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Pets form a very intimate part of our lives, and for those who like to travel, the idea of leaving your most vulnerable family member at home is often quite unthinkable.

However, travelling with pets is never easy, especially if you’re navigating your way through international flights, cars, and boats!

For those who are anxious about traveling with a pet, the good thing is that as long as you’re prepared, things can go as smoothly as ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter!’, and you won’t have to deal with the anxiety of leaving your fur baby at home.

The following are tips and tricks for navigating the three most common forms of transport with pets; or if you’re undecided about how you’ll be traveling, use this as your guide to choosing the most suitable option.

How to Navigate Flights, Cars, and Boats With Your Pet in Tow

Before Traveling

If you can’t fathom the thought of a vacation without your best friend, the UK is an ideal country to visit.

One of the most important things to do before you take a trip is to make sure your pet is fit to travel. Due to health issues, temperament, injuries or age, some pets are simply not capable of traveling.

It’s always a good idea to contact your vet to reassure this with the insights of a professional. If you’re unable to travel with your pet, we have this post on how to manage the anxiety of leaving your pet at home.

After you have the all clear that your pet is fit to travel, organize all of their identifications, including an ID tag for their collar, whether or not you require any specific paperwork or visas to take them into a different country, and any medications or vaccinations they might require.

On your your pet’s ID tag, include your name, phone number and physical address so your pet is accompanied with useful information should anything happen. It’s worthwhile translating this a second time into the language of the country you’re visiting as well.

Some people decide to microchip their pets, which is, in fact, a good source if your pet gets lost. Just make sure you verify all information is updated before traveling. Microchipping is safe and there are a variety of companies with competitive prices.

Traveling With Pets on Planes

Plane Flight Caribbean RF

The two keys to successfully flying with your pet are crate training and a good carrier bag. Most pets who are crate trained do well with traveling in a travel bag; if they’re not crate trained, extended travel has the potential to become an extremely stressful situation for everyone involved.

Depending on the length of your trip, make sure you feed your pet several hours before your flight starts, and bring extra food with you. Hydrating and feeding your pet before a flight will help out in easing their overall hyperactivity.

It’s a good idea to exhaust them before you board (taking them for a walk or playing with them prior to boarding), so they sleep through most of the flight. And make sure that they are as comfortable as possible. Be sure to have a bowl or cup your little one can drink out of in your carry-on.

Many pet owners use drowsiness inducing meds, though unfortunately these often have side effects. Because of this pet parents have turned to CBD products which have a potent effect on calming anxiety, stress and overall behavior before flights.

If you’re using any form of medication for your pet, make sure you have cleared this with your vet before you travel, and make sure that you’re legally allowed to arrive with it in your destination country.

Most Common Ways Pets Travel on Planes

Traveling with an emotional support animal

There are three ways to transport a pet by air: in cabin, as cargo, or as baggage. If a pet can fit under the seat in front of you, many airlines will allow you to take it on the flight like a traditional carry-on bag.

Check the airline on which you are flying before booking a ticket to see if you can bring the pet with you, and what the airline’s requirements are in terms of the carrier.

Also, book in advance: airlines have a limited number of allowable pets on board a flight.

Pets traveling in the cabin must be accompanied by an adult passenger and travel in an airline compliant carrier stowed under the seat. Pets not permitted in the cabin can be transported as checked baggage in the cargo hold.

The exception to larger animals traveling in the cabin is if your pet is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). You’ll need an ESA letter prescribed to you by a licensed mental health professional to be able to make this claim.

Traveling With Pets in the Car

Traveling with your dog in the car RF

First things first! Packing time! When it comes to packing for your pet, make sure you pack the car with the following:

Packing list for pets on road trips

  • Travel papers
  • Food
  • Leash
  • Water and food bowl
  • Medication
  • First aid kit
  • Toys
  • Cushion/sheets

Your main priority when traveling with pets in cars should be keeping them safe. Using pet carriers (remember to train them) means they can lie down comfortably, but if you’ve never taken them in a car, go for a practice rise and see how your pet reacts.

If your car isn’t big enough for a crate, you will likely opt for a harness system to fasten your pet in – this is much easier if they’re used to wearing a harness on a walk. The idea is the same though.

You want to introduce your pet to the car in a positive way, so as part of their training, let them explore and sniff; throw treats into the area where they will lay or sit. Fasten the harness and continue to treat them.

Avoid Feeding

When it comes to food try keeping it light and simple before a ride; if your pet needs feeding, make sure they have a good few hours before travelling.

Many pets get dizzy from the motion of car travel, so a recent feeding can often end up in a messy situation for your car interiors. For those humans who suffer with travel sickness, you know there is nothing worse. Though dogs can’t tell us that they’re about to vomit!

Some dogs are still prone to travel sickness no matter how much time has passed after feeding. Veterinarians can prescribe anti-sickness medication, but this is generally only given for long journeys.

Traveling With Pets by Boat

Pet dog animal boat RF

Before setting off to the high seas give your pet the freedom to discover the boat while it is docked or on the trailer.

Before untying, start up the engine and see how your pet reacts; it’s quite normal if they’re weirded out or scared by the concept. Give them treats to promote good behavior, and get ready to keep an eye on them. Start off on small boat trips and increase your way to longer rides.

While traveling on the boat make sure your pup or cat has a fitting flotation device, and keep it handy at all times. More than a picture perfect outfit, during an emergency it could be a life-saving accessory.

Under the hot scorching sun, it is easy to depleted of water. Always keep your pet happily hydrated, it will boost their overall comfort. Heavy panting and drooling are early signs of overheating.


Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier

Comsun Collapsible Dog Bowl

Portable Pet Bento Bowl Set Leak Proof

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.




  1. I would like to take my husky to every place I travel. Sometimes I find it difficult to take care of my pet while traveling. But not anymore after reading this post. Thank you for sharing such amazing tips.

    • So glad that the post was helpful for you Kevin – happy travels! Husky’s are such beautiful animals!

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