For some pets, there’s nothing more exciting than a breeze in their ears and exotic places to smell — but is a trip on the road or the rails right for your canine or feline co-pilot? We have some ways to find out!

pack your pet's bags if he:

  • Is outgoing and confident.
  • Enjoys riding in cars or in his carrier.
  • Loves meeting new friends (both two- and four-legged).

consider a stay-cation for your pet if:

  • Your dog or cat prefers his daily routine.
  • Cars make him claustrophobic or car sick.
  • Your pup weighs more than 20 lbs. Public transportation like buses and trains often have size restrictions.

Is your four-legged fur buddy ready to bark on the parkway? A recent survey by Petplan revealed that the majority of pet parents prefer to bring pets along for the ride, and traveling with a dog in a car is the most popular way to get from Point A to Point B.


Chew on this statistic: More than half of the respondents said they’d rather travel with their pet than their two-legged partner! That means that 53% prefer their dog or cat as a traveling companion over their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe it’s because Fido and Fluffy never hog the radio dial?

Percentage of ideal travel companion for pet parents

Percentage of pet parents bringing their pets on vacation:

before you embark: visit the vet

Traveling for more than a few days? Your vet should be your first stop before you hit the road. Here’s a don’t-forget checklist for your pre-trip visit:

  • Ask for a copy of your pet’s health records to take with you.
  • Make sure your pet is up to date on all heartworm prevention and vaccines (ask if there are any your vet recommends specific to where you’re going).
  • Have a microchip implanted if he doesn’t already have one in case your four-legged adventurer strays along the way.
  • Stock up on your pet’s prescription meds. It’s always best to have extra!
  • Make sure it’s safe for dogs and cats with chronic health issues to leave home — your vet may have extra instructions.

Now that you’re all set at the vet, it’s time to finish prepping for your pet’s trip:

  • Tag, You’re It! Get an ID tag made with your cell number or the number where you’ll be staying — so important if your furry friend wanders off!
  • Vet the (Local) Vets: For added peace of mind, research vets and emergency clinics in the area where you’ll be staying. Need help? Try Petplan’s Vet Finder tool!
  • Stock Up: Bring a few additional days’ worth of your pet’s food and medication. What if you’re having too much fun to leave?
  • Prep Your Pet First Aid Kit: Top items to have on hand include...
    • Non-stick pet bandages
    • Medicine dropper
    • Antibiotic wash, wipes or ointment
    • Digital thermometer
    • Hydrogen peroxide
  • For a full list, download our pet first aid kit checklist.

harness the hound: seat belts + harnesses

Driving with dogs and cats can be hazardous if you aren’t careful: unsecured pets can leap into the driver’s lap, obscure their vision or cause other distractions, putting you and others on the road in danger. In the unfortunate case of an accident, an unsecured pet could face similar injuries to two-legged passengers, including hitting seat backs or the windshield.

Thanks to great innovations in pet safety technology, you have several options to keep your furry friend safe and secure in your car:

Vest

Straps around your dog’s belly, providing more stability than a strap-based harness; the car seat belt goes through loops on the back.

  • good for: Any sized dog, especially those likely to spook during car rides.
  • average price: $20 – $90
  • check out: ClickIt by Sleepypod, $89.99. Named 2013 Best Performing Safety Harness by the Center for Pet Safety, it attaches to the car at three points to keep your beloved barker extra-safe.

Harness

Similar to a leash harness; the car safety belt goes through the back.

  • good for: Dogs who like the freedom to move around while staying safe!
  • average price: $10 – $30
  • check out: ASPCA Car Harness, $24.99. Also doubles as a walking harness, so you get more bark for your buck.

Booster Seat

Like a toddler booster seat, but with straps to restrain your pup.

  • good for: Smaller dogs who want to see out the window.
  • average price: $45 – $125
  • check out: The Snoozer Lookout Dog Car Seat, $64.95. Lined with snuggly faux  lamb’s wool, it includes a pocket to string the seat belt through, as well as an option to connect to a safety harness.

Carrier

Hard- or soft-sided, make sure you can secure it with the car’s safety belt.

