How to Move and Travel With Your Pets by Car

Tips for Moving Cats and Dogs to Your New Home

Pet dog on road trip
Justin Paget / Getty Images

If you're planning a long distance move cross country and have to get your cat or dog to your new home, then you'll need to do some extra work to figure out how best to move them. Learn how to plan to keep your pet comfortable and ensure a safe arrival.

Decide How Best to Move Them

If the cross-country trip by car is going to be lengthy, you may want to weigh flying pets to their new destination rather than taking them on the road. If your pet is elderly or has special medical needs, you may want to keep her with you. If you have multiple pets, flight restrictions can make it difficult to fly them all at once. Driving can be a better option.

Prepare for the Trip

If you're moving dogs rather than moving cats (or maybe it's both), you'll find dogs a lot easier to move. Dogs are usually good in the car and don't mind traveling in the backseat. It is also much easier to find pet accommodation for dogs than it is for cats.

Cats tend to not like traveling in cars so driving can be quite stressful for them and for you. Talk to your vet about how to make them comfortable. Keep them in carriers for safety. Make sure you pack the car properly so you can take everything you need with you but also to keep everyone comfortable.

Plan the Route

Regardless of whether you have pets with you or not, it's always a good idea to plan your route carefully when driving a long distance. To ease the stress, plan your trip to ensure you're not driving too much in one day and are allowing enough time for breaks and gas fill-ups. This is particularly true if you're driving on your own. Also, give yourself additional time on the road to deal with unforeseen events, such as getting lost or having car trouble, both of which can easily upset a tight schedule.

Book Accommodation

Once you have a route set and a good idea of where you'll spend your nights, it's time to find accommodation. It's best to book rooms well in advance of your trip. Pet-friendly accommodation is available, but it can be difficult to find depending on where you're traveling.

Some popular chains such as Best Western have several locations that allow pets, while La Quinta is pet-friendly no matter what city you stop in. However, be warned—just because hotel states it's pet-friendly doesn't mean it'll take all pets. Call first before you book. 

Pet Supplies to Take in the Car

  • Pet food
  • Pet bowls (either metal or plastic, as glass can break)
  • Spoons
  • Dish soap
  • Pet wipes
  • Bottled water (if traveling in areas where the water isn't drinkable)
  • Treats
  • Pet beds and blankets (familiar smells help reduce stress)
  • Toys
  • Pet medications
  • Yummy pet food (this is stuff that your pet loves to eat but shouldn't have very often, just in case they stop eating while traveling)
  • Medical records

Extra Stuff for Dogs

  • Poop bags
  • Leashes

Extra Stuff for Cats

  • Cat carriers—one carrier for each cat
  • Litter box
  • Kitty litter
  • Litter scoop
  • Lots of garbage bags (for the used kitty litter)
  • Feliway spray (to spray inside the carriers and in the car to reduce stress)