs, cats, and birds are usually allowed to travel in the cabin for a fee. Ensure your pet’s carrier is soft-sided and ventilated, fitting under the seat directly in front of you. The one-way fee is typically collected at check-in, so be prepared for this additional cost during your train travel with your furry companion.

Accommodation Tips for Pets

Finding Pet-Friendly Locations

When looking for accommodation while traveling with pets, it’s essential to find pet-friendly hotels that welcome your furry companions. Around half of US hotels allow pets, but it’s crucial to confirm their pet policies in advance. Typically, 95% of these hotels charge a pet fee, averaging $43 per night or $94 per stay. To avoid any check-in complications, ensure to call ahead and request to add your pet to the reservation.

Before finalizing your hotel booking, watch out for specific guidelines that establishments might have. Some hotels charge nightly pet fees, averaging around $25, while others have flat fees, often approximately $100, regardless of your stay duration. Additionally, not all pets are accepted, with some hotels having weight restrictions and limitations on certain types of animals, such as potbellied pigs. Moreover, be aware that some hotels have policies that don’t allow pets to be left unattended in the room, even in a crate.

Maintaining Routines in New Environments

Maintaining your pet’s routines while in a new environment is crucial for their comfort and well-being. When traveling, try to stick to your pet’s regular feeding times, exercise routines, and bathroom breaks. This consistency helps reduce their stress levels and ensures they feel secure in unfamiliar surroundings.

If you plan to explore activities that don’t allow pets, make arrangements in advance. Ensure that your pet is comfortable being alone or consider pet-sitting services. Some hotels have restrictions on leaving pets unaccompanied, so it’s essential to be aware of these rules beforehand. By planning ahead and adapting to your pet’s needs, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience for both you and your furry friend.

International Travel With Pets

Understanding Country-Specific Requirements

When traveling internationally with pets, it’s essential to understand and comply with country-specific requirements. Different countries have varying regulations concerning pet entry, such as mandatory vaccinations, health certificates, and microchipping. Research the destination country’s pet import guidelines well in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles. Ensure that your pet meets all the entry requirements to prevent issues upon arrival.

Managing Quarantine and Regulatory Processes

Some countries have strict quarantine and regulatory processes for traveling pets. It’s crucial to be aware of these procedures and plan accordingly. Quarantine periods can vary from a few days to several weeks, so make sure to check the specific requirements of your destination. To streamline the process, gather all necessary documentation, including health records and certifications, and be prepared to follow any health protocols mandated by the country you are traveling to. A well-organized approach to managing quarantine and regulatory processes will help ensure a smooth and stress-free international travel experience with your pet.


Traveling with pets requires careful planning and consideration to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Understanding age requirements, airline policies, and preparation tips for different modes of travel is essential. Prioritizing pet comfort and safety, along with finding pet-friendly accommodations, is key. Maintaining routines in new environments, such as feeding and exercise schedules, helps pets adjust. Planning ahead and accommodating pets’ needs are vital for a smooth journey. When traveling internationally, it’s crucial to be aware of country-specific regulations, quarantine procedures, and entry requirements to prevent any issues upon arrival. By staying informed and proactive, pet owners can make traveling with their furry companions a positive and memorable adventure.

Sam M.

Hi! I'm Sam, the founder of, I created to help pets live healthier through better food. I combine my love for animals and research to guide pet owners in choosing the right meals for their pets.

Keep Reading