Welcome back, dear friends, for the final installment of my Moving Cross Country series. If you’ve read the previous posts on how to prepare for and cope with moving cross country, you already know that I moved to Los Angeles from Louisiana in 2011.
For those who are new to the series, let me give you the backstory: met boy in 2008, moved with boy to Los Angeles in August 2011, had never lived outside Louisiana, and now loving every minute here in Southern California.
This post is dedicated to my furry family members who came along for our epic ride Out West. Although it's all about moving with fur-babies, the information here could easily apply to traveling with pets, too.
Disclaimer: There were no animals harmed in the making of this post. Also, there is an affiliate link in this post. Using the link costs you nothing, but it helps support my passion project.
Moving cross country with pets can be stressful. One way to minimize stress is to plan and get prepared. Below are my best tips for moving cross country with pets. But before we begin let’s meet the aforementioned pets:
age 7 at the time
attached like glue to The Professor
age 5 at the time
always up to no good
The two knew each other quite well before our trek began. Even though The Professor and I had never lived together, they'd spent a ton of time together over the previous 3 years. So, we knew traveling in close quarters wouldn’t be a problem.
Each pet would make the trip with their respective human: the cat rode with me and the dog rode with him. Yes, that’s right. We drove 2 cars through barren lands in mid-August with 2 pets. We aren't crazy…well, maybe a little.
Granted, it wasn’t the wisest decision we ever made, but it was the only option we had on our tight budget. Neither of us were willing to sell our car (remember, "nobody walks in LA"). And we both drove small compact cars at the time, so towing wasn’t really an option. Moving without our pets wasn't an option either, and I’m sure you feel the same way. So, we packed up and headed out into the great beyond.
As with the rest of our move, we planned and prepared to make sure things went smoothly. I share these resources and tips in hopes that it helps you plan your cross country move with your furry friends.
Find a Pet-Friendly Hotel
When you're traveling with pets in-tow, it's really important to know where you'll be staying and that your pets are welcome. There is nothing more frustrating than showing up somewhere to find out that your furry friend can't come, too. Luckily we found pet-friendly hotels (with no extra pet fees!) for 3 of the 4 nights of our trek. (We stayed with friends the other night.)
Not sure where to search for pet-friendly lodging?
There's only one place I search when I'm in need of a place for me and my pets: Choice Hotels. I love that Choice Hotels offer pet-friendly accommodations across the nation. We've used Choice Hotels when traveling with our pets and sometimes even sans pets! With reasonable rates, clean rooms and national locations, Choice Hotels has a pet-friendly option sure to please you.
Bring Extra Supplies
For anyone who's ever taken a road trip, you know that having an emergency kit in your car is important. When traveling with pets it is especially important to add a few extra pet supplies to your kit. Consider adding some extra pet food, medications, trash bags, poop bags, and toys. Having something familiar in the car can help keep your pet calm, too. We used the dog's favorite pillow and the cat's stuffed bear to keep them both nice and calm.
Make sure you have plenty of extra water; you may need it for your car, yourself, your pet or for washing up. I'll never forget the surprise I got once when my cat suddenly developed the worse case of diarrhea in his carrier! Let's just say I had to immediately find water and trash bags to clean up before I could go any further.
Be sure your pet is wearing an ID tag and immunization tags, just in case your furry family member wanders astray. It's also a good idea to have your pets immunization records handy either in your car or on your phone.
You may also want to check out the Red Cross's Pet First Aid app, which "puts veterinary advice for everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand." It's never a bad idea to be prepared!
What to bring on a road trip with pets?
Check out Mother Nature Network's Complete Guide to Taking Road Trips with Your Dog! This post has it all, including a helpful checklist of what to bring. I especially love the suggestions about iPhone apps for finding Dog Parks, as well as the great guidance on selecting harnesses, seat covers and crates.
Service Your Car
Yes, I know. This is a no-brainer. It seems silly to mention it, but it's SO very important. Both our cars fully were serviced before the trip. We found that mine needed a new serpentine belt, a vital part of most engines. Imagine how terrible it would have been to find that out the hard way...in the desert...in August...with pets. Pretty darn terrible.
How to prepare your car for the trip?
Check out this list of The 7 Most Important Things to Check on Your Car Before Taking a Road Trip from Pedals and Pumps, a blog about cars by women who care about car care.
Plot Your Route
Knowing more about your route can help you better prepare for long days of driving with pets. We used rest stops for potty breaks and picnics. It was important for us to know where and when to expect rest areas, so we mapped out our route and targeted certain stops we thought may provide the shade, restrooms and water we needed.
Super awesome interactive Google map with hundreds of geo-located rest areas. Each stop has stats and specs, which can help you decide which is best for you and your crew.
This great website lists all the rest areas for each of the major US Interstate Highways. I love that each is listed with the mile marker, which can be super handy when you have limited cell service.
This fun website has tons of tools and reviews to help plot an epic route for you and your K9 companion. I love the interactive Journey Guide, a super cool map feature which shows you selected points along any route. You can also use the guide to find local pet stores, vets and dog parks!
Safety, Safety, Safety
While I'm no pet expert, I do know that it's worth reminding everyone to never leave your pets alone in the car! Sure, this can be a bit tricky when traveling alone, but knowing your fur baby is safe is worth it.
Luckily, I had a partner to help me on this trip. This helped tremendously with bathroom breaks and getting grub. I'll never forget taking turns to order Sonoran hotdogs at El Güero in Tuscon, AZ, because it was too hot to even turn the cars off!
There we stood in the parking lot woofing down delicious dogs all because of a Calexico song: Güero Cañelo. Sure, we looked silly but watching over our dog and cat came first.
When exploring solo I've taken the pup into restrooms and restaurants with me on several occasions. And I've seen plenty of other people do the same. Check out the cool sites above to find rest areas and along your route.
Don't was drive thru dinner? Remember that finding pet-friendly dining options is a cinch with sites like K9 Road Trip and Bring Fido. Just search for dog-friendly restaurants on your route and viola!
Unsure if your pet is welcome at a stop? Ask! If all else fails, remember that Fido and Kitty are always welcome in major pet stores like PetSmart...
Well, there you have it my friends! The final installment of my Moving Cross Country series. It's been a blast sharing my story with you, and I hope someone out there found the information helpful or inspirational.
Have a Moving Cross Country with Pets story of your own? I'd LOVE to hear from you. Be sure to drop a line in the comments section below.
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Thanks for all your support. It means the world to me. Until next time my friends!
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