aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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TheRoadUnleashed.com
the unvarnished truth on travel with pets

Today is the halfway point of our fourteen-month European trip.  In the last seven months, we have spent 3 months in England, 3 weeks in Spain, 2 weeks in France, 1 1/2 months in Italy, 3 days in Switzerland, and 1 month in Croatia, with numerous day-long stops in between.

And, here's the amazing part: Chewy and Abby have been everywhere with us.  They've stayed in hotels, motels, resorts, apartments, converted farm houses, traditional homes, bed and breakfasts, and a few dog kennels.  We've lived in an olive grove in Tuscany, a condominium in Cannes, across from sheep and horses in England, within five minutes of the beach in Barcelona, and in a tiny village in snowy Switzerland.   

Nowadays, nobody really cares much about what Patrick and I are doing.  Those once-asked questions about how we make an income, keep ourselves occupied, and what we see, are not all that interesting (except to UK customs agents.)  No.  The question everyone wants answered is this one:  what is it really like roadtripping across Europe with two dogs?

The easy answer is that it's wonderful.  Plain, gosh darn wonderful.  I can't imagine anything better than traveling with them.  But, of course, that's not the whole answer --- or even an adequate answer to such a complex question.  So, let's get right to it. 

What is it really like roadtripping across Europe with two dogs?  Traveling with two dogs across Europe means:

  • Realizing that the best cure to jet lag is Chewy growling promptly at 7:30 a.m. local time for his breakfast, regardless of timezones.
  • Challenging every assumption about how other cultures treat animals because every Croatian we meet has at least one well-loved dog.
  • Limiting our sightseeing days to six hours --- even when we'd love to hop from museum to museum --- because we need to come home and take the dogs out.
  • Falling asleep to the steady sound of Abby's breathing.
All of us at the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Chewy and Abby with No Dogs sign Chewy and Abby in Cornwall
Chewy and Abby in the Peak District
  • Posing for the most fun tourist photos ever at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Stonehenge, and the Swiss Alps.
  • Watching Abby run through olive groves and vineyards in Tuscany.
  • Remembering that they don't understand why we must move around and giving them the time to adapt to their new surroundings.
  • Frolicking with the dogs through the snow-covered landscape of Switzerland.
  • Dealing with upset stomachs and barking when we take them on long ferries and cruises.
  • Being accepted as locals --- or, at least, less annoying tourists --- in Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome simply because we were walking the dogs at local parks.
  • Spending days stressing about quarantine restrictions and pet passports, only to have our dogs usually ignored by customs agents, even when we try and offer up their pet passports.
  • Sharing jamon iberico, prosciutto, and Istrian ham with the world's hungriest dog (Chewy).
  • Expanding our two suitcase/two backpack packing list to include many boxes, bins, and compression sacks for dog blankets, dog food, and kitchen supplies and food for us.
  • Preparing a truffle feast for Chewy's birthday.
  • Paying mandatory pet fees and the occasional extra amount for damage (once to clean a bedspread and once to replace a doormat).
  • Discovering Abby's latent border collie skills as she began herding sheep in England.
  • Being extra picky when choosing accommodations to ensure that the dogs always have have a yard and limited stairs.
  • Watching Chewy take great interest in a chicken but completely ignore a rhinoceros.
  • Hearing Abby's whimpers of excitement before we arrive at the English moors.
  • Trying to explain "2 centimeter groom" in Italian to a Tuscan dog groomer.
  • Ordering almost 1,000 GBP (or $1500) of dog food and treats, plus buying a roof bin for our SUV, to feed Abby and Chewy their preferred food for the five months we are in Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece.
  • Hearing a cacophony of squeaks every two weeks as Patrick squeezes the air out of their dog toys in a compression sack.
  • Watching the Statue of Liberty recede into the distance with Chewy next to me.
  • Sitting in a hotel room eating warmed-over pizza and risotto in Verona because Chewy didn't like the noises coming through the paper thin walls and barked as soon as we tried to leave.
  • Ordering in a magnificent meal of kugel and wiener schnitzel at a high-end resort in the Black Forest.
  • Learning that dogs in the Mediterranean can get the potentially fatal leishomaniasis, a disease we had never heard of, and finding the appropriate collar to ward off sand flies.
  • Discovering that some hotels will go the extra mile in making a room pet-friendly (especially Sheratons, Best Westerns, and Dorints.)
  • Discovering that other hotels would rather upcharge for the dog without providing anything extra (especially Ibis.)
  • Having an instant topic of conversation with any local who pets our dogs.
  • Finding a doggie Christmas pudding at Harrod's to go along with our flaming Christmas pudding.
  • Reveling in the dogs' delight in running and exploring off-leash and being equally delighted that a few months can train them to be *almost* as responsive to our voices as European dogs are to their masters (*the exception being when Abby is confronted by squirrels).
  • Exploring ruined castles and abbeys from a dog's perspective.
  • Traveling slowly and staying in one place for two weeks or more to allow the dogs to adjust and to minimize the burden of packing and unpacking.
  • Returning home after a long day of sightseeing to wagging tails and happy grins.
  • And, most of all, being happy, grateful, and frequently amazed that our canine best friends are sharing this journey across Europe with us.
Chewy at the Leaning Tower of Pisa Abby at the Guggenheim
Chewy in the snow
Abby and a lion Chewy and rhinos
Abby and Chewy at Restormel Castle
Abby at Westonbirt Arboretum
Chewy at a park Abby at Greenwich Park

