Will having a dog hold you back from traveling? Or is it possible have a pet and still travel the world? Let’s discuss…
I remember the conversation distinctly.
It was my first time at a new travel meetup, and I was gushingly showing the group photos of my dog (after prompted, I promise). Pride in my eyes, pure love in my heart, I explained how Harry, my little, fluffy miracle of a rescue pup, came into my life.
There were “oohs.” And oh, were there “ahhs.”
But then, out of the blue came this grey, not oohing, and definitely not ahh-ing rain cloud of a response:
“That’s silly! You can’t have a dog and travel the world!”
Now, I get where she was coming from. A dog, cat, hedgehog, ferret, goldfish or any animal may seem like an excuse that would lock you down and hold you back from traveling to your dream destinations — but that’s just what it is. An excuse.
If you prioritize travel, you’ll find a way to make it work. I sit here, world travel blog on my screen, adorable puppy sleeping on my lap, to tell you:
You can have a dog (or any aforementioned animal) and travel the world.
But you have to do it the right way, otherwise it’s a no-win, sad puppy situation. And no one wants a sad puppy. No one!
Adventure at home
One of the zillion benefits of owning a dog is that vet-recommended daily walk. Think about it. That’s 30 to 60 minutes of you and your best bud exploring the nooks and crannies, ins and outs of your neighborhood.
When Harry and I walk, we watch the sunset. We find hidden vantage points (hint) to look out at the NYC skyline. We stumble upon historic sites we didn’t know existed. And, on those extra-early mornings, we walk along the water and gaze at the glittering city sunrise (at which point Harry says “I’d rather be sleeping!”).
You can even take these adventures beyond your city and explore parks, beaches and local attractions within driving distance. This absolutely counts as your daily walk, and it’s a great way to check those “Oh, I’ve been meaning to do that, but” destinations off your list. Just research ahead of time to ensure these spots are dog friendly.
Road trip with your pup
Nothing screams “road trip” like an ears flapping, tongue panting dog with his head out the car window. Well, I guess a pair of sunglasses on said dog would do. Oh, or how about a dog barking to the tune of…
OK, OK. I’ll stop.
As the popularity of pet travel rises, so does the number of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and attractions. Just look at Bring Fido’s robust list of pet-friendly spots — not just in the U.S., but around the world.
So pack your little bud’s bag (and, I guess your own), pick a city on your must-go list, plan out that city’s pet-friendly spots and voila! You have yourself a mini vacation filled with puppy kisses and oh-so-many Snaps just waiting to be chatted.
Find a dog sitter you trust
This is without a doubt the most important thing for dog-owning travelers. I refuse to take Harry on an airplane – little munchkin would faint from all the commotion! – but I won’t let that stop me from traveling long distances. That’s why I found an incredibly fabulous, trustworthy dog sitter in my neighborhood.
Just like pet-friendly resorts and restaurants, dog sitting is a growing industry, with new services and accommodations that fit pretty much any need. Yelp and good old Google are good places to start your pet-sitting search.
Since Harry is shy and gets super nervous in big groups (aww), he needed a home environment with his stand-in “mom” instead of a large kennel with chaos and no true mom figure.
For more independent dogs who forget mom or dad exists at the dog park, a larger kennel where your pup can play all day is a solid option. But don’t mistake kennel with strict, no-attention boarding. Many of these larger facilities were based off of human resorts, and are literally a hotel for your dog — bed, pampering and all!
As you can imagine, pricing for a dog sitter can definitely add up if you’re planning a long trip. That’s when it’s time to call in favors with close friends or family that your little one trusts. Harry worships the ground my parents walk on, so whenever I have an extended vacation, I drive him back home and leave him in their tender, loving hands — and he couldn’t be happier.
Now, I do want to point out that this type of travel centers on me having a home base. If you’re nomadically traveling the world with no home and no set schedule, a dog may not be the best option.
But if you do have a home base and a strong desire to have a dog (or any animal), do it. They’re worth it, and I promise, a dog, cat, hedgehog, tortoise or chinchilla won’t hold you back from exploring the world. The only one who can hold you back from your dream destination is, well, you!