Taking your pet on holidays?

Australia has some of the best outdoor places to visit – there's just so much to see and do! With so many Aussies sharing their hearts and homes with a furry companion, it's no wonder that they choose to take their pets with them on holidays.

Being able to take your beloved pet with you when you go away is a huge advantage. Here’s what you need to know.

Why take pets with you on holiday

Lucky for Australian animal lovers they will get a much warmer welcome than actor Johnny Depp’s terriers received when they jetted in, then out, of the country in 2015. 

There are a number of options catering for travellers to stay with their pets with a growing number of pet-friendly destinations around the states. These are often located near the local dog-friendly or park and can direct you to other local amenities you may require including cafes, groomers, vets and the like.

And, with the price of boarding starting from about $280 a week for small dogs, $150 for cats and rabbits, and $100 or so for birds, while pet minders start from about $140 a week, you’re likely to come out ahead. Your pet will thank you for it!

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If you are looking for a good place to leave your dog while you travel try www.madpaws.com.au

Getting your pet to the location

For obvious reasons, domestic animals are banned from all national parks, nature reserves and state recreation areas so camping or visiting them is not possible with pet. Some forests may allow a leashed dog but check before you go.

What about five-star hotels? Even if you’re an A-lister, there are few and far between. Pier One Sydney Harbour accommodates dogs only and they must be booked on the De Vil Pet Pamper Package. All other pets and animals are still not allowed. Sorry Felix!

Pack smart when staying with pets

The key is, of course, to be prepared. Planning is everything. Like the Depp debacle revealed, just turning up with animals in tow is not the way to go. There are differences between travelling with cats and dogs.

For travelling around Australia for a weekend away or on a dream of a lifetime road trip, a dog may be the perfect companion and will enjoy fresh horizons with as much joy as you do.

Cats are not so well suited to road trips but are better able to settle down for a week’s stay in one location such as a holiday apartment or house such as you’d find on Stayz or Airbnb.

Or, go online and check relevant real-estate websites and such as Elders New Brighton, near Brunswick Heads in northern NSW, which states “No need to leave your pet at home we have pet-friendly homes conveniently located near the dog walking areas to the north and south of our pristine beaches”.

Pack their bedding, pooper scooper and bags or kitty litter equipment, toys, first aid kit or medications, food and water bowls. Research expected stops along your journey and book ahead.

No pets on furniture seems to be a universal rule (good luck with that one!) but sleeping may be permitted, otherwise a covered spot outside may be provided.

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Some places are truly pet-friendly while others might be pet tolerant

Most accommodation does not charge extra for your animal but it’s best to clarify at the time of booking.

Online bed and breakfast-style places can be found at Stayz and Airbnb, both of which have pet options and conditions listed.

Just search Stayz for pet friendly accommodation and both NSW and Victoria come up with well over 2000 options each, Queensland has some 1100, SA and WA about 500 or so, Tassie nearly 200 and NT offers 54 and ACT just 15.

However, you cannot filter the Airbnb accommodation options by listings that allow pets on the premises but the option will appear on listing if available – you can always make a special request if it’s not mentioned.

Contact real-estate agents in your destination for holiday lets that will approve pet stays. This kind of travel will best suit cats, for example, who are less keen and not so suitable to take on road trips.

Getting there

Animals except for service dogs are pretty much banned on public transport throughout the country so there are only two ways to go: by air or by car.

Sydney-based retiree Pam takes a road trip when she drives with her two dogs to stay with friends on the Gold Coast, stopping at pre-arranged motels along the way. “The boys just love staying at a new place. They get so excited,” she says.

Air travel

Airlines will not allow animals under the age of 8 weeks to travel, as the risk of severe dehydration is too high. Make sure your pet has plenty to drink before check-in.

Do not sedate any pets before travel as they will be more distressed as the medication affects their balance. Carriers usually say that they do not bear the responsibility for pets who become ill during travel.

Most carriers require that pets be checked in at least two hours before departure.

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For an easier and more comfortable option, contact a pet travel consultant who help organise your pet’s trip in the quickest and most comfortable way possible

Checklist: what to take

  • Copy of microchip info, medical records, pet insurance policy
  • Collar with tag and mobile number
  • Bedding, lead/harness, toys, grooming gear
  • Food and water bowls and supplies
  • Suitable cage/enclosure
  • Kitty trays and litter, poop bags
  • First aid kit, medication, tick and flea control

What to ask when booking

  • Are there any extra costs to bring my pet to stay?
  • Can my dog/cat stay inside?
  • Is a kennel or a sleeping area provided?
  • Is the property securely fenced?
  • Is my dog required to be on a lead?
  • Are there nearby exercise areas?

For more information
Buy the 12th Edition of Holidaying with Dogs which has more Australian pet-friendly places to stay than ever before. Including host farms, B&B’s, cottages, motels, holiday houses, caravan parks and camping grounds. 

What are your tips for taking pets with you on holidays or arranging to leave them at home? Join the conversation!