The Unvarnished Truth on Travel with Pets

Today is the halfway point of our fourteen-month European trip.  In the last seven months, we have spent 3 months in England, 3 weeks in Spain, 2 weeks in France, 1 1/2 months in Italy, 3 days in Switzerland, and 1 month in Croatia, with numerous day-long stops in between.

All of us at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

And, here's the amazing part: Chewy and Abby have been everywhere with us. They've stayed in hotels, motels, resorts, apartments, converted farm houses, traditional homes, bed and breakfasts, and a few dog kennels. We've lived in an olive grove in Tuscany, a condominium in Cannes, across from sheep and horses in England, within five minutes of the beach in Barcelona, and in a tiny village in snowy Switzerland.

Chewy and Abby with No Dogs signChewy and Abby in Cornwall

Nowadays, nobody really cares much about what Patrick and I are doing.  Those once-asked questions about how we make an income, keep ourselves occupied, and what we see, are not all that interesting (except to UK customs agents.)  No.  The question everyone wants answered is this one:  what is it really like roadtripping across Europe with two dogs?

The easy answer is that it's wonderful.  Plain, gosh darn wonderful.  I can't imagine anything better than traveling with them.  But, of course, that's not the whole answer --- or even an adequate answer to such a complex question.  So, let's get right to it.

Chewy and Abby in the Peak District

What is it really like roadtripping across Europe with two dogs?  Traveling with two dogs across Europe means:

  • Realizing that the best cure to jet lag is Chewy growling promptly at 7:30 a.m. local time for his breakfast, regardless of timezones.
  • Challenging every assumption about how other cultures treat animals because every Croatian we meet has at least one well-loved dog.
  • Limiting our sightseeing days to six hours --- even when we'd love to hop from museum to museum --- because we need to come home and take the dogs out.
  • Falling asleep to the steady sound of Abby's breathing.

 

 

  • Posing for the most fun tourist photos ever at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Stonehenge, and the Swiss Alps.
  • Watching Abby run through olive groves and vineyards in Tuscany.
  • Remembering that they don't understand why we must move around and giving them the time to adapt to their new surroundings.
  • Frolicking with the dogs through the snow-covered landscape of Switzerland.
  • Dealing with upset stomachs and barking when we take them on long ferries and cruises.

Chewy at the Leaning Tower of PisaAbby at the Guggenheim

  • Being accepted as locals --- or, at least, less annoying tourists --- in Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome simply because we were walking the dogs at local parks.
  • Spending days stressing about quarantine restrictions and pet passports, only to have our dogs usually ignored by customs agents, even when we try and offer up their pet passports.
  • Sharing jamon iberico, prosciutto, and Istrian ham with the world's hungriest dog (Chewy).

Chewy in the snow

Abby and a lionChewy and rhinos

Abby and Chewy at Restormel Castle

  • Sitting in a hotel room eating warmed-over pizza and risotto in Verona because Chewy didn't like the noises coming through the paper thin walls and barked as soon as we tried to leave.
  • Ordering in a magnificent meal of kugel and wiener schnitzel at a high-end resort in the Black Forest.
  • Learning that dogs in the Mediterranean can get the potentially fatal leishomaniasis, a disease we had never heard of, and finding the appropriate collar to ward off sand flies.
  • Discovering that some hotels will go the extra mile in making a room pet-friendly (especially Sheratons, Best Westerns, and Dorints.)
  • Discovering that other hotels would rather upcharge for the dog without providing anything extra (especially Ibis.)

Abby at Westonbirt Arboretum

  • Having an instant topic of conversation with any local who pets our dogs.
  • Finding a doggie Christmas pudding at Harrod's to go along with our flaming Christmas pudding.
  • Reveling in the dogs' delight in running and exploring off-leash and being equally delighted that a few months can train them to be *almost* as responsive to our voices as European dogs are to their masters (*the exception being when Abby is confronted by squirrels).
  • Exploring ruined castles and abbeys from a dog's perspective.
  • Traveling slowly and staying in one place for two weeks or more to allow the dogs to adjust and to minimize the burden of packing and unpacking.

Chewy at a parkAbby at Greenwich Park

  • Returning home after a long day of sightseeing to wagging tails and happy grins.
  • And, most of all, being happy, grateful, and frequently amazed that our canine best friends are sharing this journey across Europe with us.

Previous: Pet-Friendly Barcelona Parks
Next: Pet-Friendly Peak District: Cottage and Walks

03/18/2012 19:08
Hello friends! Just found your blog and I'm loving it! In a couple months, I'm actually headed to Europe to travel with my own little pooch and I have one question that I haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer for (but it sounds like you'll have one!): to go from the EU into Croatia, can I use the EU pet passport or will I need to do separate paperwork (like I have to do to come in from the US in the first place). And, when coming back from Croatia, again, will I need to do additional paperwork, or will my pet passport suffice?

Thanks!
Gigi's recent blog post: A New Look (& Soon a New Book!)
03/25/2012 14:17
Gigi: I'm so glad you found our site. To go from the EU into Croatia and back, you only need a pet passport. In fact, the Croatian authorities didn't even look at ours! Once you're in Europe, the Pet Passport is accepted EVERYWHERE --- we're going to Turkey next and they also accept the Pet Passport. The major hassle is getting from the U.S. to Europe. Once you're here, it's much easier to travel around with dogs. Have a great trip (and you'll love Croatia - it's super pet-friendly.)
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Gigi's recent blog post: Saturday: Thunder Dog!
07/24/2012 08:19
Hi, I have the same question but from UK into Switzerland (plus whatever countries are in between that I have to pass through)- will this be an issue?? On a separate note- have you travlled with your pets to other continents? Or only Europe? How long will you travel for?? Amazing!
09/02/2012 15:31
Once you get a pet passport, there's no issue going from the UK to any of the European countries. We've only traveled in Europe and the USA with the dogs, but we'd like to do a Central/South American journey with them, as well!
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Traveling with pets is the best experience which person can assume and they are great time pass partner.
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Wow you guys are an inspiration. I've always wanted to travel with my dog but I always felt like it would be too much of a headache dealing with customs and I'd hate to arrive at a country and have to turn back.
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These dogs are adorable. I love them. Keeping pets is fun. You get to play with them, feed them, walk them and you yourself learn a lot from their friendship.
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Akila writes. Patrick takes photos. Chewy eats. Abby runs. We live, love, and travel in this world.
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