This week’s blog post is by Shandos Cleaver, the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. She lives in Sydney, Australia, along with her husband and Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. Together they’ve traveled extensively throughout Australia, Europe, and the US. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs.
I never thought that I’d end up traveling overseas with my dog. When my husband and I brought home our adorable Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, we thought we were starting to settle down — apart from a yearly trip overseas, during which we’d leave Schnitzel behind with family.
But after I took a career break, we decided to head off traveling long-term, first to Europe for at least a year. And of course, we couldn’t leave our beloved dog behind for that long!
As a complete novice when it came to traveling with a dog, I had no idea what was involved with flying with one overseas from Australia or crossing borders. But after running a few Google searches that uncovered other people traveling with their dogs and getting in touch with a pet transport company, we decided to go ahead.
In the worst-case scenario, we could always come back early, with our tails between our legs…
Europe is very dog friendly
Europe as a whole makes for a great choice as an initial overseas destination to visit with your dog, as it is a very dog-friendly region.
This especially applies to most countries in Western and Central Europe. Some of the most dog-friendly countries in Europe include Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
Europe isn’t dog-friendly for local residents only, but also for travelers. Dogs, even larger ones, are generally allowed on public transport. When it comes to dining out, dogs are allowed inside restaurants in most countries, which is handy during the winter.
Many hotels are also dog-friendly. Here are a few of my absolute favorite places that I’ve stayed with my dog:
- The chic Pentahotel Brussels City Centre
- Avra Mykonos, with its sunset views
- A yacht moored in the Canary Islands
You can easily find a dog-friendly hotel by using the pet-friendly filter on your favorite hotel booking site. For instance, when booking a pet-friendly hotel on Booking.com, select “Pets Allowed.” Also, take note of any pet rules and additional charges. Airbnb is another great option for finding pet-friendly accommodation.
Getting around Europe with a dog is easier than you think
Just as it’s easy for humans to travel around Europe’s Schengen Zone, it’s also easy for pets to travel around the European Union without showing a passport or paperwork at each border crossing.
Sure, it’s a bit of a hassle to prepare your dog to travel to Europe. You’ll need to visit the vet to get a pet health certificate shortly before flying out, plus get it certified by the relevant government authority (the USDA APHIS in the United States). But this health certificate is then valid for four months of travel within the European Union, plus a handful of other countries.
There is a short list of countries where your dog will require a worming treatment first: Finland, Ireland, Malta, Norway, and the UK. The United Kingdom is one of the trickier countries to travel to with a dog, due to pet dogs not being allowed on the Eurostar or in the cabin on flights to the UK.
If you’re planning to fly regularly to Europe with your dog, consider getting an EU pet passport while you are in Europe. This is an official record book of rabies vaccines and other treatments required for international travel and can be obtained at most veterinarians in the EU. It can replace the need for a health certificate on subsequent trips.
In the two years we spent traveling through Europe, our dog went to 33 countries, from Norway to Malta, from Portugal to Greece. We visited every EU country except for Cyprus, plus a handful of others. We road tripped through Scandinavia, spent Christmas in Nuremberg, and went hiking through the snow at Jungfraujoch.
Europeans love dogs
Another aspect that made it easy to travel in Europe with our dog was the friendliness of locals. Many European nationalities have a reputation of being a haughty lot, especially certain ones. But that wasn’t the case when we traveled with our dog.
There’s something about a cute ball of fluff that brings out the dog lover in so many people. Our dog would be fussed over in the street and at hotel reception desks, and he’d willingly gobble up those extra treats he was given. While in Lisbon, Portugal, we were swamped with crowds of school students wanting to pat him. Sometimes it felt like traveling with a celebrity!
If you want to chat with the locals, having a dog is certainly one way to practice your foreign language skills. We learned the basics of sharing his name, age, and gender, and even whether he was neutered, in multiple languages!
Not long after arriving in Spain, we met a lady outside a restaurant who couldn’t speak a word of English and insisted on giving Schnitzel hunks of bread — and he greedily devoured it all!
Be sure to plan in advance
One of the only downsides to traveling with a dog was that we no longer felt like we could plan at the last minute, as we had on a previous trip around Southeast Asia.
Since only selected hotels and Airbnbs allow dogs to stay, it’s best to book in advance, especially during the busy summer months and in popular cities like Barcelona. It would not have been fun to arrive in a town only to discover we had nowhere to stay! Remember to double (and triple) check to make sure that you’re allowed to bring your dog with you.
It was also handy to research in advance which attractions allowed dogs. We were surprised to discover that some palaces in Europe allow dogs inside, but often it would be difficult to find that out online. That’s part of the reason I started to share tips on traveling with a dog on my website.
However, it was just as well that we didn’t plan our return home to Australia in advance. We ended up staying in Europe with our dog for nearly two years, visiting 33 different countries together. Schnitzel is quite the globe-trotting dog!
The best part about taking your dog with you
Our dog is part of our family, so there’s no way that we could have left him behind for such a long trip. But traveling with your dog also changes the emphasis of your trip.
It’s an encouragement to travel slower, go for more walks and hikes, and relax more in outdoor cafés, and to take in the ambiance of your destination, rather than rush between must-see museums and galleries (which will probably not allow your dog inside).
Consider exploring Europe with your dog by your side!
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. She lives in Sydney, Australia, along with her husband and Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. Together they’ve traveled extensively throughout Australia, Europe, and the US. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs. You can connect with Shandos on Instagram or Facebook or in her Facebook group.
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