5 Tips for Pet-Safe Holiday Travel

December 26, 2023
By: Adriana Valle

Many of our pet sitting and dog walking clients stay home for the Christmas holiday. They then take a much-needed vacation over New Year’s weekend. The week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day is often one of the busiest times of the year for pet sitting businesses. Because so many pet lovers are traveling this week, we’re sharing 5 tips for pet-safe holiday travel.

Tips for Pet-Safe Holiday Travel: Make a List & Check it Twice

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Traveling with pets adds an inevitable layer to your travel planning. Make a list of the items you’ll need including pet bowls, leashes, harnesses, tick/flea spray, outerwear for extreme winter weather, supplements, litter boxes, extra litter, litter scoopers, and treats.

For food, consider portioning dry food into disposable zip-lock bags for the duration of your trip plus two. That way, you have a bit extra in case you are delayed.

If you feed raw, make sure you have a plan for longer road trips during which you will have a hard time keeping perishables adequately cooled. Freeze-dried foods travel very well and can be a huge help for longer road trips with raw-fed pets.

Tips for Pet-Safe Holiday Travel: Research Accommodations

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While many properties now claim to be pet-friendly, many have significant restrictions surrounding their pet policies If you’re booking on Expedia or similar online travel sites, take time to review the hotel’s listing in detail to ensure that their pet policy is up-to-date. Consider calling the hotel directly to ask. Make a note of the representative’s name and the policy they stated so that you have it recorded if you have issues at check-in.

Unfortunately, many cat parents have experienced less than welcoming arrivals at hotels that advertise themselves as pet-friendly. Upon check-in, these cat parents learn that the hotel, which is listed as pet-friendly, is only dog-friendly. Our friend, Isabel Alvarez Arata of Covered in Pet Hair shares one such experience here. The most frustrating part is that this particular hotel was cat-friendly on paper, just not cat-friendly in practice.

Those traveling with pets should know the policies and stand their ground if treated poorly because of their pet. Don’t be afraid to escalate issues to the supervisor on duty, the General Manager of the hotel, or their coporate office if you feel that you’re being treated unfairly due to your pet or pet’s species.

Tips for Pet-Safe Holiday Travel: Update Microchip Info & Tags

Having your pet’s microchip and tags updated regularly ensures that you’re ready to travel with your pet at a moment’s notice.

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When first inserted, microchips will default to the contact information of the veterinary office that did the procedure or the rescue organization that paid for it. You do not want the contact information of a company or rescue to be in your pet’s microchip profile because, if your pet gets lost on a weekend or after hours, you won’t hear from anybody for hours, if not days.

Similarly, having tags on your pets gives them a better chance of finding their way home if they get lost. A good Samaritan is more likely to help your pet if they see them wearing a collar and ID tag. Always make sure your pet’s collar is appropriately sized and secured. You should only be able to fit one finger in your pet’s collar. Anything looser is a strangulation risk if it gets caught on something.

Tips for Pet-Safe Holiday Travel: Secure Your Pet in the Car

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Too many pet parents forget to set up a safe space for their pets in the car. Cats should always be in a hard-sided carrier in the car. The safest place to put a carrier is behind the passenger seat on the floor of the vehicle. For dogs, the safest way to travel is a travel crate. We understand, however, that many pet parents don’t drive large enough vehicles to accommodate full-size crates. In these cases, consider a crash-rated travel harness like Optimus Gear’s Defender Harness.

Tips for Pet-Safe Holiday Travel: Bring Familiar Items

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If your pet is used to hanging out in their crate while you’re at work or on the town, bring the crate with you on your road trip. Pack their bedding, favorite toy, blanket, and whatever other item your pet uses to soothe themselves while at home. These items will put your pet at ease in an unfamiliar location.

Because the smells of the items are familiar, avoid washing items before travel. Unless they are downright dirty or completely covered in pet hair, place lightly used bedding and toys into a large garbage bag and wash them when you get back. That way, your pet’s temporary vacation space is sure to smell like. home.

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At Shoreline Happy Paws, we love to help make pet parenting easier whenever possible. We hope you find this list helpful when planning your holiday travel.

While we are taking limited pet sitting appointments for the remainder of the year, we always do our best to accommodate midday dog walks for existing clients. To book your pet care appointment, please log in to your client profile. If you are new to Shoreline Happy Paws and would like to discuss your pet care needs, please create an account but note that our services may not be available for new clients until 2024.

Shoreline Happy Paws serves the following areas of the Connecticut Shoreline:

  • Old Saybrook
  • Essex, Ivoryton & Centerbrook
  • Deep River
  • Chester
  • Westbrook
  • Clinton
  • Old Lyme
  • East Lyme
  • Niantic

Certain Parts and Certain Service Hours in:

  • Lyme and Madison
  • Waterford, New London, Groton
  • Uncasville, Gales Ferry, Mystic, Noank 

There are many ways to keep your pets during travel. These 5 tips for pet-safe holiday travel are a great place to start!

By Adriana Valle

Adriana is the owner and Chief Pet-Loving Officer at Shoreline Happy Paws. She has been a Professional Pet Sitter for over 10 years.

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