Advantages and disadvantages of traveling with a dog
What a better way to encourage you to follow your dreams as a dog traveler than providing you with the wide range of benefits that this entails. Let's be honest, traveling with your dog is going to be tough at times, and I do not think that it is for everybody. But while there are drawbacks, the pros are infinitely larger. Of course, everything will depend on the length of your trip mainly. Evaluate carefully the trip that you want to do, because if it is a two weeks trip in which you want to know many places, it does not make sense taking your dog with you. Less if you need to fly to reach your destination. Your dog will be a good fellow if it is a long and unhurried trip, or a trip in which you have your own or rental car. This blog is more oriented to travelers who have a long time for traveling with their bud.
Traveling with your dog. There is no greater happiness and enjoyment than that. There is no greater happiness for someone to see his/her dog running on the beach or the mountain, playing with mates of different nationalities (for this dogs are much smarter than us, because they do not have any kind of prejudice)... And even trying the gastronomy of every place! You will see in his/her face a huge smile most of the time. So the biggest advantage is enjoying a trip with your most loyal partner. You will discover unforgettable places, meet people and good dogs and you will live an unbelievable and incomparable adventure next to him/her. Just this defeats all the disadvantages altogether!
I love traveling, like you do... So bring me with you!
Social. You will be approached by many people, especially locals, and they will want to know the story of your dog: what is his/her name, how old is he/she, what breed is he/she, what does he/she eat ... You will meet many people, and not only in quantity: most of the human beings who come to you out of curiosity, help you and/or give you a ride will be dog lovers and special people... And you will share many things with them. I can say that I have met many people and I have made great friends thanks to Cocaí. In addition, it is a must to start a conversation with other travelers, so you will make friends quickly.
Marco was one of the first friends I made on the way since I found Cocaí
Stay young with the little ones. Related to the above... Many children will want to get closer to meeting your dog. I truly believe that children are the best thing in this world. You will interact with plenty of them and rejuvenate in your trip, and you will see the cultural differences of the children of each country... Or either you will discover, perhaps, that they all are the same after all.
Kids came and say hi to us in San Lorenzo, Ecuador
Gifts. From smiles to dog food. Or even a place! We have been invited to spend the night along the way (more than once, and twice) and also been bought a room in a hotel by somebody a couple of times. It is obvious that you will get attention's people whether you like it or not. Most of the times people will like you, and in dog friendly countries, as it has happened to me in the USA and Canada, you will probably receive gifts from the most beautiful people. Human being is wonderful.
Franckie gave me a ride and ended up inviting us to spend the night in his house with his beautiful family
Self-realization. Making a trip of these characteristics can be very complicated at times, as we will see in the section of inconveniences. But after you make it you will feel pure satisfaction. You will feel more fulfilled than ever: arriving at your destination, after hours on the road, in a car or a truck of someone super nice is the most wonderful feeling. And get many other things that everyone believes impossible too.
This was a hard day although it does not look like that
Learn not to be ashamed. You will start by asking if you can enter the restaurant/stall with your dog the first few days and you will end up sitting at the table without even asking. The same for lodging and even transportation. I always try to make a fool of myself: “Oh, but how come we can't get on the bus? I've been in the country for a month and it's the first time that this happens to me... ". Sometimes it works! Of course it will depend on the country you are in.
Pure adventure. You will do things that without your buddy you would probably do not do... Like hitchhiking. If you are one of those who like to travel “by thumb” you already have the perfect excuse. If not, then you will have to get used to it because depending on where you are traveling, the size of your dog and others it is highly probably that at some point you need to make it through this wonderful way of traveling. You will meet good people and save money. You can read more in "Hitchhiking".
Jump to adventure, brother!
Save money. At least in transportation (in most places you cannot take public transport)! For example, on a three-week trip through Yucatan and Chiapas, I did not spend any money because we covered all the tracks hitchhiking. We also hitchhiked (almost) all the way from Mexico to Canada in a three and half month journey. And then in Canada. Also in South America. Most of our trips actually.
Getting to know other less touristy places. Sometimes it is not advisable to go to the most touristy places, and not because they are places where dogs can be overwhelmed (which sometimes it is...), but because they are often not well received, or even not allowed. This will make you change your plans sometimes... As a result, you will discover other places that you did not even considered! So thank your dog for having taken you to that waterfall, that jungle, that mountain, or to share incredible moments with some local village. Those are the stories you will keep and remember at the end of the trip. Yes, Machu Picchu is amazing, but the woman who welcomed me in her humble jungle house or the old man with whom I talked for hours in a village in the highlands are more present in my memory. Those people and places will be waiting for you a bit by luck or chance, just because you have three days left and instead of going to that beautiful city in which everything would be hard (find accommodation, getting around...) you decide to spend a bit more of your time in an unknown area...
We found this community by chance. The locals welcomed us as two more of the clan, specially kids
More time in each place. You will probably stay longer in the places than if you were traveling without your fellow dog. This is due to the difficulty involved in transportation, that will give you more laziness to start. This will have as a side effect to know better each place and, above all, its people. Sharing with locals is one of the best (not to say the best) events that your trip could provide you.
