The biggest conversation-starter when we tell people about our nomadic lifestyle is definitely the fact that we travel with our dog. Nomad Hound, a little Border Terrier, has been to 9 countries thus far (and counting!) and loves train, plane, and subway travel. However, travelling with him isn't just a matter of clipping on a leash and meandering down to the airport: he has a number of possessions that we make sure to take along with us so he's happy and comfortable on the road.
Nomad Hound's European passport
First and foremost, we make sure that we have the necessary paperwork to get Nomad Hound into whatever country we're travelling to. For the EU countries, dogs, cats (and ferrets!) can travel freely as long as they have an up-to-date EU passport. You can only get one within the EU, though any vet should be able to issue you one. It's a pretty straightforward booklet with information about their physical characteristics, vaccination, and deworming record. There's even a place to add your dog's picture!
As long as the passport has an up-to-date rabies vaccine, you're pretty much able to take your dog throughout the EU. There's a few countries that require some additional deworming, so we always make sure to check the latest set of rules before we take him across any borders, but it's by and large made the whole process fairly straightforward. For other countries, we've had to jump through a variety of other hoops, but having the EU passport has always made that process easier, since a signed vaccination record is often the first step to getting the necessary paperwork to travel internationally with him.
Rabies tags and a microchip
When your dog gets a rabies vaccination, they'll also often get a rabies tag that identifies the year when they got the vaccine. In the EU, dogs also need to have an international microchip, which is sometimes checked to make sure that the passport you have corresponds to the dog that you are travelling with. Additionally, in Spain, your dog's info will be entered into a database that will have your contact information as part of the pet passport issuing process. This way, if the dog ever does get lost, they'll be able to scan for a microchip and hopefully get you back in touch with your furry buddy as soon as possible.
It wasn't possible for us to enter the EU without the microchip, so we definitely recommend getting one, as well as making sure that the type of microchip that you have is ISO compatible. In the US, animals can be microchipped with non-ISO chips, so if you're getting your dog chipped in the US, make sure that you are using the correct chip type, otherwise, readers abroad won't be able to pick up the chip information.
Collar and dog tags
Nomad Hound has definitely had an adventurous few years on the road, having gotten lost/dognapped once (story to follow in a future blog post). Though the person who took him did not check his tags, we were glad that we had a collar on him with our most recent contact information. His tags have my email, as well as a tag with my US number, written out as +1-XXX-XXX-XXXX (USA) to make sure that people know that it is an international number. I use a Google Voice number to make sure that I will be able to receive voice mails at that number, even if I don't have my US SIM card in my phone. Additionally, since we do a fair amount of EU travel, we are planning on getting a tag made up with a Spain number on it, which we will similarly write out with the country code.
This thing is a miracle and a half. While I was initially skeptical about jogging leashes, I got rid of his regular leash over a year ago and have not looked back. The genius about this leash is that you don't only need to use it to run -- it's a great way to keep both of your hands free, while still ensuring that your pup isn't going to run off anywhere. This is super useful when your hands are taken up by suitcases, a trolley, or even a couple of croissants and some orange juice that you're bringing back to the apartment for breakfast. I personally use this leash, which has been a nice, no-frills hands-free leash that I've been quite happy with. There are some fancier ones out there, but we're pleased with the price ($13 USD when we bought it), and would rather save money for future travel and a location-independent life :)
A collapsible dog carrier
This is essential for plane, taxi, and occasionally public transit travel. Not all
cities that we have been in have allowed dogs on public transit, and some require that the dog be muzzled. Several of them are fine with you taking your dog on transit as long as they are in a fully enclosed crate. Additionally, cab drivers will sometimes not let you bring a dog in their car, as they worry about fur on the seats and such -- having the dog in an inconspicuous dog carrier is a great way to get around that. Most people don't even notice that we have a dog in there until halfway through our ride.
Since we have a collapsible one, we can fold it up as soon as we get to our location and stick it in the back of a closet until your next jaunt. We currently use the Sherpa bag pictured above. It's not the type of crate that will last forever -- we'll probably have to get a new version of the same crate in the next year or so It's stood up remarkably well to our constant travels, though. When our crate does kick it, we plan on getting one of the newer versions that has wheels.
If your dog has never been in one of these crates before you begin travelling, make sure that you get them used to it slowly and with lots of treats. It's also very helpful if you have a command to have them go into their crate independently -- it can really speed things up when you're trying to get everything packed up and out the door.
A water bowl
We usually manage to give him food out of a ceramic dishware bowl from wherever we are staying, but those bowls usually are not big enough to provide him with water all day. We travel with a lightweight, metal bowl. We find this is a better option than the collapsible, silicone ones which can be knocked over easily and are not quite big enough for our needs.
A toy pheasant, a bit of antler, a ball, and some chew toys
Even dogs on the road should get to have fun, and Nomad Hound absolutely adores his toys, but is particularly in love with his pheasant. His prior object of adoration was a toy duck, which unfortunately was rather smelly prior to our departure from Torrevieja in Spain, and ended up being thrown into the wash. While we set the duck out on the terrace to dry, it didn't dry out fully, and we ended up having to throw the duck into a plastic bag for our plane travel to Germany the next day. The poor duck never recovered fully from that experience, and ended up having to be thrown out and replaced by another fowl friend: a little Scottish pheasant. Fortunately, Nomad Hound does not seem to be too upset about the substitution, and joyously runs around each new apartment we have gotten to with the pheasant in his mouth.
We make sure to give him a bit of antler to chew on for his teeth, as well as to get him some rawhides and the like from local doggy stores on our travels.
A doggy backpackThis serves two purposes: it both serves as a packing cube for his stuff (so we don't end up with doggy tennis ball all over our clothes), and we can toss it on him with a bit of weight to give him some additional exercise on any given day.
A warming crate liner
We don't travel with a full-size dog bed -- it would take up way too much space, and we found out that our pup prefers to lie on his own, full-size pillow. In a few of the countries we've been to, though, he's been a bit chilly with that arrangement (I'm looking at you, Scotland, and your freezing cold apartments). To keep him from shivering, we got him a warming crate pad. This is basically a tiny, soft pad with some insulating fabric inside that keeps him from losing heat. You can actually feel the pad stay warm for quite some time after he has left it! The one we've been traveling with is this one. It's brown to match our little brown dog, as well as to stay clean(er!) on the road. It folds up pretty tiny, and can be layered under a pillow to form a cozy little dog bed as well.
Flea and tick medicineWe buy this stuff in bulk in order to get a cheaper price -- it's incredible how expensive these little pipettes can be if you just walk into a pet store and buy one. We get a pack of 6, work our way through it, and then order another set of 6 online when we need another one. We've used these flea and tick pipettes in the past, though we've managed to pick up some other brands in Spain as well.
A camera so we can watch him sleeping all day (optional)
We're always a bit curious about what he does on the days that we leave him alone at the house. So, naturally, we trained our computer's webcam on him and set up a private webstream to see what he was doing. The answer? He sleeps. On the couch. Which he's not allowed on. Dogs will be dogs, regardless of whichever city they've traveled to, I supppose :)
What about our readers and their canine pals -- what have you found to be a handy thing to travel with while on the road with your pup?