With more than 29 million pets across Australia, more of us than ever before are hitting the road with our pets in tow. The right preparations for travelling with pets can help keep you safe, sane and having fun. Get prepared and equipped with our pet travel guide.
Pet travel guide: Preparing for every trip, big or small
Preparing your pet and your car is essential for a comfy trip. Play with your pet before travelling so they’ll be less active in the car. If you’re planning to travel a long way, start with a few short local trips beforehand to get your pet used to your car. This can also help identify pets who get carsick early, so you can get medication from your vet if required. Make sure to have regular drink stops, as cars can be dehydrating for pets, and take a couple of familiar pet toys to reduce anxiety.
While it’s great to have your pets with you on the trip of a lifetime, sometimes staying home is actually the better option. Longer trips can be an anxious experience for pets, which is ultimately stressful for you, too. If you’re planning to be away for a while, a pet sitting service is a great idea.
Keeping your precious cargo safe
The right safety equipment ensures your pet doesn’t make a break for it out the window, distract you while you’re driving, or become a heartbreaking projectile if you’re involved in a traffic incident. While the road rules about travelling with pets differ from state to state, driving with your pet in your lap is always illegal, and not having proper control of your vehicle because you’re dealing with a rogue pet can land you a fine.
Invest in a good quality pet restraint, for both their safety and yours. You can choose between pet seatbelts, pet carriers and enclosed pet boxes. Pets should never travel in the front seat, as airbags pose a danger. Instead, secure them in the rear passenger seat, or in the spacious boot of a wagon behind a cargo barrier; if you’re travelling without a carrier, harness your pet to the barrier. Only put your pet in your cargo space if it isn’t too hot and has good airflow, and ensure that they have plenty of space to move around easily. If you have a ute, an enclosed shelter or cage is an option. Never use a choker chain.
The right ride for every pet
If you’re planning on a lot of travel with your best friend, the right ride can save you a lot of stress and hassle. If you’ve got a large dog, an SUV or ute is a great vehicle choice. Many SUV boots are big enough to comfortably house your dog, plus they’re easier to get in and out of. SUVs and utes have the added bonus of having plenty of room for your equipment too, such as camping gear (don’t forget the dog camping equipment, too!) Smaller pets don’t need anything specific beyond the basics for a comfortable ride, but you can make your own life easier by opting for a 4-door vehicle with easy access to the rear passenger seat for your pet carrier or restraint.
Some simple preparations will set you up to really enjoy life on the road with your pet. When you’re ready to set off, check out some of the great pet-friendly accommodation options around the country.
Get more expert advice on travelling safely with your dog here.