Since adopting Ellie in 2017, we’ve been lucky to do some great local travel around Vancouver with her, to places like Whistler, Porteau Cove and Pender Harbour. And since moving to Prague in June, we’ve been doing a lot of international European travel with our pup, to places like Paris, Dresden and Vienna. But travel with a dog isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. But it can also be really rewarding!
If you’re thinking about bringing your dog along on a trip, there are a few big things you’ll need to consider. Bringing along a pet will definitely change the way you travel. Do the pros of travel with a dog outweigh the cons? Let’s find out!
PS: Curious about how we moved Ellie to Prague? Check out my guide on bringing your dog to Europe!
Pro: You’ll see more of a local neighbourhood
When you travel with a dog, you get to see a lot more of the local neighbourhood. That’s because you’ll be walking your dog around it a few times a day. While you can obviously go on walks without a dog, I find that doesn’t always happen. Usually you leave your accommodation and immediately head out to where you want to go. But with a dog, you spend time wandering the few blocks in your area and getting to know it a lot better.
This can be a big pro if you stay in a cool neighbourhood, like we did in Munich, or if you’re in a more local neighbourhood instead of a tourist centre.
Con: Not all hotels are pet-friendly
Obviously one of the big cons of travel with a dog is that not all hotels are dog-friendly. You may have an even harder time if you’re looking for an apartment rental, Airbnb or hostel. And those that are pet friendly often require you to pay an additional pet fee.
But it’s not impossible. Many accommodation sites allow you to sort for pet-friendly places only, so you don’t waste time looking at pet-unfriendly spots. So far, we haven’t had an issue finding something pet-friendly in our Canadian or European travels. Of course, not all parts of the world are as pet-friendly.
Pro: You immediately feel like a local
One of my favourite things about travelling with Ellie is how I immediately feel like a local. Without exception, everytime we have Ellie while we’re travelling, we get stopped and asked for directions. That’s because people assume if you’re out walking a dog, you must be a local, since not too many people travel with a dog.
It’s always nice to feel like you blend in with local life and like you’re getting a better taste for the city. While we often can’t help people with directions, it always feels like a compliment to me when I’m mistaken for a local!
Con: Flying is stressful or (in some cases) impossible
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to bring your dog along on your travels. If your travels involve a flight, I would (in most situations) advise you to leave your dog at home. Flying is very stressful for animals. It can also be very expensive, especially if you have to put them in the cargo hold. And it can require a lot of paperwork and vet visits.
In some cases, it’s even impossible. Places like the UK and Ireland don’t allow dogs to enter in-cabin.
Pro: Travel with a dog slows you down
While this might sound like a con of travel with a dog, it’s actually a pro. When you have a dog with you, you have to slow down. Fitting in walks, feeding and cuddles just takes time. But all of those walks around the neighbourhood will actually make your trip that much better.
Instead of running around a city, ticking things off a bucket list, and viewing the entire place from behind the screen of your camera phone, you get to slow down and appreciate a place. In Munich, we didn’t rush around or worry about filling every minute of our itinerary. We relaxed, went on nice long walks with Ellie and brought her to our new favourite brunch spot.
Con: You have to come back for walks
As any dog owner knows, your day revolves around your dog’s bathroom breaks. And that’s true whether you’re at home or on the road. But unlike at home where you have your routine and set schedule, it can be a bit more complicated when you’re travelling.
If you want to go off on a 10 hour day trip, you likely can’t if your pooch is stuck waiting back at the hotel. You’ll have to figure out how to time tours, museum visits and other sight-seeing around your walk schedule. In Vienna, we had to miss a walking tour when our visit to the palace was delayed because we needed to go back to the hotel first to walk Ellie.
Pro: You spend time appreciating nature
Ever since we adopted Ellie, I’ve become hyper aware of parks and green spaces. Anytime I book a hotel, I’m immediately on the lookout for a nice park where we can walk her. Luckily, Ellie isn’t too picky. When we were in Paris and discovered that green space for dogs is not a thing (c’mon, Paris!), Ellie was perfectly fine to do her business on the sidewalk. But, of course, she loves a good park.
In our travels with Ellie, we’ve been able to find some of the nicest outdoor areas. In Munich, we got to walk along the river which was just a block away from our Airbnb. And in Whistler, we found a dog friendly beach. And, of course, I still love thinking back to our walks with Ellie on the Seawall in Vancouver.
Con: Crowded areas are harder with a dog
If you’re travelling to a popular destination and/or at a busy time of year, odds are you’re going to be dealing with some crowds. And crowds with a dog are not fun. If you have a small dog like Ellie, there’s a good chance she can get stepped on. Ellie is also quite skittish, so walking through crowds (or even close to the road) sometimes freaks her out.
Luckily, because Ellie is small, we can just carry her through crowded areas. But we still try to avoid crowded spots as much as possible when we travel with her.
Pro: It’s so easy in Europe
If you want to travel with a dog, there’s really no better place to do it than in Europe. Europe is one of the most pet-friendly places on earth (check out all of the posts on dog travel in Europe on Travelnuity). Your furry friend will be lovingly welcomed into many restaurants, stores, parks and hotels. In fact, some restaurants will even bring out a bowl of water for your travelling pooch. And in Prague, there are free poop bag stations on just about every block.
Of course, not all of Europe is so dog-friendly. But on the whole, it’s a great place for travelling with a dog.
Con: Dogs can’t come everywhere
So while dogs are welcomed in many restaurants, shops and hotels here in Europe, there are some places where they are not allowed. Most museums, galleries and historical sights, like palaces, won’t allow dogs. Bakeries and grocery stores are usually dog-unfriendly too. This can make travelling a bit more tricky, especially if you’re out solo with your pup.
Pro: Small dogs are usually free
This one doesn’t apply to all dogs, but if you happen to have a small dog the good news is that they’re usually free! In most places we’ve been to or researched about in Europe, small dogs can ride on public transit for free. We’ve also been able to bring Ellie on the trains free of charge, as long as she stays or fits in her carrier.
And because she’s small enough for a carrier, we were able to fly her in-cabin on our way to Prague, costing us only $90 CAD, instead of hundreds or thousands to transport her via cargo or pet transport company.
Con: Will your dog be stuck at the hotel all day?
Before you plan to travel with a dog, you need to ask yourself if this is the best idea for your dog. Of course, it might be fun for you to have your pet with you. And how cute will they look in an Instagram post in front of the Eiffel Tower? (No judgment, I took that exact photo!) But really think about how your dog will feel about this trip. If you have a jam-packed itinerary, does that mean your dog will be stuck in an unfamiliar and cramped hotel room all day long? Does your dog get stressed on train or car rides? Do they require long hikes in grassy fields while you’re headed to a concrete city?
At the end of the day, we always need to prioritize our pet’s welfare. As much as they love being with us and us with them, sometimes that’s not the best thing for them. If you think your dog would be stressed travelling to a new place, staying in a strange room and having their walk schedule disrupted, it might be a good idea to look into a pet sitter instead.
Pro: You get to have your favourite furry friend with you!
If you’ve read the above and believe that your dog won’t be stressed or harmed by taking this trip with you, congrats! You get to travel with your pup! And, of course, the best part of travel with a dog is being able to have your favourite furry friend right by your side. I love exploring a new city with Ellie, for all of the reasons above. It’s so nice to come back to the hotel to her and to have her snuggle up in bed with us at night.
Have you ever tried travelling with a dog? What were the pros and cons for you?
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