The trials and tribulations of travel

I’ve just returned from a rather wet holiday to Ireland which involved taking our young baby, Elliott on a plane. The amount of forward planning and military precision required for this undertaking got me thinking about the changes to the pet travel scheme and how much easier it has become to take your dog or cat abroad within the EU. However, which is easier, a pet or a six month old baby?!?

In order to take a baby or pet abroad, you’ll need a passport. In Elliott’s case this involved a visit to a local chemist where the friendly assistant quickly lost her sense of humour trying to get the little tyke to look into the camera without smiling, grimacing, dribbling or showing any facial expression. Additionally no part of Annelise, who was holding him, was allowed in the picture. This was eventually achieved on the 15th attempt – however, it’s still a lot better than my passport photo! With the hallowed portrait in our possession, it was then a matter of filling out the necessary forms and posting them off to the passport office. Then followed a 6 week wait. Difficulty factor = (8/10).

There is no photo session required for your kitty or pooch’s passport, however, there are still a couple of hoops to jump through: Firstly, a rabies vaccination is still mandatory. This can be given to any animal over three months of age. Secondly, all pets registering for a passport must be microchipped before or at the time of the rabies vaccination. Once this is completed, we can issue a passport and you can travel 3 weeks after the rabies vaccine was administered. Rabies vaccinations are licenced for three years in the UK, so your pet won’t need another for a while! Difficulty factor  =  (6/10).

Once you have your passport, it’s travel time! Both babies and pets are easier to transport by car than plane. To transport your pet in your own vehicle, no health check is required prior to travel although it is a good idea to do this if your pet is on any medication or has any health issues. Your pet’s passport should be checked as you go through border control (eg at the ferry terminal or Euro tunnel). However, we were flying with Elliott, so in the interests of fairness I will compare like with like!

Travelling with a baby means taking more luggage than Victoria Beckham while your personal possession count is lower than a shipwrecked castaway. All this has to be checked in, xrayed, inspected, folded and unfolded. The journey itself is fairly traumatic as you either try to comfort a “grizzler” or sit waiting for the inevitable grizzling to occur! On arrival, you then realise that you’ve forgotten to book a baby seat for the hire car and have an hour’s wait while one is sourced from another hire company. But at least you’ve arrived! Difficulty factor = (9/10).

If you are flying with your pet, then you’ll need to book them on a flight via a reputable pet travel company. A health check 24 hours prior to the flight will probably be required (this is often done at the airport by a vet affiliated with the hire company). Some pets can get stressed when travelling and we can prescribe a variety of medications to calm them down or mildly sedate them if needs be. You’ll be reunited with your pet once you have both passed through border control at your destination. Difficulty factor = (7/10).

Once your trip has come to an end, it’s time for the return journey. As far as a baby is concerned, it’s a repeat of the first leg except you feel a bit more like a seasoned pro having successfully survived the experience first time around. Additionally, returning a car seat is a lot easier than not booking one in the first place! Difficulty factor = (6/10).

There is no longer a requirement for your dog or cat to be treated for ticks before they return to the UK, but they do still require a tapeworm treatment. This has to be done within 5 days of the return journey and your pet’s passport will stamped by the vet who supplies the wormer. If you are flying this will probably be organised by the carrier, if travelling under your own steam you will have to make arrangements yourself. Difficulty factor (7/10).

So there we have it – 20/30 for the pets and 23/30 for the 6 month baby are the results of this very scientific study! The changes to the pet travel scheme have made it much easier to obtain a passport for your pet and travel within the EU – easier, it seems than travelling with your own child! If you would like more information or would like to start the process of registering for a passport, feel free to contact us. The scores could be evened up if we were allowed to microchip babies instead of having passport photos, but I can’t see that catching on somehow!