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Moving Cross Country with Pets? Get Prepared with These Tips

So, you're moving cross country with pets and have no idea how to get prepared? Luckily, I've been there before, and as part of my Moving Cross Country series, I've dedicated an entire post to providing you with the best tips for bringing your furry friends on the road for your big move.

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. But for those who are new to the series, allow me to catch you up: girl met boy in Louisiana in 2008, boy got new job in California, moved with boy to Los Angeles in August 2011.

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.






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Meet Lois and Rasta

Our pup, Lois, and kitty, Rasta, are big part of our family. So, there was no question that both of them would be moving to California with us.

Bringing our girls with us on the road meant that we had to take extra precautions. We were extra careful about preparing our cars and getting our gear in order. After all, the girls deserved to be as comfortable as could be on our 4 day journey.

As with the rest of our move, we planned and prepared to make sure things went smoothly. These are the resources and tips we used to make our cross country move with pets pain-free.

Moving Cross Country with Pets


age 7 at the time


retriever mix

anxious disposition

attached like glue to The Professor

Moving Cross Country with Pets


age 5 at the time



feisty disposition

always up to no good

Moving cross country with pets can be stressful. We learned a lot when we moved cross country. And Lois and Rasta want to help make sure your furry friend is as comfortable as they were on the road. One of the best ways to minimize the stress of moving is to plan and get prepared. Below are our best tips for moving cross country with pets.

Find a Pet-Friendly Hotel

When you're traveling with pets in-tow, it's really important to know where you'll be staying. There's nothing more frustrating than showing up somewhere to find out that your furry friend isn't welcome. Luckily, we found pet-friendly hotels (with no extra pet fees!) for each of the 4 nights we were on the road.

Not sure where to search for pet-friendly lodging? Choice Hotels has the largest collection of pet-friendly hotels in the US. With over 11 pet-friendly hotel brands and 2,500 properties to choose from, you're sure to find something to suit your needs and budget. With reasonable rates, clean rooms, and national locations, Choice Hotels has a pet-friendly option sure to please you.

Plot Your Route

Knowing more about your route can help you better prepare for long days of driving with pets. It's important to know where and when to expect stops, so mapping out your route can help avoid crises.

I'm a firm believer in plotting your route before you set off; knowing where and when you will stop can help you feel more comfortable and in control. Plan your stops during daylight hours and peak traffic times to avoid being solo at a rest stop.

For mapping, nothing beats Google Maps. I love the My Maps feature, which allows you to build a map, plot points of interest, and create driving directions. Best of all, the free iPhone app is completely integrated, so you can use your map on the go.

Be prepared

Any good pet owner knows that being prepared can help prevent pet-related crises. So, it's safe to say that taking your pets on the road requires some preparation. But there's more to preparing for a cross country road trip with pets than putting some water and food in the car.

Before you ever set foot out the door, make sure you have your pets medical/vaccination records. You never know when you might need those. Be sure to get a good supply of your pet's medications; it may be a while before you establish care with a new vet once you arrive in your new city.

You and your pet deserve a stress-free ride. Use these products to make your life a little easier!


Collapsible Bowl

travel water bottle

disposable, pre-filled litter pans

first-aid kit

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. Thank goodness we did because we found out 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! Ugh!

So, how do you 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.

Make Them Comfortable

Your furry friend deserves to be comfortable on this epic journey. Remember, he or she will already be anxious, so extra comforts may go a long way to calm your pup or kitty down and make the ride more enjoyable.

There are a few things that you can do to make sure your furry friend has a great ride. Check out these suggestions for a smoother ride when moving cross country with pets.

calming collars

thunder shirt

soft crate

Calming Spray

booster seat

seat protector

Where to Eat

Unless you're packing a road trip kit, you're going to need to know where to stop for provisions. Sure, drive-thru is always an option, but using meal time as a opportunity to stretch everyone's legs is a much better use of your time and will keep everyone happy.

When exploring solo in California, I've taken the pup into restrooms and restaurants with me on several occasions. Cali has much more relaxed rules about pets, but that's not necessarily the same in other states. Remember to ask if pets are welcome before bringing Fido in with you.

Bring Fido is a fun, interactive website with tons of tools and reviews to help plot an epic route for you and your furry friend. Use Bring Fido to find everything from pet friendly hotels, restaurants, and shops. Plus, Bring Fido has an extensive list of pet shops, daycares, parks, and more.

Play it Safe

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 my cross country trip. This helped tremendously with bathroom breaks and meals. I'll never forget taking turns ordering Sonoran hotdogs at El Güero in Tuscon, AZ, because it was too hot to even turn the cars off! There we stood in blazing heat woofing down delicious dogs. Sure, we looked silly, but watching over our dog and cat came first.

There are a few other tips for keeping your furry friend safe, especially if you allow them to roam free in the car. Consider getting a backseat barrier to keep your pet safely in the back seat. Harnesses and seat belt tethers will allow your furry friend to move around in the car but keep them safe in the event of a car crash.

back seat barrier

seat belt tether


Potty Breaks

Finding safe, pet-friendly spots for potty breaks is one of the most important parts of moving cross country with pets. Sure, Fido can use the small patch of grass at the gas station as a bathroom, but, chances are, your pup needs more exercise and green space than that.

Most rest stops are pup-friendly, but they can be sketchy, especially for solo female travelers. The last thing you need is to feel unsafe at some random rest stop. Both you and your pup deserve to feel comfortable when relieving yourself. Use these two tools to help you plan the best places to rest stops on your route.

US Rest Areas is an 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.

Interstate Rest Areas is another 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.

Pro Tip: If all else fails, remember that furry friends are always welcome in major pet stores like PetSmart. Use this link to find a PetSmart location on your route.

Need more moving tips?

This post is one of three in my Moving Cross Country series. Check out the other posts in the series for tips on preparing to move and coping with moving cross country.

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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  • Reply
    January 1, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Great useable tips for traveling with your dog (and kitty)! I enjoyed reading this, and seeing how much you clearly love your critters!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Awe thanks so much MattieDog! I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

  • Reply
    January 1, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    This is actually amazing information! I’m moving soon and will have a 20 hour drive with my adorable puppy, he gets car sick and hates cars. But honestly, I think I just need to make him comfortable & make sure we have what we need for him. Thank you!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Carsick animals is tough. My old cat used to get carsick easily. It’s worth going to the vet to ask for advice before investing in over the counter remedies. If they are comfortable it helps you focus on what’s most important: getting there safely! Good luck!!! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Reply
    Iesha Lynn
    September 17, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    I’m making the move from NY to FL and I really didn’t know where to start to look after my baby girl, Ninja. How did you deal with Rasta needing to relieve herself?

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