Vacation or moving, you'll have options to consider

Transporting Your Pet Cross Country

by Debra Karplus

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According to, people typically transport their dogs for several reasons. They may want to vacation with their beloved furry friend. Or possibly their dog is in dog shows. Many people must transport their dog or cat across the country because they're relocating because of a job or some other reason. The obvious modes of transportation for your mobile little friend are by car, plane, or train. How will you get Fido or Fluffy across the US?

You can transport your pet by car.

Depending on the nature of your trip, its length, and how much of your personal belongings will be in the car, you could bring your cat or dog in the car with you, especially if you have a pet who seems to travel well. Consider how many miles the trip will be, each way and round trip. Just like you need to take meal and rest room stops, your pet will need to "take care of his business" also. Prepare to make stops on his schedule and not just yours. You'll probably need to purchase a travel cage, which can be bought online from $20 to $100, depending on the size of the container which is obviously dependent on the size of your pet.

If you have extra money to burn, there are pet transport services that will serve as a limousine for Fido and will provide him a luxury ride and stop for him to run around or be walked and to be fed. One man in New York City went to visit his ill mother in Chicago, while leaving his beloved basset hound at a top-notch New York kennel. The Chicago visit ended up being much longer than expected and he missed his pup, so he arranged for World Care Pet Transport Service to take Fido in style from The Big Apple to the Windy City.

He paid about $2000 each way, and though he was extremely happy with the service, he admits that it obviously was not at all cost effective. In hindsight, he says that if he finds himself in this situation again, he would either pay a friend to drive the dog or simply do the drive himself with puppy by his side. Search online "transport pet" and you will find many options, such as

Fido may do well flying the friendly skies.

Each airline has its own very specific guidelines and requirements for transporting your pet, and just like air fares and baggage requirements, they seem to be ever-changing. So before planning any air trip for your pet, check the website of the airline you plan to use or call their customer service number. At American Airlines, pets can fly as cargo, much like your checked baggage, or as carry-ons. Size matters. At one point, American Airlines charged $175 for your pet travelling as cargo versus $125 to your carry-on pup.

American's policy, like other airlines, limits pets to only cats and dogs, so don't even think about taking your lovable pet ferret on board! And, if you think your adorable poodle can pass for a service dog, then you should think again. The airlines have very different restrictions about service dogs and are wise to sneaky travelers who claim their pooch is a service dog when clearly it is not.

Amtrak is a relatively new option for taking your cat or dog across the country.

In October 2015, Amtrak began allowing dogs and cats on their trains. You will need to book the trip via Amtrak's customer service number and not via their website. Amtrak's website describes the very specific allowances for travelling with your pet.

Save on your pet's medications at 1-800-PetMeds.

At the time of this writing, Amtrak requires one adult for each travelling pet, and each pet must be in its own carrier. No pet can travel more than seven hours, and no more than five pets total are allowed on each trip. Your pet must be contained in a carrier no bigger than 19 x 14 x 10.5 inches, and the combined weight of the pet and carrier cannot exceed 20 pounds. Your pet must stay by your seat with you. Amtrak currently charges $25 per pet per leg of each trip.

Transporting a cat or dog is sometimes fun and often a necessity. Carefully assess how well your pet has travelled in the past and the specifics of the intended trip before committing to a mode of travel.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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