02/21/2012 19:00
This is exactly my dream vacation! Travelling in Europe with my dogs? Perfect! Chewy and Abby are really lucky for having the both of you. I'm sure they had enjoyed the trips as much as you did. You look like a real family.
03/12/2012 07:51
Thanks mae! We think we're awfully fortunate to be able to travel with them.
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/22/2012 05:14
I agree with you one hundred precent. We travel all the time with Maggie our 4 year old beagle. Some people think we are crazy, but she loves it and is part of the family. Great blog
03/12/2012 07:55
Trina, thank you! We know that a LOT of people think we're crazy but we're happy and that's all that matters when traveling (or living, for that matter). Glad to hear that you get the chance to travel with your pup!
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/22/2012 14:04
So great to know how you've done it as I've recently acquired a puppy :) Great to see how you balance travel and puppy parenting!
christine's recent blog post: Carnaval in Cádiz via Instagram
03/12/2012 07:44
Welcome to the world of puppy parenting! Spain is such a great place to have a dog and you're such a short hop from France which is another fantastic place to travel with dogs. Very envious!
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/22/2012 18:03
I love that this is now a possibility in life! Your dogs are gorgeous!!!
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures's recent blog post: My Father’s Beautiful Misadventures
03/12/2012 07:25
Thank you Andi! :)
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/22/2012 20:03
Lakshmi Sankar
I loved the pictures of Chewy and Abby especially the one with Chewy's ear sticking out. Had a big laugh over Chewy looking at the chicken with curiosity and totally ignoring the rhino. So, like him!! Love, Mom
03/12/2012 07:23
Thanks Mom! I know - Chewy was absolutely hilarious at the wildlife park. :)
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/22/2012 20:45
I’m planning on taking my two dogs on a houseboat holiday in a few months time. It’s going to be a challenge as they are very large dogs with way too much energy (Weimaraner X and a German Pointer) but it will be so much fun having them with us. Do you have any tips for tiring your dogs out? I’m sure every time I turn around they’ll be in the river chasing ducks.
Bianca's recent blog post: Everywhere – 7 Super Shots
03/12/2012 07:16
Bianca, what an AWESOME idea! Where are you going to be taking them? I have this idea of going through the European rivers via houseboat with the dogs but I don't know how I'd be able to find a houseboat that would accept dogs so I'd love to hear more on how you're doing this and where. Have fun either way!
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
03/13/2012 04:10
I live in Geelong Australia and we found a houseboat that will allow dogs on the Murray River near Mildura. It’s one of their older models but it is still pretty swish. It even has a Jacuzzi on the roof.
Bianca's recent blog post: Hahndorf - German Food Challenge
03/27/2012 10:18
Sounds amazing! I'm sure the dogs will love it.
Akila's recent blog post: the undefeated dolac market
02/24/2012 13:11
Both of them look gorgeous and they kinda complete the photograph. :-)
Sylvan's recent blog post: Beautiful Baneshwar
03/12/2012 06:09
Aw, thank you Sylvan!
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/24/2012 15:37
It sounds like traveling with your dogs has definitely been more of a good thing that an inconvenience. I'm glad they're able to travel with you.
JoAnna's recent blog post: Coconuts in the Cook Islands
03/12/2012 06:07
JoAnna, absolutely! We are so glad that we've taken them with us --- there are always going to be some inconveniences, but overall, it has been so rewarding and fun to watch them experience Europe.
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
03/20/2012 17:03
Felice
Too funny...falling asleep to one of your dogs breathing. And you cutting hours in museum hopping, just to get back to your dogs. I do applaud you bringing your dogs traveling the world. I too am a traveler ( nurse traveler) and have been traveling the world for 15 years. 3 years ago, I got sick and had to limit my travel locally. Then, Pierre happened. Pierre is a mix of a dog... and life began to become better. I have brought him to Carmel by the Sea.. and dream of bringing him to my international ( local) haunts and more when by God grace, the gates of travel roll out the red carpet once again. Reading your blog --and the practicality wisdom you have given me, has gotten me inspired. And yes, believing I can travel again far and wide...this time with Pierre. lol.
Thanks for the inspiration and God bless the road you take!
03/27/2012 07:16
Felice - How wonderful! I hope you and Pierre have lovely journeys together. :)
Akila's recent blog post: the undefeated dolac market

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