Tips for Traveling with Small Pets

Traveling can be an exciting and enriching experience for individuals and families alike. However, for those who have small pets, the thought of leaving them behind can often be a cause for concern and hesitation. Thankfully, with the increasing popularity of pet-friendly travel options, it is now possible to include our furry companions in our travel plans. 

Whether it be a road trip, a flight, or a train journey, there are ways to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable trip for both you and your small pet.

dog in a carrier at the back of the car

Choosing the right carrier for your small pet

When it comes to traveling with your furry friends, ensuring their safety and comfort should be your top priority. One of the essential items you’ll need is a pet carrier that is suitable for your small pet’s size and breed. 

First, it is essential to consider the size and breed of your small pet when selecting a carrier. A carrier that is too small can be uncomfortable and restrict their movement, while a carrier that is too large may not provide the necessary security. Take the time to measure your pet and choose a carrier that allows them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Comfort is another essential factor to consider. Look for carriers that have a soft, padded interior to provide a cozy space for your pet. Carriers with ventilation windows or mesh panels will ensure proper airflow, preventing your pet from overheating during travel.

Safety features are equally important when choosing a carrier. Opt for carriers that have secure closures, such as zippers or latches, to prevent any accidental escapes. It’s also a good idea to choose carriers with reinforced bottoms or sturdy construction to ensure they don’t collapse under your pet’s weight.

Look for carriers with removable and washable liners or those made with materials that are easy to wipe down or spot clean. This will not only keep your pet’s carrier fresh but also maintain a hygienic environment for them.

There are different types of pet carriers in terms of build. Softsided carriers are lightweight and easy to store, making them ideal for short trips. Hardsided carriers, on the other hand, provide more protection and durability, making them suitable for longer journeys. Backpack carriers are a popular choice for small pets, as they allow you to carry your pet hands-free while keeping them close to you.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect carrier, it’s essential to acclimate your pet to it before traveling. Start by leaving the carrier open in your home and encouraging your pet to explore and enter it on their own. Gradually introduce short trips in the carrier, such as car rides, to help your pet associate it with positive experiences. Rewarding them with treats or praise can also help create a positive association with their carrier.

 cat inside the carrier in the car

Preparing your small pet for travel

One of the most important steps in preparing your small pet for travel is getting them comfortable with their travel carrier. Start by introducing the carrier to your pet well in advance of the trip. Place their favorite toys or treats inside the carrier, allowing them to associate it with positive experiences. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the carrier to help them adjust to the confined space.

Pack enough food and water for the journey, along with their favorite bedding or a familiar blanket to provide a sense of security. Don’t forget to bring any necessary medication, as well as toys or chew treats to keep them entertained during the trip.

Whether you’re traveling by road or air, it’s crucial to prioritize your pet’s safety and security. If you’re driving, use a secure and well-ventilated carrier that is suitable for your pet’s size. Make sure the carrier is fastened securely in the vehicle to prevent any accidents or injuries. If you’re flying, check the airline’s policies regarding pet carriers and ensure that your pet meets all the necessary requirements.

Traveling can be overwhelming for small pets, so it’s essential to manage their stress and anxiety during the journey. Consider using natural calming aids, such as pheromone sprays or herbal supplements, to help them relax.  Maintain a calm and soothing environment by playing soft music or covering the carrier with a light blanket to reduce external stimuli.

Traveling by car

Before embarking on a long car journey, it’s crucial to get your pet accustomed to car rides. Start by taking them on shorter trips to help them get used to the motion and the sounds of the vehicle. Gradually increase the duration of the trips to build their tolerance. This will help reduce anxiety and motion sickness during longer journeys.

Creating a comfortable and secure space for your pet is also essential. Utilize a carrier or a harness to ensure their safety while traveling. Make sure the carrier is properly secured in the car, either by using a seat belt or placing it in a well-ventilated area. Adding familiar bedding or toys can help provide a sense of comfort and familiarity.

Some pets may experience anxiety or motion sickness during car journeys. To help your pet stay calm and relaxed, consider using pheromone sprays or natural remedies, which can have a soothing effect. Playing soft, calming music can also create a peaceful environment and help distract your pet from any anxiety-inducing stimuli.

If your pet’s anxiety or motion sickness persists, consulting a veterinarian for anxiety medications or other solutions may be beneficial. Additionally, gradually acclimating your pet to car rides by taking short trips and gradually increasing the duration can help reduce the likelihood of motion sickness.

pets in the car

Flying with your pet

Not all airlines have pet-friendly policies or comfortable accommodations for small pets, so it’s essential to do your research before booking your flight. Look for airlines that have a good reputation for accommodating small pets during flights. Some airlines even offer special services for pets, such as pet lounges or in-flight pet-friendly amenities. By choosing the right airline, you can ensure that your pet’s comfort and safety are prioritized throughout the journey.

Getting your small pet accustomed to their travel carrier is crucial for a stress-free flight. Gradually introduce them to the carrier by placing treats and toys inside, allowing them to explore and associate positive experiences with it. Make the carrier a comfortable space by adding familiar bedding or a favorite blanket. 

Familiarize your pet with the sounds and sensations they may experience during the flight, such as the noise of the airplane engine or the feeling of turbulence. This can help reduce anxiety and make the journey more comfortable for your pet.

Airport procedures can be overwhelming, but being prepared can make the experience much smoother. Arrive early to allow enough time for check-in and security procedures. Get to know the specific requirements of the airline and airport regarding traveling with pets, including any necessary paperwork or inspections. 

Follow all security regulations and be prepared to handle your pet during the security screening process. Keeping your pet calm and comfortable during the airport experience is important, so consider using a calming pheromone spray or bringing along their favorite treats or toys.

cat in a carrier at the airport

Destination tips for traveling with a small pet

Not all destinations are created equal when it comes to pet-friendliness. Some cities and towns go above and beyond to make sure that pets are not only allowed but also catered to. Popular pet-friendly destinations include cities like Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, where pets are welcome in many shops, restaurants, and even hotels. National parks and beaches that allow pets are also great options for outdoor enthusiasts.

Before embarking on your trip, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary documents and essentials for your pet. This includes up-to-date vaccinations, a health certificate from your veterinarian, and identification tags with your contact information. Make sure to pack essentials such as food, water, medications, and familiar items like toys or bedding to help your pet feel more comfortable during travel.

Research pet-friendly activities and attractions at your destination to ensure you have a great time with your furry companion. Many cities have dog-friendly parks, hiking trails, and outdoor cafes where you can enjoy a meal with your pet by your side. Some beaches even have designated dog areas where your pet can enjoy a splash in the water.


Traveling with small pets can be an exciting and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. By following these tips and guidelines, you can ensure a safe and stress-free journey for your pet, allowing them to enjoy the adventure alongside you.