Traveling with Your Pet……….Road Trips are a Blast but Preparation is Key

Loading the car, the camper, the SUV or whatever vehicle is your favorite means of vacation travel, takes a lot planning.  If you are camping there is only so much room for equipment, food storage, water,  etc. If you are staying with friends, in hotels, cabins or on a boat, last minute decisions as far as what to bring are typical.  Likewise, if you are planning a road trip with your four legged companion, preparation is key.  The better you plan, the fewer the surprises and the more fun the trip. We all know that food, dishes, leashes, litter, medications and the like, are necessary to travel with your pet.  But what about the  “not so common things”? How can you plan for the unexpected?  Hopefully the following should give you an idea of both common and “not so common items”  that at one time or another, I have found myself without while road tripping with pets.  Although Dollar Stores, Walmart and pet suppliers alike seem to exist on practically every street corner when you don’t need one, wait until the first time you have an emergency need……they are nowhere to be found. So after traveling tens of thousands of miles with Irish Setters (oh the stories I could tell), here are a few suggestions. Feel free to comment and add to this ever expanding document. (Anecdotes are well appreciated)

  1. Leashes (multiple for when you can’t find the one you brought, your puppy chews the one you brought, or the latch breaks)
  2. Collars.  (again multiple in case one gets wet and stinky (see skunk spraying below), breaks when your pet tugs too hard or just plain disappears when your cat manages to slip out of it)
  3. Towels of different sizes.  These are useful to dry your pet if they are swimmers, to clean swamp remnants after your pet goes “bogging”, or for drying your pet after the unexpected bath you have to give. They can also be used to cover your car seats in case your friend goes mud wrestling and there is no fresh water in sight.  Towels are also useful in wiping the inside of your car (or yourself) after the above occurs and the dog gives a good shake spraying all mud remnants around the inside of your vehicle, on yourself and especially your glasses.
  4. Pet shampoo.  (See above)
  5. Dawn Dishwashing Soap (See above plus the skunk in the bushes we surprised that sprayed me, my dog, the leash, the collar, my shoes, my watch in other words about everything).  And be prepared to discard the towels used in attempting to manage the mess. Hence the need for multiple towels. (That Airbnb in Nova Scotia we stayed in will never be the same.  So much for our profile).
  6. Calming collars, drops or pheromone diffusers.  These are available on line and can be very helpful to settle felines who are not used to traveling.
  7. Pet food.  If your pet has any special food requirements or a sensitive stomach, bring plenty of his or her usual food for the excursion.  Pet stores in different locales carry different brands or even different varieties than you usually purchase. And, this is difficult, if you are traveling in the summer, don’t leave food in the car to “cook” if it is hot,   Although canned food may survive, dry food or kibble will likely go bad as the fat in the formula spoil with heat.  If it doesn’t smell right, time to find that elusive pet store.
  8. Ditto the above (special requirements) with litter or litter boxes.  Cats are creatures of habit.  Changing litter boxes, litter or even liners that have a different smell, can be enough to start a bout of “inappropriate urination”.
  9. Poop bags……enough said
  10. Paper toweling…….good for wiping out the car if you didn’t bring enough cloth towels.
  11. Pet toys (although it is always fun to stop at a new pet store to bring home a souvenir of the adventure)
  12. Treats to reward well behaved pets (or for bribery).  Of course there is always the fun of finding new treats at a new store if your pet doesn’t have a flaky stomach.
  13. Flashlight for the nighttime walk in unfamiliar locations.
  14. A photo of your pet. (Just in case he or she wanders off and sends you into a panic)
  15. Medical Records with vaccination history. (after you find your pet and want to have him or her checked out  just to be sure all is well)

The above comprises a fairly inclusive, yet certainly, not an all encompassing list. Any items that have been overlooked, please feel free to comment.  In the next post we will discuss some of the logistics of finding lodging, exercising and adapting your pet to “Life On the Road”.