Traveling to Mexico with Pets in the Car

Ah, traveling by car is an adventure of its own. It is really great as we get to see so much that is otherwise missed by air. However, traveling with pets brings in another dynamic to the trip. It can be a challenge. We have to prepare before each trip. However, we have learned more each time. The tips written here have developed over time through mishaps and aha moments during our adventures. We travel with our cats and dog. Oscar and Iquito had been together since they were kittens. Charlie came on board as a puppy four years ago. We decided that where we go they will too. 

pet travel-mexico- Charlie travels in on the road
Charlie loves his pillows!

Preparing for the trip – write a list!!

It is easy to forget something and be halfway to a destination to realize, ‘Oh no! We left that on the table or hanging up on the door hook!!’

Cats & Dogs

  • Vaccinations & Vet Documents – We make sure that each of our pets are up to date on their vaccinations before our trip. We, also, get health certificates for them from our family veterinarian. This helps ensure that we have no issues when entering through the border into Mexico and on our return trip to the states. We carry their veterinary records folder that has their medical history and photos/description. This is just in case they need veterinary care in Mexico during our stay.  It is helpful during an emergency to simply pull out the dates of prior visits and medical conditions.

  • Medicine – We bring calamine lotion and allergy tablets (recommended by our veterinarian) in case of insect bites or stings.

  • Food – We bring enough food for the stateside part of our trip in a sealed plastic container. This keeps out pests. The food we expect to need during our stay in Mexico remains in the original sealed package from the manufacturer. Basically, we load it into the car as it was from the store.

  • Water – We bring a good amount of filtered water in containers. Just as we need water so do our pets.

  • Litter & Supplies – We take litter to use at our destination, litter scoop, travel size litter pan, and pet pee pads. (More about the absorbent pads below in the During the Trip section.)

  • Travel Safety & Comfort – We bring;

    • Carrier for the cats – We have more than one cat and our little guys get along well. We have a carrier large enough for them to travel together. This helps them to stay more calm. We simply use a carrier that we originally bought for our dog, Charlie, when he was a puppy. He grew up to be a bit larger than we expected, so we kept it for the cats. Enrique modified it a bit. He cut a piece of plywood to about half of the length of the carrier and placed it between the top and bottom halves of the carrier. Then, we added a pillow and blanket.  This gives both senior felines plenty of space and comfort on the second level while also providing space for a small litter box on the first level. (During our first drive to Mexico, we found one of the cats sleeping in the litter box. Not good for him and he smelled like pee. Hence our carrier modification.)

    • Iquito and Oscar in their large travel carrier.IMG_0390
    • Portable carrier for the cats – We have two soft portable carriers for the cats.

    • Blankets – We do not use clean blankets rather we opt for 1-2 day old blankets that have the scent of home. Charlie even gets pillows for extra comfort. They, also, minimize the vibrations he feels from the road and helps him to relax more.

    • Toys – Again we do this so they have the scent of home. Also, they have their favorite toys to play with when we arrive at our destination.

    • Harness for the dog that works with seat belts – This is important for sudden stops or when driving over a hidden tope (Mexican speed bump) in the middle of a highway.

    • Leash – One of the essentials. This is good to have handy for potty stops along the way.

  • Household Cleaners – baking soda, vinegar/water mixture in a spray bottle and/or Lysol disinfectant spray, our favorite air freshener Febreze, and paper towels.

    Leaving for the trip – Today is the Day!!!

  • We give everyone a light breakfast and some water.

  • Dogs – We take Charlie out for a pee and poo walk when we first get up and right before we leave out on our road trip.

  • Cats – We load our suitcases and personal items first to give the cats time to use the potty too.

  • Getting everyone in the car! We put the cat’s car carrier in the car with the door facing toward the car door – this helps on the road when removing the litter box for cleaning. We place the travel size litter box with absorbent pad in the carrier. We, then, bring them to the carrier in their portable carriers (car carrier is heavy with them in it). Then, we tell Charlie it is time for ‘Up and In’. He happily jumps into the car!

  • Finally, we Double Check that we have everything – go down the list(s). Our passports and supplies, suitcases, personal care items, and the pet list.

pet travel-mexico-Charlie and Luis Potosi
Patty and Charlie

During the trip – Yay on the Road Again!!!!

  • When we stop to gas up or use the restroom, we take Charlie out to pee/poo and check the litter pan for cleanups. We carefully open the carrier door to ensure that the cats do not get out. While opening the door, we give the cats food and water to keep their attention on that. Then, we remove and replace the litter pan as they eat their food.

  • We realized that instead of litter which can get stinky with urine – one of the worst odors ever in a small space like the car! – that we could try an absorbent pee pad that we can throw away and replace with a clean one. Dog training pads will work. We used what we already had and it worked wonders!! The pads have less odor than litter. We simply remove the pad, spray the pan with our cleaner, wipe it down, and replace with a new pad.

  • Weather permitting we leave the windows open to keep fresh air flow in the car!

pet travel-mexico-Iquito
Iquito sleeps at grandma’s house.
pet travel-mexico-Oscar big Luis Potosi - Mexico
Oscar always exploring his space!  *Update: Oscar, though a strong fighter, left us to cross the rainbow bridge in 2017. He is in our hearts every day. He may continue to be seen on here as he was always where we were including in our travels. We were very blessed to have him in our lives for sixteen years. He filled our hearts with happiness and love.
pet travel-mexico-Charlie Luis Potosi
Charlie enjoys the sights!

Arriving at your destination – Whew Done with the Drive!!!!

  • When we arrive we take the cats out of the carrier in their portable carriers.

  • The dog helps us carry in our suitcases. No, not really but he does walk along with us. This gives him stretch and unwind time after a long drive.

  • We set up the cat’s litter box(es), give them food and water, and let them out to explore.

  • Then, we take the dog out for his evening walk.

  • Finally, we eat, drink, and rest. Then, we enjoy our stay! We hope that you do too!!

*A good harness is essential when walking Charlie in high traffic areas with lots of people!!  We want to be seen when crossing streets at night! The harness gives us full control without slip away worries of a collar, while being more comfortable for Charlie, so he can enjoy our walks too. We bought this one as it is reflective at night.

For those who read to the end here is a bonus video treat for you!

Charlie’s Adventures in Texas and Mexico Charlie Compilation 2020 – YouTube

5 thoughts on “Traveling to Mexico with Pets in the Car

  1. This is the right weblog for anyone who needs to find out about this topic. You understand so much its virtually arduous to argue with you (not that I really would need…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!


    1. Orval, no arguments here, haha! I wanted to share what actually worked for us. Anyone who travels with pets knows there are unique challenges. But, it absolutely can be done!! Patience and love are the best guide. I am glad you enjoyed this read. I wish you many future travels once we are on the other side of all this!


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