In 2017, Delhi-based journalist Divya Dugar and her Paris-born partner Olivier Telle began to document their Indian train journeys with two adopted dogs on Instagram. The couple talks about their adventures, the new members in their family, and tips for travelling with pets. By Adila Matra
T+L India: Tell us about the inception of your Instagram page, @chaosinacoupe.
Divya Dugar: It started around four and a half years ago. Initially, the idea was to share snippets of our travels with our two dogs, Marco Polo and Tigress. Then, Pari (a third dog) and Marius (their son) joined, and our family grew.
T+L India: What are the challenges you face, especially with a tiny human in the mix now?
Divya Dugar: When we started, it was not something people talked about. If they did, it was mostly road trips. The reason we decided to travel by train was because one of our dogs, Tigress, has extreme car sickness. I’ve gone on 66 train journeys with my dogs. Indian Railways is very pet-friendly, but it is still not easy. There are a lot of rules. But I still feel travelling with dogs is rewarding.
T+L India: How do you choose your travel destinations?
Divya Dugar: We choose places that are accessible by train. Secondly, we look for destinations with homestays or pet-friendly Airbnbs. And lastly, we check what activities we can do with our dogs. It becomes very rewarding if there is an opportunity for nature walks.
T+L India: Do you agree on itineraries and travel plans? How do you settle differences?
Divya Dugar: When it comes to travelling, Olivier and I are pretty much on the same page. We are very flexible and improvise a lot. For us, it is about finding a patch of green and having a picnic, going on a walk with our dogs, or having a burger at a roadside shack. On some days we stay in bed, some days we end up cooking or going to a nearby market.
T+L India: How has the concept of travelling with pets changed over the years in the country?
Divya Dugar: We’ve helped over 200 pet parents travel with their dogs, and the number of dogs we see moving around with their parents has gone up. There are so many pet-friendly hotels across the country now, not just in the mountains or in places like Goa. Many boutique hotels and high-end hotels are pet-friendly now.
T+L India: Which place have you found to be the most pet-friendly?
Divya Dugar: We love Sikkim and Goa. Rajasthan is amazing, too. We visited a few small villages there, like Shekhawati, and had great fun with our dogs.
T+L India: What are the things to keep in mind while travelling with pets?
Divya Dugar: Carry a medical kit with basic medicines like Betadine. Do not overhaul their diet; carry dry food and treats in case you don’t have access to a cook. I also carry a foldable blanket so they can make a nest and sleep in it.
T+L India: What are your favourite travel destinations?
Divya Dugar: I absolutely love the Andamans; Ladakh is another favourite. I come from Rajasthan, so I am a little biased towards that state. Olivier: I love Udaipur, Venice, and my hometown, Paris.