Traveling with pets without losing your mind

This week on our vacation to Indiana to visit family and friends, we brought our dog Howie along for the ride. Our families were both happy to accommodate him, and he’d rather be with us than back home in a kennel. But bringing a dog along on vacation comes with a long list of hassles.

Howie window

We took some steps to keep Howie happy and out of our hosts’ hair while saving our own sanity. Try these tips if you’re bringing your favorite family pet along for vacation:

Exercise, exercise, exercise.

If you think your dog has had enough exercise, put him on the leash and take him out again. If you have a young dog, it’s not possible to exercise him enough on vacation.

Howie is incredibly well behaved in the car — he usually just goes right to sleep as soon as we start driving. But we still stop every two hours on the road to let him stretch his legs on long car trips. We also took him for a run every morning when we were staying with family. Nothing is more stressful than an under-exercised dog in a strange environment. Without enough exercise, dogs are restless and whiny at best and downright destructive at worst. Make sure they’re spending the vacation as tired as possible.

Bring as much of home as you can.

When Howie was younger and sleeping in a crate, we brought it along on trips. Now we bring his dog bed, his favorite toys, and plenty of food. If you’re traveling with a cat, consider bringing a scratching post, cat toys and bed to keep them occupied and comfortable. Bringing a piece of home along with you will make them feel more secure in a strange environment, and the more secure they feel, the less likely they are to act out.

Don’t pawn your pet off on family.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Howie is pretty much the most adorable dog ever. Consequently, all of our family members were offering to walk him and feed him and pet him. It’s easy to walk away and assume they’ll take care of taking him outside or disciplining him if he’s getting too rowdy. Be careful not to do that.

If you’re visiting family with your pet, don’t expect them to do the dirty work. Just because they’re enjoying the novelty of your furry friend doesn’t mean they want to scoop the litter box or follow your dog around with a poop bag. Don’t get too distracted to take care of your pet’s basic needs.

If your family or friends want to take advantage of the fun parts of spending time with a pet, let them. But when it comes to the dirty work, make sure you’re doing it yourself. If you expect someone else to take out the dog, you might end up with a mess on the floor, and your family won’t be so willing to welcome your pet next time.

Since I’m not a cat owner, I’d like to hear from those of you who’ve traveled with cats. How do you make it easier on your pet when you’re traveling?

4 thoughts on “Traveling with pets without losing your mind

  1. Angela

    Cats are a little more difficult! We just moved from Tennessee to Alabama and toted two cats along with us. I set their cat carriers out a week ahead of time and put one of our t-shirts in each one. That gave them time to lay in them and get used to them so it would feel safe instead of foreign. I put them in the litter box before we left and I already had a litter box and familiar items in laundry room in the new place. We didn’t travel long enough for a bathroom break, so I’m not sure how to handle that! They still meowed the entire way, but overall they were okay. When my husband and I travel though we don’t take them with us b/c as much as they miss us, they’d much rather be in their own house without us than in someone else’s house with us. That’s how cats are! We have someone come check in on them, but I’m still a nervous wreck until I get home!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Why do I blog? =-.

  2. Marenda

    While on vacation this past summer we decided to leave our two 10 month old kittens. Not an easy decision.
    We did make some special arrangements for while we were away.
    We had a family member check on them every other day but we still took extra precautions to make their time go smoother.
    *In all rooms they had acess to we removed all pictures and all breakables.
    *WE locked the doors of all the bedrooms leaving them acess to the family room, kitchen, dinning room and hallways to roam.
    *We put an extra large bowl for their food and an extra large bowl for their water. These bowls were twice their normal size.
    *We left one litter box and a second litter box in an extra bathroom for the family member to put out in the middle of the week so they could have a fresh litter box.
    *We moved the the dinning room table over to the windows so they could look out and watch cars go by during the day and evenings.
    *We left the family room curtains open so they could look out the window and watch the birds in the tree. One of their favorite pastimes.
    *We left two lights on so they could have some lights in the evenings.
    *We did think of keeping the animal channel running 24/7 but vetoed that idea because of the cost.

    They were happy to see us and our father reported that each time he came they wanted lots of attention and petting and he was happy to do that. It seemed to work out well. Our kittens were happy to see us when we got home.

    We put larger than normal bowls of food and water out for them while less than had

  3. Angela

    I just wanted to say that I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and I’ve really enjoyed it! My husband is a medical student and I’m beginning grad school next week. I thought our financial goals would have to wait, but thanks to your blog I can see that we can start working on things right now! Thanks!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Living Simply =-.

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