Wondering how to travel with a hamster or other pocket pet? Learn from someone who has done it. After all, why should dogs (and cats) have all the fun adventures?

Hamster sitting up in cage - Traveling with Hamsters

We talk a lot around here about traveling with dogs … mostly because that’s all we know! But people travel with all kinds of pets – including cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs, ferrets, and hamsters. Since we have no insights into what traveling with other types of pets is like, we’re happy to bring you this guest post by Emmy Scammahorn who took a long road trip with her hamster.

Traveling With A Hamster

When I knew I’d be traveling from Washington, D.C., to the Southwest for six weeks I longed to take my hamster, Maggie along —who, despite his name, is a boy.

But travel can be very stressful for hamsters. How would he cope? To test the waters we took a weekend “test trip” and Maggie was completely unfazed by riding in a car or being in a new environment. We were good to go!

So, Maggie and I took off on our adventure, flying from Washington, D.C., to Arizona, then driving throughout the Southwest.

Emmy and Maggie

Flying With A Hamster

Frontier Airlines is the only commercial airline to welcome hamsters to fly in-cabin. I booked our flight when Maggie would be asleep, which was easy, since hamsters are nocturnal. And I chose a seat in front of the wings, so it was quieter.

Frontier’s Traveling with Pets page provides all the details to prepare for your flight except one … you’ll have to take your hammie out of his cage and carry him through the scanner at security.

READ MORE ⇒ U.S. Airline Pet Policies

Hamster sitting in a person's hand eating lettuce

A Traveling Hamster Needs The Right Carrier

To transport Maggie on the plane and in the car I bought a small travel carrier (affiliate link) – approximately 12″ x 8″ x 7″ high at its peak. Hamsters love to dig, so to make him comfortable and keep him entertained I scattered a generous amount of chow, seed mixture, and dry treats on the floor of the carrier.

On top of the food and snacks I placed a mixture of used and fresh bedding and his hut. I carried this small cage in a lightweight, slightly aerated tote bag, and on the plane I kept the carrier in the tote to minimize drafts. Keeping your hamster hydrated is a major concern, so I offered Maggie water, fruit and vegetables periodically throughout the trip.

Instead of packing food and bedding, I bought those things at a pet store when we reached our destination and donated the leftovers to an animal shelter before I flew home.

Where’s Maggie? Sound asleep under his house in the traveling cage.

Traveling With A Hamster By Car

In the car Maggie rode shotgun in the small travel carrier (affiliate link), fastened with the seat belt. I kept the windows up so he wouldn’t get drafts, the radio off so it was quiet and he could sleep, and periodically gave him fruit or veggies from the cooler.

When I stopped to eat or shop, I brought the carrier – tucked inside the tote bag – with me, so he wasn’t left alone in the car.

READ MORE ⇒ Is it Illegal to Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car?

Little girl in yard with hamster in her hands - Traveling with hamsters

Making Your Hamster Comfortable In A Hotel

Because a low price and unique experience were important to me on this trip, Maggie and I stayed primarily in vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts. But I also found pet friendly hotel chains like Motel 6 are good options … though be sure to check the reviews before you book. I got lucky — no one charged a pet fee for Maggie!

READ MORE ⇒ Pet Policies for All U.S. Hotel Chains


For our overnight stays, I also packed a larger cage (affiliate link) that, when folded down, fit easily into my 30″ suitcase. This was handy, because it gave Maggie more room to move around.

When we arrived at each new destination, I assembled the large cage (affiliate link) and, without waking Maggie, placed the small carrier inside it. Then I set up his water bottle, food bowl, and exercise wheel.

The majority of space in the big cage was for exercising – the small carrier was where Maggie slept. During the day, if he waited for me at the hotel, I’d draped a towel over the whole shebang to keep out noise and drafts!

At home I let Maggie run free for a bit every night, but it isn’t safe for your hamster to be turned loose in a hotel. A small animal exercise ball (affiliate link) is a much safer way for your hamster to explore his new environment. And for ultimate safety, use a piece of tape to keep the lid of the ball closed until your hammie is ready to get back in his cage.

Maggie at Motel 6

Keeping Your Hamster Fed And Happy While Traveling

The small-town grocery stores we visited didn’t have salad bars, so to get a variety of fruits and veggies every day I ordered salads at restaurants, asked grocery produce clerks for “leftovers,” or bought packaged salads.  I chose hotel rooms with a refrigerator, and we stayed at least two nights in each town so Maggie could get quality rest.

At nighttime, when he was most active, he’d run on his wheel, tootle around hotel rooms in his exercise ball, or play with the trash I’d turned into treasures to amuse him.

Maggie in Tunnel

Should YOU Travel With a Hamster

Maggie was my companion through a landscape of new places and new people … my only constant. With him along, I didn’t feel lonely. He showed no signs of stress: he ate, slept, and exercised as usual. Still, I questioned my decision. Should I have brought him?

In Sedona, Arizona, I voiced my concerns to an extraordinarily intuitive friend. She cocked her head, as if listening to something far off. “The travel has been a little uncomfortable,” she said, “but your hamster is okay. He just wants to be with you.”

My heart sang. Being together … it’s all our pets really want.

Emmy Scammahorn is an animal energy healer who lives in New Mexico. She and Maggie wrote a journal about their Southwest adventure.

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  • I have traveled with a guinea pig, two dogs and five adults in an RV. It was such a great trip to have everyone with us. Keeping them safe and comfortable was the main priority and all seemed to do well.

    • That’s wonderful, Diane! Good for you for including all your family members on the trip. It’s a wonderful way to make memories together!

  • Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: Flying With Pets, Health and Safety