Embarking on a road trip with your furry friend can be an exciting adventure, but it requires some careful planning to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey for both you and your pet. Whether you’re heading to a pet-friendly destination or need to move Fido across the country for a relocation, these tips will help make your road trip a tail-wagging success.
Pre-trip vet checkup
Before hitting the road, schedule a visit to your veterinarian for a thorough checkup. Ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, and discuss any potential health concerns or travel-specific recommendations with your vet. Before a road trip is also an excellent time to update identification tags and change any important contact information for your furry companion.
Pre-trip car maintenance
Just as your pet should get a check-up before the road trip, so too should your vehicle. “It’s important to ensure your vehicle maintenance is up to date before heading out on a road trip”, says Marcus Newton, owner and operator of Bosch Service Brisbane and Brisbane Euro Service. This can help to reduce the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns on the road, which can be particularly stressful when travelling with a pet. Make sure to get your tyres, brakes, fluids, and overall vehicle health check before setting off.
Comfortable travel arrangements
When travelling with pets, make sure to invest in a secure and comfortable pet carrier or seatbelt harness designed for car travel. Familiarise your pet with the carrier or harness before the trip, making it a positive and safe space. This could include completing small trips around your area with positive rewards given (such as treats). For larger pets, consider using a sturdy pet barrier or a travel crate in the back of the car.
Pack a dedicated bag for your pet’s essentials, including food, water, bowls, medications, a first aid kit, grooming supplies, and their favourite toys or blankets. Bring a recent photo of your pet in case of emergencies, along with a list of emergency contacts and details of nearby veterinary clinics along your route. Don’t forget to pack poop bags and a scoop for regular pit stops.
Regular pit stops
Plan frequent breaks to allow your pet to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and get some fresh air. Look for pet-friendly rest areas or parks where your furry friend can safely explore outside of the vehicle. Keep a leash handy for these breaks, and always clean up after your pet. Avoid leaving your pet unattended in the car, as temperatures can quickly become dangerous (whether too hot or too cold).
Hydration and nutrition
Ensure your pet has access to fresh water throughout the journey. Pack their regular food to maintain their diet consistency and avoid upsetting their stomach. Be mindful of feeding times, and avoid feeding them large meals right before travelling to reduce the risk of motion sickness. Bring along treats or their favourite food to offer as a reward during the journey.
Update your pet’s ID tags with your current contact information and consider a temporary tag with your travel destination details. Ensure your pet is wearing their collar at all times, even if they are microchipped. This extra layer of identification can be crucial in case your pet escapes or gets lost during the trip.
Research pet-friendly accommodation
Plan your route with pet-friendly accommodation in mind. Many hotels and motels now cater to travellers with pets, offering designated pet-friendly rooms or facilities. Book in advance and confirm the pet policy to avoid any surprises upon arrival. You might also like to consider alternative options such as pet-friendly vacation rentals or campsites.
Check the weather forecast along your route and at your destination. If there’s extreme weather (such as snow), you may need to take a detour or account for more time. Extreme temperatures can be dangerous for pets, so plan accordingly. Avoid leaving your pet alone in the car, especially during hot or cold weather, as temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become unsafe.
Entertainment and comfort
Bring familiar items such as your pet’s bed, toys, and a few comfort items to help them feel secure in unfamiliar environments. Consider playing calming music or having a support person the pet is familiar with to provide them with petting to help reduce anxiety during the journey.
Prepare for emergencies
Even with careful planning and consideration, emergencies can happen. Be prepared for unexpected situations by having a pet first aid kit, contact information for nearby veterinarians, and a list of emergency animal hospitals along your route. Familiarise yourself with local veterinary services at your destination in case of any urgent needs.
Embarking on a road trip with your pet can create lasting memories, but a successful journey requires thoughtful preparation, too. By considering your pet’s comfort, safety, and well-being, you’ll better ensure an enjoyable road trip adventure together.