How to keep your pets happy when you travel

dog in backseat of a car with a harness

Danny Baggs

Posted May 26, 2022

As much as we’d love to, we can’t always take our pets with us when we travel. Here’s how to keep your dog, cat, fish or bird happy when you’re on holidays.

Going on holidays is probably something you look forward to all year – but what about your pets? More than 25 per cent of dog and cat owners take their pets with them on holidays and road trips, according to a 2019 survey by Animal Medicines Australia.

If you can travel with your pet, RACV’s motorhome partner Apollo offers a selection of dog-friendly options, while NRMA Parks & Resorts also have several pet-friendly locations (and RACV Members save 10% when booking over the phone and quoting their member number). However, if you can’t bring your best furry friend with you, it’s important to keep them feeling safe and happy while you’re away.

bulldog in Hanrob Pet Hotel dog accommodation

Luxury pet hotels use private rooms with play sessions to keep your pup happy. Image: Hanrob Pet Hotel

How to travel without pets

You have several options when deciding how to care for your pets while you’re on holidays. According to Animal Medicines Australia, 48 per cent of pet owners ask their family to look after their pets when on holiday. A further 21 per cent would ask friends to petsit, while 12 per cent would ask neighbours and another 12 per cent would book their pets into a central boarding facility like a pet hotel. You could also hire a freelance or professional petsitter to do daily house visits. Which option is best for Fido or Fluffy often depends on your pet’s breed and temperament.


Most dogs crave companionship and routines, so being left behind while you go on holiday can be upsetting for them. You can make it easier on them by making sure to leave behind a blanket or piece of old clothing that smells like you in a warm and quiet place indoors. Leave out their favourite toys and hide a few treats around the house too. Synthetic pheromone diffusers like Adaptil can also help destress dogs in your absence.

If you don’t have a friend or dogsitter available to stay in your house with your dog while you’re away, the best thing to do for your pet is to book them into a kennel or pet hotel. A top pick is Hanrob Pet Hotel, located just a few minutes from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. Hanrob has over 40 years of experience in professional pet boarding and offers a wide range of packages to help you stay connected to your pet while you’re away (think Skype calls, photo updates, videos and more). The pet hotel also features nutritious food, play sessions with pet carers, an on-site Doggie Day Spa, one-on-one training, and of course private accommodation complete with bedding, blankets and toys.

gray cat sitting in windowsill

Cats may be happier at home than at a kennel. Image: Getty


Let’s be honest: your cat simply isn’t going to mind as much as your dog if you go away for a few days. Your cat might be a little miffed with you when you return but rest assured: they’ll be back purring in your lap soon enough.

Make sure you have plenty of scratchers, toys and soft beds or blankets around the house to keep them entertained and cosy. You could also plug in a Feliway diffuser, which releases happy, calming pheromones into the air to help reduce feline stress levels.

Cats will probably be happier left at your home instead of at a boarding kennel. If you have bonded cats, they will feel much calmer playing and cuddling in their home together rather than being split up at a hotel. Hire a cat sitter (or bribe one of your family members or friends) to stay with them or pop in once a day to refresh their water, refill their food bowls, change their litter, and give your cats some cuddles. If you’re only leaving for an overnight or weekend trip, you may even be able to get away with a gravity-fed water bowl and gravity-fed or automatic feeder.

If you can’t find a catsitter that you like, Hanrob Pet Hotel offers clean, calm and caring cat accommodation with plenty of natural light and air. They will play soothing music for your cat, feed them premium wet and dry meals, and give them toys, cat scratchers, and fluffy, non-allergenic bedding. There are also options to upgrade to luxury suites or cat villas that have secure outdoor courtyards and even TVs! If you have bonded cats and need to leave them at Hanrob, select a Cat Villa and they can room together. Optional extras like baths, cuddle time and special care are also available. 

six goldfish in aquarium

Automatic feeders or holiday feeding blocks may be enough for your fish if you're only away for a short time. Image: Getty


Cats and dogs certainly aren’t the only pets owned by Australians: other popular pets include fish, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, turtles and snakes. Around 11% of Australian households keep pet fish, with an average number of 10 fish per fish-owning household.  

Research your fish breed/s before your travel arrangements: some breeds can live for up to two weeks without food. Generally speaking, carnivorous fish can go without food for longer than herbivorous fish. You can use a holiday feeding block or an automatic feeder to keep fish fed while you’re away or engage a fish sitter and show them how much to feed your fish. Make sure to clean your aquarium before you go, checking all your equipment like the filters, pumps, lights and heaters to make sure that nothing will go awry.

blue and green budgies cuddling

Ask a familiar person to mind your birds, and get them to stick to a similar routine. Image: Getty


Poultry or small caged birds like parakeets are generally fine on their own for a day or two, if you leave them plenty of food and water. If you’re away for longer, they should be fine with any sitter coming in to look after them. If you have a more social bird, however, like a cockatoo or a macaw, you will need to be careful who you pick to care for them. Social birds are generally bonded to one human only, so leaving them with a stranger can make them anxious or bad-tempered.  
Ask a friend or family member that has positively interacted with your bird several times before or get your sitter to visit in the weeks leading up to your holiday. Get your sitter to stick to a similar routine with your bird: the same meals at the same times of the day, the same bedtimes, and similar social interactions.


RACV Members save 10% on Hanrob Pet Hotel: your pet's home away from home.
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