Harper Jefcoat
Harper Jefcoat

Traveling with Dogs Safely: Cars, Planes, Train, and Ship

Read Time

11 min read

traveling with dogs

On This Page

  • Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Car
  • Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Planes
  • Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Ship
  • Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Train

Who doesn’t like traveling with dogs, when going on a vacation? They make your trip more fun and memorable as they are your furry family members that are both funny and adorable. However, you must plan the journey beforehand to make it safe for you and your pet.

Traveling with your animals can be a bit complicated and stressful, which almost defeats the whole purpose of having an ESA in the first place. It is your responsibility as an ESA owner to make sure that your animal is safe and taken care of.

With that in mind, here are some practical tips that will keep both you and your emotional support animal, safe, calm, and stress-free during the entire journey.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Car

Traveling with dogs in a car long distance can be challenging. Especially with those pets who cannot sit still even for a minute. While taking pets or supporting animals with you, make sure to take all precautions and make your travel safe.

Here’s how you can ensure a smoother journey with your pet:

Be Aware of the Pros and Cons of Flying

Before you decide to travel with your precious dog or ESA, think whether this trip is absolutely necessary or not. Experts recommend not flying with pets or ESAs unless it is the only option left.

For example, you will have to fly with your pet if you are moving cities or leaving the house for more than 4 weeks. Flying or even long road trips can be stressful for some animals and especially if it is their first time.

Your furry friend will be exposed to a lot of noise, car horns and bright lights. A new experience can make them confused or even scared. If you are only leaving the house for a few days, ask a family or a friend if they can take care of your pet for you.

Plan Ahead of Time

Planning is a key to success and this could not be truer than when you are traveling with your animal. Plan everything and make a list of the things that you will need during the trip. Pack a separate bag for yourself and your dog or cat, whatever you are traveling with, and make sure that you have ample food and water for the animal.

Use the Backseat

It’s not just a convenient place for you to carry groceries or for you to store last week’s gym clothes. The fact is that any pet is safer in the rear seat of your vehicle, if you are traveling with dogs.

That’s where your dog is less likely to be injured by sudden stops or evasive maneuvers you may be forced to make. Traveling with service dogs or emotional support dogs, you need to take both to a vet before putting them in your car.

And, in the worst-case scenario of a fender-bender or crash that deploys your car’s airbags, your dog won’t be injured by the violent impact. Take care of the small cats though. It will not be a good option to put them in the rear seats as well.

The less your pet moves around (jumping back and forth from the seat in front to the back seat is a serious no-no) inside your vehicle, the safer for all concerned.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

If you’re driving into unfamiliar territory, you need to have a contingency plan in case your emotional support animal or pet dog becomes suddenly ill or injured.

You should know where the nearest veterinary or emergency pet clinic is on your route. When your ESA dog is vomiting blood in the backseat, that is not the time to figure out what to do or where to go next.

Traveling to a new city or country with your dog can be difficult, especially if it is your first time. Thanks to the latest technology, we now have access to many pet-friendly apps that will make you feel safe. Some of these apps help you locate the nearest vet in case your precious friend needs immediate medical attention.

Similarly, with these apps you can also locate the nearest hotels and other attractions to travel with your dog.

If you stop in unfamiliar territory so Coco can relieve himself --- what if he gets bitten by a snake in those bushes? Emergencies happen and you must know where to go for help.

Ensure Health and Safety Checks

You should get your dog to the vet before going on a trip. Make sure that all of their vaccinations, especially the rabies shots, are up-to-date. If you are going on an airplane, then you need to show that they have been checked by a vet and certified for traveling. Some dogs will not like traveling because it is new and scary, so make sure your dog is mentally healthy too!

Don’t Leave your Dog on The Driver’s Seat

Not only is it extremely distracting and dangerous for you to allow your pet to sit in your lap when you’re behind the wheel, but it’s also illegal in all jurisdictions. The best vehicle for traveling with dogs is a car as you can put the ESA in a carrier and secure it with a seatbelt.

There are enough distractions with your pet inside the vehicle. They could be trying to control your direction of travel, or choose to become an unpredictable over-reactive animal between you and the steering wheel.

Usually now, in the center of most of the steering wheels, there is a powerful, explosive force just waiting to blast right into your face - your airbag. Look for the best rv for traveling with dogs to ensure the safety of your furry friend.

Imagine what would happen to your pet if it suddenly deployed while he’s sitting in your lap. A serious injury would be the least of it because airbags can deliver deadly force in an instant.

