Driving with pets can be wonderful. For a smooth trip, it’s best to be prepared for the experience. Otherwise, you might find your pets bouncing all over the vehicle and creating dangerous distractions while you’re driving. Here are three tips to have a safe, enjoyable trip while traveling with pets.

1. Make a checklist before traveling with pets

3 ways to pack smart while traveling with pets

A dog rides in a car | Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

A checklist is a great thing to have when you’re getting ready for a road trip.

Erie Insurance suggests starting your checklist about a month ahead so you can add to it when you think of new things. Just before you’re ready to go, it’s helpful to make a new checklist with everything sorted into categories (outfits and footwear, toiletries, medicines and healthcare products, etc.) That way, you’re less likely to forget something important.

Creating a packing checklist for your pets will ensure you haven’t forgotten their essentials once you’re on the road, either. You’ll need to include any medications your pets take. Having a prescription for refills (or at least your vet’s contact information) is a good idea in case something unexpected happens. Take a copy of your pets’ medical records and their insurance information.

Your pets will also appreciate their regular food and water plus collapsible dishes. Strange food or water can sometimes upset a pet’s sensitive stomach or discourage them from drinking enough to stay hydrated. Also, pack plenty of treats, a few favorite toys, a pet first-aid kit, comfy beds, and grooming essentials like nail clippers. Extra collars and leashes are also handy to have.

2. Make room for your pets in your vehicle

Sometimes it’s tempting to fill your car to the brim for a road trip. Don’t! Obstructing what you can see with your rearview mirror is dangerous. Plus, it puts your pets in danger if they try to navigate their way through all your gear, especially when the vehicle is moving.

A less crowded vehicle will reduce everyone’s stress levels, including your pet’s, and allow for a more enjoyable trip. Besides, do you really want to unload half the car when your pets are looking at you with hungry eyes and you realize their food is buried under a pile of baggage?

If you must take everything on your overstuffed checklist, consider investing in a cargo carrier that fits on your roof or hitch. A cargo carrier will hold the extras while keeping you and your pets safer and more comfortable during the ride.

3. Consider safety when traveling with pets

Like small children, pets are safer in the backseat than in the front. In case of an accident, a deploying airbag can seriously injure or kill a large dog. Smaller pets are even more at risk. So safely restrain your pets while traveling. Use a pet carrier secured with the seat belt or a special crash-tested pet safety harness buckled in place.

Your pets should be microchipped (and their contact information updated), and their collars or harnesses should contain ID tags. Carry photos of your pets if they go missing and someone else tries to claim them. Clear pictures of your pets are also essential for leaving with shelters or making posters.

Last, never leave your pets alone in a vehicle. Even if you leave the air conditioning running or the windows cracked, too many things can go wrong.

Now, get out there and make great memories of all the fun you’ll have while traveling with your pets.

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