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In many homes, pets are just as important as their human counterparts, and leaving them alone to go on a trip is not an option. But traveling with your furry/scaly/feathery companion means a lot of upfront planning before you head out.

You’ll need the basics, like food, water, and dishes. The rest of your packing gear depends on where you’re going and how long you’re staying.

Some extended-stay hotels are pet-friendly, as this article by Hotel Engine discusses. Those facilities have extra amenities to make your and your pet’s stay easier, like grassy pet walking areas, treats given by the staff, and pet beds. You can find out what your hotel has on-site for you to use and skip packing those items.

But other things are essential for your pet’s safety and comfort. Before you leave on your next trip, be sure to pack these four must-have items every traveling pet owner should have.

1. Your Pet’s Vaccination Records

Whatever your stance on vaccines is, if you’re traveling with your pet, you must follow the law.  For instance, if you’re flying domestically, most states will require a rabies vaccination dated 30 days or more before the flight. The airlines will request this information when you book your pet’s “seat.” It can’t expire before your return ticket.

International flights have stricter requirements that may vary depending on the country you fly into. Your pet will need to have all the requisite blood tests, vaccines, permits, health certificates, and microchips for each destination.  If you’re not flying, you may still need those papers when you get to a hotel or if you need to seek emergency vet care. Keep a copy in your luggage, but also take a picture or scan each page and store the files in a cloud-based app so they’re accessible anywhere.

2. A Pet Carrier and Leash

Even if you know your pet would never run away from you, they need to travel in a pet carrier. It’s as much for their safety and security as it is for rule-following. The rules regarding flying with a pet vary by airline. Each one requires you to keep your pet in a carrier, but some airlines only allow pets to fly in the cargo hold, while others let you fly with your small pets under the seat in a special carrier.

Many pet parents are concerned about having their beloved animals travel in the cargo hold. However, since this area is quiet and dark, your pet may be less stressed traveling this way as long as they’re in a comfortable carrier.  While you’re away from home and your pet isn’t in a carrier, they’ll need to be on a leash. Not all animals are comfortable with this. If your pet isn’t already leash-trained, start practicing with them a few weeks before your trip.

3. A Seat Belt

Unless your pet is caged at all times, such as with reptiles, or in a carrier, they’ll need a seat belt while you’re driving. Pet seat belts come in various sizes and designs to fit your pet’s needs. Look for tether clips, harnesses, and pet car seats, then decide which option is best for your animal. These are sold by weight and animal type. You may need to measure the size of your pet’s chest, legs, and neck to ensure you’re getting the right seat belt.

Pro tip: Your pet is going to make themselves at home wherever they’re tethered for long periods. Investing in a travel upholstery cover keeps the seats safe from fur, claws, chewing, and accidents.

4. Pet Meds

Is your pet prone to anxiety when traveling? Do they have allergies? Will you be gone when their flea and heart-worm meds are due? Consider your pet’s health and any medications you might need while traveling. It’s not uncommon for pets to need vitamins and supplements or meds to help with tummy aches and discomfort.

Pack anything that you might possibly need. As the saying goes, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, especially if the medicine is a prescription.


Today’s world is increasingly more pet-friendly than ever before. Many hotels know the way to a guest’s heart (and wallet) is to let them bring their pets with them, as long as they have their vaccinations and are leashed.

In addition to those requirements, make traveling easier for you and your pet by packing these must-have items.

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