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The Ultimate Guide to Pet Carriers for Dogs: Travel Safely by Car and Airplane

Traveling with your dog can be a rewarding experience, but ensuring their safety and comfort during the journey is paramount. One of the essential items for any pet owner looking to travel is a reliable pet carrier. Whether you’re planning a road trip or a flight, choosing the right carrier can make all the difference. In this guide, we’ll focus on pet carriers specifically designed for car and airplane travel, providing tips on selecting the best carrier for your dog and recommending some top choices available.

Why You Need a Pet Carrier

Pet carriers are not just a luxury; they are a necessity for safe and secure travel. For car travel, a carrier prevents distractions and ensures your dog is protected in case of sudden stops or accidents. For air travel, airlines require carriers that meet specific size and safety regulations. Choosing the right carrier can help ease your pet’s anxiety and ensure a smooth trip for both of you.

Tips for Selecting the Right Pet Carrier

Selecting the right pet carrier involves considering several important factors to ensure the safety and comfort of your dog. Here are some key tips:

Size and Comfort:

  • The carrier should be spacious enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Measure your dog’s height from the top of the head to the ground and the length from nose to the base of the tail to ensure a proper fit.
  • It’s advisable to choose a carrier that is slightly larger than your dog’s measurements to provide extra comfort during travel.


  • Ensure the carrier has ample ventilation to keep your dog cool and comfortable. Look for carriers with multiple mesh panels or ventilation holes.
  • Proper airflow is crucial, especially for longer journeys, to prevent your dog from overheating.

Durability and Safety:

  • Look for carriers made of sturdy materials with secure latches and zippers. A well-constructed carrier can protect your dog in case of any sudden movements or impacts.
  • Check for reinforced stitching and high-quality zippers that can withstand your dog’s movements.

Airline Approval:

  • If flying, check that the carrier meets the airline’s requirements for size and design. Each airline has specific regulations regarding pet carriers, so it’s essential to verify these details beforehand.
  • Most airlines require carriers to fit under the seat in front of you for in-cabin travel, so ensure the dimensions comply with this requirement.

Ease of Cleaning:

  • Choose a carrier with a removable and washable interior lining. Travel can be messy, and having a carrier that is easy to clean will make maintenance much simpler.
  • Consider carriers with waterproof or water-resistant materials to protect against spills and accidents.


  • Consider carriers with wheels, shoulder straps, or handles for easy transport. The carrier should be lightweight and easy to carry, especially during long journeys or layovers.
  • Some carriers come with additional features like foldable designs for easy storage when not in use.

Recommended Pet Carriers for Car Travel

When it comes to car travel, safety and comfort are key. Here are some top recommendations for car travel carriers available on Amazon:

AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

  • Features: Mesh windows for ventilation, removable fleece pad, carrying handles, and shoulder strap.
  • Pros: Lightweight, easy to carry, affordable.
  • Cons: May not be suitable for larger dogs.
  • Link: AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

The AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier is an excellent choice for car travel. Its soft-sided design ensures comfort, and the mesh panels provide adequate ventilation. The removable fleece pad is easy to clean, and the carrier’s lightweight construction makes it easy to carry. This carrier is suitable for small to medium-sized dogs.

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed

  • Features: Converts from a bed to a carrier, crash-tested, padded shoulder strap, and machine-washable interior.
  • Pros: High safety standards, versatile, comfortable.
  • Cons: Higher price point.
  • Link: Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed

The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed is a versatile option that can be used both as a pet bed and a carrier. Its crash-tested design ensures high safety standards for car travel. The padded shoulder strap makes it easy to carry, and the machine-washable interior ensures easy cleaning. This carrier is ideal for pet owners who prioritize safety and comfort.

Pet Gear I-GO2 Roller Backpack

  • Features: Multifunctional as a carrier, car seat, backpack, roller bag, and tote. Includes a tether to secure your pet.
  • Pros: Versatile, easy to maneuver, spacious.
  • Cons: May be bulky for some users.
  • Link: Pet Gear I-GO2 Roller Backpack

The Pet Gear I-GO2 Roller Backpack is a multifunctional carrier that can be used in various ways. Its roller design makes it easy to maneuver, and the included tether ensures your pet’s safety. The spacious interior provides ample room for your dog, making it a great choice for longer car trips.

Recommended Pet Carriers for Airplane Travel

Air travel requires carriers that meet specific airline regulations and provide comfort for your pet during the journey. Here are some top recommendations for airplane travel carriers available on Amazon:

Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

  • Features: Approved for most airlines, mesh panels for ventilation, padded straps, and a faux lambskin liner.
  • Pros: Airline-approved, comfortable, easy to carry.
  • Cons: Limited space for larger dogs.
  • Link: Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

The Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier is a popular choice for air travel. It meets the requirements of most major airlines and provides a comfortable space for your dog. The mesh panels ensure proper ventilation, and the padded straps make it easy to carry. The faux lambskin liner adds extra comfort and is removable for easy cleaning.

Petmate Sky Kennel

  • Features: Heavy-duty plastic shell, secure door latches, ventilation on all sides, and a handle for carrying.
  • Pros: Durable, spacious, airline-approved.
  • Cons: Bulky, not ideal for in-cabin travel.
  • Link: Petmate Sky Kennel

The Petmate Sky Kennel is a robust option for larger dogs or cargo travel. Its heavy-duty plastic shell ensures durability, and the ventilation on all sides keeps your dog comfortable. The secure door latches provide added safety, and the handle makes it easier to carry. This carrier is suitable for pets traveling in the cargo hold.

Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier

  • Features: Compressible sides to fit under airline seats, adjustable straps, machine-washable bedding, and TSA-compliant.
  • Pros: Flexible, comfortable, meets airline requirements.
  • Cons: Higher price point.
  • Link: Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier

The Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier is designed specifically for in-cabin travel. Its compressible sides allow it to fit under most airline seats, and the adjustable straps make it easy to carry. The machine-washable bedding ensures your dog’s comfort, and the carrier meets TSA requirements for air travel. This carrier is ideal for pet owners who want a high-quality, flexible option for air travel.

Additional Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Acclimate Your Dog to the Carrier:

  • Before the trip, let your dog get used to the carrier by placing it in their living space and encouraging them to explore it. Reward them with treats and praise to create a positive association.

Pack Essential Items:

  • Bring along your dog’s favorite toys, a blanket with your scent, and any necessary medications. Having familiar items can help reduce anxiety during travel.

Plan for Breaks:

  • If you’re traveling by car, plan for regular breaks to let your dog stretch, relieve themselves, and hydrate. Make sure to keep your dog leashed and under control during stops.

Check Airline Policies:

  • Before booking your flight, review the airline’s pet travel policies, including carrier size restrictions, fees, and documentation requirements. Contact the airline directly if you have any specific questions.

Secure the Carrier:

  • In the car, secure the carrier with a seatbelt to prevent it from moving during the trip. For air travel, ensure the carrier is stowed correctly according to airline guidelines.

Choosing the right pet carrier for your dog is crucial for a safe and comfortable journey, whether by car or airplane. By considering factors such as size, comfort, ventilation, and durability, you can find a carrier that meets your needs and ensures your pet’s well-being. The recommended carriers listed above are excellent choices that cater to various travel scenarios and dog sizes.

For more tips and resources on traveling with your pet, check out our other resources on Safe travels!