How Do You Move Across the Country with a Pet?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated January 17, 2024

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Moving is really hard. You have to pack up your entire life and then ship everything to your final destination. When it’s across the country, it’s even harder. And when you add pets to the mix, it can become downright stressful. Why? You don’t want your pet to be anxious or scared because of the moving situation.

Researching the best way to move across the country with a pet can overwhelm you, so we’ll take you on a journey, providing you with tips and advice on preparing for the move, how to save money when moving across the country with pets, as well as giving you transportation options.

How to Prepare for Moving Across the Country with Pets

You should take several steps to prepare yourself for moving across the country with your pet.

Step 1: Vet Visit

Make an appointment to visit your pet’s veterinarian, who should be accredited by the USDA. Veterinarians will provide you with a CVI (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection). 

The health certificates must be completed with the veterinarian 10 days before travel for them to be up-to-date. Besides governmental offices, airlines and pet transport companies will require them prior to beginning the travel journey.

Step 2: Up-to-Date Vaccines

All pets must have the required vaccines in order to travel to another state. Your pet should be immunized no more than 21 days before travel.

Step 3: Destination State Requirements

Usually, most states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and an up-to-date list of vaccines. Still, there are often a few more requirements.

 Find a list of each state’s Department of Agriculture pages on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture website. The list of requirements from each state is on the USDA’s page for interstate pet travel.

Step 4: Buy a Carrier

This step is one that sometimes is overlooked. Buying a durable carrier that will adhere to airline (or pet transport company) requirements requires some research. These carriers or crates usually cost around $100; larger crates can run up to about $200, and it’s best to buy one that has all the works — it may be more expensive, but it will save you worries and stress. 

Besides the crate, you should also have some essential products to make your pet’s journey stress-free, like calming chews for dogs or calming sprays for cats and a first-aid kit for emergencies.

Step 5: Reserve Pet Transport

The last step is to research the several methods of pet transportation out there. Those include air travel, train travel, ground transport, using a two-way marketplace and the do-it-yourself option.

Tips for Moving Across the Country with Pets

Here are some simple tips to make a move easier for you and your pet.. 

  1. Get your pet used to moving supplies and boxes.
  2. Don’t change the routine you have with your pet. Stick to the schedule!
  3. Pack their items last and unpack them first.
  4. Arrange the pet transport prior to your move, so you don’t have to run around doing that instead of focusing on the move.
  5. Pet-proof your new home (when you arrive) and stick to your pet schedule, too!

Ground Transportation Versus Air Transportation

You’ve been researching the possibilities that seem the easiest to you and have narrowed them down to air travel or ground transport. But which one do you choose?

Air travel

Air travel is the fastest way to transport a pet, but airlines have many requirements. Airlines won’t take other pets besides cats and dogs. If your pet is small, it can fly in the cabin in a carrier placed under the seat in front of you. Airline policy allows only one pet per passenger and two pets per flight. If you have a bigger pet, it will have to fly in the cargo hold in a larger carrier.

 Besides the health documentation you need to provide prior to boarding (which can cost $50-$300), the cost of transporting a pet in the cabin is $125 one way. In the cargo hold, it’s more expensive and can run from $500-$1,000. You also need to buy a special carrier for your pet.

Ground Transport

There are many ground transport pet companies. You can easily find them online; they each provide different types of pet travel services. Ensure all pet transport services adhere to the USDA’s rules and regulations in pet handling. Go to IPATA for informative articles about recommended pet transporters, fake scamming companies, and more.

The cost factors for transporting your pet across the country include the distance you are traveling, pet size and breed, equipment for your pet (like a carrier or other things), and health documentation.

Ground Transportation Is More Reliable

The bottom line is that ground transportation is more reliable than air travel. Why? Let’s take a look. 

  1. There is a prohibition on pets other than cats and dogs on airlines.
  2. Flying can stress your pet, especially if they are in the cargo hold.
  3. With the recent flight cancellations over the holidays, flying can be unreliable because of weather and other factors.
  4. Ground travel logistics are more accessible and can offer door-to-door delivery, which is impossible with air travel.

How to Use CitizenShipper When Moving Across the Country with Pets

When moving with your pet, the least stressful, easiest, and most affordable option is right at your fingertips. Consider a groundbreaking alternative to traditional pet transportation: CitizenShipper. 

Our platform offers many advantages over traditional pet transporters: 

  • You’ll have a fleet of background-checked, USDA-registered drivers who will send you quotes within minutes.
  • You can compare bids and chat with the drivers across our network, booking your trip when you choose the driver you like best.
  • You’ll be able to discuss your transport details directly with the driver using our instant messaging system. The driver will then give you updates while on their journey with your pet!
  • Extra benefits just for you: up to $1,000 Pet Protection, VIP Service, Booking Assurance Guarantee, and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet. 

Drivers on CitizenShipper compete for your business, which means you can save up to 60-70% compared to traditional shipping services. Your adorable pet will be in good hands with the qualified drivers on CitizenShipper. It’s safe, seamless, and stress-free!

The Bottom Line!

Moving across the country is stressful, and sometimes you want to pull your hair out or scream! But don’t fear; things can be made easier by choosing the right pet transport option. It checks off one thing from your list where you don’t have to worry. 

If you want a hassle-free, transparent process, booking a driver through CitizenShipper is for you. It’s less expensive, and there are no hidden fees. Plus, the drivers understand what your pet means to you and will care for them with love and understanding during the ride.  

Don’t wait, and please, don’t pull your hair out. Ensure a stress-free experience for you and your pet. List your transport now and get free quotes at the snap of your finger!