Published on November 29, 2012

A pet carrier may be the best solution for car rides, but if you’re moving a pet over long distances, you’ll have to look into other options. Pet owners relocating should first consider whether their dog or cat will be moved by land or air.

Tips for Driving with Pets

If the entire family is moving by car, you may bring Fido or Fluffy along for the ride, whether it's a trip across the state or across the country.

If you're driving a long distance with pets, make sure to get a pet carrier large enough that your dog or cat can stand up, lie down and turn around comfortably. The bottom should be lined with layers of absorbent material. Carry your pet, inside the carrier, within the vehicle, not in the trunk or cargo area. (The exception would be an SUV, where you can access the cargo space from inside the vehicle.) If you're not keeping your dog or cat in a carrier for the trip, make sure to lock all windows so your pet can't jump out of the moving vehicle. To prepare, take your pet on shorter trips to get him accustomed to the car before your move. If your pet is prone to motion sickness, talk to your vet about medication.

Plan on frequent stops when you're traveling with a dog or cat. Make sure your pet has a collar with a tag bearing your name and cell phone number in case he's lost in a rest area. Indoor cats may be reluctant to relieve themselves outside. Consider carrying a small tray and bag of kitty litter that you can fill and empty at the rest stop. Before you stop, make sure the rest area permits pets and find out whether or not dogs must be kept on a leash.

If you're planning an overnight stay en route, don't leave it to chance; make a hotel reservation in advance at an establishment that permits pets.

Tips for Flying with Pets

Flying with pets adds a host of additional costs and considerations. It's definitely cheaper to drive with a pet; you use the same amount of gas whether your dog or cat is with you or not. However, the hassles of driving long distance with a pet may outweigh the cost of a plane ticket. You can choose to drive and book a flight for your pet, or bring your pet on the plane with you.

Some airlines allow smaller pets in the cabin; cats and small dogs can fly with you if they fit in a carrier that slides under your seat. Other pets will fly in the cargo area of the plane. All carriers must be USDA (Department of Agriculture) and TSA-approved for flight.

As with moving by car, make sure your pet has a collar and ID tag. The carrier should not be locked, as airplane staff needs to have access to your pet.

Before You Move

Whether you fly or drive, find out what paperwork and licensing your pet will need in your new location. Some places may require:

  • Dog licenses
  • Proof of rabies shots (for dogs and cats)
  • Health certificates less than 10 days old, with inoculation records

Wherever we go, our furry friends go, too. Owning pets is shown to reduce stress, making them the perfect moving partners. Moving with pets is not easy, but it's worth it.

My Move logoToday's post is courtesy of, the resource for stress-free moving, which offers free checklists, reminders, tools, inside tips and deals to the 40 million people who move each year in the U.S. Visit today for help with your move.