Holidaying with Pets – A Pet Travel Guide

With the Easter holidays just around the corner, and some travel restrictions still in place, you may be considering a family getaway in your local region. Whether you are planning a few day trips, a weekend down the coast or two weeks exploring your great state, the change of scenery will be a great chance to break the mundane routine of school and work! 

Once you make the decision to go however, next comes the planning and preparation. Where will you head to, what will you do, how will you travel and of course, who will you take?

Taking your pet on holidays

Our fur babies are our families, so it’s understandable that you will want to take them with you on your holiday, but will this destination be suitable for your pet? 

Travelling with pets has become a lot easier in recent years, with an abundance of new pet travel accessories, and improved pet friendly transport and accommodation options. Taking your pet along can be extremely enjoyable for all, it just involves a bit of preparation to ensure everything runs smoothly and safely for the whole family.  

Just keep in mind also, that cats are very territorial, and easily stressed, so they may be best suited at home with a pet sitter.

Different Pet Travel Options

With travel restrictions still in place in some areas, flights or public transport may be limited, so please be sure to do your research beforehand. Every state also has different protocols when it comes to pet travel, so check your local public transport website. 

Car Travel

In our current environment, travelling by car is the most popular mode of transport and can be a fun experience for the whole family including your fur-babies!

However some pets can suffer from anxiety and motion sickness, so it’s important to get your pet’s used to being in the car prior to your trip. Usual signs could be drooling, panting, yawning or trembling.

Spend time initially in the car while stationary, take on short trips, then progress to a longer journey, ensuring you reward them for their calm relaxed behaviour along the way. If this fails, your local vet may be able to recommend an anxiety or anti-nausea treatment.

Here are a few important tips for car travel:

  • Use a restraint or pet carrier – To reduce risk of injury to your pet or a distraction for the driver, it is important to restrain your pet. We recommend checking the laws as they can vary for each state/territory, and fines can apply. Dogs can be restrained using a harness or dog seat belt, preferably in the back seat to avoid injury from airbags, or both cats and dogs could use a crate or carrier. Avoid allowing your dog to hang their head out the window as serious injury could occur when swerving or braking.
  • Motion sickness – A common problem when travelling by any mode of transport is motion sickness. In order to avoid, try not to feed for 4-6 hours before travel. 
  • Air temperature and circulation – Ensure good, cool airflow from the air conditioner to avoid overheating and motion sickness, and never leave your car unattended.
  • Pack a pet travel bag – pack a small bag with your pets essentials including treats, food, toys, water, travel bowls, leash or harness. For hygiene, also pack some absorbent sheets, wipes, poo bags and a disposable litter box for your cat. 
  • Water – ensure you have ample water to keep hydrated along the way. 
  • Rest and exercise breaks – You will need to stop for regular stretch and toilet breaks. Aim to stop every two hours for some water and food or treats. Also be aware of their behaviour and signals along the way to avoid any unnecessary accidents. Also do some research and find a dog park along the way so they can get some well needed exercise on a long car ride.
  • Identification – ensure your pets tags and microchip details are up to date in case of emergency.

Train/Bus/Ferry Travel

For those planning day trips, or travelling to one of your nearby cities, a ride on public transport can be a great option. A new experience for not only your family, but also your furbabies!

Just keep in mind that there are different rules for each state/territory, so please do some research online before you set off on your journey and ensure you pack the essentials for the trip.

Plane Travel

Most major airlines accept domestic (or international) pet travel and depending on the airline pets can either travel in-cabin or be stowed away in the plane’s cargo.

There are special pet transport services available in Australia like Jetpets and AeroPets, but please check rules and processes before booking. Pet travel on aeroplanes is generally safe however there are risks of course, so we recommend doing your research first.

Before being allowed to book, you may also need to confirm your pet is over eight weeks old and has had a full health checkup with your vet prior to flying. Your vet will confirm vaccinations and ensure flea, tick and worming is all up-to-date. 

Here are some important tips for plane travel:

  • Find a comfortable and airline approved pet carrier – Avoid taking a carrier that is too small, however you will need to check required dimensions and regulations with your airline. 
  • Pack a dog travel bag – Pack a bag containing your pet’s necessities, like any medication, favourite toys and blankets, food and treats for the first few days. Also wipes and poo bags for any accidents on the way.
  • Health certificate – In some circumstances you will need a vet certificate to declare your pet is in good health and safe to travel. Check with your airline.
  • On the day of flight – To avoid an upset stomach, it’s best not to feed them too much within eight hours of travel. Also take your dog for a long walk prior if possible, to tire them out, make sure they are well hydrated and toilet them directly before the flight. If they are being put into the cargo hold, give them a piece of your clothing or favourite toy to help comfort them.
  • Note – If your dog is high stress, suffers from anxiety or has an aggressive temperament they may not be suited to flying. Sedation can be an option so please consult your vet. 

Choosing your Pet Friendly Accommodation

There are so many great pet friendly accommodation options available in Australia. You can try websites like holidayingwithdogs.com.au or your usual holiday site like airbnb.com or booking.com and just refine your search to include ‘Pet Friendly’ options. Campsites and holiday parks are usually a great option also.

Or for those looking for something a bit more luxurious, you can search for places like The Langham at The Rocks in Sydney, which caters for you and your pets with rooms including plush pet beds and pet room service! 

Just be sure to check there is secure fencing, as well as great dog-friendly spots near by (beaches, parks, walking tracks). Also keep in mind the parasite control required for the area and local hazards like poisonous snakes.

Options when Leaving Pets at Home

If you decide that travelling won’t be suitable, there are other great options when leaving your pets at home. 

Boarding Facilities

Boarding facilities can be found in just about every town or suburb and will look after your pet on their premises. We recommend you do some research, read testimonials and visit them to ensure you are choosing the right facility for your pet. Keep in mind your pets vaccinations and parasite prevention will need to be up to date. 

Pet Sitters

This is a great option to ensure your pets remain comfortable at home in their usual environment. Pet sitters will stay at your house and feed/walk your pets in their normal routine. Again, be sure to read testimonials, get references and arrange a meeting to ensure this is the right person for your family.

Final Important reminders before you set off on your trip!

  • Take your pet to the vet for a check up to ensure all treatments and immunisations are up-to-date and ensure you have your vet’s number for any emergencies along the way.
  • Ensure your pet identifications are up to date – tag and microchip
  • Read up on all the latest travel restrictions and regulations before leaving!

We hope you have a lovely holiday and enjoy travelling with your fur kids! If you need any supplies before you go, feel free to shop online.

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