Consider a visit to your veterinarian before your trip especially if your pet is overdue for regular vaccinations or is a nervous traveler that could need a mild sedative for the trip.
Make sure you have a safe and adequate way to restrain your pet while traveling. A sturdy, well ventilated crate large enough for your pet to stand, sit, turn around and lie down in is a great way to keep everyone in the vehicle safe.
Make sure your pet has a comfortably fitting but secure collar (velcro or buckle style, not a choke or training collar) and that they wear that collar with tags showing proof of rabies vaccine and your home address and phone number. You might also want to get a third tag onto which you can tape your local address and/or cell phone number should you and your pet get separated. And remember: This applies to both dogs and cats even if you are 100% sure you'll never take your cat outside. Curious felines have been known to escape from new surroundings.
Give your pet a pre-trip pedicure. Clipping your dog or cat's nails will mean they are less likely to do damage to new surroundings while they're away from home.
Packing For Your Pet
Just like their humans, pets need to bring things from home to keep them comfortable when they're away. Items like a small blanket or towel that smells like home or a favorite toy can ease anxiety in a traveling pet.
Be sure to pack any medications and/or treatments your pet will need while you're away from home. A first aid kit is also a must for both pets and their people.
Bring along an adequate supply of your pet's food. Every brand and/or flavor is not available in all areas and switching food while traveling can cause digestive problems neither you nor your pet want. Also consider bringing along bottled water for your pet as drinking from a different water supply may cause especially sensitive or older pets some intestinal discomfort.
Other pet items to pack: food and water bowls, a strong leash, an extra collar, treats, toys, a pet brush, a litter box and litter, pooper scooper, waste removal bags and a flashlight for early morning and nighttime walks.
On The Road
Feed your pet a light meal at least three hours before traveling. The excitement of starting the trip can cause even the strongest of pet tummies to have a little trouble keeping down their lunch if they've just eaten.
While your vehicle is in motion, keep your pet in their crate or carrier at all times. This will not only provide protection for your pet, it will prevent your furry friend from interfering with the driver and potentially causing an accident. There will be plenty of time to cuddle and play with your pet when you reach your destination, travel time should be safety time.
Any time you will be removing your pet from your vehicle without their crate/carrier, make sure he or she is leashed and you have firm control of that leash. You don't want your pet bolting from the car into a strange and potentially dangerous new environment.
Never leave your pet alone in the car. Most pet owners know it can be deadly to leave an animal in an overheated car but the myth persists that leaving a window slightly open will prevent tragedy. It won't. In addition to the dangers of excessive heat, cold weather, self injury due to anxiety and other hazards can turn a pleasant road trip into a nightmare.
Be sure to take frequent breaks to let your pet stretch their legs, do their business, drink some water and (if it's a very long trip) have a light meal.
While You're There
Once you reach your destination make sure your pet is a well behaved guest. Even the calmest, friendliest pet can become a little more boisterous in a new place. Also be aware of your pet and your surroundings to avoid potential conflicts with other animals and humans.
Clean up after your pet both inside and out. When you take your dog outside, bring along a pooper scooper and waste disposal bags. Make sure your cat has (and uses) the litterbox. And be prepared to clean up any indoor accidents or other pet-related messes.
Always obey local leashing laws for your sake and the safety of your pet.
Should your vacation activities take the human members of your family to places where pets are not allowed, make arrangements to have responsible pet sitting, feeding and/or walking professionals attend to your pet's needs.