Leaving home (especially for long trips) if you are a pet owner is an emotionally draining experience. For, on one hand, you cherish the idea of being able to take your fur baby along, but, on the other hand, you doubt if travel with your pet is feasible. If planned well, it is. We give you details on how you can go about travelling with your pet. To begin with (and obviously) you can travel by car, train, or by air. Out of these three, cars and trains are the most preferred, owing to the fact that you can keep an eye on them, which is not possible if you are travelling by air as they are often put away in cargo holds. Here’s what planning a trip with your pet entails.
- One must book a coupe (two berths) or a cabin (four berths) in AC First Class. Remember if fellow passengers object to the presence of an animal, the pet may be moved to the Guard Room, without any refund. Therefore, it is advisable to book an entire cabin so that you and your pet can travel comfortably.
- One has to reach the departing station at least three hours before the departure of the train and head to the Parcel Office. A tag with the pet’s details will be attached to its collar. This will be considered as your pet’s ticket. The pet, irrespective of actual weight is considered to be 60 kg, and the parcel rate for 60 kg for the distance travelled, has to be paid. For example, the parcel rate charged between Howrah and New Delhi is Rs 2605/-. For information, you can visit http://www.indianrail.gov.in/enquiry/StaticPages/StaticEnquiry.jsp?StaticPage=index.html
- If you are not carrying your pet in AC First Class, then they have to be booked to travel in the Guard Compartment where an enclosed space is available for this purpose. No crates are provided by the Railways, and it is advisable to carry your own.
- In case you are caught without a ticket/ booking for your pet, you will be fined based on six times the parcel rate.. As an example between Howrah and New Delhi, the fine shall be Rs 15,630/-.
- You are responsible for the pet’s food and water arrangements, once the journey commences. It is also advisable to keep their leash and collar handy. In case they need to answer nature’s call, stay alert once you exit the train so as to not be left behind. “This part of the journey is a mini-adventure for Fido (a Boxer) and I. We step out at stations where the train halts for longer, but I wouldn’t deny that, sometimes, we’ve had to make the run for it,” says Satya Chaudhary, a software professional, who often travels from Bangalore to his hometown in Madhya Pradesh with his dog, with the train journey lasting almost 19 hours.
Long distance travel may have an impact on your pet, so make sure you keep talking to them in order to soothe them, and keep them hydrated.
A majority of pet owners prefer travelling by car, as they have the freedom to stop frequently should the need arise. If you are one of them, note the following:
- The most important tip is to get your pets accustomed to car travel. This can be achieved by taking your pet on a series of short drives. Manasvini Paul, a social media executive and her family, who live in Gurgaon, regularly go on road trips with their Golden Retriever, Reggie. “Initially, he would feel sick immediately after the car was in motion. A visit to the vet and some medicines later, we started taking him for shorter drives to places nearby. Gradually, he felt at ease and started enjoying the ride. It’s always great to have the whole family together on a holiday, and I am glad Reggie can accompany us everywhere.”
- Experts suggest that awareness surrounding the destination is crucial in this scenario. Be it accommodation or medical help, information is key. Rhea Wasan, a digital marketing manager, who has a Lhasa Apso and often embarks on trips with him and her partner, adds, “We make our bookings much in advance, and are in constant touch with whichever pet-friendly accommodation we choose. We take into consideration their facilities and understand how they can make the stay comfortable for our pet. We also make sure that we have details of different vets in the area in case of any medical emergencies.”
- It’s not a good idea to make your pet skip a meal or two just because you want their stomachs to feel ‘light’. “Two to three hours before our trip, we feed Simba, our four-year old German Shepherd something light, or give him a reduced portion size of regular dog food – which is rice and chicken in his case. Once he settles down is when we can begin our journey. That way we do not have to worry about motion sickness, and we can time his walks accordingly,” mentions Sarita Yadav, a consultant, for whom Simba is her first born.
- Always stock up on your pet’s food before you begin your journey. Much like humans, not all pets are the same, and may have different nutritional requirements. If possible, invest in a car fridge where you can keep milk, and carry enough packets of dog food (both wet and dry). Puneet Kahlon, a travel consultant, recounts her experience of travelling with her pet to shift base amid the lockdown, “When everything was shut during the lockdown, getting something as essential as milk became a huge problem. We had carried enough, but we ran short of just one packet of milk, and chaos ensued as shops were shut and nothing was available to us.”
- Finally, keep paperwork which includes their registration, fitness certificate from the vet and vaccination and medical records handy. You never know when you need them.
- There are two ways through which your pet can accompany you on flights; either they are placed in cargo holds in a kennel, or they can accompany you in-flight, for which you have to purchase a regular airplane ticket and write to the concerned airline stating that your pet would be with you. Whether they accompany you in-flight or in the cargo hold, you are made to sign a document which states that the airline holds no responsibility for any untoward incident that may happen with your pet. So it is recommended to read the document carefully.
- Not all airlines allow pets onboard, so make sure you take your pick carefully. Some airlines allow two pets per passenger (domestic and international, with the concurrence of the commander), and additional charges apply for an increased number. You should also note that airlines have the right to refuse any pet onboard if they are pregnant or if they feel the pet is aggressive.
- Keep the following documents handy: fitness certificate from the vet, record of vaccinations, and all paperwork which proves that the pet belongs to you.
- Airlines generally do not allow pets in certain weather conditions like extreme heat or cold, as such conditions can further alter the air pressure in the flight, which may make pets anxious.
- If you are travelling internationally, it is advisable to reach out to pet carrier services that would take care of all the arrangements and paperwork needed for your loved one to travel.