I have been a traveller and a nomad for most of my adult life. But things changed for good, when three little wagging tails entered my life. Like Roger Caras says ‘ Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.’ and they certainly did and do make my life whole and so much more fun.
We lost one of our fur babies this summer, leaving us heartbroken. To heal and to spend more time with Marcopolo and Tigress, we made a conscious decision to take them wherever possible with us. We started to plan our first trip together to Goa and the western ghats. We did not want to fly or drive down from Delhi to Goa and this is when we decided to hop on Indian railways for an exciting 28 hours journey ( yes it sounds like a long journey but it isn’t). I must tell you Marcopolo and Tigress are fantastic travellers and super fast in adapting to new surroundings ( I think all Indian dogs are).
Every time we pack for our trip, we have two sulking faces following us everywhere, but when we packed for this particular trip, and put them in the cab, they couldn’t stop crying out of excitement ( so yes it is totally worth it!).
How we travelled with our dogs on Indian Railways
We wanted our pets to be with us in our cabin. So we booked two first class tickets well in advance. It is important to note that you can only travel with pets if you have two seat coupe’ or a four seat cabin. So you have to be 2 or 4 to take them along with you in the first class. So book ahead as most of the time, there are limited number of seats in the first class.
When you book a first class, they never allot a seat number or give any information whether you have a coupe’ or a cabin at the time of the booking ( as there is VIP preference in first class, hence the seats are allotted 24 hours before the departure). So to make sure, we have a coupe’, we went to Baroda house in New Delhi or one can go to any Chief Commercial Superintendent with a request letter that you would like a coupe’ as you are traveling with a pet.
So it is all suspense till chart is made three hours before our departure. Go early or send someone before to the station to check whether you have been allotted a coupe. if yes, the concerned person should go to the parcel office and get the dogs registered (your pets don’t need to be there physically).
It is always advisable to arrive half an hour before the departure to the station with the pets, as they get stressed with the crowd and sound of the engine. Once all settled inside the train, inform the first class staff that you are travelling with pets.
It took us half an hour to adjust to the movement of the train and the sound, but soon Marcopolo and Tigress were perched at the window seat and mesmerised with the views. Another worry for us was how our dogs will relieve themselves, so we made a chart of all the stops before departure. The staff at first class were very helpful and they informed us 5 minutes before the arrival of the station and would wait for us at the gate to make sure that we are back on time. We utilised all the long train halts to walk our dogs (even if it was at 3 in the morning).
One must carry loads of doggie treats (we had a bag full). Also ensure that your pets are well hydrated, have basic prescription of medicines from doctor, ask the staff at the train to reduce the temperature of the air conditioning of your coupe ( if the train halts are limited). Locking the coupe door is always advisable for extra safety.
It sounds like a lot of steps but we thoroughly enjoyed traveling by train with our dogs and yes it is less stressful than flying or driving and is a better alternative for pets that suffer from motion sickness.