Use Well-Designed Pet Carrier

A wide range of safety gear is now available for the protection of pets traveling in vehicles. A crate or a pet carrier is a safe way to travel with dogs and cats as it keeps them from roaming around in the car. These carriers are also a requirement of some airlines when traveling with dogs on planes.

Even if you can’t have the best vehicles for traveling with dogs, you can always buy the best crates for traveling with dogs. When purchasing a pet carrier, make sure that it has the following features:

  • It should be a dog-friendly cabin having enough room for your pet to lie down, stand, and sit easily.
  • Should come with strong handles.
  • Free of any interior protrusions.
  • It must be leak-proof.
  • Ventilation on opposite sides.
  • Label your name, address, cell phone number.

Buy Safe and Easy to Wear Seat Belts

Another pet-friendly gear is a seat belt. These pet seat belts come in a variety of mechanisms and styles, depending on the size and species of the emotional support animal to be restrained.

These devices are quite effective at allowing your pet a modicum of movement while keeping them in a place where they belong. The first time you use one on your pet, make it a short trip for about 30 minutes.

Ensure that the size of the seat belt is appropriate. For instance, a small dog may need a belt of a different size than a large dog. Extend the length of trips with the device until your pet understands that this is the new normal.

Keep the Travel Short

Don’t expect your pet to have the bladder strength of an adult human. Traveling with your ESA or service animals is akin to traveling with young children in the car.

Frequent rest stops, bathroom breaks, leg stretches, and plenty of snacks along the way make any journey more tolerable for all concerned. That means you should always have a pet bowl, leashes, bedding, poop bags/scoopers, water, food, and treats along for those longer rides. When traveling with dogs, hotels should be decided beforehand. Not every hotel allows pets, and it will be a hassle for both of you to keep searching for a hotel in a new city.

Cost of Flying with your Pet, ESA or Service Dog

It will cost you over $100 to fly with your pet. The fee is deposited earlier so that your dog can fly in a cabin, and the fee varies depending on the airline. Your dog will be weighed along with the weight of the crate to decide the payable amount.

Use Appropriate Tools for their Identification

Be sure to have collars with ID tags/licenses and emotional support dog vest on each of your traveling pets. More than one dog has been known to suddenly take off to explore a new neighborhood, leaving its owner standing there with a broken leash. Or, it is better if you use a dog travel crate to control and manage your canine friend.

Be Ready to Deal with the Weather

On longer trips, you may stop to enjoy the tourist sights, dine at a restaurant, or go shopping. At those times, leaving your pet unattended in your vehicle is not an option.

Even on a mild, 72 Degrees Fahrenheit day, the temperature inside your car can climb by thirty deadly degrees in mere minutes. So, don’t forget to take your pet along when you make a stop.

Another often-overlooked reason for never leaving your pet unattended in your vehicle. They have a curious habit of finding the door lock buttons and locking their owners out of the car.

Pet-Proof the Car Before Driving Off

Those power window switches in the back seat? Lots of fun to play with, particularly if your pet’s paws are small enough to activate them and lower the window.

Use the door lock mechanism, or you might find your pal jumping out the rear window at the slightest temptation. While you’re rolling down the highway, avoid the temptation to allow your pet to hang its head out of the car window.

Yes, Coco might like the sensation of the wind flapping his ears, but there are insects and random pebbles flying around during high-speed travel that can seriously injure your pet. Moreover, any sudden stop could be deadly to animals who have their heads out of the window.

Going on road trips with pets can be fun and emotionally fulfilling. But make sure that your next ride is a safe one for everyone, and be sure you’re traveling with a legitimate, legally-enforceable ESA Letter.

If you need a legitimate emotional support animal letter, contact RealESALetter.com and the licensed mental health professionals will write an ESA letter so your pet can accompany you everywhere you go.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Planes

“How do you travel with a dog on a plane?”

Are you booking a flight for you and your four-legged pal and worried about how to make traveling with dogs internationally possible? Wondering if you can bring dogs on planes or will they be sent through a cargo hold only?

Because of the high numbers of fake ESA letters, the Air Carrier Access Act has stopped the entry of emotional support animals on airplanes. Even the best airlines for traveling with dogs or other ESA have changed their policies.

