..Tales of a Dog-Mum
I am a Bengali from Kolkata but settled in Bangalore for close to two decades now. I have been traveling throughout the length and breadth of the country owing to my husband’s job. When I am uttering the word “travel” it does mean driving down with my three furbabies of which two do not get along really well with each other . I do not prefer to leave my babies behind and so take them along everywhere.
Traveling with pets can be hassle free provided you follow certain basic points. Here I am tried listing those based on my own rich experience.
To travel with your pets you need to have a sturdy and spacious vehicle, an energetic, nerve-steady, rock solid driver, cooperative humans and animals onboard and most importantly a thorough researched route, detailed report on roads and pet-friendly accomodations booked all throughout wherever you want to have a stopover.
Few more points to keep in mind always.
1) Start as early as possible – We prefer to start in the crack of dawn but getting ready with three pets make it difficult at times . The early you start, the empty traffic-free roads greet you with fresh and cool morning breeze absolutely free.
2) Take shower before you start – We never leave our house without taking shower as it makes you fresh leaving your sleepy eyes behind. We insist our pets to go through their routine morning walks before they get inside the car .
3) Must have little breakfast before you are igniting the engine – Me and my husband …we both are Tea addicts and hence do not forget to sip into our first hot cuppa of the day with couple of biscuits and that works really fine for us. For the pets light minimum food like couple of dog biscuits or some kibbles should be fine.
4) Retiring for the day with sundown – We strictly follow this . My husband who is mostly behind the wheels does not like to drive on the highway in the dark, at all, stretching himself. As we start early and don’t take much halts in between we have never really had to drive after sunset . We actually could reach our destination well within our designated time frame. ( Here comes the thorough reaserch on roads useful). We make it a point to order our food well in advance to the hotel where we would be halting for the night. Finishing the formalities we enter into the room, get freshen up quickly , gorge on the food and straight away dive into the bed with the TV remote in his hands and FB on my smartphone. Our babies too get to eat their one and only heavy meal of the day and the tired bodies would simply retire on the bed soon.
4) Installing a GPS enabled system in your car – Though you might not require it always but at times it is really helpful.
5) First aid kit- A first aid kit containing general medicines for fever, cough & cold, headache, stomache, loose motion, cotton, bandage, few band-aids, Dettol antiseptic creme/ lotion must be kept handy. If anyone is on regular medicine then that has to be taken in the handbag . My desi girl is an epileptic patient and has to take her regular dose of medicine. I always keep her strip of tablet and my tablet of high BP in my handbag.
Furries going for their first road trip are advised to undergo a thorough check up by their respective vets before the journey. Vets have to be informed about the same and their advice has to be strictly followed.
6) Playing rhythmic music in your car – Slow music can put the driver to sleep so please make sure to play dance/item numbers during long road journeys. In this regard my personal choice would be RD Burman-Kishore Kumar duets or romantic numbers in Arijit Singh’s voice
7) Load your car with lots of dry food items – Pack some sandwiches, cake, biscuits, namkeens , sweets, fruits, and nuts. I take my icebox too where I keep juices, lassi, buttermilk few packs of curd and Icecream. Candies n paan masalas are something essential so that the person behind the wheels always get to chew something which keeps him/her alert. We also take a small EAGLE flask with us and refill it with Tea during our every pitstop . Tea is such a versatile drink which actually is a necessity to keep the person behind the wheels in long journeys energized and alert .
We do not stop after every half an hour ….neither posh hotels and restaurants on the highway attract us . Almost everytime we skip our lunch…as finding good eateries which will allow our three pets at proper lunchtime is a chance. We do not remain hungry either as we keep munching on the foods we take with us.
My furries are extremely cooperative and tolerant ….they actually have been quite habituated with their gypsy parents by now. They straight away go to sleep mode as soon as they step inside the car cabin with full-blown AC. They do like to enjoy the scenic beauty on the roadside sometimes too. They prefer to keep themselves hydrated by mostly consuming plain water ,lassi n buttermilk and once in a while get icecream treats. Their restlessness and behavioral changes clearly indicate us to stop the car . Almost all of the big petrol pumps along the National Highways have ample space for them to answer their nature’s call and also to stretch ourselves a little. Normally these petrol pumps would have clean rest rooms where we get to freshen up and Small tea joints are also to be found adjacent to these pumps which gives us the liberty of combining all the major needs at one go. Small eateries and tea shops along the National Highways serve best quality authentic food and masala teas which we will not get in any five star restaurants even after shelling out a bomb from the pocket … . Trust Me…..
8) Always keep their up to date vaccination details and pet licenses ( if any ) handy. Keep their muzzles with you too. Some hotel authorities might want you to muzzle your pet in common areas, reception,or in lift even if you are not having any aggressive dogs. It’s always better to follow the rules and regulations just to avoid any untoward incident later. Carry one extra set of old bedsheet to spread it on the bed in the hotel. I always do that as my babies sleep with me on the bed just to avoid any fresh paw prints. We as pet parents might well love the innovative idea of pawprints on our bedspread but others might object. Never get into any fighting mode with the people associated with the pet friendly hotels. Always remember your one mistake might ruin the chance of other pet parents to enjoy the privileges of staying in that particular (once) pet friendly accommodation later. I enjoy hearty relationship with all my hosts through out the country wherever I stayed with them. My experience says that normally all pet-friendly accommodations are either homestays, or guest houses/service apartments, where owners are either pet parents themselves or dog lovers. So arranging food for your furries becomes easy. Otherwise, curd and steamed rice are easily available in every nook and corner of our country. But still, I prefer to carry some packets of curds if in case I need to feed them on the go if they are hungry. Keep two or three bowls for them inside the car cabin to feed them.
Keep some of their favorite toys, balls, chew bones near them in the car so that they don’t get bored and cranky and start disturbing you.
Carry some old newspapers too to handle any mishap inside the car.
Some face towels and wet tissues are always useful to make you and your babies feel fresh instantly.
National Highways in our country have got a super drastic upliftment. The well-lit roads now have a smooth surface. Big signboards adorn the side of the highway clearly mentioning the details of the nearby village, town or any approaching big city. You will get to find small food joints to five-star hotels across the stretch. Almost all of the petrol pumps accept Credit Card except a few smaller ones.
Throughout the National Highways, there are toll plazas after every couple of kilometers.Very few toll booths accept card….so please carry enough cash with you to pay the toll fee.
All the information given in this write up is based on my personal experience and are true to my knowledge. Experiences may vary from person to person but this note can surely act as the very basic guide which can be followed to plan a wonderful trip with your furry babies.
My next in line would be the guide for the route Bangalore > Kolkata > Bangalore along the coastal highway with detailing in pet-friendly accommodations. Those who are planning to visit Kolkata during DURGA PUJA in the month of October with your pets, especially the Bengalis planning for a homecoming with your furries ….it’s a must-read for them.