I’ve moved back and forth across the country with a big German shepherd dog and up to 2 cats. This included my spouse, who drove the moving van that towed our second vehicle, while I follow behind in car. We’ve also used car transport services ($900) to move the car for us on a carrier.
We have a strategy that has improved the comfort level of our pets, (they cringe whenever they see us packing up boxes now) and makes the move as smooth as possible.
1. We purchased two-way radios so we can communicate without having to dial up cell phones, etc. This is much safer, and cheaper too since there is no charge for minutes. The pair of radios runs anywhere from $50-$100 depending on brand and quality. We recharge them every night in the hotel room. It’s a God send especially when driving through major cities, because I can help the moving van move to another lane easily, and he can alert me to a major traffic jam ahead because he has a better view.
2. The cat stays in a carrier (no food or water in the morning) and the dog rides in the moving van for a good view out the window.
3. We stop at almost every rest area to stretch legs and give the pooch a walk. Always find a shady area to park where ever possible. We eat at rest areas so the animals don’t have to stay in the car unattended on a hot day.
4. Ours is a cat that likes the great outdoors, so we have to be especially careful she doesn’t escape the car or hotel room, even though she has a microchip. I had one little houdini disappear one night, and found him hiding behind a washing machine in the laundry room down the hall from our hotel room. While motels with indoor corridors are a nice luxury, I will admit it’s no fun having to load up luggage, ice chests, and the cat carrier. That’s where a valet cart will be helpful. A ground floor room is best, near the exit door. We actually prefer a room with an exterior door that we can back the car up to. Of course, RV parking is a must if you’re traveling with a moving van. Therefore pull in early (around 3PM) to get the best room and parking location, and give your pets a chance to relax and eat before the journey begins all over again the next day. A parking garage is a nightmare.
5. AAA is an excellent bargain for what you get. Besides the roadside assistance package, you also get great discounts at hotels and restaurants, and I love the Trip-Tik mapping service.
6. Also, if possible, choose a motel/hotel that offers a complimentary breakfast that you can load up on a tray and bring back to the room. Again, it helps your pets feel comfortable that you are spending time with them during the move and not abandoning them.
Finally, keep collars on your critters with ID and also have them micro-chipped. We use Home Again which runs about $45 at the vet and another $12 for registration with free lifetime updates.