Traveling with your pets during the holiday season can be a rewarding and heartwarming experience. For the past three years, my husband, Andy, and I have been traveling in our motorhome with our two dogs, two cats and bird. We prefer to keep our entire family together for our travels, and that includes during the holidays.
Traveling this way has taught us a few things about celebrating the holidays with pets.
The holidays are a festive time of year, but there are a few things that can put a damper on the high spirits. Unexpected illnesses and injuries are not on anybody’s wish list — especially when it comes to our furry family members. Reduce the risk of an emergency vet visit by keeping a your pets in mind when it comes to holiday safety.
Decorations help make a home feel cheery, and there are many ways to decorate in a small space. Hanging wreaths, garlands and other adornments around your motorhome will bring the holidays with you wherever your travels may take you. Miniature fake trees are a fun tabletop adornment, and cats typically get quite a kick out of the dangling ornaments.
The smaller setting of a motorhome means you’ll likely have to be more selective about the decorations you choose to display. Keep in mind that poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are toxic to dogs and cats, and the smaller space makes finding a safe place to display these items unlikely. Consider artificial decorations instead of live to avoid complications. You’ll still get a festive atmosphere, just without the threat to your pets.
Cooking is a favorite pastime during the holiday season. Delicious pies and desserts, casseroles, ham or turkey — everyone has their own traditions for the dishes they serve. Many motorhomes are equipped with convection ovens that still provide the opportunity for a good spread of food.
The delectable smells wafting throughout your home on wheels will make more than just human mouths water; they’ll attract your pets, as well. The small space of a motorhome makes proper food disposal even more important.
Ham fat and other items can potentially cause serious issues for your pets should they get into them. And if you have a larger dog, like I do, countertops and trash cans are not off-limits for those curious noses. Never leave food unattended in a reachable place — even my cats will try to sneak a bite off something they shouldn’t. Plan a secure place for all food items, or avoid having risky items in your motorhome altogether.
There are many ways to include your furry friends in the festivities while keeping them safe.
One of our favorite things to do is include our pets in a gift exchange. Those traveling with cats might consider adding a new scratching post or corrugated cardboard scratcher to keep the felines entertained and away from the furniture. Combine this with a little bit of dried catnip or catnip spray, and you’ll have some pretty happy kitties.
Our cats always enjoy a game of toss with a new catnip-filled or crinkle toy. They race across the living room, batting at their holiday-themed gift.
Our dogs, Teddy and Piper, enjoy ripping the wrapping paper off their gifts (to be fair, we help the little one with this). They know something fun is waiting inside! After the gift exchange, we make sure to include some playtime. This can include a hearty game of tug-o-war or hide-and-seek (where we hide the toy and the dogs sniff it out).
Combining the gift exchange with a little play time makes for an even more celebratory feeling, and your pets will thank you for the extra attention during this busy time of year. Not only will it bring everyone closer together, but it is a great way to help diffuse any anxiety your pet may be feeling as a result of traveling.
Those looking for a great photo opportunity or some outdoor fun may consider dressing your dogs up in holiday-themed attire and going for a walk around the campground. Other travelers will get a kick out of your impromptu pet parade, and it’s a great way to add more festivity to your camping experience.
Smelling the aromas of peppermint and pine, cozying up in front of a warm campfire, snuggling close with your loved ones, a dog or cat curled up on your lap — this is a great mental image. Consider including your furry friends on your next holiday motorhome adventure!
Follow Angela and Andy McLaughlin on their adventures at