An estimated 41 million Americans traveled 50 miles (80 kilometers) or more by car for the 2008 Thanksgiving holiday [source: AAA]. These days, trekking 50 miles (80 kilometers) in a car doesn't take much more than an hour. And in that brief period, passengers -- human or animal -- shouldn't get too restless.
But let's say you want to go on a genuine, Jack Kerouac-style road trip, crossing state lines and keeping that odometer spinning round and round. You mapped out a route across interstate highways and roads, highlighting a handful of attractions and restaurants to visit along the way. You took the car to the mechanic for a routine inspection. You filled the gas tank, packed your bags and alerted the neighbors of your pending absence.
Now, what do you do about your pet? You don't want to leave it alone in the house or board it, so you decide to take your dog or cat along for the long haul. Traveling with a pet isn't terribly uncommon -- about half of pet owners report that they would do so [source: McGuire]. The merchandise available in pet stores reflects that trend as well. You can buy specialized carriers, hammocks, car seats, beds, toys and sedatives to ensure that your pet is as comfortable on the car trip as you are.
Before you crank up the engine for a cross-country expedition, you should get your pet acclimated to automobile travel by taking it on shorter trips around town in the weeks beforehand. Why? Animals can get car sickness just like people, especially if they're going to be confined for an extended period of time. The anxiety of the new experience, as well as the motion, can cause nausea and sickness. Veteran car riders, however, have a lower chance of becoming queasy and uncomfortable. Food and water also contribute to your pet's well-being during a car trip. Feed it a light meal a few hours before heading out, rather than right before. That way, it should have enough time to digest its food and relieve itself, and your pet won't be hungry when you hit the road.
Your pet's dietary concerns don't stop when you pull out of the driveway. Of course, you want to take plenty of dog food or cat food with you, but don't forget about the importance of proper hydration.