Tips from a Traveling Bull Terrier
I’m a dog who’s been traveling around Europe and America for 2 years. I’ll give you some advice on how to travel with your four-legged best friend.
Hi my name is Rocky the Traveller, also known as Rocky the Bull Terrier. I go everywhere around Europe with my best friend and trusted brother from another mother, Danny. One of the questions that we get asked the most, aside from “How is it possible that your bull terrier can be this ridiculously good looking?”, is “How in the world are you able to take your dog to all of these places?”
In fact, on a recent trip to Zakynthos Island in Greece, when we told people we were BOTH from Florida, they simply could not believe us. When you think about it, it’s not very common to see someone bringing their pet everywhere. But nowadays, you no longer have to leave your companion at home while you’re sunbathing on the beaches of Costa del Sol in Spain.
As of this writing, I have been to 19 countries with plans to explore even more! My paws have been to such countries as Germany, Hungary, Greece, France, England, Ireland, Luxembourg, Romania, Czech Republic and of course the US!
So how do I, a dog, get to see all these places?
Well with a lot determination and a positive attitude. Oh yeah, and sometimes a ton of paperwork, depending on where you’re going. But hey wouldn’t you rather deal with a bit of hassle than leave your poor pet in a kennel or with a stranger for days or weeks?
Below, I will go over a few ways of traveling to and around Europe and I’ll tell you what worked for me.
To the UK
First off, I’ll get the big trip out of the way. When I moved to the land of fish and chips and rainy weather from the land of burgers and baseball, I looked at a few different ways to get there. The trip was over 4,000 miles for me and crossed the Atlantic Ocean , so I couldn’t exactly take a train. After some exhaustive research, we went with British Airways which has a very good record of pet transportation and an excellent reputation for taking care of pets.
If you’re a petite pet, consider yourself lucky as you can travel in the cabin with your precious human companion, but for the rest of us, ahem, bigger dogs, we are not so lucky. Until airlines progress to the point of letting us on board, we will have to go in the cargo hold.
Nowadays, the cargo holds are pressurized and the temperature is regulated meaning that under the plane we are feeling the exact same conditions that you are up there. British Airways also does everything else for you upon arriving at the Animal Reception Centre and they will be in contact with you when your pet has arrived.
There are other airlines which are just as trusty and I recommend doing research way ahead of time and picking one that will stay in communication with your throughout the journey and most importantly, show they care about your pet’s wellness.
Of course, you must get quite a bit of paperwork done before you fly out and then get it signed by a few different officials depending on where you are from. For more on this, click here.
But if you have plenty of time and some money to spare and you want to avoid taking a plane, there’s the option of taking a ferry from New York to Southampton, England. You can take your dog here on the Queen Mary and it will take you 7 nights to get to your destination. Scared of flying? Your pet can hop on board with you in the cabin as an emotional support dog on select airlines such as American Airlines, Delta and others. You can also take a private jet with your dog if you have a spare 75,000 USD or you can search for spare seats on jet planes that will let you come on board. Very practical options, indeed. Or not, but hey, at least you have some choices.
The flight from US to UK has been the only flight that I took as I avoid taking planes since I would rather be joining the humans up in the cabin, sipping on wine while watching a bad movie.
Domestic Travel within UK
Now, once I arrived in London, things were a bit easier in terms of travel. Luckily the UK has gotten with the times and lets dogs on most, if not all public transport, including busses, trains, trams, the tube (metros) and ferries.
So once in England, it is quite easy to get around. They will happily let your dog onboard with land transport. On top of that, we don’t have to pay anything extra! You and your dog can go from London to Edinburgh, Scotland by train or Wales!
Now, let’s say that once you explored the UK, you gained the appetite for more! Just like me! I wanted to see the rest of Europe and its glorious countries filled with different cultures, people, languages and most importantly: food!
So I paid a special visit to a vet and this time, I wasn’t tricked into thinking I was going to the dog park since I was going for my very own pet passport! Time for some ‘biers’ in Germany and then onward to some Mediterranean sunshine!
So now that I have my very own pet passport, I packed my bags and set off to explore the rest of Europe. But first let’s get one thing out of the way, the Eurostar train which is the only train that takes people from the UK to France (and onwards to other European cities) will not let any pets on their train, unless they are guide dogs or other assistance dogs. If they did, not only would they make a ton of money, but it would make things so much easier in terms of traveling with your pets.
