The key to stress-free car travel with this cute brown Hungarian Vizsla dog is planning and safety.

Tips for Travelling with Dogs, Cats and Horses


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Taking your furry bestie on a road trip these holidays IS possible with good planning. This pet travel guide explores the possibilities of holidaying with pets, including discovering pet friendly accommodation.

Our latest pet ownership research reveals 62% of our Kiwi pet owners make holidays a full family affair (fur kids included), with more than one in three of those respondents (38%) even having paid extra for pet-friendly accommodation. If you’re researching how you can achieve it, you’re not only not alone – you’re in the majority!

Because dogs, cats and horses tend to be the most likely travel companions, we’ve explored the possibilities with these animals in further detail below.

First, let’s look 👀 at your pet travel list.

Pet friendly accommodation makes it possible to take this New Zealand Heading Dog on a holiday.

Pet travel: what to pack

Your pets mightn’t have a toothbrush to pack but there are plenty of other pet travel essentials they’ll require.

The first thing to remember is pets can get motion sickness just like people. So, be sure to have what you need on hand to deal with this situation should it arise.

Once that’s sorted, here are other pet travel key considerations:

  • Cat harness or dog collar and with your pet’s name, address and contact details.
  • An extra lead because you can’t be too careful… perhaps it’s time to get a Lead the Way lead?
  • Medications, labelled clearly with dosage and pet’s name.
  • Sunscreen – dogs can get sunburn, as can cats and horses.
  • Fly protection for your horse, e.g. fly sheet, fly mask, bug spray
  • Familiar toys, scratching posts, bedding and food bowl that smell like home.
  • A portable pet water bottle and collapsible water bowl for the car.
  • Their regular food, plus a bit extra.
  • Portable litter tray and your cat’s usual litter.
  • Litter bags and scoops.
  • Travel towels and extras to wrap in case they get sick or injured.
  • Grooming supplies.
  • Extra bedding and blankets, especially if you’re travelling to somewhere colder than home.
  • A recent photo of your pet (in case they go missing).
  • Crate for your cat or dog – one that can be secured to the inside of the car
  • Comfy float (also called a trailer) for your horse, obviously

Stress-less holidaying with pets

Getting a better idea of what’s needed to make your holidaying with pets a happy reality? Now let’s look into the ins and outs of travelling with some of the better-suited pets – dogs, cats and horses.

Due to its pet friendly accommodation, this Boston Terrier loves travelling.

Holidaying with dogs 🐕

Because of their adventurous nature, dogs often make the best travelling companions. They travel light, they’re usually eager to explore new places and they never ask, “are we there yet?” or complain about how long it takes to hike through the bush to your secluded cabin.

Despite travel taking a lot of time, try to keep your dog on the same schedule. A familiar pet travel routine makes travelling less stressful for your doggo. Ensure they eat at regular times and get plenty of exercise. Don’t forget to bring your buddy’s favourite toy to keep them entertained – otherwise you’ll have a grumpy pup on your hands!

Also remember you shouldn’t leave your dog in the car unattended. This is important because leaving your dog unattended in the car can be dangerous due to the temperature of the car rising quickly, even if it’s not hot outside. This can cause heatstroke, dehydration and even death in extreme cases. Find out how to prevent heatstroke by reading this article – Heat Stroke in Pets: What It Is and How to Avoid It.

It’s also important to plan your stops so your pet has a chance to stretch and relieve themselves. Keep in mind that really young pets will always need more attention and stops than adult pets.

Most cats don't like to travel, but this tabby cat enjoys staying in pet friendly accommodation.

Holidaying with cats 🐈

While many cats don’t like to travel, some will relish the opportunity to explore the world with you. You only have to see these adorable photos of cats travelling to realise it can be done.

You know your cat best and if a 10-minute round trip to the vet leaves you with deep physical and emotional scarring – then you’re probably better off calling a cat-sitter.

However, if you think its temperament might suit travel with you, give it a go. The best planning you can do for this is practising travelling with your cat bit by bit. Increasingly longer car rides, training it to walk on a lead, overnight stays close to home then moving further afield, perhaps getting it used to a backpack cat carrier, and so on…

It could be much easier than you think!

A brown horse enjoys the grounds of a pet-friendly AirBnB.

Holidaying with horses 🐎

Holidaying with your horse can be a wonderful way to bond with them while exploring more of our countryside.

