Can You Digital Nomad With a Dog?

digital nomad with a dog

“The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog.”

That’s a sentiment shared by many people, and rightfully so. A loyal companion until the end, dogs make no judgments, are amazing therapists, and teach us about unconditional love.

But can you be a digital nomad with a dog? Can you live the nomadic lifestyle while still providing the level of care and attention your furry friend deserves?

The simple answer is yes, but it’s neither easy, cheap, nor stress-free (for either party).

The first question you should ask yourself is why. Why do you want to travel with your dog? If you’re just doing it for the ‘Gram, to take cute photos for likes and followers – don’t.

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas or social media clicks.

If you’re still here reading, it means your motives are pure and you want to share life’s great experiences with your doggo, so let’s get serious.


Why dogs make good pets for digital nomads

You know your pets. You know how much love they give, how much brighter your day is around them, and how they always provide the most amazing snuggles at just the right time. They can also drive you nuts, but there can’t be yin without yang, right?

Aside from emotional support, how about physical benefits?

Regular exercise and walks benefit both humans and animals. According to the Heart Foundation, a daily 30-minute walk can:

  • reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • manage weight, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol
  • improve our daily mood, which cumulatively leads to better mental health


Anyone familiar with the digital nomad lifestyle knows how vital those 3 are.

We spend far too long at our desks, dealing with stressful clients and not always handling the work/life balance equation. If we had a travel companion who demanded a daily walk, it would solve all our problems!



Important things to consider if your dog travels with you

Dogs make excellent travel companions, but it’s important to consider a few things before hitting the road with your pooch.


Training

Is your dog well trained? They don’t need to win the Palm Dog Awards, (the Palme d’Or for doggos), but you’re taking them out of their comfort zone, out of the world they know, and asking them to behave in an alien environment.

Do they bark at every opportunity? Can they ‘stay’ or are they natural explorers? Are they house-trained?

Excessive barking could well get you evicted from an apartment, leaving you both homeless. Peeing on a bus or train could lead to a very long walk. Howling on a plane could give you a headache – literal and figurative.


Stimulation

Dogs need exercise and mental stimulation. If they’re cooped up for hours at a time without a chance to run around or interact with other dogs, they can become bored and destructive.

If you know your work requires absolute concentration for hours at a time, that’s attention you’re not giving your four-legged friend.

If the only accommodation you can afford is a 1-bedroom basement space, that’s not a lot of entertainment for the little creature.

Does your chosen location have plenty of safe public spaces to run around and stretch your legs? A dog park, beach, or field are ideal but not always readily available.

Will they be sitting at home while you work long hours in a coworking space?


Hygiene

Dogs need plenty of fresh water to drink, which also means plenty of bathroom breaks. Do you have (and are they trained to use) a portable potty for long journeys? Do you have a bottomless supply of biodegradable bags to collect their poop?

We’ll discuss vaccinations later, but consider the shampoos, teeth cleaning products, and other accessories you’ll either need to pack or source locally.

Are there vets available in the nearby area? Do they accept international animals? Are they competent? That last question may sound silly, but a quick search online reveals plenty of horror travel stories from pet owners visiting foreign vets – misdiagnosis, incorrect medication, over-charging.


Food

Dogs need to eat food that meets their nutritional needs. If you feed your dog only kibble, supplement it with fresh meat and vegetables at least once a day.

You’ll need to carry a reasonable supply of pet food with you when traveling, in case of delays or a change of travel plans. Do you have space for it?

The TSA allows unlimited dry food, but they treat wet food as a liquid meaning no more than 100 ml in containers smaller than 3.4 oz.

In Europe, the rules for transporting pet food are different:

No more than 2 kg and:

  • intended for the pet accompanying the passenger
  • shelf-stable (does not require refrigeration)
  • packaged proprietary brand products
  • that the packaging is unbroken unless in current use


Other countries, especially islands with tight agriculture and pest control laws, will be different again. Check with the relevant government website before traveling for specific, accurate information.


Safety

Most dogs are naturally curious. They’re happy to go sniff in exotic places, but will they be safe doing so?

Many countries around the world have issues with feral street dogs, some more than others. They’re wildly territorial and won’t hesitate to defend their space from an ‘intruder’.

Your dog could be the calmest, most well-trained pup on the planet, but that counts for nothing when they come across a wild street dog. Remember, leash laws are an alien concept in many countries.

It’s not just other dogs that are a threat to your beloved canine:

  • Wild cats
  • Monkeys
  • Insects


Heatstroke, cold climates, or contaminated water are all additional considerations.

A health insurance policy is a must and again, that’s another expense you’ll have to factor in. The last thing you want is to be caught without and have to pay insanely high vet bills abroad.


