Pet travel tips for winter getaways

Many island residents like to travel over winter, which means getting on a plane or a ferry. For those who want or need to take a pet, the process can seem daunting, but there are tricks to make the experience easier and less stressful for you and your furry friend. The following are our top tips for hitting the road with dogs and cats.

Pet passport & vaccinations

All pets should be chipped and vaccinated in order to get an EU pet passport. The law is you need to get your pet’s rabies vaccine at least 21 days prior to travel; however, some airlines stipulate 30 days. To be on the safe side, complete all your pet’s medical requirements at least a month before you go. This should include flea treatment, worming, any additional vaccines, and a physical exam by the vet to verify they are fit to travel.
If you have a young puppy or kitten be aware that many countries stipulate your pet must be a certain age to enter. Check before you make plans.

Travel gear

You will need several items to ensure a safe, comfortable journey. First and most important:

  • Airline-approved pet carrier

Individual regulations vary, but as a rule cabin travel requires a soft-sided carrier of around 45cm long by 30cm wide by 25 cm tall. Check your airline for exact dimensions. Some also specify your pet be able to stand and turn around in the carrier. You will have to remove your pet to pass through security so choose one with a top zip opening for easy access.

Other useful items include:

  • Puppy training pads to line the carrier in case of accidents
  • Plastic bags/rubber gloves to clean up accidents
  • Plastic water dish
  • Small blanket or towel to line carrier, or cover it to reduce noise and stress
  • Treats
  • Toys

Getting ready

Dogs are accustomed to moving around and meeting new people. Nevertheless, an airport is a noisy environment that can cause stress. Keeping them in the carrier can reduce anxiety. Be sure to give lots of cuddles, treats and verbal reassurance.

Cats don’t like being moved or cooped up. Minimise travel time by checking in online and not checking luggage. Find a quiet corner to wait for your flight, and don’t move the carrier more than necessary. The disabled or family toilet can be a refuge to let your cat out for water, or to clean the carrier.


From a pet’s perspective, flying is scary. Give them as much verbal reassurance as you can, especially during the noise and vibration of taxi and take-off. Pets must remain in the carrier during flight, but you can hold your hand next to the mesh panel to let them know you’re there.


If you have a continuing journey take time to cuddle and water your pet before you set off. Once you arrive at your destination let them out in a safe space and provide food and water. Don’t introduce them to new people or pets. Stay close and give them lots of affection. They’ll probably need extra sleep for a day or two.

What’s your top tip for travelling with a pet? Share in the comments!

About Cila Warncke

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