Travelling with pets
Make your travel plans with your pet happy and hassle-free with some of our best pet transport tips.
We love travelling and, where possible, we always include our pets in our travel plans. Having driven the Queensland - Victoria route three times with two dogs, two cats and an extraordinarily patient husband, I like to think I have the essentials for happy, hassle-free pet transport down to a T. What I've learned is that regardless of whether you're planning an overnight or a long-haul trip, the elements of a comfortable trip are essentially the same.
1. Familiarity, routine and comfort
I never thought I would be an advocate for crate-training of dogs. As our family grew and we were giving out premium bed real estate to our four-legged friends, we started crate-training. It was life changing - for us and the dogs. The dogs each have their own crates and no one is more surprised than me as to how much they love them. Their crate is a familiar, safe place of their own and, when travelling, a crate is our #1 essential. We know that regardless of where we are staying, the crate means that everyone has a comfortable (and safe) night's sleep.
Routine is good for all members of the family, including your pets, especially at meal time. Pre-measure, bag and label each meal for each pet for the duration of the trip. Meal times are as easy as lining up the bowls and emptying the bags.
One of my greatest fears when travelling with our pets is that they might have an accident, get sick or lost.
Microchip your pets
If your pet becomes lost or goes missing, a microchip could be the difference between you being successfully reunited with your pet, or not. It is important you keep your details up to date on the microchip register and you register your pet on a national database. There are around seven microchip registries in Australia, some of which do not release information inter-state.
Responsible pet ownership means being able to take care of your pets’ health needs. Each of our pets has the best pet insurance we can afford and with this comes peace of mind. You hope that you never have to use your insurance but if that day comes you will be immensely relieved, as we were when our cat had an accident jumping off a bathroom countertop. Our beloved cat, Kiki, literally has a bionic leg and is now living a happy, healthy life – thanks to pet insurance.
Always travel with a first aid kit. There are a number of pet first aid kits available, or items you can purchase to add to your own first aid kit. Speak to your vet about recognising common conditions such as heat stroke, poisoning, venomous bites, trauma, choking and ticks and an appropriate treatment.
On the road
Keep your pets secure in a travel crate or harness and seatbelt when driving. Ensure that you allow your pets to take regular comfort breaks to go to the toilet and stretch their legs. If you are travelling with cats, you may need to invest in a portable enclosure for roadside comfort stops. It’s a little tricky, but manageable! Above all, never leave your pets unattended in a car for any period of time.
3. Good pet citizenship
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Pets can be unpredictable. Our pets are generally well-trained but unfamiliar surroundings or events can result in erratic behaviour. Minimise the stress and impact this has on you and others by practicing good dog citizenship.
Plan ahead to secure accommodation that will welcome your four-legged friends. Our travel destinations and routes are largely determined by where we can stay and how long it will take us to get there! Pack plenty of throw-overs to protect furniture in your rented accommodation. Where possible, don’t allow your dogs to bark and always pick up and dispose of their droppings. And, always keep your dogs under control in public places.
Practicing good pet citizenship means that proprietors will be more willing to welcome pets, and that’s a good thing.