What Pet Carrier Should I Get for Travel?

By Sandra King; Updated June 08, 2017

Choosing the best pet carrier for your travel plans

What Pet Carrier Should I Get for Travel?

There’s little doubt that life is more fun when your best friend tags along on one of your travel adventures. When that buddy has four legs and a tail, the mode of transport has a lot to do with whether you both enjoy the trip. Whether you’re relocating to a new address or planning the road trip of a lifetime, choosing a sturdy carrier made to withstand travel can create a safe zone for your pet that keeps you both happy.

Pet carriers for dogs

Choices abound in dog carriers. The type of trip you plan may be the best starting point for picking yours. Rigid carriers made of lightweight plastic work best for car travel. Add a soft blanket and a favorite toy, and you’ve created a cozy spot for your dog to relax. Look for one that allows you to secure the carrier in place with your vehicle’s seat belts. If your dog is small enough to fly in the cabin with you, soft-sided carriers are the ultimate choice for air travel. Make sure the construction is sturdy with double-stitched seams on the handles or carrying straps, and pick one that meets your dog’s weight requirements.

Whether you choose a soft-sided or rigid carrier, it should be large enough for your dog to stand and comfortably turn around. Avoid going too large, however, since you don’t want your dog bouncing around in the carrier. That can lead to serious injury should the ride become rough. Adequate ventilation is a must as well, along with well-made closures that prevent your dog from escaping. You’ll spend some time toting your furry friend around, so check out the carrying comfort level for yourself as well.

Pet carriers for cats

Cats are generally homebodies, and few enjoy the thrill of traveling to new locations. If you’re traveling by plane, Kitty will probably like it best if you pick a soft-sided carrier that gives her a glimpse of the world but allows her to hide away from the unfamiliar sights and sounds of the airport when she’s had enough. Make sure she has adequate ventilation, and check for sturdy construction and secure closures to keep your cat safe during your trip.

Carriers made from high-density plastic work best for traveling by car and double as a comfy sleeping “den” at home. Add a washable foam mat or pillow to soften the ride. Any carrier should be about 1 1/2 times the size of your cat. Purchase the carrier well before your trip so your cat has plenty of time to investigate her new space. Tossing a favorite treat or toy filled with catnip into the carrier may entice her to try it out. Once she considers it her territory, the carrier will give her a sense of security during your journey.

Pet carriers and airlines

All airlines have rules about the construction and type of pet carrier allowed on a flight. Some don’t allow any pets, and many have restrictions concerning dog breeds or size limits for pet travelers. Airlines typically require a certificate of health from a veterinarian that’s dated within 10 days of your flight. Before you consider booking a flight, check with the airline for a full list of their rules and regulations about pet travel. Soft-sided carriers are the perfect choice for cats and dogs small enough to fit under an airline seat. Larger dogs must travel in the cargo hold and require rigid carriers that meet airline standards.

Luxury dog carriers

Luxury dog carriers come in canvas, leather, faux fur and just about any other fashionable fabric you can imagine. But it’s not all about making a fashion statement, since luxury also means craftsmanship that equals easy maneuverability in crowds. Some luxury carriers, for instance, include wheels and a handle. Others are designed as backpacks that keep your hands free and your pup secure. Many include handy zippered pockets for carrying your dog’s leash, extra collars and treats. When you’re picking a luxury carrier for travel, make sure it meets airline guidelines and the usual standards for durability and safety.

About the Author

Sandra King