Keen to travel with dog or cat? There are now more pets than people in Australia, according to the Animal Health Alliance of Australia. Read this list of FAQs first.
1. Is it easy to travel with your pet? Our travel industry doesn’t seem that pet-friendly.
Times are changing. While the easiest way to travel with a pet is still the road-trip/camping holiday combo, according to president of the Caravan and Camping Industry Association, Theo Wilmont (and we’re inclined to agree – there are over 50 dog-friendly campsites in the popular Big4 Holiday Parks brand alone), there are other options. “I recently took my dog Ebony to Riverwood Downs, a rural property located at Barrington Tops, NSW,” reveals Gareth Brock, founder of pet boarding review website petcheck-in.com.au. “They’re very accommodating for ‘pet parents’, with Ebony even offered her own pet menu – she had the Home Made Treat Tasting Plate (!).”
2. But I’m not a camper…
Get online – websites such as airbnb.com are an absolute goldmine. “If you can’t find what you’re after through the pet-friendly search filter, widen your search to include other properties and contact the hosts directly to explain your situation. Some hosts aren’t listed as pet-friendly but are open to certain pets, particularly those that are adorably well-behaved,” says Airbnb country manager, Sam McDonagh. Pet-specific websites such as lovemelovemydog.com.au and dogsonholidays.com.au are also useful, although pet-friendly search filters on sites like lastminute.com.au might offer you more variety.
3. Can my pet and I stay in ‘normal’ hotels yet?
Amazingly, yes: an increasing number of motels, hotels and resorts now accept pets, including big-name brands like Best Western, Quest Serviced Apartments, Mercure and Quality Hotel. Pet-friendly status is up to the management of each property, however, so you still have to check with individual properties, but things are looking up. Expect to pay a bond, an additional cleaning fee upfront and/or to be given a ground-floor room with access to outdoors. And for your pet, many pats.
4. My dog hates being in the car. How can I convince him/her that road tripping is fun?
“The car can be quite stressful for pets,” agrees Brock. “Many pets’ first or only experiences of travelling in a car are going to the dreaded vet.” You can easily desensitise your dog to the car with positive reinforcement, he says (i.e. treats). “For cat lovers, playing classical music works wonders.”
5. What about flying, instead?
Of the major domestic airlines, only Qantas and Virgin Australia will transport pets. Cost-wise, pets are treated as baggage if you’re flying with them, though you’ll also need to provide your own crate (or hire one direct from the airline for around $50–$80). You also need to request your pet’s flight in advance (we’d suggest giving at least two weeks’ notice in high-season periods, as freight travel can fill up).
6. Can my pet come in the cabin with me?
This is becoming increasingly common in other countries – Etihad Airways even allows falcons on board, according to its website (although you may only bring a maximum of two of your falcons at any one time), while British Airways allows cats or dogs in the cabin (in a carrier) if they weigh less than six kilograms. In Australia, this isn’t possible yet, but we’d say it’s only a matter of time.
7. What happens when my pet flies in the hold?
After checking in 90 minutes prior to the flight, your pet will be held in the freight area. Once boarded, they’re kept in their carriers, in a cabin usually below the main passenger cabin, in the same climate-, pressure- and light-controlled conditions.
8. What happens if my pet misses the flight?!
Extra peace of mind can be sought with businesses such as JetPets, which offers door-to-door service including transport, crate hire, transit lounge access and certification to open your pet’s crate before and after the flight, and comfort it if required. Cost is from around $300 including the flight. jetpets.com.au