However, if you have a valid ESA letter you can request the airline to let you carry your ESA with you. It depends on the airline whether they allow you or not, and you will also be charged for it. There are certain rules and regulations that airlines in the United States have if you are allowed to take your emotional support animal with you on an airplane:

  • Choose the best airlines for traveling with dogs. When flying with a dog, check for the airline’s requirements as they differ for each of them.
  • You will need to submit health certifications to the airlines before your airplane flights. So, visit the veterinarian at least two weeks before you travel.
  • Also, check with a veterinarian if your pet is in the state to fly, especially if the trip is longer. Make sure that the flight’s temperature is right for your furry friend.
  • Some airlines only allow soft-sided pet carriers, so make sure that you get the right carrier to avoid any hassles at the time of the flight. Especially if you are flying with a large dog, make sure that the airline is able to provide suitable accommodation for it.
  • Since there are restrictions on the number of animals on each flight, it is better to make reservations earlier.
  • When traveling with an ESA, make sure that you have a valid ESA letter. To be on the safe side, make copies of your ESA or dog’s important documents. As airlines are only required to provide free transportation to ESAs with a valid letter. It will also make it easier to find a hotel room where you and your ESA can stay.

Wisely Choose your Airline

The airline you choose to travel with your dog matters a lot. Make sure that there are not a lot of layovers as it will make your dog uncomfortable and the poor animal might get tired. Traveling with your dog in a cargo hold means that you have to be careful about the weather at your destination.

Instead of directly taking your dog to the airport, call the airline to confirm whether they have the space to take a dog in cargo. This will save your time and also put no hassle on your furry friend.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Ship

Besides cars and planes, some ships and cruises also allow pets and emotional support animals on their deck. Some cruises allow them into the cabins while others have special kennel facilities for your beloved canines.

But before taking your dog on the cruise line, make sure that you know about their policies and if they allow animals into their premises.

In the case of the kennel facilities, make sure that you have checked it thoroughly and it is safe from all kinds of harmful elements. If you have any queries, it is better that you ask them before going on board.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs by Train

Dogs and other animals are usually not allowed on trains but the Pets on Trains Act, Amtrak allows the passengers to bring their animals with them. Other than this, other railroad services may also allow ESAs and pets to accompany their owners.

When traveling by train, make sure that you have kept your dog comfortable and have a good stock of food and water for him. Moreover, keeping your dog safe and looking after its exercise at station stops is your responsibility.

Traveling with your dog is a great and cherishing experience, no matter which mode of travel you use, but to make it worthwhile, you must make proper arrangements. Make sure that you are well-prepared and have everything ready to ensure a smooth ride with your buddy and have a safe flight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it stressful to travel with dogs?

FAQ Icon

No, it isn't stressful to travel with dogs if you ensure appropriate traveling measures. You should keep them well-fed and carry them in a comfortable dog carrier. Also, ensure that your traveling vehicle is well-equipped to carry a dog carrier. Or, if you are traveling by air, then you should have permission from the airlines to bring the dog along.

How stressful is flying for dogs?

FAQ Icon

Experts say that flying is too stressful for dogs. Dogs get frightened when they are put in the cargo inside an airplane. It is therefore advised to not let dogs travel unless it is necessary.

What documents do I need to fly with my dog?

FAQ Icon

The documents you need to travel with a dog are the emotional support animal letter and the pet’s health and vaccination certificates. Other than these, some airlines or states may require you to bring other documents along, so you should contact them and ask if there are other papers required.

How can I travel with my dog legally?

FAQ Icon

You can travel with your dog legally by carrying a valid ESA letter, your dog’s vaccinations cards and other additional documents required by the airline.

Is it bad to travel with a dog?

FAQ Icon

No, it isn’t bad to travel with a dog. In fact, if you travel with your dog you wouldn’t have to stress about them being left behind. Moreover, your trip could become more enjoyable with the company of your fluffy friend.

Do dogs travel well in cars?

FAQ Icon

Yes, dogs travel well in cars. Just make sure that your car is pet-proof. Moreover, you should have a good dog carrier or dog car seat fitted in the back seat of your car. Or, you can also use dog car seat belts to make sure your dog is safe in the car.

Harper Jefcoat


Harper Jefcoat

Harper Jefcoat is a dedicated pet enthusiast and esteemed author at RealESALetter.com. With a profound passion for animals, Harper combines extensive knowledge and personal experience to provide insightful and informative content. Specializing in canine behavior and wellness, he strives to empower pet owners with the tools and understanding they need to nurture and care for their furry friends effectively. Harper’s writings reflect his commitment to enhancing the lives of pets and their owners, making him a trusted voice in the pet community.

legally complaint


Apply Now

Share this Article