Holiday Pet Travel Tips

by Ali Oaks | December 14, 2022

Planning your holiday travel can be an overwhelming endeavor. Adding your pet to the equation can make the logistics of traveling even a bit more complicated. Don’t stress too much – we have compiled a helpful list of what you need to know before traveling with your pet this holiday season!

Talk To Your Vet

  • First and foremost, let’s check if Fido is healthy enough to travel. Once you get the okay from your veterinarian, it’s always good to check if your pet needs updated vaccinations, treatments, or tests. Different destinations have different regulations for animals traveling into their state. It’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to see if health documentation is needed for the state you are traveling to. They will be able to provide you with the appropriate paperwork. 
  • In case the unthinkable happens and your furry friend gets lost during the trip, it’s a great time to check in on your animal’s electronic microchip while you are visiting your veterinarian. Have them double check that they can locate the chip and the information is up to date. If your pet does not have a microchip implanted, talk to your veterinarian about getting one. Better safe than sorry!

Plan Where To Stay

  • You’ve decided to travel with your best pal, now’s the time to make sure any place you are staying during your trip allows pets. Keep in mind that certain hotels can charge extra fees for animals. 
  • Double check the rules at your hotel, campground, or airbnb. Many places have designated pet-relief areas and have rules about leaving the pet unattended in the room you are staying in.
  • Be courteous of the fellow guests and management. Try to discourage barking and roughhousing, which can be distracting to guests on the floors below.

Mode Of Transportation & What That Entails

Different modes of transportation entail different rules and regulations. We have compiled some tips for the most common transportation; car and airplane.


  • It’s recommended your dog stays in their car-safe kennel or carrier during a road trip. If a kennel or carrier is not possible, look into buying a dog car seatbelt or dog car seat that allows the attachment to secure your dog in with their harness.
  • Avoid putting your dog in the back of the vehicle, like the truck bed. This can lead to serious injury or death if the animal were to fall out of the moving vehicle. It’s also recommended to avoid letting your pup stick their head out of the window; this has been known to cause eye injuries to the dog.
  • Be sure to take frequent potty breaks to avoid any accidents in the vehicle. It’s recommended to stop every three hours. This also allows your pup to stretch their legs and burn off some energy!
  • If traveling with a cat, a helpful tip is to get a larger kennel, for example, for a dog, and set that up in the back of the vehicle with their litter box inside. Your cat can roam around a bit but still be safe even on potty breaks.


  • Triple check your airline’s pet policy, as these rules are ever changing. It’s not unusual for airlines to require a health certificate issued within 10 days of your flight. In addition to timeline regulations, be sure you understand your destination state or country’s rules. Some states and countries have restrictions on certain breeds.
  • Many airlines have breed restrictions, for example Brachycephalic or “short-nosed” breeds.
  • Keep in mind, there are restrictions on the number of animals permitted on each flight. They are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Try to book your flight with reservations for your pet, as soon as possible.
  • Many airports offer pet-relief areas. Try to give your pet a few opportunities to visit these stations before your flight. Remember to bring some doggie bags, just in case.
  • Domestic travel, regardless of mode of transportation, is governed by state regulations. Many states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) from a licensed and accredited veterinarian for interstate travel. Rabies vaccinations are required by most states for travel. International travel will have more requirements, as these are set by the destination country.
  • Your veterinarian can help ensure you obtain the appropriate vaccinations and documentation needed for your travels.

What To Pack

  • You’ve set your destination and have the go-ahead from your veterinarian. It’s now time to get everything in order and know what to pack for your journey! First, make sure you have the appropriate health documents, vaccination records, identification, and any other import papers packed and in a safe, accessible place.
  • Bowls are necessary for food and water. For easy storage, it’s recommended to have collapsible bowls. This makes it easy to transport and clean up.
  • If you’re traveling by airline, a carrier is a must for cabin and cargo hold. It is also recommended that you use a carrier/kennel when traveling by car to ensure the pet’s complete safety. A carrier and kennel can also act as your pet’s safe place where he or she finds comfort during their travels. Be sure to bring their favorite bed or blanket for added carrier comfort!
  • Try keeping your dog in a harness/collar and leash anytime they might be out of their carrier. This is an extra safety precaution to ensure you don’t lose your beloved pet. Be sure to fit the harness/collar ahead of time and ensure it fits properly. If the harness/collar is too loose or ill-fitting, Fido might slip out.
  • Potty pads are great to have just in case there is an accident. Lining the bottom of the carrier with potty pads can help with quick clean-up.
  • Don’t forget your pals’ favorite toys and treats. Having toys to play with during their trip can help provide mental stimulation and distraction during the long road ahead. You can’t forget the treats as well. What a great way to tell your best friend that he’s doing a fantastic job by giving him his favorite treat!

Safety & Best Practices

  • The best way to prepare for travel is to practice well ahead of time. Try taking your pet on short trips around the block in the car to get them used to the different sensations of traveling. Be sure to talk to them and let them know they are doing a good job. You can try giving them treats to reward good behavior. You can gradually extend the length of the trip each time.
  • To make sure the flight isn’t a traumatic experience for your pet, purchase your kennel well in advance and start getting them used to being in the space. Try feeding him in the kennel for a couple weeks leading up to your trip, this will help build positive associations with being in the kennel. You can even add their bed and toys, to make the space that much more comfortable.
  • It’s recommended to withhold breakfast from your pet before your trip. This can help if they get nausea or vomiting episodes in the vehicle.
  • Finally, be sure to take breaks! It’s recommended that you stop every three hours to let your pet go to the bathroom or stretch their legs. This is the perfect time to tell them how great they are doing and give them some love.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that it’s that much more fun having your best pal with you!

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