The open road is calling. Your Instagram is filled with wanderlust accounts. You’re sitting at your laptop, daydreaming and researching all the places you want to travel to. Bookmarks have become your favorite internet tool for saving cities, hostels, and hidden swimming holes. You look down at your feet and there’s Tarzan, staring into your soul with those clear, blue eyes. His tail wags as soon as you make eye contact. The unconditional love is unwavering. He has curled up into your heart and you know there’s no way you can part with him.
For many pet owners, travel gets put on the back burner out of devotion and responsibility. Is travelling with dogs or other pets even possible? What type of accommodations allow animals? Maybe, you’ve heard its really difficult to cross borders with a furry friend. I’ve been warned that “people will want to steal him”. As with any type of travel (solo, couple, family with kids, or with pets), there is a certain level of caution and preparation needed. Luckily, for us Workawayers, it could be easier than you think to travel with pets! Here are a few lessons we’ve learnt from Workawaying with Tarzan, our five year old Siberian Husky:
1. Communication is key: make sure to tell your host beforehand!
Include your pet in your Workaway profile. Add a picture and brief description. You’re introducing potential hosts to your pet as much as to you. Share a bit of Scruffy’s personality. Is he or she an inside pet? Does your dog function well off leash? Also, mention your pet in the initial message you send to hosts. Don’t take it for granted that the host will read about it in your profile. They usually receive multiple inquiries at once. It’s easy to get profiles confused. Don’t wait to bring it up until you’ve secured the opportunity. That can seem deceiving and put your host in an uncomfortable situation. You want to be as up front as possible.
2. Plan ahead and do your research
Are you travelling to another country with your pet? Be sure to have an understanding of border crossing and transportation requirements for animals. Countries have very specific entry rules for pets such as quarantine periods, preventative shots, and annual veterinary visits. The European Union even has a pet passport that make traveling with pets a breeze. Your mode of transportation may also have varying requirements such as carriers and weight limits. Last minute booking may pose your only problem. Some requirements ask that shots be done within a certain time frame before traveling. Pet Travel is a great resource for information. Do you plan on exploring, hiking, or camping in your Workaway area? Check to see if pets are allowed on trails and campgrounds before arriving. We learned these lessons the hard way!
3. Set boundaries for your pet
Once you arrive at your host’s home, it’s time to set some boundaries. Ask to tour the premises with them. Find out if there is or isn’t fencing. Are there areas where the fence is broken or raised high off the ground that your pet may find? Check for areas of intrigue that you know your pet may frequent such as a pond or a tool shed. Are there areas where your pet isn’t allowed on the grounds or inside the main areas? Walk with your pet to show them which areas they’re allowed to roam. Taking the time to be responsible on the property with your pet will make your host more at ease. It will give you peace of mind when your pet is outside. And, it lets your pet know there are boundaries.
4. Prepare your pet for a great first impression
Find out if your host has kids and/or pets (Tip: utilise the pet filter when browsing through the Workaway host list). It’s always a great idea to set up an intentional first meeting. You don’t want Fido running up to a protective dog or skittish child. It’s safer for both parties to meet on controlled terms. An overly friendly dog can seem untrained or even aggressive to a new person. If you know your best buddy is not shy at all, take a few precautions. Hold your pet or keep him/her on a leash to meet the host family for the first time. Or better, take Scruffy for a walk right before the meeting to get his energy level down. The first impression is just as important for your pet as it is for you.
5. Old dogs can learn new tricks
Travelling with pets gives them the opportunity to have new experiences too. Tarzan lived in a city from he was a puppy. He was trained on leash and had little exposure to wildlife besides squirrels and other city dogs. During Workaway he has learned to walk off leash and no longer bolts away any chance he gets. One of our host’s dogs even taught him to pick blackberries. Who knows what he’ll learn next!
Of course, not every Workaway opportunity is suitable for pets but they are out there. With these steps you can ensure a productive, safe environment for your experience and set the tone for other travellers to bring their dogs/ cats too!
Big thanks to workawayers Ariel and Ron for sharing these useful pet travel tips with us! To follow their journeys with their adorable husky Tarzan, as well as more insights on travel and sustainable living, be sure to head over to their blog We The Wildflowers, Instagram and Facebook!