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Cape Coral Living Magazine

On the Road Again: Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

Nov 23, 2020 05:00PM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELANo

With the holidays here, it’s time to hit the road again to see Grandma in Georgia, Aunt Tina in Tennessee or Cousin Carl in Cincinnati. Many pet owners arrange in-home pet sitting or boarding, and other owners take their pets along for the ride. 

For some pets, a long journey is no issue; it’s a chance to nap, enjoy the view and check out a new rest stop. But for others, it’s a little more challenging because they get nervous and anxious—whether dogs, cats or another type of pet. Fortunately, there are ways to make a long trip a little more pleasurable for your best animal friends.  

“Bring some comfort toys they are familiar with—and comfort treats,” explains Brian Wierima, community relations coordinator at the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers. Comfort toys can be stuffed animals, a blanket or chew toy; treats can include favorite biscuits and snacks. If the pet lives in a cage, it’s best to use a pen that the pet is familiar with.

“I bring along ‘special road trip’ peanut butter-flavored treats that my dog, Roscoe, associates with car rides,” notes Monica Mueller of Fort Myers. She heads to Iowa a few times a year to visit family, taking Roscoe without fail. 

In addition to road trip treats, it’s important to take familiar food, which adds to your pet’s comfort level. “Pets are creatures of habit and routine,” Wierima adds. Any way you can keep things familiar counts—such as taking along their food and water bowls, and their leashes.

Wierima offers another suggestion: “Make sure to plan stops every two to three hours for potty breaks, and just an opportunity for the pet to stretch their legs.” Although travelers can find some gas stations with pet areas, or local parks, interstate rest stops often make the most sense. They are right off the road and generally have pet areas. 

Travelers can plan where stops are ahead of time with maps at Be sure to take along potty bags. Also, never leave your pet alone in a parked car because it can get overheated extremely quickly. 

If your pet isn’t microchipped, Wierima says it’s essential to do so: “Having your pet microchipped significantly increases their chance of being returned if they did get lost.” Microchipping is offered by most vet clinics, including Gulf Coast Humane Society’s Veterinary Clinic at 2685 Swamp Cabbage Court; phone 239-332-2719. Headquarters is 2010 Arcadia St.; phone 239-332-0364. For info, visit

Anxious pets might fare better by riding in a crate because it provides a safe, protective environment. Make sure the pet has time to get used to the crate before the trip, and put favorite toys and a blanket inside. A crate may be required if you stay in a hotel, motel or campsite. “But the best way to make your pet feel comfortable during a road trip? Provide lots and lots of love and attention!” notes Wierima.

Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.


  • Check for weight limitations and inquire about types of pets allowed.
  • Find out about pet charges—refundable or non-refundable? 
  • Make sure the specific location at the hotel chain you are considering allows for pets.
  • Ask if there are available pet-friendly rooms and if crates are required.  
  • Pack up-to-date shot and veterinary records.
  • Don’t forget pet potty bags, and use adequate leashes and harnesses. 
  • Always provide enough water and never leave pets alone for lengthy periods of time.
  • Remember—dogs need potty breaks and cats need litter boxes. 

Perhaps friends or family members—along with their pet—are visiting Southwest Florida during the holidays but not planning to stay with you? The following is a sample of local pet-friendly accommodations:

Best Western Fort Myers Waterfront
13021 N. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers

Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers Beach/Sanibel Gateway
11281 Summerlin Square Blvd., Fort Myers Beach

Homewood Suites by Hilton Bonita Springs
8901 Highland Woods Blvd., Bonita Springs

Mitchell’s SandCastles
3951 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village
5951 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral

Bring Fido’s U.S. Pet-Friendly Hotels and Campsites

Go RVing’s U.S. Pet-Friendly RV Campgrounds