If you’re a pet parent who loves to travel, you’ve probably already experienced the great dilemma about leaving your beloved furry BFF at home. And if you do manage to keep them behind, you might end up spending your entire holiday being anxious and looking forward to going back home and being reunited!
But, you might not have to choose between leaving your dog or cat at home and cancelling your plans anymore. There are now more and more pet-friendly options for travelling with your pets. This way, you won’t have to see your pooch’s sad eyes looking longingly at you as you say goodbye anymore. 😸
However, if you’re getting excited about planning a pet-friendly trip, just remember that it requires some serious consideration. You will have to think about everything from the documents to carry to the mode of transport very carefully to prepare to travel with your four-legged family members.
Here are some useful tips to help you have a purrr-fect vacation when planning to travel with your pets:
What do you need to do when travelling with your pets?
Most pet-parents would love to take the four-legged members of their family on vacation with them. After all, what trip isn’t made a whole lot more fun when your pup or cat is involved?
These days there are tons of pet-friendly destinations for you to choose from, so it’s quite easy to plan a trip with your pet. However, since travelling with your pets is still not common India, you should always have the necessary documents that prove you’re "related”, especially on inter-state trips. 🐾
Now if you’re wondering how to even start planning a pet-friendly vacation, we’re here to help you. To start with, here are some things you might need to do before you go:
Talk to your vet - Check with your vet before your trip to see if your cat or dog is healthy and okay to travel, or if you need to get any specific medications for your trip
Get a great pet insurance plan - A pet insurance will be a great benefit when you’re traveling with your pet, as it will help cover for any mishaps and healthcare costs that may happen during your trip, especially if you're travelling abroad with your furry friend.
Make sure you have ID tags (and maybe a microchip) - Your pet should have a collar with an identification tag that has your address and phone number, and if you really want to keep them safe consider getting them microchipped.
Take a copy of your pet’s vaccination records – Ask your vet for a copy of these records, and any other important medical info, as you might need them
Check if you need to get a pet passport - You might need to get your pooch a passport just like yours for international trips
Keep your pet’s favourite blanket and toys – Travelling to a new place can be a bit stressful, so a few must have pet travel accessories are things like doggie blankets and cat toys that are familiar (just so they feel comfortable at all times!)
Have enough pet food – you need to pack enough food for the journey and your stay, unless you’re sure you can get the right kind of food at your destination
Pack any necessary medications and prescriptions – If your furry friend has any medicines they take regularly, make sure to include them in your pet’s travel bag
One last thing; most buses, trains, and planes will ask you to keep your pet inside a portable carrier or travel cage. It is always best that you buy this well in advance and get your precious fur-baby used to it so that they don’t spend the journey anxious.
How can you travel with your pet?
Travelling with you pets can be an amazing adventure. If you’re planning to travel with your pet you should keep in mind that it is probably going to affect your dog or cat very differently than it will affect you (or basically any other human).
Different kinds of travel will also affect your fur-baby differently. For example, on a plane or train, your pet might have to spend the entire trip in the cargo section which can end up being a bad experience for them. This is why you need to make sure to find the right mode of travel for your pets. 🐕
How to Travel with a Pet in a Car
If you’re thinking of planning a dog or cat friendly trip, the easiest mode of transport you can use is the car. Road trips are always an excellent way to explore and travel. It’s probably the easiest way to travel with your beloved furry friend, especially if the car you’re travelling in is your own! With a car you can stop as often as you (and your pet!) want to, to stretch your legs, grab some food, or – ahem! – do your business. Here are some things you can do to make the trip go as smoothly as PAWsible 😺:
Take your pet on a few short drives in your car as a trial run to see how they respond to traveling
Get a car harness or carrier – you may love your furry BFF a lot, but getting one will prevent them from climbing all over the car and distracting you from the road
Remember the saying “less food, more water” - don’t overfeed your pet during travel, but always make sure that they are well hydrated
Never leave your pup or kitty alone in the car for long, particularly in hot weather when the windows are rolled up
Make sure you have a Comprehensive or Own Damage car insurance policy, as it will protect you in case your pet gets bored and ends up damaging your car’s upholstery! (It will also give you and your car a whole lot of protection in case of any unfortunate accident)
How to Travel with your Pet in a Bus
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Unfortunately, most bus services in India don’t really let pets travel with them. However, if you’re planning to use the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), you might be in luck, as they have recently made their services pet-friendly. So there some things you will need to keep in mind:
The fare for a dog or cat is the same for any adult passenger, and you must pay the full fare beforehand
You will need to make sure your pet is on a leash or in a carrier at ALL times
Ensure that your furry friend is comfortable with long trips (maybe go on a few trial runs in your car) and that they are not anxious around people
If you’re looking to travel in other areas or states, there are also a few private luxury bus operators who will accommodate pets if you ask them specifically. But, remember that buses tend to have very little room compared to planes, trains, and especially cars.