Becoming mature. A trip, especially a long and deep one, makes you more mature, as well as getting to know yourself better and growing as a person. If you travel with your dog maturation will probably be even greater because you will learn how to take care of a living being as incredible as your dog both in good and bad times. It is a lot of responsibility but it is wonderful.
Protection and safety. Although it is probably not the purpose of anyone who travels with their dog, it turns out to be a positive side effect. If you are in a dangerous area you can feel safer: you have a bodyguard. No matter if he/she is the most harmless dog in the world and has never killed even a fly. The wild fauna and the "bad ones" know nothing about it! Thieves and aggressors will not try to hurt you if they see a dog with you. Well, there are limits... Perhaps this advantage does not apply if we are talking about a Chihuahua!
And make sure bad people do not see your dog this way either!
Puppy friends. Your dog will meet dogs from all over the world! He/she will have a bunch of stories to tell to his/her friends when back at the park...
I love this doggy!
Kennel. I do not recommend traveling with a cage; it is the most deadly thing in the world. In this blog I am going to assume that the trip is done with no cage, but if someone wants to travel with it just be ready for suffering a lot (physically and psychologically). If, for example, you get by plane to a place and want to go to a nearby area it is better for you to leave the cage somewhere (with a friend, a couchsurfer, at the bus/train station paycheck), then come back for it. If you are going to make a long trip after arriving by plane, to another city for example, you can make use of the kennel once. Then, you can give it away, sell it or leave it somewhere until your return; it all will depend on how long your trip is.
We will never forget the Lima - Santiago journey carrying this damn cage
Bureaucracy/dog papers. Sometimes it is a pain to have to carry your dog's papers and make sure everything is in order. Because you can be asked for them at some point, especially at the borders. The level of strictness when requesting these documents varies from country to country, but it also matters the origin of your dog (where your buddy comes from). So, if you are European and you can make the European dog passport do not hesitate. Everything will be easier and you will save a lot of headaches. More information here.
Missing some essentials. Monuments, Reserves, archaeological sites... These are some of the places where pets are usually not welcome. However, there is always a solution; that is something important that you will learn. From leaving the dog to someone you trust, to pay for a dog hotel or a dog training center. I have done both. To visit a Mayan ruins for instance, I left Cocaí in charge of a restaurant. In return, I had lunch there later, in addition to thanked them warmly. On the other hand, when I went to the Galapagos Islands, I had to leave Cocaí at a canine training center. They took care of her brilliantly during the ten days she stayed there.
Public transport. Say bye to the public transport, unless you are in countries that do allow it or turn a blind eye (you can always try, just in case). I like to travel hitchhiking, but I would like to have the option to travel by bus. Especially when trying to get out of a big city.
Traveling by bus in Mexico; we could only get on three buses in the whole country.
Accommodation. It is not easy to find dog friendly places. It will depend on the country you are exploring, and whether you are in cities or in rural areas (much easier here). I highly recommend to bring a tent just in case (at least you make sure you sleep under a "roof" in the worst scenario of getting stuck on the road). Also, your dog will love sleeping in nature. And you too. You can read more about traveling with a tent here.
A tent will save you from many headaches with lodging, and will provide you with nights in magical places like this one at the Painted Desert, Arizona
Time. The trip will be more difficult, obviously. Especially for the two previous reasons. You will spend a lot of time on the road waiting for the Good Samaritans to show up, looking for a dog-friendly lodging or even trying to find a park where your dog can pee (there are cities in which the latter is not as easy as you can think of!). Oh, and the rush is not good. Do not give your dog too much stress and always give him/her the attention he/she deserves. If, for example, you have arrived in a place after a long drive, but do not want to stay there even a second, first give your dog some time to drink water, rest, stretch the legs and do his/her needs. You are not in a hurry.
Other obstacles. You will hear certain comments from people who do not like dogs; Possible fights with stray dogs…
Freedom, stress... It is true that takes away some freedom, as you are two and after all your dog is your responsibility. You will have to be aware that he/she has eaten and drunk enough before beginning a long journey; give up some plans that he/she is not compatible with, such as partying for example. But remember: YOUR DOG WILL NEVER BE THE ONE TO BLAME FOR THINGS THAT YOU CANNOT DO. NEVER BLAME YOUR FELLOW. YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR DOG, YOU ASSUME THE CONSEQUENCES, BOTH THE GOOD ONES AND THE LESS GOOD ONES.
Love me in the good and bad times
Add some extra luggage. Dog food, bowls, towel, leash and collar... Increase the weight of your luggage a little and be sure you do not miss anything. Advisable: put the phone number on the plate (if you have a local number of the country in which you are going to spend a long season it would also be a good idea). You can also buy him a pair of saddlebags. May he/she participates too! See more here.
Flights. This is probably one of the worst cons. Dogs do not like flights at all. They can get used to them more or less, behave better or worse... But the truth is that they can easily stresses due to the conditions: the noises that take place in the cellar, the fact of being so alone, the cold... If it is a small dog he/she can travel with you in the passenger area. Avoid traveling by plane as much as is in your hand, and hit the roads even if they are very long trips. Of course you will not be able do it always, but try your best to avoid them as much as possible. And when doing it, take a direct flight (unless it is not possible). On the other hand, flying will not be possible to some strict countries (not even if you need to make a stop in your way to your destination). You can read more about this here.
My mother reassuring Cocaí before getting on the plane to Mexico