Top Tips for Travelling with Pets by Car

Get to grips with pet travel essentials before hitting the road with your furry friend.
Published on June 15th, 2020
  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas


Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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Travelling with pets can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires careful planning and preparation to ensure the safety and comfort of your furry companions. Whether you're embarking on a road trip or simply running errands around town, it's essential to get to grips with pet travel essentials before leaving home with your furry friend. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore top tips for travelling with pets by car, covering everything from pre-trip preparations to on-the-road safety measures.

1. Prepare for the journey

  • Get a check-up: schedule a vet visit before longer trips to ensure your pet is healthy and fit for travel. Discuss any travel concerns with your veterinarian, especially if your pet has any pre-existing health conditions, and get a copy of your pet’s medical records to bring along on your trip.
  • Microchip and identification: ensure your pet is microchipped. Depending on your pet and where you live, this may be a legal requirement. You may also want to consider a collar with up-to-date identification tags, including your name, phone number and emergency contact information. This is crucial in case your pet gets separated from you during the trip.
  • Practice makes perfect: get your pet accustomed to being in a car by taking short rides beforehand. Gradually increase the duration of these rides to build their confidence and comfort level.
  • Crate or carrier: while not a legal requirement, you should invest in a secure and comfortable crate or carrier that fits your pet's size. Depending on your pet, consider species-specific adaptations: 
    • Small pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.): invest in a secure and well-ventilated carrier sized appropriately for your pet. Ensure the carrier has a secure latch and consider lining the bottom with absorbent material in case of accidents.
    • Birds: use a travel cage specifically designed for birds, offering ample space and perches for them to move around. Cover the cage partially with a breathable cloth to provide a sense of security and avoid direct sunlight.
  • Familiar comforts: pack familiar items from home, such as your pet's favourite blanket, bed or toys, to help them feel comfortable and secure in the car.
  • Check the rules: it is also important to check local laws about driving with animals to ensure you to not face any penalties. Driving with a dog on your lap is an offence across Australia and there are a number of state-specific rules to be aware of. For example, in Queensland, if you are transporting a dog inside a vehicle, no part of it other than its head can protrude from the vehicle.

2. Pack the essentials

  • Food and water: pack enough food and water for the entire trip, along with a portable water bowl and food container. Consider bringing extra just in case of unexpected delays.
  • Waste management: pack plenty of waste bags and a portable waste disposal system to be a responsible pet owner on the go. Don't forget to dispose of waste properly at designated pet waste disposal stations.
  • Leash and harness: if you’re travelling with a dog – or maybe a well-trained cat – bring a sturdy leash and harness for walks, bathroom breaks and exploring pet-friendly destinations along the way.
  • First-aid kit: pack a basic pet first-aid kit containing essential items such as gauze, antiseptic wipes and any medication your pet may require.
  • Entertainment: pack some chew toys, puzzle toys or interactive games to keep your pet entertained and mentally stimulated during the journey.

3. Ensure a safe and comfortable ride

  • Secure your pet: never let your pet roam freely inside the car. Use an appropriate crate, carrier or harness secured with a seatbelt to prevent them from becoming a distraction or getting injured in case of sudden stops or jumping or falling from the vehicle. According to the RSPCA, each year 5,000 dogs are injured or killed as a result of jumping from a moving car.
  • Temperature control: maintain a comfortable temperature inside the car for your pet. Never leave them unattended in a hot car, even for short periods, as this can be life-threatening. Temperatures inside cars left in the sun can exceed 80°C within 20 minutes, and it only takes six minutes for a dog to overheat in a hot vehicle.  
  • Hydration stops: if you’re travelling with your dog or cat, make sure you stop regularly to offer them water and allow them to relieve themselves. Look for pet-friendly rest stops or designated dog parks along the way.
  • Motion sickness: if your pet is prone to motion sickness, consult your veterinarian about safe and effective medication options to prevent discomfort during the trip.
  • Plan your route: research pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and rest stops along your route. Many establishments now welcome well-behaved pets, making your journey more enjoyable for you and your furry companion.

4. Additional comforts

  • Feed your pet strategically: avoid feeding your pet a large meal before or during the trip, as this can lead to nausea or motion sickness. Smaller, more frequent meals are generally better tolerated.
  • Keep it calm: maintain a calm and reassuring demeanour throughout the journey. Your pet can pick up on your emotions, and anxiety can worsen their travel experience.
  • Bring positive distractions: play calming music or audiobooks to create a relaxing atmosphere for your pet. You can also try using calming sprays or pheromone diffusers to reduce anxiety.
  • Clean up after your pet: Pack cleaning supplies like paper towels, disinfectant wipes and odour eliminators to deal with any accidents or messes that might occur during the trip. When the trip is over, you may wish to do a deeper clean to remove pet hair from the car and any lingering smells.

Travelling with pets by car requires thoughtful planning and consideration to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of your animal companion. Knowing that you've taken the necessary steps can give you peace of mind and help make the experience enjoyable for both you and your pet.

If you're in the market for a new or used car for your pet-friendly adventures, consider Savvy. With personalised service and access to a wide range of loan options, we can help you find the perfect vehicle to suit your needs and budget. Don't let financing concerns stand in the way of your next pet-friendly road trip – let Savvy help you hit the road with confidence. Get started today!

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