If you think about this, it doesn’t make any sense as both the UK and France allow pets on trains. Humans and their poor logic, go figure!
So what is a travelling dog to do when faced with such an obstacle? I’ve travelled so much that I have gotten around this barrier quite a few times. If you’re like me, and you have an adventurous soul and a fire that cannot be extinguished, then you will not give up so easily.
To get around the Eurostar problem we have taken ferries to France, Ireland, the Netherlands and then from there we take trains onward. There is also the option of going via the Channel Tunnel that connects France and UK, with either your own car, a rental, or a taxi.
For our trip to Central Europe we took a ferry as foot passengers from Hook of Harwich in England to the Hook of Holland in the Netherlands. In the ferry I had my very own kennel and an air conditioned room along with CCTV cameras to keep an eye on me. Not exactly the first class I was hoping for, but the ferry ride is over before you know it.
If you’ve used Uber before you can also look into ‘Blablacar’ in Europe which is a ride-sharing service and many people frequently travel from UK to France and look for passengers to split costs. They usually take the ferry or the channel tunnel. You can take your dog along with you as a passenger in someone else’s car. This is quite possibly the cheapest way to travel to Europe. The service is also used within continental Europe.
Getting around in Europe
Traveling within Europe with your dog is quite easy. Luckily, most of Europe is very pet friendly and once you have your pet passport, the world is at your paws.
Many of the trains I took, including the ICE trains, do require that you pay a ticket for your dog. Furthermore, a majority of the countries have a muzzle rule if the dog is to be on the train. For more on trains, I recommend checking out the Man in Seat 61’s site.
If you’re traveling by car, well then you don’t need to worry about muzzling your pet and if they’re anything like me, they will talk your ear off in the car!
My most recent trips have been by car and we either booked them or in the case of our Greece trip, we bought a really cheap secondhand car and drove all the way to Greece and made a road trip out of it.
Now, what if time is not a luxury? Well, as I said before you can take the high speed rail with your dog once you’re in Europe and this will get you virtually anywhere in the continent.
If you have the EU passport, traveling between countries is not a problem, especially since most of the EU countries are borderless. You can also visit other countries that have freedom of movement agreements with the EU, such as Switzerland.
Furthermore, Italy’s ferries to Greece and most of the ferries in the Mediterranean will allow you take your dog in the ferry. Booze Cruise time!
If you don’t mind taking your pet on a flight, European flights within continental Europe are quite cheap and both Air France and Lufthansa have solid reputations for taking care of pets in the cargo hold. Best of all, intercontinental trips will be short and sweet and not as expensive.
Traveling back to the UK
Once you have finished your European adventure, you must visit a vet for a mandatory treatment of tapeworm (echinococcus) and you must be seen at least 24 hours before your intended time of departure for the UK but no more than 5 days (120 hours). And as easy as that, you are back in the UK.
The same rule applies if you visit a non-EU country. To return to the UK by plane you must still get the same tapeworm treatment and call ahead to the Animal Reception Center and pay the fee (Which could be up to £350).
Each country outside of the EU has its own rules and regulations concerning pet importation. In some countries, I have faced the truth that it would be near impossible to visit. But again, it really depends on just how determined you are to bring your pet. I have visited the US on numerous occasions to see family back home and eat some American food. I’ve taken planes there and there are many companies that will help you take your dog to the US, Asia, Latin America, etc. I would recommend British Airways, Air France and Virgin as great companies that fly animals.
Could you really bear to leave your poor dog (or cat or hamster, giraffe, bear, whale, etc.) at home while you’re vacationing in Europe or Asia? Take it from me, your dog would appreciate your company especially, since in most places in Europe you can have an ice cold beer or a nice meal right next to your pet. And I know that these experiences that we both shared are special and we can both look back on our lives and remember the great times that we had in different cities.
Next year I intend to visit China and a few other countries in Asia. How will I do this? Well I can fly there, but I try to avoid this as much as possible. So I’m sticking to trains.
A train to China you ask? Blasphemy!
No, it’s possible with a little train known as the Trans-Siberian Railway.
The paperwork is sure to be massive, but now that I have travelled around Europe and America and have seen things, such as the majestic Swiss Alps, survived through traffic in Italy and rough roads in Romania, I’m sure a bit of paperwork to go to Asia will be no big deal.
Now….where’s my passport?