So you’re hitting the road and Fido or Fluffy is coming along for the ride. Traveling can be a great bonding opportunity for you and your pet, as long as you’re both prepared. We tend to think of dogs as great car riders – but they don’t all jump at the chance to go for a ride. Similarly, the cat who hangs on to the carpet underneath the drivers’ seat with all 20 claws while the vehicle is in motion is a common cliché, but many kitties actually enjoy riding in the car and will lounge quite unbothered in their carrier – especially if they can see outside. So that’s the first key: If you’ve never been in the car with your pet, definitely make that a priority, so you can see what you’re dealing with.

The first thing you’ll need is a pet carrier, or a harness set to secure your pet. Many, many accidents occur every year as the result of improperly secured pets in vehicles interfering with the driver’s ability to see or operate the car; plus, God forbid someone else should run into you, you don’t want your best friend to fly into the window any more than you’d want another family member to encounter that fate.

  • For cats and smaller dogs, this carrier from Henkelion allows for good air circulation, secures using the seatbelt system, and is easy to carry, too. ($25)
  • This collapsible crate from A4Pet is so easy to install with the car’s seatbelt system, breathable, and perfect for larger dogs. $60

It’s always wise to line your carrier with a pee pad, and to have some with you while traveling. Some animals get very disoriented or excited while traveling and may have accidents. Instead of choosing those ugly blue-and-white disposable pee pads, though, you can make a better choice.

  • These washable pee pads from Pupiboo look like area rugs and are not only more economical than the disposable pads, they’re more eco-friendly, too. ($27 for 2)

You may have an off-leash dog or a cat who’s never walked on a leash in his or her life, but it’s always a good idea to have them on a leash when you’re out and about in unfamiliar places. Yes, that’s right: Walk your cat around outside on a leash if you want to let him explore. He doesn’t know where he is, and that way you’re not taking any chances at him getting lost.

  • Wild One makes a terrific range of dog collars, harnesses, leashes, and more. Check out their whole store for everything you need to outfit your puppo for the big trip. (Prices vary)
  • For kitty, what you want is not just something to restrain her, but something she can’t wriggle her way out of. Try this setup from rabbitgoo: ($12)

Of course, don’t forget to bring along your normal food before you hit the road. It’s important to keep your furry friend on her typical diet while you’re on a trip so her digestive system doesn’t get discombobulated. It’s not uncommon for pets to decline food periodically while traveling while they get used to a new environment, so if this happens, don’t worry too much – as long as they’re drinking enough water.

  • If you have special food and water bowls at home, or maybe even a water fountain or a perpetual feeder, get a set of these collapsible silicone pet bowls to take with you on the road. This 2-pack of BPA-free bowls from Rest-Eazzzy comes in small and medium sizes and in a variety of color combinations. They’re fitted with carabiners so they attach easily to backpacks or other luggage, and fold almost flat when not in use. Consider leaving a pair in the car so you’ll have a water bowl handy if you’re ever out with your furry friend and need a bowl unexpectedly. ($12)

Of course, once Fido is fed and watered, it won’t be long before you’re cleaning up after him. The same goes for Fluffy. Be a considerate pet parent by prepping for these rest stops.

  • Whether you’re traveling with a dog or a cat, be sure to lay in a supply of pet waste bags. These compostable poop bags from GREENER WALKER are eco-friendly and just $13 for 225.
  • For your cat, you’ll need a litter box, and instead of buying a disposable one, why not invest in this really cool luggage-like version from petisfam? It’s leakproof, contains smells, comes with its own litter scoop, and collapses nearly flat when not in use. ($27)

Does your pet sleep on a particular blanket at home, or have his own bed? If it’s small enough, you can bring it along. If not, consider bringing a travel blanket that can be all his while you’re on the road. Add a t-shirt that smells like you to the blanket to help your pet feel comfortable and secure while they’re traveling.

  • A waterproof pet blanket is a great choice and can also be used to protect the couch or other furniture wherever you’re staying. This one from PETMAKER is coated on one side to repel fluids and is covered with soft sherpa fleece on the other side. It comes in three sizes and a variety of colors to keep your pet comfy. (Starts at $26)

Finally, you’ll want to bring along some treats to keep your pet busy, happy, and calm while you’re traveling.

  • Many dogs resort to chewing when they’re nervous. These giant bones from Lively Tails are ideal for aggressive chewers and are suited for medium to large dogs. ($40)
  • Since they have just one ingredient – real sweet potatoes – these treats from Brutus & Barnaby are healthy for all kinds of dogs. They’re also easy to tear into strips or chunks for dogs of all sizes. ($21)
  • Kitties love these crunchy healthy treats made with real salmon and cranberry from Fruitables. There’s no better reward for being a good traveler. ($4)

Of course, make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag, and ideally, microchipped, before you leave home. Bringing his or her vet records along is a great idea, too – just in case.

By packing the right products and doing your research, you can help ensure that your pet has a safe and comfortable trip, and that you’ll love having your friend by your side, just like always.

Gayle Martz is an animal advocate, inventor of the iconic SHERPA soft-sided pet carrier bag, a consultant to a variety of businesses and the author of It’s In the Bag.