“Happiness is a warm puppy” ~ Charles M Schulz
Every animal lover knows what this means. The unconditional love from our furry friends gives us humans a lot of happiness and for most pet owners their pets are like their children. Is it any surprise then that when families travel, they would want to do so in the company of their beloved pets? Pet boarding is not always an option pet parents can go in for. It’s not very easy finding one that suits their dog and the pet parent would constantly worry about their pet. And even leaving them with a friend or someone else in the family is also heartbreaking. Our pet (like most others) used to stop eating whenever that would happen.
European countries have always been way ahead of us in terms of pet friendly services. When I lived in Finland, It was very strange for me to see that pets were allowed everywhere, on all modes of transport. So one could see them in trams, trains, boats & buses. Watching a pet climb down an escalator is not a rare sight there at all! And pets are also allowed into hotels, cafes, restaurants etc and are an equal part of public space. So why then do we not have more pet friendly options in India? Hopefully things will change soon.
Currently the ease of taking pets on trains/planes in India is almost negligible. It is a tough process and there is not much help around the actual implementation of it, even if one wants to follow all rules and take one’s pet aboard. Right now Indian railways allows pets on board but ONLY in first class or first class AC compartments, so you can’t travel with your pet in any of the other AC classes or even second class. And you need to buy all 4 tickets or 2 tickets for all 4 berths in that area or you need to have people in those berths (basically family) ok with your pet. Because one complaint from anyone in the entire coach and your pet can be shifted to the luggage compartment!
As for airlines, not all airlines operating in India take pets. Only some do, and only on certain sectors on certain days and they have only a certain number of pets that can fly on that particular day. So one has to do a lot of advance planning. Sometimes even airline staff is clueless about the process and documentation involved. Moreover most pets (beyond a certain size which is very small) travel as cargo and it’s pretty traumatic for them. So the safest and most convenient bet would be a roadtrip where the pets are constantly under your own supervision and things like other passengers and air pressure or temperature of cabin are not things you need to worry about.
Now coming to where pets can stay with you during your vacation, we are just *beginning* to get into the realm of pet friendly hotels. When I search for hotels near me that are also pet friendly, most of them are accommodation sharing rentals, like airbnb and oyo rooms, which are ok with lending rooms to pet parents with extra charges. Some big hotel establishments are also getting there, but we definitely need more of them. We also need facilities like walking/playing areas etc for pets at the hotel. Keeping all this in mind, Pet friendly trips anyone?