No pet owner likes to leave their beloved member of the family at home when traveling over a holiday. With a little pre-planning, a road trip with your cat or dog won't turn into a stressed-out disaster for either one of you.

Holiday road trip comfort and pet safety

Always “test-drive” your pet before embarking on a long road trip to test their tolerance level. If your vehicle is equipped with a pet barrier, be sure to use it. You don't want your animal roaming around the inside of the car and possibly causing an accident.

While not all dogs need to be confined to an appropriately sized travel crate, all cats do. Pet safety is one consideration, but it's also a fact that cats are less stressed when they feel protected inside a carrier.

Bring along your dog's bed for added comfort. Your cat will be satisfied with a piece of soft clothing that you've worn lately and has your scent placed inside the crate.

Keep your pet occupied during the road trip

Pack their favorite toys and a few snacks. A quality chew toy will keep most dogs occupied for a long time. Along with old favorites, buy a new toy for added interest.

Cats that don't really like to travel in cars can be harder to keep occupied. If they like catnip, make sure they have a fresh catnip toy. For cats that really do hate to ride in cars and tell you so by crying for hours at a time, speak with your vet about using an herbal calming tincture that will safely calm them and promote sleep.

Make regular road trip rest stops

Your pet needs breaks on a long holiday road trip just as you do. To prevent any "accidents" inside your car, try to stop at least every two hours. Inside cats can be placed on a familiar harness and leash (train your cat before you leave home) to use the portable litter box you brought along.

Have your dog’s leash handy at all times. Should there be other dogs at the rest stop, and they appear friendly to each other, let them romp in a grassy area away from the parking lot. If not, stretch your legs with a 20-minute walk. This effort is an especially good investment for hyperactive dogs with a lot of energy.

Comfort your pet through communication

Just as you talk to your dog or cat when you're at home, keep the conversation going when you're in the car on a long holiday road trip. Animals find the voice of their owner soothing. Let other family members take a turn chatting away as well. Use your dog's name to get his attention and keep repeating it throughout the road trip so that he knows you're talking to him.

Stay overnight at a pet-friendly motel

Your cat or dog will feel insecure because they are away from their home, but if you find a motel with pet-friendly accommodations, this will help relieve a little of the stress. Playtime is important for relaxation and to promote a good night's sleep. Pet-friendly motels that attract dog owners usually have a play area where dogs can interact with each other and release pent-up frustration.

On the other hand, most cats appreciate a little playtime with familiar toys inside the room and will be content to inspect the room while being outside of their travel cage.

Ensuring pet comfort on a holiday road trip isn't as hard as you might think if you anticipate their needs before leaving home.