Travel around the world with pets

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    “How can I travel the world when I have pets?”

    When we get this question from readers we honestly have no idea how to answer it. Fortunately, earlier this year we met a FIRE couple who did just that – travel the world with pets.

    Today I would like to introduce you to Stephanie and Gillian, a married couple who retired early on from their corporate careers and have since been traveling full-time around the world with their dogs.

    1) What were your jobs before FI?

    Before we discovered the concept of financial independence, we were busy climbing the corporate ladder in marketing (Stephanie) and improving health quality (Gillian).

    We worked in Canada for most of our careers, but at some point we felt wanderlust. After months of networking, we both found jobs in Singapore, a country we didn’t know anyone and could hardly be found on a map.

    We loved the opportunities for personal and professional growth that Singapore offered us, not to mention the financial benefits we get from living in a low-tax environment. However, at some point the stress of corporate life became too much and we began to think about alternative ways of living. Our search eventually led us to financial independence, early retirement, and full-time travel.

    2) How old were you when you became FI?

    We were 46 (Stephanie) and 38 (Gillian). In fact, only a few years after the concept was discovered, we were able to call ourselves financially independent. After a lifetime of saving and investing, we were well positioned to meet our financial goals quickly – it only took a small cut in costs to get to the finish line.

    3) How long have you been retired?

    We have been retired for two glorious years. When we first filed our resignation at work, we were a little concerned that leaving our corporate jobs would create a huge void in our lives. Was early retirement really the right move for us in the prime of our careers?

    Two years later, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to meet up for a day in a row or work on powerpoint decks on the weekend. Instead, we spend our time exploring new travel destinations, connecting with other nomads, and working on our creative projects. And of course enjoying life with our two poodles Jasper and Huxley.

    4) Where did you travel with your dogs?

    Since we started our new life with a one-way flight from Singapore, our dogs have traveled with us to 10 countries: Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Italy, Canada, Greece, Croatia, Malta, Serbia and most recently Albania. And we were able to take all of these trips despite the global pandemic.

    5) What is the hardest part about traveling with pets?

    By far the hardest part of traveling is booking our flights. We are grateful that our dogs are small enough to travel with us in the cabin of the plane. However, not every airline will accept dogs in the cabin and those who have different requirements for weight, size and total number of pets on the aircraft. And the passage for a pet cannot be booked online; it can only be booked by calling customer service.

    Before we focus on a travel destination, we must first make sure that we can fly our dogs in and then get them out again. This usually involves hours of phone calls to various airlines as we weigh the options and choose the best route. We envy everyone else who simply book their flights online with a few clicks and are done.

    6) The last time we talked, you mentioned getting your dogs passports. How does this work?

    Our dogs have official EU pet passports that we received in our very first travel destination, Poland. These passports are useful if someone is planning to travel across several European countries. However, they can be replaced by having all the necessary documentation for your pet ready. It is important to check with each country’s official sources to ensure your pet meets all entry requirements.

    7) Was it difficult to find Airbnbs that accept pets?

    For the most part, we had our selection of Airbnbs at each destination. However, we have a pretty complicated process for getting our Airbnbs.

    We identify five to ten Airbnbs that look nice and let the hosts know that we are traveling with two dogs. While we’re at it, we’re also asking for a discount, as we usually stay a month (because who doesn’t love a discount!). Some say no in both cases and some say yes. From there, we’ll choose the option that best suits us based on location, facility, and price.

    An important note: we never let the no pets criteria stop us from reaching potential hosts. Most of the time, a host makes an exception for us, especially since we have dozens of positive reviews from previous hosts.

    8) Join us through a day of flying to a new city. How about two little dogs?

    Despite successfully completing 17 flights with our dogs, the days of travel are still stressful. As soon as the luggage is in front of the door, the poodles start to fear. We give them a light meal, a good walk, and a quiet environment.

    We usually take a car transfer or a taxi to the airport. When we juggle two dogs, two backpacks and two 26-inch suitcases, we want to make the days of travel as comfortable as possible.

    We always arrive at the airport extra early, just in case we have a lengthy check-in process due to the dogs’ paperwork. Jasper and Huxley are usually on high alert through security and while the plane is boarding, but they eventually calm down when the flight takes off.

    Once at our Airbnb, we unpack the dog beds and toys to send a signal that we will stay a while longer. Then you go on an orientation walk through the neighborhood. After you’ve eaten well and found a cozy spot on the couch, it’s like living there all the time.

    9) How much does it cost to travel around the world with your dogs?

    There are direct costs for a flight with a dog. Typically, it costs anywhere from $ 75 to $ 150 per dog to buy a ticket, depending on the airline and route. Occasionally we have to pay a vet visit for extra paperwork for some destinations.

    There are also the hidden costs of traveling with our dogs. For example, we usually have to take premium airlines as low cost airlines like Ryan Air and Wizz don’t accept pets in the cabin. We also end up taking more expensive forms of local transportation like taxis, private transfers, and rental cars, as public transportation isn’t always pet friendly.

    10) What is your advice to people who also want to travel with their pets?

    Your travel style should adapt to your pet, not the other way around. We have found that our dogs are very sensitive animals that value routine and stability. While they love the adventure of exploring a new travel destination, they ultimately want to return to familiar surroundings.

    For us, this means an emphasis on slow travel. We stay at each destination for at least a month, long enough to create comfortable routines. We try to minimize the number and length of our travel days. And we never trigger separation anxiety by leaving them alone in new environments. When we do all of this, they will follow us everywhere.

    Thanks Stephanie and Gillian for all the great information!

    To learn more about Stephanie and Gillian, follow them on Youtube on the channel “Our Years of Freedom”.

    Here’s a super handy “Travel Your Dog Cheat Sheet”: https://bit.ly/3oF4OMc

    And if you’d like to find out more about How To Travel With A Dog, follow her YouTube series here: https://bit.ly/2VkTF6h

    What do you think? Do you have pets? Would you travel the world with them?


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