Moving across the country is a huge undertaking. The logistics of trekking thousands of miles to a new home with a car or truck full of one’s belongings is enough to give even the calmest person some serious anxiety. And, when you have beloved pets making the move with you, that anxiety can easily double.
Fortunately, with a few helpful tips and a positive attitude, your move can go smoothly. In fact, it can even end up being an enjoyable, bonding experience for you and your four-legged family member.
The best, most effective way to combat the stress of moving with a pet is to have a really solid plan. Here are some questions to ask yourself when planning your trip.
Where Will You Stay?
Road trips tend to go a bit slower when traveling with a pet. After all, there are a lot of potty breaks to factor in – as well as more legs to stretch! Additional time on the road can mean additional hotel stays. It’s wise to plan out where you will stop for the night, and when.
You will, of course, need to find pet friendly lodging. Fortunately, there are literally thousands of great options across the country in every price point and type — whether you’re budget conscious, ready to be pampered, or just want something convenient, you can find something that suits you.
You can even search hotels by route so that you can map out where you’ll stay along the way. Be sure to book early to ensure there’s “room at the inn” for you and your pet.
How Will You Ensure Your Pet’s Safety?
For his or her own safety, your pet needs to be secured in your vehicle at all times while you’re on the road. Secured pets are far less likely to become injured or lost on a road trip, and less likely to cause distractions for drivers.
There are plenty of restraint options available, from seat belts, to vehicle pet barriers, to crates and carriers. You can choose one that’s right for your pet’s specific needs. You do need to get your pet used to his safety restraints in advance. This takes time – don’t leave it until the last minute!
Keep in mind that you should never, ever leave your pet in the car unattended. Even on cool days, temperatures inside a car can soar within minutes. There is also the threat of theft, and the possibility that your pet could escape and become lost or injured. You will have to plan your trip in such a way that a responsible person will be with him at all times.
Where Will You Stop Along the Way?
In addition to planning bathroom breaks and stretch stops for your pet, you also have to plan for stops that YOU will need. You will need bathroom breaks yourself, and you will need to eat.
To that end, you need to think about who will stay with your pet while you are in the restroom, and how you will manage meals on the road. Drive-thrus are one good option. Packing sandwiches and snacks in a cooler to eat on the road is another.
You can also search for pet friendly restaurants in areas you know you will be stopping. Many great restaurants will allow you to enjoy a refreshing and relaxing meal with your pet on their outdoor seating areas.
What Should You Bring Along for the Ride?
There are many things your pet will need for a long road trip. Make a list — in the stress of a move, it’s easy to lose focus, even when it comes to the most basic things. You really don’t want to be 100 miles into your trip before you remember that you accidentally packed his travel food dish with the kitchen items. Some things that should be on your list:
- Certificate of health (you will need this for interstate travel)
- Pet IDs (with new address and phone number)
- Current photo
- Favorite toys
- Leash and collar
- Poop bags
- Food, water, and bowls
- Pet vehicle safety restraints
- Favorite cushion or pet bed
Make Sure to Stop and Smell the Roses (and everything else!)
It’s so important to stay positive on a long move, and the best way to do that is to change your outlook. Think of your move as an adventure. A road trip, with your best bud. Build extra time into your schedule to stop and see the sights.
Find some cool pet friendly attractions to visit. Hike some trails, and see some of America’s most beautiful natural landscapes. It may be a long road to your new home, but you will get there eventually – and then you have the chore of settling into your new life. You might as well enjoy the journey, and make some great memories along the way!
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Kim Salerno is the President and Founder of TripsWithPets.com, a pet travel guide that provides online reservations at more than 30,00,000 pet friendly accommodations across the U.S and Canada. Kim spends her free time traveling with her four-legged kids, Tucker, Charlie, Brownie, and Diamond.