Moving isn’t always easy and long-distance moves can be particularly stressful. You have to figure out how to get yourself set up in a new town or state, hundreds of miles from your current location, sometimes with very little guidance. Many people tend to forget how difficult a move can be on a pet – not just the idea of having a new home, but the stress of the trip in moving day itself.
Driving or Flying?
Some people send their belongings on a moving truck and then fly themselves to their new locations. While this may be ideal for the people in your life, it may not be best for your dog or cat. As a matter of fact, it almost never works for families with multiple pets as there are often “one pet” restrictions to consider. Older animals and those in poorer health may also become stressed when separated from you.
Driving is a great option if you have older pets or simply want to keep the family together. You can keep a closer eye on your loved ones and make sure they are not overly stressed or taxed by the journey. You can also control the frequency of driving breaks for using the bathroom, feeding, or assessing for car sickness.
Plan the Actual Trip Carefully
You’re going to want to take special care in planning the actual trip. If you were driving with only people, you could squeeze more hours into the day, take less frequent breaks, and not worry about which hotels you stop at. Here are a few tips that will make the entire journey more enjoyable:
Carefully plan your route. If it would normally take two days, plan for three or four and split your time up accordingly. Moving adds pressure to your timeline, and having pets in the car may make that pressure feel worse. Give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your new location.
Make sure you are booking pet-friendly hotels and make sure your hotel takes your type of pet. A lot of hotels assume you’ll have a dog but may not allow for a cat (or a guinea pig or a snake).
Make sure you carry your supplies where they can be reached easily – food, bowls, bottled water, familiar bedding for the hotel, medical records, and some of your pet’s favorite foods and treats. The food and treats are important because you’ll want to have a favorite to entice eating in strange places.
Don’t assume that because your pet does well on short car rides that he’ll be OK on a full or multi-day journey. Talk to your vet about things you can do to ease your pet’s anxiety (medications, Feliway for cats, etc). The smoother your trip, the easier it will be for your pet to settle into your new home when you arrive!