pet travel cat in a safe crate in a car back seat for travelling on the road

Road Tripping with Your Pet: A Guide


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Driving holidays, whether short or long ones, are the best. We’re big fans of pets here in New Zealand, so it makes sense that we’d be big fans of pet travel too. Holidays are just better with your best friend in the passenger seat. And by that, we mean your dog, cat, or other furry friend. We’re sure your human best friend will understand if they get demoted to the back seat.

We do have some advice on flying with pets. But during a pandemic, a road trip might be a better option for safe, relaxing time away.

Holiday road trips with your pets

There are two key ingredients to every successful road trip: planning your itinerary and making sure your car is up to the challenge.

And because pet travel makes your trip even more important, there’s one more essential; making sure your pet is travel-ready.

Ok, ok. Road trip snacks and a good playlist are pretty essential too. But we’ll leave those decisions completely in your hands.

Getting your car up to speed

Before you embark on any Easter roadtrips, you’ll need to make sure your car is ready for the road. Especially if pet travel is on the cards – you need a smooth ride for Fido and Felix, or you may risk travel sickness. Pet proof your car for this and more.

Remember to check some basics before you set off. Like the spare tyre and tyre changing tools, in-car first aid kit, oil level, tyre pressure, lights, windscreen wipers, window and door locks, etc. Better yet, consider taking it in for a check-up with a professional.

this white poodle is ready for pet travel and is sitting in the car passenger seat for a road trip

Pet travel friendly itinerary

Once you’re out of the city and cruising rural roads, consider this: no phone reception. If your only roadtrip planning is Google Maps, you might need to think about a back up.

Losing signal could result in driving to the middle of nowhere, dog or cat in tow! Or running out of petrol, not knowing where you are and not being able to call for assistance. Scary, right?

A little bit of preparation goes a long way. Here’s an Easter holiday road trip itinerary and packing checklist to get you started:

  • Make reservations at pet-friendly accommodation and double check them all before you set off, just in case
  • A physical copy of your maps or download an offline map to your phone
  • A list of emergency numbers on your route – vets, towing/roadside assistance services, and other key contacts
  • A spare emergency phone which stays switched off until you need it
  • A power bank
  • Food and drinks to last you a day or two, in case you get stuck somewhere – or just get hungry. This goes for your pets too. Pack plenty of water and non-perishable snacks for you both.
  • Pet lead/harness, or crate, toys, a blanket, and the all-important food and water bowl
  • Kids’ toys, if there are little humans on board
  • Basic medicine like paracetamol, plus any pet medication
man on the beach with a cat after a pet travel roadtrip

Pre-travel vet visit for your pet

It’s a good idea to have a vet check-up before your pet goes on any trip. Make sure your cat or dog’s vaccination, tick, flea, and worming schedules are up to date. A vet can also give them a general once over and make sure your pet seems in good spirits and health.

And if your pet has never roadtripped with you before, you might want to ask your vet’s advice on anxiety or motion sickness, just in case.

Even when you’re not travelling, it’s important to keep up with your routine pet care. And if you do have to put your pet into a kennel or cattery unexpectedly while you’re travelling, they’ll need to be in good shape before kennels will accept them.

Pet travel for the first or fiftieth time

If travelling with pets is a regular thing for you, your cat or dog will be old pros. But if it’s your pet’s first foray into road trips it’s advisable to start small. Go for some practice runs and familiarise yourself with pet car safety (here’s your ultimate guide to pet safety while driving).

In the days leading up to a big Easter road trip, take them on drives to the park, the beach or just around the block to begin with. Ideally, to places they already enjoy so you create a positive association with the car.

Finding pet friendly accommodation

From caravan parks through to guesthouses and luxury hotels, finding pet-friendly accommodation can be tricky.

Here are some resources to help you find the perfect place to rest your heads for the night:

For cat mums and dads, many websites which mention being ‘dog-friendly’ just mean pet. So give them a shot when searching for your dream accommodation.

woman sleeping with golden retriever dog and grey and white cat

Dangers of road trips with pets

Our research found one of Kiwis’ major concerns about holidaying with their pet is the possibility of losing them. Hopefully it doesn’t come to this, but if you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation, here are our tips on how to find a lost pet while on holiday.

The other consideration is accidents or illnesses, which can happen anywhere. Most vet bills don’t run into the thousands, but every so often you’re not so lucky. Talk about putting a dampener on a holiday.

After all, nobody wants their pets getting sick and needing medical treatment while on holiday, from a vet you’re unfamiliar with. But if it does happen, knowing that you have pet insurance can help to ease the burden.

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