…And that’s the story of how Jiraiya travelled with us from Mumbai to Delhi.
Like road trips, we love the idea of train travel too. In fact, air travel is the least favorite of all. If we were not in the rat race of regular office life and did not have limited off time, we would never take a flight if there was a choice. Maybe something to consider post-retirement 😀
Train travel vs Air travel for pet dogs (and cats!)
Months of research went into why train travel was a better option (vs air travel) for Jiraiya, an 8-month-old German shepherd. Here are some points we took into consideration:
1) Most importantly, we were not very comfortable to leave Jiraiya out of sight and alone in a new challenging environment for 4 – 5 hours. While taking a flight, pet dogs above 5kg need to be booked in cargo while checking-in along with the luggage. In the train, though it was 16 hours, he would be with us where we could guarantee his wellbeing. Less stress for us!! Check this very well explained video about air travel with pet dogs
Check this very well explained video about air travel with pet dogs.
2) Air travel with a 30 kg dog is super costly!!! The transporting cage and cargo cost is exorbitant (~ INR 20,000). Cargo cost for trains is only a fraction of it (for Jiraiya, we paid INR 800).
3) There is a lot of quality time that we could spend with Jiraiya during the journey. He is at it his best when three of us are together. Also, after hectic work schedules some rest time doing nothing was much appreciated!
Although it’s an anxiety triggering thought, train travel with dogs in India is quite easy. It is just a 5-step process:
Step 01) Booking the ‘First AC’ ticket in an Indian Railway train.
On IRCTC website, filters can be selected for First AC tickets. We booked 4 tickets in Mumbai – Delhi Rajdhani (MMCT-NDLS, it was an overnight train – no day time lost!). In First AC coach in Indian Railways, one can book coupe (double berth) or a cabin (two sets of berths).
As they are limited in number (around 11) and have a VIP quota, it’s a bit difficult to get last minute tickets. So early booking is recommended. Ideally 60 days before the day of travel.
Ticket needs to be booked ONLY for humans travelling. While booking there is no way to select specific seats for this coach. Although there is an option of selecting coupe (for two humans)/cabin (for 4 humans) which must be chosen to final the booking. They will be allotted only 4 hours before departure (that’s where anxiety steps in :D).
These tickets can be as (or sometimes even more) expensive than air tickets but looking at the bigger picture helps. Traveling comfortably with your loving poochie, is worth it!
Step 02) Submission of application and meet the Station master.
A week (or two) before the date of travel an application needs to be submitted at the railway office (Mumbai: Western railway head office, Churchgate station) stating the PNR number and date of travel. Requesting a coupe/cabin with the reason of a pet travelling companion.
Enclose ticket print out along with this application while submitting.
Visit the departure terminus and have a casual chat with the station master about your plan of travelling with the pet. They are very helpful and would suggest correct current procedures to be followed.
Step 03) Visit the vet.
Schedule a visit to the vet a day before the departure for full checkup and collect a health certificate where in the vet would certify that the pet is ‘fit to travel’. This is chargeable but necessary. This would be required to get the boarding ticket for the pet.
Step 04) Reaching the departure station.
As mentioned above, the seat/coupe/cabin allotment is done 4-5 hours prior to the departure. Try to reach the station at the time and meet the station master to get confirmation on allotment. A separate coupe/cabin to the travelling party is ideal as it gives freedom and space to the pet. If there are other humans in the cabin/coupe who do not agree with the pet, it maybe sent to the guard’s van or luggage coach where it would be kept alone in a cage built. During our travel, we were three humans but we booked an additional ticket so it would be easier for us to get a whole cabin to ourselves. A fourth unknown/stranger traveler in the cabin would not have made us or Jiraiya comfortable.
Pets need not be there at the time of seat/coupe/cabin allotment and can join just an hour or so before the departure. There are a number of pet friendly transport options to get your pet from home to the train station.
- Rickshaws normally would not mind a pet if it’s not messing the interiors or cushions. Its cheap and readily available.
- If available in your city, hire a pet taxi like we did by calling Laxmi (+91 9773 509 151). She runs an excellent taxi service ‘Pet Taxi’ and was very helpful and accommodating. After collecting specific details about our luggage and Jiraiya’s breed and age, she was able to suggest perfect car for us which was punctual and clean/well maintained. Cost as well was reasonable for the amount of comfort and convenience. For a trip from Goregaon to Mumbai central it costed us INR2200. She also arranges intercity road travel for pets and the service is highly recommended.
- Pet taxi or a rickshaw may not be available in all cities/towns. Consider calling a friend/relative to drop and pick you and your pet from the train station!
Step 05) Get pet’s boarding ticket.
First thing to do once the pet is in the station is to get him weighed at Parcel office and take it’s boarding ticket. For a 30kg German Shepherd we paid INR800 and filled a detailed form. It was a smooth process with no unnecessary fuss. This ticket is necessary and if caught without one heavy fine can be imposed.
Some General points to consider:
- Food, water, poops and pees are things to be managed by the parents themselves without creating any nuisance to the fellow travelers.
- It’s ideal to book an early evening, overnight train. You then have enough time in the morning to exhaust your pet so it sleeps peacefully overnight in the train and gets easier for you to handle in close confinement.
- Only you know your pet the best. Analyze potential behavioral problems and find best solutions to handle them in worst case scenarios.
- More you remain calm, more the pet will remain calm.
We were lucky that Jiraiya is not a nervous or aggressive dog. He behaved very well throughout his first train travel and held his bowel system for straight 16 hours. Once out of the station and before boarding our taxi for an onward 8hour road trip, we made him walk for half hour so he could relieve himself in the back lanes of the train station parking lot. It was certainly a HAPPY journey for all of us!
Although, we did try covering all the steps. Let us know in comments below if there are any queries regarding the process or if you had a different experience than ours when you travelled by Indian railways with your pet dog/cat.
More helpful blogs to read:
Helpful videos to watch:
For more photos of the trip, check our Instagram account. They will be on it soon!