Travelling With Pets

You’ve finally convinced your partner that the world is not going to stop turning the moment he hands in his notice….

And with the income your business can continue to generate, plus the back up of some savings, just in case, you are in a position to take the leap and spend the next 6 months or a year following your travel dreams

You’ve cleared out most of your belongings and the few remaining ones can easily go into storage

Have you really thought through what it will mean if you plan to take your pet or pets along on your travel adventure?

The kind of limitations your pets impose on your time and the way you travel depend very much, of course, on the type of pet you have.  I’m pretty sure that the most common pet people take along with them is their dog.

I have 2 experiences of traveling with pets across the continent, both on a very different scale – one budgie and one pony!

If you want to know what your day will bring when you get up in the morning then stay in your home country and fill your day with work.

If you want adventure and unexpected experiences, make time in your life for them to happen and go out and find them.  Just bear in mind when you throw a pet into the mix you may get a few more unexpected experiences than you bargained for.

Brian the budgie came with us all the way down Europe. We took our time, taking over a week’s holiday on the way to our new home.  Our car was crammed with our possessions and there was little room for Brian and his travelling cage. Because the weather became hotter and hotter as we travelled south we couldn’t leave Brian in the car even for 30 seconds.  We had to take him into hotel rooms, into every restaurant we ate at, into the water park, which didn’t really allow pets, but they felt sorry for us and made an exception.

He was a pretty grumpy budgie but as the trip wore on he also became increasingly lively.  He worked out that if he dived into the water container of his travelling cage and applied pressure he could pop the lid, where you filled the water, and escape. This led to some interesting incidents in restaurants and hotels which I am still doing my best to forget.

travelling with petsAs you will know if you have ever filled your car to capacity, and then unpacked it during the journey, things never go back into place in the same way and by the second or third reorganisation you wonder how you ever got it all in there to begin with.

And so for the final leg of the journey through Spain, Brian no longer fitted on the seat between our 2 children in the back of the car.  I usually drive and so Jeremy had to hold the cage on his knee for the final 500 kilometres. I don’t know who was the most grumpy by this point, Brian or Jeremy, but Brian became very skilled at pecking Jeremy’s fingers every time he had to steady the cage as we went around a bend or I applied the brakes.

You may have guessed by now that this story is not going to end well, or maybe it did depending on perspective. We finally arrived in our beautiful village home for the next 6 months. We took Brian out of the car and placed him in the shade outside our house, while the owner showed us round.  In the excitement of arriving at our new house we had forgotten to position the cage tightly against the wall with the strategically placed water bottle that prevented Brian’s escape.

We like to think that Brian had set his heart on a happier life of freedom in the sunshine and finally achieved his goal.

A few months after his escape we noticed that a lady at the bottom of our street had a collection of budgies and we could see a bright blue one that looked a lot like Brian. I didn’t ask!!! The thought of recovering Brian shortly before we were due to make the return leg of the journey was less than appealing and I knew that Brian really didn’t want to return to a dull British winter.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I think Brian and I may have been soulmates. Both of us with our hearts set on sunshine and freedom.

The second time we chose to transport a pet from the UK to the south of Europe was only about 5 months ago.   This was an animal which on the face of it would seem much harder to lose.  We didn’t even choose to transport her ourselves – we hired a professional firm of horse transporters to do that.

I’m not going to go into all the details – we seem to have a talent for choosing pets with an attitude problem and May the pony – while great once the children are actually on her back – is one of the moodiest creatures anyone can own.  The stress of the journey caused her normal sour disposition to turn into something that the driver of the lorry decided could only mean she was ill.  We got a phone call – they couldn’t risk taking her any further on the lorry and were going to have to leave her in the south of France.

So May enjoyed an extended holiday in Bordeaux while I frantically tried to track down another firm of horse transporters who would pick her up and bring her the rest of the way to Portugal.

The story became still more complicated after that but I won’t make you suffer all the painful details.  Suffice to say she is with us now safe and sound and moody as ever!

Is there a moral to this story?  Yes I think there is.  If you love your pet, you don’t have someone who will look after them, or you really want them with you, be prepared for the unexpected.  Do your research in advance about the legalities of taking your pet to the places or countries where you plan to visit or live.  Be prepared to have to change your plans to accommodate the needs of your pet and most of all keep your sense of humour.

If you have travelled with your pet, or you decided to leave your pet behind in the care of someone else, please share your experiences – I know if you have travelled with a pet you will have some funny stories to tell!  And if you enjoyed hearing our story please click the button to share.

Heather

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