By: Caley Reeves, CCC-SLP (Instagram: @caley_travelslp)
There is so much joy, comfort, and adventure that comes from traveling with a dog. There is also worry, expense, and challenge. When I became a travel slp and started experiencing difficulty with my dog, Scruff, I reached out to a group of travelers and learned that I was far from alone in my struggles. The following is the information that I wish I had known before starting out as a traveler, not because it would have changed my decisions, but I would have been better prepared.
- Do your research – How pet friendly is the community? Are there dog parks or dog friendly hiking trails? This is how you meet some great locals while traveling and may end up seeing gorgeous sights that you never would have happened upon without a dog. Some travelers look for a Trader Joe’s or Orange Fitness nearby before they accept an assignment. I look on Rover (my favorite app for pet sitters/dog walkers) and look at general housing options to determine if pet friendly housing and pet sitters are plentiful in the area.
- Separation anxiety in dogs is real – You really don’t know how your dog is going to react when she starts moving cross country with you every 3 months. Try all of the methods you research first: vibration bark collars, special treats, plenty of exercise, etc.; if these options do not work, know that this is NOT your fault. Talk to your home vet, they may be willing to prescribe low dose anxiety medications, which may relieve your pup’s stress during the day and prevent him from injuring himself trying to open the crate.
- Pet friendly housing – First of all, finding housing with a dog will, inevitably, be more challenging than without one; anyone who tells you otherwise (and they will) is either the luckiest person on the planet or a liar. I have always ended up finding housing, but it is usually either a few hundred dollars more a month, or takes way longer to find than it would without Scruff. Crate-train your dog because some hosts/landlords will require this.
When it comes to housing, there is no such thing as too many questions. Some questions that I’ve learned to ask include: Are the other pets on property spayed/neutered? (If you have a male dog, regardless of if he is neutered, make sure any female dogs living in the house are spayed; trust me on this one.) Will anyone be home during the day who will be bothered if he whines a little?
- Sacrifices – There will be financial sacrifices from pet sitters during “fun travel” to unexpected vet visits. Find a home vet that allows you to email pictures and ask questions for a second opinion; we love our home vet.
Social sacrifices occur at every assignment because when my dog has been in his crate for 8 hours, no, I can’t go grab drinks after work. Know that you may have to get creative with social activities that allow your dog to tag along. For example: Take a hiking or camping trip with fellow dog parents, meet up at pet friendly breweries, and make friends with the regulars at the local dog park. Some of the friends that I’ve stayed in touch with the best through my travels are Scruff’s pet sitters.
- Home is where someone runs to greet you – I find confidence and comfort in knowing that as a solo traveler, at the end of the day, I am needed. Someone is depending on me to make it home, to exercise, to provide dinner and plenty of cuddles. Scruff and I have taken numerous road trips, eaten at wonderful local establishments, shopped at plenty of pet friendly boutiques, visited the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, and learned that state parks are typically the most pet friendly (national parks have room for improvement). The ultimate take away is regardless of the sacrifices, expenses, and challenges, my home is where my dog is.
Feel free to follow along with my travel adventures and contact me with any questions on Instagram @caley_travelslp