Traveling with Pets to Your Lake Destination


When I was growing up at the lake, my parents always wanted to bring our dogs with us so they didn’t have to worry about them back at home. We never had to fuss with boarding the dogs, and they always had fun with us while they were at the lake.

One of the things we had to do quite often though was stop along the way to make sure the dogs could go outside to take care of business, if needed. Luckily, we only lived an hour and a half away from the lake, so our drive was never that far. However, there were a few times where we had some sick pets along the way. Especially cats!

Back in the 1970s, we didn’t use dog carriers. Our dogs traveled with us wherever they felt comfortable. Usually, that meant the dogs rode by our feet, or they sat on the back-seat between us.

When I was old enough to finally have a cat, we started to bring him with us as well. I guess traveling in cars, with cats, wasn’t always the smartest thing. Usually the cat like to sleep behind my dad’s neck, as he drove. But sometimes the cat didn’t feel so well by the time we got to the windy part of the road. Pretty soon we start hearing the cat meow his deep low howl. That was usually a sign that he was about to get sick. Quickly, my dad would have to find a place to pull over so I could get out with my cat and let him get some fresh air. Sometimes that is all he needed. One time though, he took off into the weeds and we had a hard time getting him back into the car. I think my dad would have preferred we left him there, but he knew he’d have a daughter that wouldn’t stop crying for weeks if he tried that.

Once the cat felt better, we got back on the road and continued on our way. There were times that the cat liked to roam around in the car when he needed to sit still. In this day and age, it’s a lot easier to travel with your pets. Pet carriers are in abundance at your local pet store. I highly recommend that if you’re going to travel with a cat especially, you get a small pet carrier for your beloved animal.

I have found that a small pet carrier for cats is much easier to travel with, than the larger pet carrier.  Cats seem to like to be in confined spaces. If you can keep them inside their pet carrier with maybe some padding for them to lay down on and then put the seatbelt around the pet carrier when you travel, it will probably ride very comfortably for them (and prevent their carrier from knocking you in the head if you ever slam on the brakes). However, I can’t guarantee that the cat will not meow on your journey.

Dogs can also ride in pet carriers, depending on the size of the animal and the size of the carrier. With SUVs, you can also get many different options for the back compartment of your vehicle. You can get kennels, you can get gates that separate the back from the front, you can get rubber mats that protect your floor in case the dog gets sick, and it can give the dogs a lot more room to move around if you don’t have much luggage.

Jake and Maya going to the lake in the SUVWhen we go to the lake today, we usually have two big dogs with us. Jake, our biggest dog, likes to try to climb towards the front seat while we travel. If we don’t have children with this, we put down all the seats so they have as much room as possible to move around in the back of the Tahoe. When the kids are with us, we have to make sure the kids have room to sit as well. So the dogs get confined to a smaller space, but they still have room to lay down next to our basket of clothes and whatever food we take to the lake.

What we discovered last year is that usually when the Tahoe starts pulling away from the driveway, the dogs sit down or lay down to get comfortable for their journey. However once we hit a few hills or curves, Jake doesn’t do very well. We’ve made the mistake of allowing him too much freedom in the back of the Tahoe, and when he gets sick, you never know what he’s going to do. One time he got sick in a basket of clean clothes. Another time he tried to climb onto some food, so we had a put all the food into our empty color.

So here are some tips for when you’re traveling with your pets to the lake:

1) Buy pet carriers that are proportionate to your animals size.

2) Look for SUV cargo accessories specific for pets.

3) Buy a rubber mat to keep your pets on, in case of any accidents.

4) Make sure your pet has plenty of AC to keep them comfortable too.

5) Never leave your pets inside your vehicle on a hot summer day, even for only a “minute or two”.

6) Always pay attention to how your pet behaves in the car, and look for any signs they may be getting sick while you travel. Be prepared to pull over and help your pet feel better before continuing on your way. (See the previous picture above. We thought Jake was just enjoying the view, but he was actually getting sick).

7) Don’t forget to bring dog leashes, water dishes, and plenty of food, especially if your journey is going to be more than a few hours. Your pet is also going to need to have the same comforts of home that you’re used to.

So, this summer when you head out to the lake with your family and your pets, now you will be little bit more prepared on how to take them with you.

Do you have any suggestions on traveling with your pet? Please share in the comments below and educate all of us.

About Shey Harms

Shey has enjoyed the lake life since she was very young. Her parents always had a place at the lake for as long as she can remember. Now, she belongs to a waterski club in Kansas and drives their family boat in the ski shows teaching her family some of the traditions she learned as a child.

Leave a Comment