How to Travel with your Pet in a Train
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Trains are one of the most common forms of long-distance travel in India, and if you want your precious pooch to join you it’s actually super easy and, because there is more space, it’s pretty safe for pets of all shapes and sizes. The Indian Railways has many specific provisions for travelling with a dog in a train in India (under section 77-A of the Indian Railway Act), but they also apply to cats and other pets. Here are some of the main points you need to know:
You can take larger dogs (like Labradors, Retrievers, and German shepherds) along if you’re travelling in AC First Class or First Class only.
A few other compartments might have boxes for smaller dogs and cats, or let them travel in a carrier (but, they are not allowed in any sleeper coaches or second-class coaches)
When you want to travel with your pet in a train, you will need to pay a minimum (prepaid) fee starting from ₹10 per head (it may increase according to your pet’s size)
Your pet must have a collar and leash, and if you’re not sure about your fellow passengers, it’s best to keep a travel kennel too
If there are going to be any other people travelling in your compartment, and they object to their furry co-passenger, you will need to send your pet (and their carrier) to the luggage car – so either make sure to get the consent of your fellow travelers, or (if you can) book the entire compartment!
You need to carry your own food and water for your pooch (and you might want to take along some toys and treats as well!)
How to Travel with a Pet in a Plane
Taking your beloved fur-babies on a flight is not something that you might have even considered. But it actually is possible to travel with your pet by plane in India. While different airlines might have different specifications, pets are permitted on almost all flights. Here are a few tips for flying with your pet:
Check with your vet before your trip to see if your pet is actually healthy enough for air travel and to get them up-to-date on their vaccines – after all you want to keep your beloved furry BFF as safe as you can
It’s not safe for some breeds of dogs and cats (like Bulldogs, Boxers, and Shih Tzus, or Himalayan and Persian cats) to travel on planes as they might be more likely to end up facing stress, breathing difficulties, or even heat stroke. You can see the full list here.
Your furry friend will need a sturdy and ventilated carrier (also called a travel cage) which is big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. And of course, it should be of a non-chewable material! It should also have some comfy bedding plus food and water
The major airlines in India that will allow your pets to fly with you are Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet and Vistara. IndiGo usually only allows service animals for travelers with disabilities 🐕🦺
In most of these airlines, your pet will have to travel in the cargo hold in their carriers (don’t worry, it’s fully pressurized and temperature-controlled)
BUT, Air India does allow a limited number of pets in the cabin – so you’ll have to check beforehand
Humans may not have a minimum age to fly, but dogs and cats do! Your pooch needs to be at least 8 weeks old to be able to fly. Also, pregnant pets will not be allowed on-board (it’s for safety reasons)
Whether they’re in the cabin or in the hold, you’re going to have to make sure that your pooch is safely secured in their carrier before and after the flight. Try to book a flight which has no layovers, as getting transferred in the middle of a noise baggage area can be really stressful for your pet.
Remember, while cargo might be more affordable, it can be a bit uncomfortable for your beloved pet, so in-cabin travel is always safer. If you sense that they are in any distress after your flight, go to a vet ASAP.
Finding Pet-friendly accommodation
Okay, so you’ve picked a pet-friendly destination, and figured out a comfortable way for you and your furry buddy to travel there, so you might be heaving a sigh of relief right now. But, what about actually finding a place to stay? 🙀
There are lots and lots of pet-friendly homestays, resorts and hotels in India, so it’s actually quite easy to find somewhere to stay. However, there are some other things you might want to think of when choosing your hotel and your destination:
Will they provide food for your pet or will you have to take it?
Do you need to get your own bedding for your dog or cat?
Are there any vets nearby (just in case of an emergency)?
Can you find pet-friendly restaurants in the area?
Well, there you have it. While travelling is fun, travelling with your pet, even MORE fun.
Even though all the pet-friendly facilities and services available these days have made it super easy to take your pet along on that week-long beach trip you’ve been putting off, you still need to take some time and prepare them for the experience.
After all, something entirely new can be a little stressful. Remember, just try to stick to some regular routines (like going for a walk before bed) to make sure your precious fur-ball isn’t too stressed by the unfamiliar experience.
It may take some time to prepare, but once you’ve done all the work, before you know it, it will be time for the fun part… actually enjoying your vacation! 😸