Sit, Stay And Get The Scoop On Travelling With Your Pets

a  girls with glasses driving with her brown and white english bulldog on the shotgun

2.48min read

Published 22 December 2014


The holidays are officially in full swing. The first batch of rumballs has been exhausted, the pool is getting more action than it's had in months, and the kids are probably already complaining about being bored.

Those who haven't already settled in to their Christmas Day digs will soon be facing the fun task of loading up the car with food, gifts and, in some cases, their favourite four-legged friends.

Plenty of people are choosing to take the whole family on holidays this Christmas – including the furrier members of the gang. If you're planning on hitting the road or taking to the skies with your pets, avoid a 'ruff' journey by following this handy guide.


Pets on the Road

 a cream labrador riding the back of the light blue mini van with a brownish-orange guitar and a blue cooler box
Guitar? Check. Fishing rod? Check. Dog? Check.

There's nothing quite like the feeling of having your ears flap in the wind. If you're a dog enjoying a car ride, that is. Whether your pet is travelling via land or air, there are some pre-travel prerequisites:

  • Book in a check-up with the vet to ensure your pet is fit to fly or embark on a road trip. This includes being up to date with all vaccinations and worming. Grab a health certificate – aka a pet passport – if your pet is flying.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and recorded on a national register.
  • Brush up on any road rules regarding travelling with pets in the car, including how they might have to be restrained.
  • Get your pet comfortable with their container or travelling in the car. If your dog is prone to motion sickness, feed them a few hours beforehand and go for a nice long walk to relax them before their journey.

Once you've mapped out your route, the next step is finding pet-friendly accommodation. You might not be able to check into your preferred 5-star suite, but plenty of holiday homes – especially beach-side rentals – lay the welcome mat out to all guests, furry ones included.

Pets in the Air

 a blue and white pet crate underneath the seat
In some countries pets can travel in the cabin (sorry - not in Australia)

"Really?" you might be thinking. "Who would take their pets on a plane?". Pet air travel is becoming increasingly more popular.

Without a friend or family member to mind your Fido or Fluffy, your next option is a boarding facility – often referred to as pet resorts to stave off guilt. You'll want to up the holiday budget if you're thinking about boarding your pampered pet.

Flying with your pets is much more common overseas, especially in the United States where it's not unusual to see a tiny handbag-dwelling dog next to you in the aircraft cabin. Many airlines even offer loyalty programs for high-flying pets, like Virgin Australia's Velocity.

Each airline has set rules and strict guidelines for pet travel, so it's best to liaise with them directly or ask your travel consultant to do so on your behalf. Virgin Australia, for example, only accept a maximum of two pet cages per flight on most aircraft and should be booked well in advance.

RSPCA and Australian Assistance Dogs share their tips for travelling with pets

We answer your FAQs on domestic and international pet travel

Your pet container should be...

  • Supplied by yourself or purchased from an approved supplier like Dogtainers
  • In good condition and not collapsible, so your pet cannot escape
  • Made of metal or a polypropylene material without wheels
  • Strong enough to withstand any potential damage
  • Big enough for your pet to stand up, lie down and turn around
  • Lined with an absorbent material
  • Adequately locked with escape-proof latches
  • Generally no larger than 120cm x 80cm x 70cm

Your pets' in-flight health

Sedating your pet prior to travel isn't recommended and many airlines won't accept animals that have been sedated. A natural ginger-based tablet usually works for upset tummies, while nervous travellers can often be calmed with a dab of lavender oil.

Don't worry - your pet won't be travelling in 'cattle class'. They will be safely stowed in a presurised area, much the same as the cabin you're seated in.

Make sure there is a water bowl in their cage and attach some extra food to the outside of the container so ground staff can offer your pet a treat as soon as they land. Finally, remember to pack your pet's favourite toys and comfort items in their container or in the car to keep their tails wagging.

Flight Centre

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