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Own car is a familiar and safe option with a pet. It is easy to pack supplies even for a longer trip in the car, and many of the most pet-friendly travel destinations are in nature - often inaccessible by public transport. Read below the tips for transporting your pet safely and as comfortably as possible and see a short list of the special features of driving abroad.

How to transport your pet safely in the car

Pets travel the safest when securely fastened in a sturdy transport crate either on the back seat or in the open air trunk connected to the passenger compartment of the car.


If a transport crate cannot be used, it is advisable to acquire sturdy safety harnesses for the pet, which can be attached to regular seat belts.


A freely wondering pet poses a danger to both humans and itself! Therefore, ensure that the pet does not disturb the driver during the journey, and that small pets cannot sneak into the pedal area of the car. During sudden braking or evasive maneuvers, a loose pet can be thrown around like a spear and injure itself badly!

Feel as comfortable as possible

Pets may experience nausea or anxiety during the journey - find the best way especially for your pet to travel comfortably. Some pets may benefit from traveling on an empty stomach, while others may need a small meal before the journey. Motion sickness medications can be used if there are no health issues or other medications that would prevent their use.


Especially when traveling to the Southern Europe during the summer, temperatures can rise significantly. If you are traveling with your pet, ensure that the car has effective air conditioning when moving during the summer months (especially from May to September).


Favor parking garages and shaded areas for parking and use window shades that reflect sunlight. These measures can make a significant difference in the interior temperature of the car. And as everyone hopefully already knows - NEVER leave a dog alone in a car on a sunny day unless it is possible to keep the air conditioning on! Leave a note outside the car indicating the presence of air conditioning, so that passersby do not unnecessarily worry about the well-being of the pet.


Remember to bring a water bowl and fresh water along.

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About driving abroad

Following tips are written by Finnish citizen with a car registered to Finland.

Order your Green card (International certificate for your car insurance) from your insurance company before your trip! The Green card is not mandatory in ETA countries and Switzerland, but it is recommended to obtain it as proof of a vehiche insurance if needed. However, in countries that are part of the Green card agreement outside the ETA area, it is mandatory! You can check the countries included in the Green card agreement here.


Check the terms of your insurance coverage abroad - some insurance companies require comprehensive coverage on trips outside of the Nordic countries!


In most countries, it is allowed to drive with foreign license plates for either 3 or 6 months. In mainland Europe in the EU countries (and countries equivalent to the EU), it is practically difficult to monitor this, as crossing borders to neighboring countries is easy without border checks. However, when traveling to islands and outside the ETA area, this time limit is more closely monitored by authorities.


Most European countries require certain safety equipment to be mandatory in the car - a first aid kit, reflective safety vests for as many people as the car is registered for (note that the number of currently travelling passengers in the car is not enough if it's less than what the car is registered for), a warning triangle, and in some countries, a fire extinguisher as well.


Driving culture in Europe is different from Finland! Fuel prices are not significantly cheaper than in Finland (sometimes even more expensive), and tolls on highways in many countries can result in a significant additional cost.


However, having your own car provide the freedom to visit places where would be difficult (sometimes impssible with a pet) to get with public transportation, making it an excellent way to explore a new place!

Maybe better with a rental car?

Check the terms and conditions of the rental car in advance - it may be prohibited to transport pets in the car! If the rental company notices pet hair in the car (or, in a worse case, stains or torn materials) after the rental period, you may receive a significant bill.


The terms and conditions of rental cars may not allow international travel - check this in advance if you plan to travel abroad or to rent a car from another country.


A small transport crate can be secured with seat belts, for example, on the back seat of the rental car, but a suitable cage for a large dog is not easily installed.


If a transport crate cannot be used, it is advisable to get sturdy safety harnesses for your pet, which can be attached to regular seat belts.


Refer to the section "How to transport of your pet safely in the car" to ensure the safe transportation of your pet!

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