Carpooling / car-sharing – traveling with a dog

I’m currently ‘trapped’ in Birmingham, UK.  Having been born and dragged up here, I’d embrace the thought of spending six weeks in Guantanamo Bay with more enthusiasm than I would being  here.

The reason I am stuck here, and not in Spain where I live is because I have a lovely dog (Sweep) – and no transport (car). Which seriously limits my options when it comes to propelling myself toward my adopted home of just outside  Barcelona in Spain.

Here are the methods of getting to Spain and the reasons why they aren’t suitable for a dog and hairless parent who doesn’t own a vehicle.

Flying machine – exceptionally stressful for dogs who can’t travel in the hold with its hairless companion. Not recommended unless there is absolutely no other alternative.

Eurostar – no dogs. Twits.

Eurotunnel – dogs can travel but you must have your own transport. Feet don’t count.

Ferry to Spain – expensive and foot passengers can’t take dogs.

Ferry to France – Some ferry companies take animals even if their parents don’t have a vehicle but dog stays on lower level and must have a lockable box that meets certain requirements like being a liberty and a complete waste of money. Imagine if they made parents put their kids in these?! It’d be great. Once you get to France you still have to spend a quarter of the rest of your life taking trains. Your furry friend will need breaks to tinkle and exercise, so more than a two or three hours at a time mean you will have to do the trip in three or four segments – if not more. There is a Trenhotel from Paris to Barcelona that runs overnight and dogs are allowed on here – provided they are under 8kilos. It might be an idea to also weigh fat kids as they get on and refuse entry to them.

I’ve spent weeks trying to find a method of getting the Sweepster back home and just kept hitting brick wall after brick wall, restriction after restriction. And then it came to me: there must be people driving to mainland Europe who want to split the cost of fuel etc. And then I found out about long-distance carpooling – which did just that.

You basically join one of their websites and search for an itinerary that matches your own. Of course finding a driver that is happy to take a dog is a new challenge in itself but some of them seem quite pooch-friendly.

I’m currently signed up with the following:

This seems the easiest to use and is the most industrious. You upload a photo and your details and then can search for suitable itineraries. Drivers can stipulate whether they accept dogs.

I don’t know how safe these are yet but will report back, pending survival.

If you’ve used one of these services, feel free to let us know your experiences.

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