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Navigating Travels With Your Pet During a Pandemic

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There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccine rollout is continuing across the country, and it’s projected that we’ll see a return to normalcy in a matter of months.

Until then, however, the pandemic is still here. It’s been a long year, and understandably, most people are anxious to get out and travel. Thankfully, there are ways to safely do that with a little planning ahead and necessary caution.

Road Trip

Every time you travel with your pet, it requires planning, especially if you’re taking a road trip. Spontaneity is not a luxury pet parents can afford. Instead, pet parents should think of important factors beforehand like having the right supplies, taking frequent breaks, and keeping your pet at ease. During a pandemic, you’ll have to go one step further. Ensuring everyone’s safety and understanding that some rules and restrictions are still in place will make the trip easier for you. As a result, you’ll be more comfortable, less stressed, and you can enjoy the quality time spent with your pet, no matter where you go.

Plan Ahead, Pack Ahead

The best thing you can do before you leave for a trip with your pet is to plan ahead. You’ll need to do your research on accommodations, pet-friendly things to do, and rest stops along the way. If you’re driving, it’s also a good idea to have a basic route in mind instead of solely relying on your phone or a navigation device to get you there.

Packing everything you need for yourself and your pet is also crucial. For obvious reasons, don’t forget the mask just yet! The CDC still recommends wearing a mask when traveling and utilizing public spaces.

For your pet, make sure to have some essentials from home. Their favorite toy can help keep them calm and comfortable on long stretches of the trip. They should also have access to plenty of water, and food from home to lower the risk of any digestive issues along the way. Your pet should have their own travel bag, filled with things like:

  • Toys and treats to keep them occupied
  • Leashes
  • A brush and comb
  • Towels for their paws
  • Seatbelt harness
  • Plastic bags for cleaning up their messes

You should also make sure your pet has a clean bill of health before you go. Getting them checked out at the vet is a great way to ensure they’re strong enough and healthy enough to make the trip. It’s one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on enjoying your time together.

Keep the Pandemic in Mind

Your pet doesn’t know about the current pandemic. But, if they’ve been cooped up for over a year, they’re probably just as eager to get out and explore as you are. Still, it’s important to keep them away from overly crowded places right now.

It’s a good idea to think of activities you can do with your pet that won’t involve many other people or enclosed spaces. Thankfully, most animals (especially dogs) love being outside. Consider some of the following travel activities that will keep you at a distance from others:

  • Going to a dog park
  • Playing frisbee in a park
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Visiting national monuments
  • Dining at open-air markets

Keep your pet on a leash in public places, even if they’re well-trained. Make sure they’re getting plenty of exercise daily, so they don’t have a ton of pent-up energy. They’ll be less likely to approach fellow travelers who might still be on edge about the pandemic. Some people find the presence of a pet to be comforting. Others might not be ready for any kind of interaction that could expose them to the virus and will want that six feet of distance between themselves, you, and your pet.

Make Safety a Priority – for Both of You

Safety should always be at the top of your list when you’re traveling with your pet, but especially in light of the current situation. On top of the planning you typically do for traveling with a pet, you should also plan to stay safe from COVID-19. One great way to start is by looking for places to stay like pet-friendly hotels that require social distancing and take extra cleaning measures. Even so, there are some things you won’t always be able to prepare for.

No one wants to think about getting in an accident while they’re on a trip, however, it does happen. You could be the best driver in the world and still get into a wreck – especially in states that are difficult to drive in. Make sure your pet is secure in your car with safety gear, a harness, and a barrier between the front and back seats.

You could also experience car trouble or a complete breakdown. If that happens, keeping safety in mind for both of you is crucial. Make sure your pet has reflective gear to put on if you’re stuck on the side of the road. It’s also a good idea to have the right safety supplies in your car for emergencies, including:

  • Flashlights
  • A first aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Water
  • Flares and flags

Another small but important travel safety tip is to let people know where you’re going to be. No matter your mode of transportation, give someone you trust your itinerary. If an emergency does occur, they’ll be able to find you.

As vaccines continue to roll out, we can hope this pandemic will be behind us soon. Until we’re completely in the clear, keep these tips in mind as you travel with your pet. You’ll both be able to enjoy the freedom traveling can provide while staying safe and protected.


Jori Hamilton is a writer from the pacific northwest. You can follow her on twitter @HamiltonJori and see more of her work at writerjorihamilton.contently.com.

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