>  Advice   >  Tips for travelling with pets

Here is all you need to know about travelling with pets. Because there is only one way to stop your dog or cat (or even your guinea pig) giving you the cold shoulder when you return home from your travels, and that is to take them with you.

Can my pet travel by plane?

Only service dogs are permitted to travel in a plane’s passenger cabin in Australia, but other animals can be accommodated in the cargo hold in a pet transport crate. The crate must be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down in. It must also have a water bowl big enough for the journey that is easily accessible by your pet and fillable from outside the cage.

Dogs and cats are welcome on Virgin Australia flights while QANTAS also accepts rabbits, guinea pigs and domestic fish and birds. Visit your vet before flying with your pet to ensure they are fit and healthy to fly. Also ensure your pet has time to get familiar to its travel crate a few weeks or months before travelling. And finally, remember to put a favorite comfort toy or blanket in with them.

Travelling overseas with your pet

Some airlines such as KLM, Air France, United Airlines and American Airlines will let you bring small pets into the passenger cabin on domestic flights. However, you will need to get your furry friend overseas first. Due to the complexity of quarantine laws and to ensure your pet’s well being, an approved International Pet & Animal Transportation Association agent should be used if you are flying internationally.

Preparing your pet for the plane

Consider flying early in the morning or in the late afternoon to minimise the chance of heat stress, particularly if you are travelling to or from a warm destination. On the day of travel, give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet, stretch and exercise prior to check-in at the cargo terminal.

Customers and their pets should arrive 90-120 minutes before departure. Completing the relevant paperwork on-line in advance will save you time. While it might seem like the right thing to do, you should not sedate your pet prior to travel. It’s important for staff to be able to tell if they are sick or sleepy when we check on them at different points in the journey.

Travelling by car or on a ferry with your pet

Thirty minutes into an eight-hour car journey is not the time to discover your pet gets car sick, so do a trial run first if they aren’t used to travelling by car. An approved dog vehicle restraint (or pet carrier for smaller animals) will help to ensure everyone has a safe and comfortable journey.

Make regular stops so your pet can stretch their legs and go to the toilet, but keep them on a lead so they don’t run away. If you would like to travel to or from Tasmania but would prefer not to fly, your pet can travel in one of the purpose built kennels on the Spirit of Tasmania for $22 each way.

Disclosure: The writer’s cat prefers to stay home when she goes on holiday although he is fond of jumping in the suitcase whenever she is trying to pack. 

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.