Travelling with pets because you'll never fight over who gets the window seat
They just completed a month-long journey across Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh
Poonam Agarwal just completed a month-long road trip through Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh with Hustler. Before you start picturing her biking down slopes with a hip-hop star, we should tell you that Hustler is her fluffy golden retriever. The advocate for travelling with pets admits she prefers road trips with Hustler, rather than with husband, Vikas. “He doesn’t talk back, has no strong or conflicting opinions. He’s calm and happy all the time,” she laughs.
Poonam and her husband were bitten by the travel bug long before Hustler came into their lives. The first chance they got – once his vaccinations were complete as a puppy – they began introducing him to the great outdoors and he fell in love. “We wanted him to enjoy it as much as we do.”
Travelling with pets can seem daunting. Especially a long car ride. But Poonam and Vikas, who’ve been doing it for over a year, explain that it’s just a matter of being prepared. “You explore the country in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise. With Hustler, we’re always looking for open places to go to, little hikes and treks we can take together. It adds a new exciting element to your trip”
Hold up, hold up. We get it, you’re already packing your bags and putting your dog in a cute little travel outfit at the thought of hitting the open road, lounging on a beach, sipping a mojito while they bounce around with the rolling waves.
But there are some tips you need to fulfil your Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara moments.
Everything you should know about travelling with pets
Know your pet’s limits. And your own
Unless you have the calmest, most chill pet in the world, you can’t just jump into a car and travel across the country willy nilly. Who knows, Stephen King’s Cujo may be your dog’s alter ego as soon as the engine starts. Start small with day hikes as Poonam did with Hustler, and then build up towards longer rides. “You have to see how you function as a unit,” she says.
Poonam and her husband don’t spend more than 5-6 hours driving in a day. “Don’t stress yourself out,” she says. It’s a way to keep everyone in the car comfortable. They take a day to rest in between. “Sometimes when we’ve had to do consecutive days of driving, we noticed that Hustler gets tired. His muscles probably hurt from sitting for so long and he just refuses to get in the car.”
If the temperament of your pet is just not suited to travel and the outdoors then there’s no forcing it.
Travelling with pets requires adjustments, be open to them
There will have to be tweaks to your itinerary to accommodate your four-legged travel partner. Some of it depends on your pet’s age. Plan the pit stops you’re taking in advance. A younger dog, for example, would require more loo breaks than a pregnant lady.
As they get older, their bladder control improves. While Hustler is a calm chap who enjoys car rides, everyone needs a break once in a while. “Sitting in a car in the same pose for hours — anyone would want to stretch their legs. So we take many stops for that. So if we see a pretty place, we stop for 10-15 minutes, Hustler gets down, runs around, we play a little game with him, we have a picnic along the highway. We have snacks, he has snacks. We all feel refreshed and we get back on the trip.”
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“When you’re travelling with a pet, you don’t always get to choose your accommodation or neighbourhood,” says Poonam. When they travelled to Goa in 2018 on their first trip with Hustler, “we wanted to stay at Palolem Beach but didn’t find any good pet-friendly places to stay. We had to be flexible, so we ended up staying at Morjim.”
It turned out well as they’d never been to Morjim before and got to explore a new part of Goa. Tourist hotspots may be off-limits when travelling with a pet, either because of property’s rules or public discomfort.
Do your research
Poonam breaks down travelling with pets into two aspects of – the journey and the destination. What exactly do you pack for your dog’s journey?
Three things make it to the top of the checklist – sufficient dog food (“you don’t get it everywhere, carrying the food they’re used to eating is also a sense of comfort for them”), grooming tools (“like we carry our toiletries, dogs also have a certain grooming routine”) and medicines (“when we do long trips, we always take medicines and an SOS kit for Hustler”.
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When travelling with your pet via aeroplane or train, there’s documentation and check-ups required, mostly just vaccinations records (though, do check these as well). Every hotel, even the ones listed as pet-friendly, have their limits.
“Surprisingly, there are plenty of pet-friendly hotels across India,” Poonam says, adding that you should call the hotel you’re considering beforehand and confirm that they meet your requirements before booking. “Sometimes, common public spaces are off-limits for pets. Most won’t allow them into restaurants for hygiene purposes. Some will say we allow dogs, but they can only stay in the lawn and not your room. We never book places like these because Hustler sleeps with us.”
Styling: Divya Gursahani, HMU: Mausam Gandhi, Model: Andrea Kevichusa
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