Guide to Train Travel With Pets – and Getting Rewarded for It!

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Did you know that traveling with your pet by train can often be a much safer and cheaper alternative than flying or even driving?  It’s true!

And with many airlines recently tightening up their policies on flying with pets, it’s always good to be prepared to travel by train just in case you’re not able to fly with your pet!

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Don’t Worry If You Can’t Fly With Your Pet!  Traveling by Train Is a Great Alternative, and Can Even Be Safer and Cheaper Than Flying!

I’ll go over what you should have with you if you are traveling with your pet by train, as well as summarize the rules and policies for some of the rail transit systems in the US!

Why Travel by Train With Pets?

Traveling by train can be much safer than flying.  That’s because air travel can put your pet at risk due to changes in air quality, air circulation, temperature, cabin pressure, and other environmental issues that could be harmful to your pet’s health!

In fact, select short-nosed breeds are not allowed to travel on certain airlines because of respiratory issues that may make it especially difficult for them to breathe properly under the stress and environment of flying.

If you’re a dog owner and you have one of the following breeds, it may be especially important for them to avoid air travel:

  • Pug
  • Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Japanese Chin
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pekingese
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bullmastiff
  • Affenpinscher
  • English Toy Spaniel
Certain Breeds of Dogs With Short Snouts, Like the Brussels Griffon, May Be Especially Prone to the Environmental Pressures of Flying.  So You May Want to Consider Traveling by Train Instead!

What Trains Can I Use to Travel With My Pet?

There are a number of different train systems in the US you can take to travel with your pet.  Here are some common train systems in the US you may consider looking into if you are thinking about traveling by train.

  • Alaska – Alaska Railroad
  • Arizona – Valley Metro Rail, Sun Link
  • Arkansas – Metro Street Car
  • California – Altamont Corridor Express, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain, Coaster, Light Rail, Metro Rail, Metrolink, Muni Metro
  • Colorado – RTD Rail
  • Connecticut – Shore Line East
  • District of Columbia – DC Street Car, Metrorail
  • Florida – Metromover, Metrorail, Tri-Rail
  • Georgia – MARTA Rail System
  • Illinois – Metra
  • Maryland – MARC
  • Massachusetts – CapeFLYER, MBTA Commuter Rail
  • Michigan – Detroit People Mover, QLine
  • Minnesota – METRO
  • Missouri – Metrolink
  • Nationwide – Amtrak
  • New Jersey – Hudson-Bergen Light Rail
  • New Mexico – New Mexico Rail Runner Express
  • New York – Long Island Rail Road, Metrorail
  • Oregon – WES Commuter Rail
  • Pennsylvania – Norristown High Speed Line, PATCO Speedline
  • Texas – A-Train, Capital Metro Rail
  • Utah – TRAX
  • Washington – Link Light Rail

What You Should Have With You

Fortunately, traveling by train with your pet is much easier than flying.  That’s because in the vast majority of cases, you won’t have to worry about having to produce proof of vaccinations, a health certificate, or any other type of paperwork.  In fact, most of them only require that your pet be able to travel in a pet carrier that can fit on your lap, or underneath your seat.

Traveling by Train With Your Pet Often Requires Far Less Paperwork Than Flying.  In Most Cases, They’ll Just Need to Travel in a Pet Carrier That Fits on Your Lap or Underneath Your Seat, and That’s It!  No Health Certificates, Proof of Vaccinations, or Other Paperwork Required!

If you will be traveling with a service dog, some train stations will require they wear some sort of identifying vest or special identification to indicate they are a service animal.  Otherwise, you should have no problems finding a train system to allow you to travel with your service animal.

Here is a more detailed list of some of the train systems and their specific policies!

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Getting Rewarded for Your Train Travel

If you decide to travel by train with your pet, or need to buy supplies in preparation for your trip, remember to use the best travel credit card to earn valuable miles and points for your future travels!  Here are some of our favorites:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – You’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining.  And because Chase’s definition of travel also includes purchases made with operators of passenger trains, this is a great card to purchase your train tickets with!
  • Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card – Earn 1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on all purchases.  Handy for if you need to buy a new pet carrier!
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – Earn 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases, perfect if you are looking for a card with simple rewards!

Bottom Line

There are a number of rail transit systems available in the US if you are looking to travel by train, and many allow you to travel with your pet with very little restrictions and hardly any documentation requirements.  In fact, when it comes to service animals, many train systems only require they be properly identified with a vest or harness.

If flying with your pet is not an option, traveling by train can be a great alternative.  It can often be safer, cheaper, and less complicated.  That’s because the stress and environment of flying can be harmful to your pet’s health!  Traveling by train does not subject them to the potentially traumatic pressures of flying, and can be a great way to travel with your pet without having to leave them at home!

Andrew Wan is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where he covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines and hotels. His work has also appeared in The Simple Dollar.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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