Instatraveller: Hamlet the Travelling Pig
This might just be our favourite Instatraveller yet. This month we caught up with Megan Peabody and her pet pig 'Hamlet the Beach Hog' to find out all about their adventures together around the USA and the Caribbean...
How did it all begin?
It all began when my best friend (my dog Goliath or 'Gilly') passed away three years ago. I'd had him for 11 years, and admittedly I was lost without him. After a few months I knew I wasn't ready for a dog, but I did want a pet, so I Googled 'domestic house pets similar to dogs' and pigs popped up! The rest is history. Each piglet had a blurb about them, and Ham's was: "You can find me in the back of the line, behind my brothers and sisters; I just want to feel safe." I thought to myself, 'I can do that for you!', so, I did! Hammie turns three in September and has definitely made a much bigger impression on my life than I ever imagined. I'm very lucky. We tend to celebrate his birthday with party hats and balloons and call it a hog party, or a piggy party!
Where did the name Hamlet come from?
I was originally thinking about it as a name for a Great Dane dog. And, in hindsight, all I call Hamlet is Hammie or Ham, whoops! I do enjoy Shakespeare, but admittedly his name is just funny and I don't even acknowledge the irony much anymore unless someone laughs and points it out.
What’s your favourite image of Hamlet and why?
My favourite image of Hamlet was us on his first plane ride. He's been on eight now! Now that we have been paddle boarding, I am also partial to the images of him on the board. But that photo of us looking out the plane window, leaving Boston, will always have a very special place in my heart. I printed the photo of him as a baby getting stuck in a box of Cheerios, that one is just adorable!
How many countries has he travelled to, and do you have a favourite place you have visited?
When we left New England, we went from Boston to Miami, then from Miami to the island of St Thomas. He has since gone to Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Miami, New York and Boston. On eight different planes! He is so mellow on the plane and just snoozes on my lap. He is also so friendly and his demeanour is so down to earth that he isn't affected much by all the attention he receives. On one flight from the Virgin Islands to New York, the pilot asked if we would wait until after everyone exited so he could 'meet the piggy on the plane'! Hamlet and I got to go into the cockpit, it was really cool and those photos are priceless!
What does he like to eat on flights?
I bring a little bag of Cheerios for him to munch on during take off so his ears don't get that popping sensation. Sometimes I pack a little bag of veggies (carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes are his favourites). He also gets some water and usually cuddles up to me and naps.
Is he easy to keep entertained?
Only if you have food! He is on a constant 3mph mission to find the next snack. And since he isn't fed snacks outside his pig-friendly diet, he is always looking for something yummy! So, when I need to keep him busy, I hide Cheerios around the house and it usually takes him a while to find them all. He enjoys slowly walking and searching for food. Other animals, and people, are invited to join the search, as long as he gets a snack!
What’s the reaction like from fellow passengers?
On the very first flight, after hours at Logan Airport in Boston, we finally made our way to the terminal. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE wants to stop and see a pig on a leash! I should just tie a balloon to his harness with his Instagram handle written on it! That would be cute. But anyway, as we boarded the flight I was anxious (moving to the Caribbean) and frustrated (I wasn't prepared for the amount of attention Ham was going to get at the airport back then) and I plopped down to my seat with relief. But who am I sat next to? The only person I've ever met who has a legitimate phobia of pigs. Drop-dead petrified of pigs. Luckily, the attendant was able to move us to an open row at the back of the plane, which actually gave us a lot more room!
What’s the reaction been like to the Instagram account?
Hamlet the beach hog is such a fun account, I try to document everything but it's been a gradual progression – it helps that he's very photogenic! His pictures are funny and cute, I try to make his captions clever. His mellow demeanour makes it easy to take him places and try new things, too. A lot of my friends get a kick out of his travels, so if nothing else, it's surely entertaining!
Where are you travelling to next?
That's a good question! I believe we are going to try a road trip along the east coast, finishing in New England to see my lovely 94-year-old grandmother, Virginia. Hamlet does well in cars, he usually stands up the whole time though! As for a big adventure? That remains undecided.
Where is home?
Well, we are from a town outside of Boston called Haverhill, but we have lived in many many places throughout New Hampshire. We spent a year and a half living in St Thomas, and currently feel very at home in Coral Bay on St John, part of the US Virgin Islands. Every morning we drive down a dirt road, see pet donkeys (that are afraid of Hamlet – they don't know what to make of him!), goats and chickens roaming around, and enjoy the beauty of the islands. We live with my amazing boyfriend, Nick, who I wouldn't have met if it were not for Hamlet! I used to joke and say Hammie got me a date. Turned out, he helped me find love.
So, Coral Bay is home right now, but we do like to travel, so who knows for how long!