It’s also a quick way to explore a wide-open space like bushland or the coast! Is it time to let your mane loose and go strutting your stuff on the beach together? You know they’ll never judge you for your bikini body.

In addition to the must-haves in our ‘what to pack’ checklist, you’ll need to check your horse trailer inside and out, including tyres, and research the traffic situation along the way so you don’t run into lengthy delays.

This horsey website has some great tips on basic pieces of equipment you’ll need to bring along, including:

  • Water bucket/s
  • Hose, connectors, joiners
  • Horse feed, hay, hay net and feed tub
  • Spare halter
  • Basic farrier equip such as hoof pick, hoof cutters and a rasp
  • Shovel, poop scoop and poop cart or tub
  • Shavings for the float floor
  • Leg protection
  • Horse specific first aid kit

Many stayover options when holidaying with pets

Thanks to a plethora of pet-friendly accommodation options that cater for a wide range of pets, booking the right place is a cinch. Just remember to call ahead to double check what pets are accepted if it’s not clearly stated on the website.

Pet friendly accommodation

We know you don’t want to be separated from your pet over the holidays, so check out these pet friendly accommodation websites:

This ‘5 Purrrfect Pet Friendly NZ Airbnbs‘ article has great pet friendly Airbnbs to pick from too.

Travel is fun for this dog sticking its head out the car window.

Top 5 tips for holidaying with pets

The key to stress-free car travel with your furry BFF is good planning and an emphasis on safety. We’ve devised five essential tips for each of our focus pets.

Hassle-free travelling with dogs 🐶

  1. Secure your dog with a dog carrier or harness that’s anchored securely to an existing seat belt.
  2. Tether them on the back seat, away from fatal front airbags.
  3. Prevent driver distractions with a pet barrier.
  4. Give them plenty of ventilation while you’re driving.
  5. Keep them comfortable with a dog hammock or pet bed on the back seat.

Calm car travel with cats 🐱

  1. Buy a cat carrier that’s large enough for your tabby cat to hide in, but big enough for them to stand upright. Do you know what to look for when buying a pet carrier? If not, read this ‘How to Choose a Pet Carrier‘ article.
  2. Put a familiar towel or blanket inside to keep them comfortable.
  3. Secure the cat carrier with a seatbelt or tether in the boot so it doesn’t become a projectile.
  4. If the top of the carrier is open, covering it with a light blanket might help your kitty feel more secure.
  5. If your cat is distressed in the car or carrier, practising driving short distances might help them become accustomed to it.

Travelling long distances with horses 🐴

  1. Avoid feeding your horse grains and concentrated feeds 12-24 hours before departing to avoid colic and gastric ulcers.
  2. Make sure your float is well ventilated to prevent excessive sweating and dehydration.
  3. Avoid heavy traffic as this can cause your horse more anxiety.
  4. Keep an eye on your horse for signs of stress and fatigue.
  5. Allow one full day of rest for one full day (8 hours) of travel.
An adventurous ginger kitten steps out of its carrier to explore the grounds of pet friendly accommodation.

Just remember, if you’re travelling with a pet, you’re never really alone – you have a friend who’s always happy to see you, and never has to be reminded to put the seatbelt on!

Do you want to learn more about road-tripping with your pet? Here are some articles you might like:

‘Before you leave’ holidaying with pets checks

Round out your planning process with some final checks before you take off on your pet + person adventure. These include:

  • Check your pet insurance to make sure it’s up to date.
  • Play with your pet or give them a good run so they get lots of exercise before you go.
  • Avoid giving them a large meal just before you leave, so they don’t have a full stomach in the car.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped (if possible) in case they go missing while you’re away.
  • Ask your vet what first aid you should take with you.

Then, take a breath, relax and enjoy…

Pet insurance for your pawsome pal

Whether your dog or cat is driving or flying with you, be sure to give them a soft landing with dog insurance or cat insurance.

Besides covering a wide range of medical expenses across illnesses, injuries, allergies and more, it also offers third party liability cover for when they damage other people’s property (for pets without a history of aggression). So, if your always-innocent cat scratches the couch cover off at your Airbnb, you’ll be financially covered there too.

Our pet insurance covers your pets and your pocket. Plus, you’ll get one or more months of free insurance when you sign up below.

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