People are welcome to bring animals to the Ecotopia Biketour. In the past years, for much of the route we had one or two dogs travelling with us, and people have also been picking up abandoned baby cats and dogs from the side of the road.
The regulations are very similar across Europe, but it is always good to do some more research on the specific lines you want to take. Guide dogs (for example for blind people) can normally be taken everywhere for free, but other than that it is normally not allowed to take dogs on long-distance buses, and on trains it is normally allowed.
On trains, dogs usually need an extra ticket. In Western Europe, this is usually really expensive (half the price of a regular ticket), while in Eastern Europe it is just a couple of Euros. If the dog is in a box, it counts as luggage and is for free. A convenient way to do this is a foldable transportation box. It’s not a problem to let the dog walk by himself when you enter the train, as long as he’s in the box when the tickets are checked. Boxes that are maximum 30 cm high usually fit under the seat (flexible boxes can be a bit higher). You might also try to hide the dog under the seat and put some luggage in front, but this is more risky. On many trains, dogs are required to wear a muzzle.
The cheapest way to travel with a dog is hitch-hiking or taking a ride-share such as BesserMitfahren or Blablacar. A lot of drivers but not all accept dogs, so send a message to them before.
If you are taking the ferry with your bike, it depends on the ferry company. With some ferries, you can take the dog on board for free, some don’t allow dogs at all. On some ferries you will have to rent an expensive cabin, but there is usually the alternative to leave the dog “in the vehicle” for free. It’s worth to find out before whether leaving them in the bike trailer will be accepted.
Crossing the border
When travelling inside the EU, dogs are required to have a microchip and a pet passport with a valid rabies vaccination. This is almost never checked at all, and if it is checked the border guard usually just looks in the passport to see if there is an up-to-date vaccination sticker.
Rules for entering the UK/Ireland are more strict. See an overview here. The additional requirements are:
- Vaccination against rabies at least 21 days before crossing the border. If your dog has a non-EU passport, a blood test might be needed (source)
- Tapeworm treatment maximum 5 days (120 hours) and minimum 1 day (24 hours) before crossing the border (source). When crossing the border between UK and Ireland, this is not needed.
- If you take the ferry, make sure that it is listed among the allowed ferry routes
- You might need to book your ticket in advance and specify that you are bringing an animal, because the ministry of agriculture has to be notified by the travel company
Carrying on the bike
There are three ways to take a dog:
- Let the dog run. Be aware that on long and flat days we can cycle as far as 70 km, which is too much for most (all?) dogs.
- Carry the dog in a trailer. There are trailers made specifically for dogs, but children’s trailers are usually more available and easier to find used or trashed. A thick and soft pillow (for example a piece of foam from the trash) is important against the vibrations. Spring suspension is not really needed if the pillow is soft enough. 2-wheel trailers are much more suitable than 1-wheel trailers because the centre of weight will be moving.
- Carry the dog on the bike. Take a big vegetable box (or multiple ones with the bottom cut out) and cable-tie them strongly to the front or back rack. An upside-down box can be used as the lid. Put a soft and thick pillow inside.