Unfortunately, many people get put off planning a road trip in caravan/motorhome or car because they have a pet. Not wanting to inconvenience their friends or family or use a kennel to look after their pooch they forgo the thought of seeing Australia.
I want to put those fears to rest and encourage any pet owner not to hesitate – go forth and enjoy an extended holiday with your loved friend. You won’t regret it and for many it will make the holiday so much more enjoyable. Afterall they are great company.
Like everything with RV’ing a compromise is often called for. By this I mean; whilst there are now many caravan / holiday parks that welcome pets – National parks do not.
But don’t let this put you off. We spend 4 years travelling with ‘Teddy’ our miniature Schnauzer and never missed out. Australia is a big place with so much to see even if you do miss a few National Parks.
But for us, when it came time to explore a famous National Park we looked for the closest campsite that permitted animals (be it free camp or paid park) where we knew there would be other pet owners. A social visit was all it took to arrange for a pet sitter, in return we did the same for them the next day. Easy…and we made a new set of friends in the process.
Vets: Quite often local vets allow you to leave your pet for short term boarding if there are no other options in the area. It’s definitely worth making a phone call if there’s vets in the area and you can’t find an alternative pet sitting service.
Now that you are convinced here are a few pointers to ensure your trip is a success.
Before you leave:
- Ensure your pet is fully vaccinated and its registration is up-to-date
- Have your pet Microchipped – the best way to identify a pet that goes walkabout
- Put your pet’s name and your mobile number on a name tag attached to their collar
- Ensure you have the appropriate equipment to transport your pet
- Make sure you pack everything your pet will need for the duration of the trip, as you may not be able to buy the products when travelling in regional areas.
Items to pack for your pet:
- Vaccination papers – very important if you want to leave your pet at a boarding kennel for a day, E.g. National Park visit where pets are not permitted. Kennels may refuse to take your pet if you are unable to provide proof of vaccinations.
- Food, water bowl and treats
- Grooming equipment, such as clippers, brushes, shampoo
- Toys, blankets (coat if required)
- Plastic bags or ‘Pooper Scooper’ to clean up after your pet and keep Australia beautiful
- Collar and lead – a pre-requisite of caravan parks
- Any medication your pet might require
- Sleeping bed, folding kennel.
Sleeping mate: Not everyone wants to have their dog sleep inside. An RV can be a cramped space for two without a four-legged friend claiming territory, not to mention their smell will permeate your living space for years to come – not good for re-sale. And pet hair is a bugger to remove.
A portable kennel is an alternative to consider. Our Teddy never once came inside, she hated it. In summer she slept on a folding travel bed which kept her off the floor and in cooler or wet days I initially made a kennel from a cardboard box to put over the bed – A frame design worked best. Easily replaced, free and warm (paper is a good insulator). Both these options pack flat and are lightweight.
We then moved up to an aircraft carry case (the type use to carry pets’ onboard planes) these split in half for packing, have air holes along all sides and a locking door that can be easily removed. Throw over a tarp and you have a waterproof house that will be loved by Fido. It doubles up if you need to fly home for any reason.
Reminder: All RVs have weight limits and pet accessories all add up despite what you think they only need the basics to live well.
While travelling, look after your pet:
- Take enough water for them for the journey
- If you are taking your cat or bird, which traditionally do not like to travel, place a blanket or cover over their carry cage in the car, as this can help to keep them calm.
- Make sure they do not overheat or get too cold
- Make regular stops to exercise your dog during long journeys
- NEVER leave your pet inside a car – even on cool days. Leaving the window open can still overheat your pet with potentially disastrous consequences.
During your stay at a caravan / holiday park, make sure you:
- Respect the park’s regulations and be considerate of your fellow guests – don’t allow your pet to dominate the space.
- Always pick up any dog droppings
- Always Keep your pet under control, as much as for their safety as the safety of those around you.
- Barking dogs are not easily tolerated so do the training before you leave
With proper planning, your pet will enjoy their holiday as much as the rest of the family!
On the road, it is important to keep an eye on your pet, some animals react differently to travel and without proper care it can cause them distress. If you are planning to take them on a long car trip, it might be worthwhile taking them on a few day drives to monitor their behaviour first. Dogs can get car sick just like us. Talk to your vet if they show signs of this.
Restraining your pet is law in many states. There are now seat belts for dogs who should always travel in the back seat or tray area – never in the front seat or on your lap. A seat cover or travel hammock are a great invention: Check this one out:
Going it alone. If this it is still not for you or you don’t want to miss anything (activities, National parks etc.) then consider leaving your loved one at home with a house/pet sitter or friends.
House sitting is a great service, your pet remains in their home feeling a lot more secure than at a kennel. They soon adapt to a new carer which is peace of mind for owners. The bonus your house is also secure.
Dogs don’t have a good perception of time and they don’t forget you. You get the same reaction from them when you return whether you are away for a week or for a year! So, go and enjoy your trip travelling Australia and your dogs will still love you when you get home!
Time to Hit the Road
Now you have all the facts, its time to start planning that long-awaited trip. If in doubt start off with a series of weekend adventures to caravan parks close to you, going further afield the next time. It won’t take long to know if you and your pet are travellers inching to follow the sun come winter time.
What are you waiting for – just do it!
This article is an extract from Chad’s RV Newsletter ‘Aussie Life On Wheels’ which, thanks to Hudson Financial Planners, you can grab your FREE copy by clicking this link: www.AussieLifeOnWheels.com/free-issue.html
Here you will find additional informative insights, invaluable tips, lots of laughs and exciting places to visit. An entertaining read and a useful tool for all Caravan & Motorhome owners and would be owners.
Chad and his partner are veteran caravaners. (10 years into a 2-year trip around Australia!). Chad has spent years researching vans and equipment, knows most of the ins and outs of living on the road and how they earn a living from their van.
They are also long-term clients of Hudson Financial Planners.