• Use a pet carrier or harness to stop your pet running about the car
  • Keep your pet from becoming anxious and causing harm while you travel
  • Plan your journeys carefully, and stop regularly for feeding and toilet breaks (pet AND owner!)

More and more holiday destinations are becoming pet-friendly and welcome your four legged friends. Man’s best friends have now become man’s best holiday companion too!

If you have animals, planning for a holiday should include how care will be provided for them too. Some animals would be too difficult to take with you on holiday. You wouldn’t realistically be able to transport an aquarium across the English Channel to your favourite spot in France. Please don’t try this at home!

And you certainly don’t want to fall foul of the authorities like film star Johnny Depp did by taking his pet pooches into Australia and allegedly not following quarantine procedures.

With this in mind, we’ve a few ideas about what to remember when you’re looking at your next holiday destination and no matter where you travel, always make sure you’ve got your pet insurance organised.

EU and non-EU countries

If you’re travelling within the EU there are fewer restrictions on your travel. You still need to be aware of the regulations though and it’s good to give yourself plenty of time to get organised.

Gov.uk has the pet travel information you need for when you’re planning your trip.

Plan in advance how you’re going to travel

If you’re flying out to a sunny location for a couple of weeks to get away, taking your pet may not be possible.

Airlines have rules they need to follow for transporting animals, and unless you’re emigrating or relocating you don’t want to put your pooch or kitty through the unnecessary stress.

When travelling by plane, train or ferry (PDF 91.7 KB), you should always contact the company you’re travelling with to confirm their pet travel policies, remember, there are different rules for assistance dogs too.

Pets can become very anxious and nervous when travelling, there will be new noises, smells and you won’t always be able to comfort them while they travel, depending on where they are located. You should consider this before you plan to either take your animal with you, or you could leave them in the care of someone you trust.

Travelling with assistance dogs – fly, ferry or train

If you’re going to fly, you can take your assistance dog in the cabin of the plane when travelling with an airline that has an operating licence issued by an EU country.

You should plan your journey as early as possible. Routes may change and new ones may be added. Some routes are seasonal or irregular so check availability and all your other proposed travel arrangements with the transport company before booking your journey to the UK. Check the costs, requirements and procedures. Companies may have their own additional conditions of travel. – Gov.uk advice

Plane, ferry and train companies subject to EU law, must accept recognised assistance dogs, so there’s no need to worry about having to leave them at home.

If you do need to leave them behind though, the RSPCA has a helpful guide on what you can do.

Staying with a friend or family

If you have a dog, and you don’t want to leave them on their own you can ask a friend of family member if they will look after them while you’re away.

It’s good for your animal to have contact with someone they trust, just as much as it is for you to know they are safe. Then you can enjoy your holiday without worrying about them.

Pet hotel – dog cat home, kennels, cattery

Kennels and cattery boarding, or ‘pet hotels’ as they’re often called now are an alternative option. They look after your pet, keep them safe, feed them regularly and look after their health and welfare too.

Many centres dedicate time for play, regular walking and socialising with your dog or cat so they don’t get lonely.

Travelling in the car

If you’re driving to your destination, it makes taking your pet with you a lot easier and here are some things to remember:

  • Don’t let your animal have the freedom of the car, keep them restrained with a suitable harness
  • If you have a small animal, use a pet carrier – if you use one, they must be able to stand, turn around and lay down inside it
  • Don’t feed them their normal amount of food before you travel, cut it in half but feed them at rest stops
  • Remember, they need the toilet and breaks just as much as you, stop every couple of hours for toilet, food and walking
  • Dogs and cats can get car sick – get them used to travel with short journeys first and feed them around three hours before you travel to help prevent motion sickness
  • Taking them for a really long walk before you travel may also help, this will tire them out and reduce anxiety
  • Boredom can be a problem solved with a new toy and their favourite comfy blanket
  • Don’t let your dog put its head out the window – they can get hurt by flying objects
  • Never leave your pet alone in the car, animals can overheat quickly – the RSPCA has handy hints and information on this or check out our tips on a safe and stress-free way to transport your dog
  • Take water for them with you, have a drinking bowl ready to use
  • When you stop to stretch both yours and your pets legs, put their lead on before you get out the car so they can’t make a run for it – they may be anxious from being in new surroundings