I have always dreamt of traveling. Since I was a child, I imagined distant landscapes, foreign languages, different cultures, so far from my daily routine and everything familiar. The unknown seems scary to lots of people but fascinates me. At the age where most of girls dream of being princesses, I dreamt of adventures on the Indiana Jones’ music background. However, what I had never imagined in the picture was a dog.
Shark came into my life as a travel hazard. She was simply born in my garden when I lived in Rodrigues, a tiny island lost in the Indian Ocean. When I had to leave, despite all the voices that rose against my crazy decision, I brought her along with me. That is how the story of this blog, The Tropical Dog, started (more about our story here).
Shark and I have been to 9 countries on 3 continents together. Traveling with a dog requires organization, more money, some compromise and a good sense of responsibility. Difficult? Binding? But not impossible! Of course, there are some steps to follow, but once you are in, your only regret will be not having traveled with your dog earlier. Therefore, I share with you the reasons why traveling with a dog is great.
N.B.: I wrote this article in 2015 after “only” a year of traveling with Shark. Today, after visiting 4 countries in South America with my dog during 12 months, I confirm every single word of what comes below.
10 REASONS WHY DOGS ARE THE BEST TRAVEL COMPANIONS!
Based on my 4-year experience of traveling with a dog
1- A dog helps you choose where to go
As the famous quote says “I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list”. Well, traveling with a dog limits the list of countries you are allowed to visit. Some countries have very strict pet regulations or even quarantine rules. That’s mostly the case for island countries like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Fidji… You should also know that a few islands and countries simply forbid the entry to pets (Jamaica, Easter Island…). On the other side though, there are a lot of dog friendly countries and these are now on the top of my list!
2- A dog changes your perception of what is possible
You have to admit: when you think “traveling with a dog” you think “it’s impossible” or at least “it’s very complicated”. Well, I confess that I used to think that too. Of course, traveling with a dog is more challenging than traveling solo. Logistically, you need to rethink your transportation and accommodation, look for pet-friendly restaurants and activities… But why do we think of it as a problem? Why don’t we see it as an alternative perspective of traveling? Everything is possible if one really wants it and is ready to make an effort. Traveling with your dog is easy if you know some basic rules and information (that’s why this blog was made for). The first step is always the hardest. The rest is just fun!
3- A dog is great company
I always preferred to travel solo because it’s the only way for me to feel totally free. I like to do whatever I want whenever I want and sometimes I just don’t want to talk. Guess what? My dog likes to do whatever I want and doesn’t speak. So yes, my dog is definitely the best travel companion! She can explore a place with me all day without getting tired, rest next to me when I work without complaining and sleep all night without waking me up. Did I mention that she keeps me warm when it’s cold? 🙂
4- A dog improves your social life
A dog is a nice attraction for other people and a good conversation starter. I often talk with other dog owners when I walk Shark in the street. As you may have noticed, dogs use to smell each other so they obviously bring their owners closer. Sometimes, my dog just makes people around laugh because she starts to roll in the grass or chase a pigeon. Children ask their mother if they can cuddle her, people ask me about her breed… Either you are shy or confident, your dog is an asset and an easy way to meet friendly locals.
5- A dog motivates you when you get lazy
Sometimes, when you are a slow traveler like me, you get really slow, like lazy slow. You think “I’ve spent a month in this city, it’s ok if I just hang out on the couch today” or find other excuses to stop exploring. I confess, it happened to me more than once. But these good lazy times are over. Now I need to go out at least three times a day to walk my dog. So either it’s raining or snowing, either I’m feeling ill or lazy, she motivates me to leave my couch.
6- A dog helps you stay in shape
It’s hard to exercise when you travel. You don’t have time and can’t access a gym because it’s too expensive without a subscription. Believe it or not, my dog is my personal coach when I travel. Besides our long daily walks, I spend some energy playing with her. As she is young and has a great hunting instinct, a simple fly can drive her crazy and she will chase it until she gets it. And yes… I love help her chase flies. Running through the apartment, jumping on the bed, climbing on a chair… That’s physical activity, right?
7- A dog makes you feel safe
Dogs are security guards for your belongings but also for you. I am not an anxious nor a fearful person, but I have to admit that I feel much safer since I have my dog. She watches my place when I’m gone, she barks if a stranger approaches my door/window, she protects me when I walk her outdoors and she can even show fangs if someone comes too close to me. For sure, big dogs are more threatening but don’t underestimate the aggressiveness of small ones. They can at least give the alarm!
8- A dog makes you smile every day
It seems silly, but it’s true! There are a bunch of studies that proves dogs make people happier. If you have a dog yourself you know what I mean. Watching her cute little face every morning, laughing when she does stupid things such as ruining a pillow… Besides, sometimes when you travel, you feel alone or a bit sad because you’re far from home. When it happens to me, I am happy to have my dog to cheer me up with a dose of pure and unconditional love… and cuddles!
9- A dog takes you off the beaten track
Traveling with your dog might take you to places you wouldn’t go otherwise. For example, I’ve started to explore parks and look for quiet neighborhoods to walk my dog when I visit cities with her. What’s most important, she makes me want to visit less famous destinations. Now I avoid big cities when I plan my travels because I know she doesn’t like urban noise and crowds. I’d rather look for villages and explore the great outdoors! So basically, she brought me closer to nature.
10- A dog loves adventure
As Dave Barry said, “dogs love to go for rides. A dog will happily get into any vehicle going anywhere”. That’s so true! More than any other pet, dogs are always excited to go outside, smell new odors, discover new places and meet new friends (both humans or dogs). They are curious and adventurous. And that’s no doubt the most important reason why traveling with a dog is great. Your dog shares your wanderlust. Besides, he will show you a new way of traveling and lead you to explore the world at his level too.
Are you ready to take your dog along and explore? 🙂
Photos & contents @ The Tropical Dog 2015-2017.