As much as we love our four-legged friends, traveling with pets isn’t always easy or stress-free. From foreign environments to changes in cabin pressure, traveling pets have many factors with which to contend. Pair travel anxieties with the needs of a cranky dog or a finicky cat and things can quickly go sideways. To smooth the traveling process and relax your beloved furball, why not invest in a reliable carrier? 

To keep our cuddly critters happy, comfortable, and most importantly, safe, there are a few things to look for when selecting a travel carrier. If you plan to use your carrier for air travel, it’s paramount that you look for a bag that is ‘airline approved.’ However, be aware that no ‘official’ airline-approved carrier exists, as requirements tend to vary from airline to airline. Check out your airline’s specific requirements and size restrictions prior to flying.  

A great travel carrier should be suitably durable, comfortable, washable, and easily stored—both on a plane and in your home. Of course, your pet’s comfort is paramount but also consider your own. After all, you need to be able to carry your pet and their carrier anywhere from airport security to the pet-relief station. Not so confident about your upper body strength? Try a wheeled carrier. Ultimately, you want a lightweight carrier that will conform to both you and your pet’s lifestyle as well as personal preferences.  

Most of our beloved pets (especially dogs) will not be immediately keen to enter a new, unknown carrier. For ease of access and peace of mind, try to purchase a carrier that will make both entry and exit of your pet relatively painless. This will make mid-flight petting and treat-bribing a breeze! Besides being aware of the airline’s size requirements, don’t forget to take into account your own. If your studio apartment doesn’t leave much in the way of storage, aim for a carrier that can be compressed, folded, or otherwise easily stored. Also, since animals tend to be stressed while traveling and prone to accidents, a waterproof or machine-washable carrier is always preferable.  

Petsfit Pet Expandable Carrier with One Extension – Best on Space

Does your fluffy friend love to stretch out and relax? Both cats and dogs will enjoy the Petsfit Pet Expandable Carrier with One Extension which offers a mesh ‘patio’ panel which can be unzipped for maximum space and comfort.

This spacious carrier is easy on the wallet, and available on Amazon in a variety of sizes and styles. Their largest carrier can fit a pet up to 20 lbs and has a top opening for easy TSA access. In-flight accident clean-ups are a cinch due to the carrier’s removable (machine-washable) soft padded lining.

AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier – Budget

If your kitty or pooch suffers from anxiety or claustrophobia, this modestly priced carrier from Amazon may be the solution. The AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier is an absolute bargain and offers your pet 360 degrees of visibility.

Felix or Fido will have no trouble getting great airflow and uncompromised viewpoints with four mesh panels. This carrier comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large) and can safely handle pets anywhere from 8 to 22 lb. Although, the manufacturer always recommends measuring your pet first.

Sherpa Original Deluxe – Most dependable

With a whopping 5,000 reviews on Amazon, the Sherpa Original Deluxe is a trusty and dependable option. This reputable company puts the safety of your pet (and your peace of mind) first and foremost. Each carrier has a seatbelt/luggage strap that can be used to secure your pup during auto travel.

Even better, Sherpa offers a ‘Guaranteed on Board’ program for their small and medium-sized carriers. This means that if for any reason you are denied boarding due to your carrier, Sherpa will reimburse you for the cost of your flight and pet fee!

Snoozer Roll Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier- Best Wheels/$$

Got a long layover, bad back, or just *ahem* a heftier-sized pet? If the thought of lugging your 20 lb pooch around the airport leaves your muscles screaming in pain, why not step up your pet carrier game with some wheels!?

A rolled bag, like the Snoozer, is not only stylish but also convenient. Your beloved canine can sit upright and observe the world around them while your shoulders remain unencumbered. Additionally, the bag can be converted to a backpack for a hands-free solution. Although some may balk at its higher price tag, the Snoozer’s convenience and innovation more than pay for itself. 

Sleepypod Air – Luxury $$$

The Sleepypod Air is perfect for the discerning pet owner who doesn’t mind spending a few more bones. Sleek and sophisticated, this is the Rolls Royce of pet carriers!

The Sleepypod’s functional design is constructed from luggage-grade nylon and can serve as a mobile pet bed, airplane carrier, and car seat. Its intuitive design features a ‘trolley pocket’ that allows the carrier to be safely attached to any suitcase handle, making airport transport easy as can be. Furthermore, the Sleepypod is great for the space-challenged, as it compresses to almost half its original size!

Whether you and your cuddly companion are hitting up AMTRAK for a railroad adventure or living it up in the first-class airport lounge, a dependable pet carrier can make all the difference between a memorable trip or a regrettable travel fail. By investing your money in a reputable and travel pet carrier, you can relax knowing your furball is safe and secure. The perfect carrier alleviates travel-related anxieties and guarantees a care-free ride to wherever you’re going.

Whether you partake in alcohol on your flight or not, there'll be a day use room to rest or recharge in the city you touch down.

Image Credit:

Featured image: “Ready to Go!” by John Morton via (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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Isis-Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love of traveling was born. Three months of backpacking and surfing through Nicaragua quickly turned into over two years. She fell in love, both with surfing and the beach lifestyle. Today she works as a freelance copy and content writer, residing in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida.