I hate being away from my pets while traveling, so I bring them with me whenever I can. Bringing them along saves me money on pet sitting services and eases my mind while I'm away. Knowing what to pack, where to pack it, and what to leave at home can make the difference between a successful trip and a traveling nightmare. I've found that I can avoid most unpleasant surprises by being prepared and following a few simple guidelines. Here are some that have worked well for me.
What to Pack
Food - With the dozens of specialized pet foods on the market, there's no guarantee you'll be able to find your pet's specific variety while on the road. If you'll be staying with friends or family, you might call ahead and see if they will source it for you and have it there when you arrive. Otherwise, it's probably best to take it with you. Your pet will be prone to stress in unfamiliar circumstances anyway, so you should avoid making it worse by changing his diet.
Medications - Be sure to pack any necessary medications. Don't forget those that he might need specific to travel, such as anxiety meds or those for motion sickness.
Comfort - Take his blanket and a toy, and if you'll be traveling to a cold weather climate, be sure to take any outerwear that he might need.
Safety - If your pet is crate trained, be sure to bring along his crate. It may be needed if you leave him alone in a motel room or will be staying in someone else's home. If you'll be traveling by vehicle, it's a good idea to have the crate with you in case of any roadside emergencies that require you to move away from the vehicle for safety reasons. Be sure to also bring along his leash and your pet first-aid kit.
Where to Pack It
I separate my pets' things into those I keep with me at all times and those I don't need accessible until we stop. Medications, leashes, or anything they will need in route are kept handy in the car or my carry-on bag. Anything that can wait is packed away in a suitcase.
It's a good idea to pack a separate suitcase for your pet, or at least have a separate bag of his things inside your suitcase. This prevents you from having to dig through all your stuff to find his toy or meds.
What to Leave at Home
Toys - Don't try to bring along an entire basket of toys. One or two should be plenty for any trip.
Bed - If you're traveling by car and his bed will fit, then bring it along. Otherwise leave it at home and just bring his blanket. It will take up less room and be easier to pack and store.
Breakable dishes - Unless your pet just won't eat out of anything except his personal bowl, leave the heavy food and water dishes at home. Instead, pack lightweight unbreakable ones.
- Be sure your pet travels with his collar and tags on at all times. Anything can happen while traveling and it's best to be prepared.
- If you have a male pet that marks new surroundings, be considerate of others' property. For my miniature schnauzers, regular cloth diapers fit perfectly. You can also purchase special belly bands at most large pet stores.
- For barkers, you may want to pack a radio to drown out background noise while he's left alone. I have found this to be especially appreciated by neighboring motel guests.
Traveling with your pets can be an exciting, adventure-filled experience. Planning in advance and packing logically can ensure those adventures turn into happy memories.
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