What are the rules and regulations regarding traveling with a pet?

This is where traveling with your dog gets complicated. Many airlines have differing pet policies, and there can be other rules and regulations regarding bringing a pet on a trip.

How do airlines determine if your dog can fly with you in the cabin (carry-on) or in the cargo hold (air-freight)? It depends on the size and weight of your pet. Only a small dog can fly in the cabin and they have to fit in a carrier under the seat in front.

You can find dimensions for a suitably sized carrier for the cargo hold on the International Air Transportation Association’s (IATA) website.

Regardless if it’s flying in the cabin or hold, you’ll need a health certificate, “delivered by your veterinarian and stipulates that the animal is healthy and fit to fly.”

Different countries have different entry requirements. Again, check with IATA regarding the different country regulations.

Other stipulations may include:

  • Microchipping
  • Pet Passport
  • Vaccinations against Rabies
  • Tapeworm treatments
  • Only traveling via certain routes


Failure to meet the requirements could lead to your pet being quarantined for weeks or months. Nobody wants that, as it can lead to extra fees plus additional stress for yourself and your dog.

Even with all this knowledge and information, you must contact the flight company in advance. Give the airline companies your unique details – breed, dimensions, travel plans, etc and they will inform you of the specific airline policies.


Use a pet relocation service and specialists:

If you’ve come this far, you’ll know that this can be an incredibly stressful time, ensuring you tick every box and meet all requirements. If you miss one little detail, your travel plans could be ruined.

You may be better off using a specialist pet relocation service.

Pet relocation specialists have in-depth knowledge of moving pets and will organize the transport safely. They also usually have strong relationships with vets, meaning they can help you find a reliable vet in your area if your pet needs treatment.

They’re not cheap, but pet relocation specialists are the best way to ensure the safe transport of your pet from one place to another.



Is It Realistic to Live the Digital Nomad Lifestyle And Have A Pet?

With everything we’ve covered, you may feel it’s a losing battle – it’s too expensive and far too dangerous, so you either travel alone and leave them with a pet sitter, or stay at home and get your snuggle on.

Well, you wouldn’t be much of a digital nomad if you stayed home, would you?

Yes, it is. It just requires a lot of planning, forethought, and dedication.


Limit the countries you visit

Fewer countries mean fewer flights and less time in the cargo hold. Less travel = less stress.

Stress for your pet can manifest via digestive issues, heart disease, PTSD, etc. Remove as much as possible by limiting the time spent in those conditions.

  • If you have to fly, take direct flights.
  • Fly on weekdays when airports are fully staffed and with fewer visitors.
  • Don’t fly when it’s too hot or cold (most airlines won’t accept pets if they deem the conditions to be dangerous)
  • Spend more time in each location so they can form habits and routines


Slow travel provides the best travel experiences for all involved. Fewer countries, but with a greater appreciation for each.


Hit the road

If possible, drive. Everyone loves a road trip, especially your pet. You’re in control, you set the toilet stops and you can decide who and what your dog comes into contact with.

You still need to follow all the other health-related advice, and NEVER leave your dog unattended in a car, but it’s certainly a less stressful environment for your best buddy.


Spend time researching pet-friendly accommodation

Whether it’s pet-friendly hotels, an Airbnb, or a campsite, do your research.

A quality location will provide safety, fun activities and, most importantly, peace of mind. They usually cost a little extra, but they’ll ensure your nomadic journey is as stress-free as possible, allowing you to focus on your business and digital nomad life.


Practice!

Before you take off to a foreign country, try somewhere closer to home. Start with a couple of days, then go for an extended journey.

The only way to know how your dog will respond to travel is to travel.

Experiment with different forms of transportation, as they all have different rules. Some forms of public transport allow pets on a leash, others will make you pay extra, and some will just refuse passage.

Keep a note of everything you forgot to pack, every inconvenient situation, and how you handled it. Save all receipts so you can track all additional costs and you’ll soon have a clearer idea of how much money is involved.

It’ll never be an exact replica of how full-time travel will be in your destination country, but it’ll be an educational experience.


Are You Ready to Digital Nomad With a Dog?

It’s totally feasible for your doggo to be a part of your digital nomad family, but it will take a lot of work.

If you evaluate all the pros and cons and decide it’s not possible, leaving your furry friend with pet sitters isn’t the worst option.

Their health and well-being must come first. As a pet owner, you already know this.

The digital nomad journey isn’t for everyone, especially with pets. It’s a big decision, and not something you can change your mind on halfway through.

But, if you’re determined to digital nomad with a dog, you now have all the information you need to make the dream come true. If you want more information about the nomadic lifestyle, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter!

Happy travels

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