Pets: to many of us, they’re family members. However, the idea of traveling with our pets can seem difficult or expensive. Many travellers leave pets behind, but if you’re travelling in Europe by train you may not need to.
Train travel offers good options for those looking to include their furry, winged or other pet friends - such as rabbits - in the journey.
There are some important items to check off before boarding the train with pets. You’ll want to make sure your pet complies with the rules of the PET travel scheme. This includes your pet:
- being fitted with a microchip
- having a pet passport
- being up-to-date with all the necessary vaccines
Be sure to read the latest government rules to ensure you’re on track.
Dogs, cats and other small animals can travel free of charge on all domestic British trains. This is of course depends on all rules being met and no danger being caused to fellow passengers. Travellers can bring up to a maximum of two pets per passenger, as long as they do not endanger or inconvenience passengers or staff. Note that you’ll need to pay a small fee to travel with a pet on the Caledonian Sleeper.
Eurostar do not permit pets on board their trains. However, you can still travel by train and ferry to mainland Europe from the UK. For example, from the UK to The Netherlands, you and your pet can take the 19:32 train from London Liverpool Street station to Harwich, where you can catch the overnight ferry to Hoek. Pets are welcome on board (dogs are not allowed in public areas on the ship but they are provided with a clean and secure kennel -- with CCTV streaming available!) Other animals are required to be in a suitable cage/box. Upon arrival in the Netherlands, you can take trains to a range of popular European destinations.
Once in mainland Europe, train travel with pets is achievable, as most rail operators offer relatively pet-friendly policies. Animals in boxes or cages should always be accepted.
Dog Watermark, © Italo, All Rights Reserved
- Spain: Small animals are allowed. Pets over 10kg will not be allowed onboard trains in Spain.
- France: Pets are allowed on board. There are small charges for dogs/other animals in cages. Larger dogs on leads pay half a standard class fare.
- Italy: Dogs and other pets are permitted on most trains. They’re free in a carrier, and half the second class fare if on a lead and muzzled.
- Germany: Small dogs and cats in containers travel free, while larger dogs pay the child rate.
Adventures on the Dolomites with dog, © piola666, All Rights Reserved
Rail travel still has a way to go to be classed as truly pet-friendly. However, it offers a far better option for pets than flying. Trans also offer the chance to easily break up your journey, causing less stress on both you and your four-legged friend. When heading to the south of Italy, it might be nice to stopover for a lunch, walk or evening in Milan!
If you’re looking for a way to integrate your pet into a European family holiday in the least stressful way, trains are the way to go.