Vacationing in an RV gives you freedoms you don't typically have if you're flying to a destination or driving in the family car and staying in hotels. One of the most exciting is the ability to bring your family pet along for the fun. With the company of your animal companion (and without the anxiety of boarding your pet or enlisting a neighbor or pet sitter in your absence), you can enjoy the whole family on vacation.
You probably know from trips to the vet what kind of traveler your pet is -- at least in a limited way. Dogs often settle in for the ride; cats can be a different story. Though they are notoriously poor travelers and don't take to a collar and leash, let alone long car rides and changes of venue, cats can travel if trained from a young age. Bring your cat or dog along on short car trips -- never leaving it in a cold, hot, or unventilated vehicle of course -- and see how it does. A long driving vacation in an RV is no time to discover your pet doesn't take to the open road.
It's not a good idea to allow a cat or dog access to the whole car. A curious, panicky, or affectionate pet who gets under foot (accelerator/brake) or in your line of sight while driving is a danger -- not to mention a missile if you have to stop short and your pet is airborne. As with any car ride, you should put your pet in an appropriate-size carrier for these preparatory or "diagnostic" car rides.
If your pet gets sick or has an accident out of nervous fright, your pet probably does not travel well and might be more comfortable being boarded or left at home with a responsible pet sitter. If the short trip does go well, try a longer experiment.
Many animals who live in cages -- gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs -- are fairly easy to bring along on a trip provided you can secure their cages or aquariums so the cages -- and the things inside them (pets, bottles, dishes, toys, etc.) -- will not slide around, fall, or go flying when you're moving or braking. Though they are caged and might seem easy to bring along, birds can catch a draft very easily. If you're a bird owner, consult a bird expert or bird veterinarian about the feasibility of adapting your pet's lifestyle for travel.
Before committing to traveling with your pet, ask yourself some questions: Does car travel make my pet sick? Does my pet make a lot of noise in the car (will it drive us crazy)? Is my pet good with other people/other animals? Is my pet well-behaved? Is my pet in generally good health? Can I ensure that my pet will not be subjected to high and low temperatures and drafts? Can I ensure that my pet can remain safe and comfortable?
If you feel satisfied that your pet will probably be a good and comfortable road companion, then discuss your travel plans with your vet.
Continued on page 2: Before You Go