Whenever I pack for a road trip, my cat climbs into my suitcase. I look into those sweet big eyes and say, "Sorry, but you can't come with me." But with an increasing number of hotels, inns, and resorts becoming more pet-friendly over the past few years, it is possible to bring your cat with you -- especially if it's a road trip.

My first choice is to leave my cat at home. Cats are territorial and enjoy being in familiar places, so we hire a cat sitter. However, according to the U.S. Travel Association, about 15 percent of the U.S. population takes cats on road trips.

Traveling with a cat is a lot like traveling with kids. You must include rest stops, so if it takes two hours to reach your destination, plan on taking three. Here are some essentials you should always pack for your pet-friendly road trip:

* Carpet cleaner and paper towels, in case of any accidents in hotel rooms
* Your cat's medical records, any meds he may be taking and a good first aid kit
* Cat toys
* A gallon jug of water
* Extra food
* A comfortable crate with toys and a blanket in it

When you get to your destination, make sure the hotel personnel know that you have a cat with you and that it is staying in your room. This way, there will be no surprises when the cleaning staff enters your room. Usually, hotels place pet signs on doors so they know not to keep them open.

You can also have pet sitters -- many pet-friendly hotels offer this service -- come into your room while you are out. Arrange this before you leave, and spend time with the pet sitter before you go off on your own. This way, you will be able to see how your cat and the sitter get along. Being in new surroundings can be daunting. Having a reliable cat sitter at your hotel will put your mind at ease, and make your cat feel more comfortable as well.