Holiday pet travel made easy


With the holidays coming up, one of the peak seasons for travel is also on the horizon. And if you’re getting together with loved ones, these trips can be wonderful occasions to take your most loved ones along with you—your pets!

Whether you are headed for a ski vacation or some fun in the sun, having your best four-legged friend along makes the trip that much more enjoyable.

And to make the trip easier too, check out these tips for getting prepared to bring your pet on the road:

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1. Try AAA for pet-friendly planning. When putting together any vacation with animals, check out AAA’s Pet Book. Updated annually, the AAA Pet Book features more than 14,000 AAA-approved and Diamond-rated hotels, campgrounds, and other attractions that welcome four-footed travelers. The book also provides information about emergency clinics in case you run into medical trouble, and dog parks for those necessary breaks from being cooped up (for humans and pets alike!).

The book can be found at participating AAA/CAA club offices, select bookstores, and online booksellers. The guide is also available as a downloadable e-TourBookGuide, and the digital edition is available on the iTunes Store,, and

2. Size matters with pet carriers. The majority of travelers limit at least 80% of their airline trips to those carriers for which they have a frequent flier membership. So if you continue to travel with your pet by investing in a particular airline, why not invest in a particular airline carrier as well? For example, using the same carrier—such as those by Sherpa, can be especially helpful in case of changes in equipment that could affect your seat and the comfort of your dog in his carrier.

3. Control parasites for your pet’s comfort. No matter where you’re traveling, be wary of fleas, ticks, and other parasites. These pesky pests cause distress in dogs and cats alike—and can be an expensive health hazard to you. Recently, the number of generic, vet-quality flea-and-tick products on the market, such as VetGuard Plus, makes giving your pets protection throughout the year economical and easier to obtain.

Additionally, pet owners who travel with the pooches need to take care that bed bugs that hide in carpets, mattress seams, and headboards aren’t carried home in your dog’s carrier. Check for bed bugs before accepting a hotel room—and as a preventive measure, spray your dog’s carrier and blanket with EcoSMART Bed Bug Killer and Repellent. The product is safe for pets, and retails for about $7 for two 2.75-oz. sprays.

4. Send pet food ahead to your destination. To avoid carrying more weight on the road and preventing stomach upset in your pet, order food ahead of time from an online retailer so that your pet’s familiar diet is waiting for you at your destination when you arrive. It’s also a great idea to purchase chew toys from the same online merchant. No matter how confident you are about your pet’s behavior on the road, a strange environment can cause him to behave differently So be prepared by having a few chews sent along with the food.

5. Limit driver distraction with a pet car restraint. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, driver distraction is an increasing epidemic on American roadways. Pets can be a major cause of distraction, making drivers take their eyes, hands, and minds off of the road. One of the best ways to limit driver distraction is to provide car restraints for pets. Use a well-constructed body harness, made specifically for car travel. And if you and your pet are in an accident, the pet harness spreads the crash forces across the dog’s body, protecting both him and you. Kurgo body harnesses are available in sizes XS-XL with prices starting at $23, and the company’s bench covers also keep your car upholstery protected.