1. Make sure your pet is tagged and microchipped - If you're flying and your pet is traveling in cargo, this is imperative. Even if you are personally carrying or driving your pet somewhere, there is a chance of them escaping somehow. There is no better way to make sure your pet will get back to you if lost, then to have an identification tag AND a microchip. One does not replace the other. If your pet has lost his or her collar and is turned in to a vet or shelter, they will automatically scan for a microchip. Make sure that the information connected to the chip is up-to-date.
2. Always carry plenty of fresh water and a bowl or collapsible container - Pets can be very prone to dehydration, especially when stressed. The best way to ensure their well-being is to always have enough fresh water handy. If you're going on long, outdoor treks...a little water pack for your pooch may be in order.
3. Food - Sure this sounds really obvious, but if your pet is on any kind of special diet or you don't think the food he or she eats is going to be readily available during your travels, pack enough food to last the trip. Changing a pet's diet abruptly can cause digestive stress and make your pet (and you) miserable.
4. Rescue Remedy can aid in stressful situations - If your dog or cat is anxious, a few drops of Rescue Remedy (available at many online retailers and health food stores) in their water can really ease the stress. It works for people, too!
5. The comforts of home - Like a child, your pet feels safest in familiar surroundings. You can help your pet adjust to new surroundings by bringing along its bed or a favorite blanket. At the very least, a toy it really enjoys can help things not feel so alien to them.
6. Don't take your pet with you, just to keep him or her locked up - I've had some very stubborn friends who, for their own comfort, bring their pets everywhere. Some vacations are not pet-friendly and if your dog or cat is going to be excluded from much of the action, or locked away in a separate room or outside because your hosts aren't really animal people, then it's time to re-think what's best for your furry friend. A petsitter at home or even a kennel would be preferable to them being near you, but not being able to spend time with you. It can lead to destructive behavior, which will make things ten times more stressful for everyone.
7. Always keep your pet in a carrier or other restraint while driving - Okay, this may not be totally fun, but there's a reason. Just like seat belts for adults and child safety seats for babies, you need to keep your pets safe in the event of an accident. If Fido or Fluffy are sitting on your lap and you're rear-ended or have to stop abruptly, they can be propelled into the dashboard or windshield and become badly injured. They will be safer in a carrier or crate.
8. Medications - If your pet is on any type of supplement or medication, bring more than enough with you to last the duration of the trip. Just as with people, you don't want to run out and risk any side effects or complications. Plus, it will be a lot harder to refill a pet prescription from afar than it is for a person.
9. Keep copies of important documents handy - Vaccination records, health clearance, dog license...it's a good idea to keep copies of these in a place you can easily access them. If you don't want to carry extra paper around, Google docs or Evernote are great online tools. I do the same for myself when I travel...a scan of my passport, plane tickets, etc. Hopefully you'll never need any of it, but you're ready if you do.
10. Lastly, never leave your pet unattended in the car - This probably goes without saying, but I would be remiss if I didn't strongly underline this one. Cars get hot and we often have no idea how hot. Even with the windows cracked. For example, on a 70 degree day the inside of a car can reach up to 117 degrees fahrenheit. Just don't do it, even for a couple of minutes.
Please post any additional tips and suggestions you may have to share with the rest of the Re-Nest community in the comments below!