Ground Transportation 101

Domestic Travel Options for Pets That Can't Fly

Domestic Travel Limitations: Are You Affected?

Many airlines have tightened regulations on several breeds and species that could previously fly via their pet cargo programs within the United States. Consequently, many pet owners were left in search of a feasible solution to relocate their fur-family members cross-country, to Guam, and to Puerto Rico. The good news is, we can help, and we've moved many pets across the country via ground transportation. Including Guinevere, who moved to Florida from Wisconsin! 

pug relocating by ground transportation Not sure if your pet falls within this category? Animals that fall under these new restrictions include:

The COVID-19 Pandemic

In late 2019, the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, began. By mid-March 2020, every airline and most countries were restricting travel. Since we are expecting most domestic airlines to continue to see disruption in their services through 2021, ground transportation is a great alternative.

Snub-nosed breeds:

Many airlines have had bans on snub-nosed breeds (think pug, french bulldog, boxer, persian) for a while. With United Airlines following suit in 2018, our ability to transport these breeds using their PetSafe program ceased.

Large Breeds:

While it is possible to fly larger breeds (based on crate size) on some airlines domestically, the limited routing that can accommodate them can create a bit of a logistical puzzle while researching air travel. If you need to determine your pet’s crate size, check out our guide on how to choose the right pet travel crate. Another consideration for airlines that do accept large pets is heat: embargoes out of warmer weather ports (like Phoenix) may have all pet travel embargoed during summer months when high temperatures create a safety hazard.

Species other than dogs and cats:

With dog- and crate-specific restrictions also came new rules regarding species other than cats and dogs. Limited air travel options for birds, rabbits, turtles, pigs, and more have resulted in these pets falling under our growing group of ground transportation clients.

While we can’t circumvent airline regulations, we have relationships with pet transportation companies around the country and remain dedicated to moving our clients’ pets to their new homes in the safest way possible. For this reason, we offer full management of a private ground relocation. It is not the only option, but we feel it is the best. If you’re beginning your research and want to know your choices, here’s a brief explanation of some travel arrangements you could make for your pet.

Mattie moved from Texas to South Carolina.


Your Options: Types of Ground Transportation

Private Ground (our preferred method):

Our private ground transportation service includes a driver for just your pets (no other pets other than your own will be added to this driver’s itinerary), which allows for personalized attention and care, consistent updates and expectations throughout the drive, and elimination of added stress from unfamiliar pets.

Dedicated stops are provided every 2-4 hours to ensure your pets are walked, get a bathroom break, and have fresh water. Dogs are not required to travel in a crate, if comfortable traveling in a vehicle. You can pack favorite items (bedding, home bowls, bags of food/treats, toys, etc.) to help make your pets more comfortable during the journey. Medication can be administered as prescribed if needed. We have a preferred network of partners that go through our training to uphold to our high standards. You will also have the driver’s number, along with your relocation coordinator’s, and photos will be provided along the trip (updates provided 2-3 times per day!).

Boxer, Zoey, moved with PetRelocation
Zoey traveled from Boston to Miami on a PetRelocation private drive. 


Another benefit of ground is the lower additional cost of adding multiple pets (compared to air). Since drivers are paid by the hour, and not based on the size and weight of each pet, a larger fur family of three or four can travel together for more nominal increase in the overall cost, which can come as a relief to those with ground as their sole option.

What are the costs incurred for private ground transportation? Costs will vary depending on vehicle size needed, how many miles traveled, if an overnight pet hotel is needed, and duration of your pet’s trip. Our ground transportation rates start at $2200 - $2400 for a 10-hour drive and increase to around $6000 - $6400 for a cross-country journey.

Shared Ground:

Some companies provide what we call “shared ground transportation”. As a pet owner, your role in the process would be to request a shipment to be transported (in this case, your pet), connect with a driver from within that company’s network, and then determine individually whether to move forward with enlisting his or her services.

While this is certainly a lower cost option than private ground, we do want pet owners to be aware of a few key differences:

The potential of MULtiple stops, other animals

In order to streamline costs and create delivery efficiencies for drivers, some companies will combine shipments headed in the same direction. This presents a possibility that your pet will be one of multiple deliveries, which could add to duration of an already extended trip by car. This may not be a good fit for pets that experience anxiety, or pet owners who want to keep the journey as short as possible.

Training and Certification Requirements

Drivers hired through shared shipping services may not be formally trained to transport and handle animals, or may not meet the certification standards to which PetRelocation holds its private ground drivers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but know that the likelihood of experiencing varied results is higher than if a shipper is vetted and qualified to be a pet shipper.

Less control over desired travel dates

Even though shared drives come with a lower price tag, this does mean that your move date may need to be flexible. Since other pet families may request to travel on a particular week, it may not always line up with the week of transport you might be hoping for, therefore, a shared drive would need you to be lenient on timing in order to coordinate with a driver’s schedule.

If lowering costs is critical for your pet’s move, shared ground is definitely something to look into—each move and situation is unique, and we know that private does not work for everyone!

If you have more questions about ground transportation, we encourage you to contact our team so you can make the best decision possible for your fur-family’s upcoming journey.  


PetRelocation Team


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Cats, Dogs, Birds, Rabbits, Horses, Reptiles, Snub-Nosed Breeds, Hamsters


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