For devoted pet owners, their pets are like their family, and during the holidays, it’s only natural to want to keep them close to you. However, traveling with a pet is not as simple as throwing a few things into a suitcase and taking off. Some pets, such as cats, can get really anxious when taken out of their home environment, so it’s crucial to plan ahead.

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of tips to traveling this holiday season with your furry (or scaly, or feather-y... you get it) friends and how to safely keep them at home. Let’s dig in!

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Make sure the place you’re staying at is pet-friendly


One of the most important rules of traveling with pets is making sure that the place you’ll be staying in accepts pets and is safe for them as well. Whether you’re staying with family, friends, or in a HomeExchange, it’s good to double check with your hosts and make sure that it’s ok to take your pet. Also ask about what sorts of animals are allowed as well as the rules of the home (are they allowed on the sofa, are their nearby neighbors who could be bothered by barking, etc.) far in advance. These discussions are a great way of making sure that everyone is on the same page.

Ask your HomeExchange guest if they are willing to look after your pet when you’re away


It’s not always feasible to bring your pet with you on vacation. However, that doesn’t have to mean that you should cancel your plans! Many HomeExchangers are more than happy to look after your pet as a thanks for hosting them. Just remember to discuss with them ahead of time to make sure that they are capable of helping out and don’t mind taking care of them.

Find a reliable pet sitter


If you’re not hosting this time around, or if you’d prefer that a professional take care of your pet, then it may be necessary to hire a pet sitter for the duration of your trip. You can either ask your fellow pet owners for their recommendations, ask a friend or neighbor to pet sit while you’re away, or you can search online for an app or service that offers pet sitting, like Rover or Care.

Make sure your pet is comfortable with their carrier or cage before travel


If you’re traveling with your dog or your cat, chances are that they’ll have to be in a carrier for long stretches of time. To make this easier for everyone and to make sure that your pet doesn’t get anxious or bored, start making the carrier a safe space for your pet ahead of time. Put their favorite toys and even a fluffy blanket in there ahead of time to make them comfortable.

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Bring toys to keep your pet entertained while on the go or at your HomeExchange


When you’re out exploring or in a long car ride, pets can get bored. And when pets get bored, they may have a tendency to be destructive. Give them toys to keep them entertained! Whether it’s a food puzzle, a new stuffie, or a fresh ball, make sure your furry friend has something enriching to do to keep them stimulated.

Remember to bring the necessary documents


If you’re visiting another country or even crossing state lines with your pet, it’s good to do research ahead of time to see what vaccines are necessary for your pet. Make sure you keep any documentation about their vaccination and health status on you in case you have to show paperwork to continue traveling with them.

Bring medication to prevent motion sickness


Whether it’s driving for long periods of time, a shaking train ride, or a flight with some turbulence, it’s always good to be prepared! With all this movement, it wouldn’t be surprising if your dog or cat gets a bit motion sick. To prevent a disgusting mess, speak with your vet ahead of time about whether or not motion sickness medication is right for your pet.

Don’t forget to spend quality time with your pet!


When traveling for the holidays, it may be easy to spend an entire day outside the house doing activities, visiting loved ones, or taking a tour of your surroundings. However, don’t forget to put aside time during the day and in the evenings to spend quality time with your pet. Whether it’s a game of fetch, fun with a laser pointer, or just relaxing and giving pets, your best friend will appreciate the attention!

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Hopefully with this list, you’re ready to set off on your holiday adventure with your little buddy in tow, or with them snuggled up safe and sound at home. However you choose to travel as a pet owner, don’t forget to enjoy the holiday season yourself!