  • good for: Feline friends and small dogs who may prefer the security a carrier provides.
  • average price: $15 – $80
  • check out: Bergen Comfort Carrier, $29.99 has room for pets up to 22 lbs. and comes with a padded shoulder strap for comfortable in-transit carrying.

pets on public transportation

When the time comes to take a trip, some pet parents prefer to choose public modes of transportation. However, whereas the family four-door may always have room for Fido and Fluffy, pet parents face certain restrictions when they seek to board a bus or train with their furry friend.

riding the rails

What’s cuter than a panting pup in a conductor’s hat? One that’s actually allowed on the train! While pet-friendly national train travel in the U.S. is mostly restricted to service animals, Amtrak has a new pilot program in Illinois that’s geared toward getting canine comrades all-aboard. Here’s how it works:

  • Small dogs (and cats!) in carriers can now board certain trains along the Carl Sandburg, Illinois Zephyr, Illini and Saluki lines.
  • Pets must be kept in carriers that can fit under seats.
  • The weight of pet + carrier must be no more than 20 lbs.
  • Only one pet per passenger – leave the litter at home!
  • Pet reservations must be made in advance, with only four pets per train (lest the trip go to the dogs).
  • One car per train will be designated as the official "pet-friendly car." Riding in other cars or bringing Fido to the dining car is prohibited.

Learn more about Amtrak’s Pet Pilot Program here. On the European rail system, most small dogs can travel with you for a small fee — or even for free.

pets on the bus/subway

What about hopping on a bus with your feline or canine companion in tow? Unfortunately, only service animals are allowed on national bus lines including Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt and Megabus. The good news? Some regional bus lines will still let your favorite cuddle-buddy on board (see more below).

If you’re visiting a major metropolitan area, you may want to know if your dog can ride the local bus or subway when you arrive. Pet policies vary from region to region and most will require you to pay an extra fare for your fluffy friend — but fortunately, many regional transit authorities are now Fido-friendly.

  • Boston

    Small dogs in carriers can ride the T Subway System, Bus System and Commuter Rail during rush hour. Off-peak, larger leashed dogs are OK.

  • NYC

    Your small, well-behaved dog or cat is welcome in a bag or crate on the MTA subway, bus and commuter rail system. Woof!

  • Atlanta

    As long as your pet’s in a crate or carrier you can stow on your lap, he can ride with the Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority.

  • Orlando

    Contained within a closed carrier that fits on your lap, your pet is allowed on public buses in Mickey’s town.

  • Chicago

    Pets riding with the Chicago Transit Authority must be in a carrier and can’t take up their own seat.

  • San Francisco

    The MUNI allows dogs of all sizes on its trolleys, rail cars and cable cars during off-peak hours. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., dogs must stay muzzled, leashed and under your seat or in your lap.

  • Denver

    Small dogs in rigid carriers can ride the buses and light rail in the Mile High City.

  • Seattle

    On Seattle buses, Fido’s ride is up to the driver. If your dog’s deemed unruly, smelly or likely to clash with other dogs already on the bus, he may not be allowed.

motion commotion

Car sickness in dogs and cats is common, whether they’re traveling by car, bus or train — especially if they’re not frequent travelers. Pets experiencing motion sickness may show any of these signs:

  • excessive drooling
  • whining or meowing
  • yawning
  • vomiting
  • dry heaves
  • restlessness
  • defecating

a puppy problem: In canine companions, car sickness generally affects younger pups because their inner ears aren’t fully developed. Try to avoid road travel at this time; if you need to take Fido with you, talk to your vet about motion sickness medications or slowly introduce him to car rides.

calming kitty: In feline friends, motion sickness is often a result of anxiety and stress associated with travel. Begin by getting your cat comfortable with her carrier — put soft bedding and special toys inside and leave it open near one of your cat’s favorite nap spots. When she’s used to the carrier, follow the steps below to acclimate her to the car.

acclimating your pet to the car

  • Prepare your dog for future car travel by playing near, then in the car.
  • Make your first trips short, even just around the block. Offer treats and praise for good behavior.
  • For a slightly longer trip, bring your dog somewhere fun, like a park or pet store.
  • Use a pet harness to keep your dog facing forward or put him in a carrier to help him feel secure.
  • Roll down windows a few inches to keep pressure equalized.
  • Keep the car cool. Heat and humidity can trigger nausea.
  • Wait at least two hours after mealtimes to travel, so food is fully digested.
  • If all else fails, your vet can recommend motion sickness medication or herbs such as lavender, chamomile or dog- or cat-specific pheromones (DAP or Feliway® are good) to relieve stress.

the five-star pet hotel guide

Why bar your furry friend from the luxe life when many hotels roll out the red carpet for Bowser and Bella? With so many pet-friendly options available, the question often isn’t whether you should bring your pet, but which hotel to choose!

To search by route:

For detailed hotel information by city, along with pet info and restrictions:

To find pet-friendly rooms available by city:

For pet-friendly accommodations and local activities: