As you probably already know, I travel full-time with my dog, Luna.
Since we hit the road, she’s been to 16 countries and this year she hit her third continent.
Now, traveling with Luna is something I get questions about a lot, so I thought I’d do a massive roundup of this year’s trips, tips, and adorable puppy photos from around the world.
Hope it’s useful.
Before heading to Malta, our first new destination of the year, Luna and I spent a few days in Zurich, where we fell in love with the pet-friendly 25Hours Hotel in Zurich West and really enjoyed shopping at the line of interesting shops in the old aqueduct.
Now, I’d been living in Switzerland for over a year by then, so I already knew the country is extremely dog friendly. Dogs in carriers often travel free on the trains. Restaurants, cafes, and shops rarely ever have no-dog policies. And pet-friendly accommodations abound.
From Zurich, Luna and I headed directly to Malta where we explored both Malta itself and its smaller, quieter, more beautiful sister island, Gozo. I liked Gozo best for a number of reasons, including that it was more natural and had this excellent coastal walking path that Luna and I spent hours on.
The good news is that Malta is pretty pet friendly. I didn’t have trouble taking Luna into shops or parks or ice cream parlors and I didn’t have trouble finding apartments for us along the way. The one thing that was not so pet friendly was hotels. I was originally trying to find hotels since I was only staying in each town for a night or two, but ended up renting apartments because it was too hard to find a dog-friendly hotel in most cities.
After Malta, it was back to Switzerland for the early winter. Luna and I didn’t do much, as I had gotten really sick in Malta and was still recovering when I arrived back home in the Alps.
After resting in Switzerland, it was off to Rome for a lovely weekend seeking out the best artichokes and meeting a handful of bloggers whose work I respect. As usual, Italy was dog-friendly to the max. Luna went with me to gelato shops and restaurants and even on a food tour.
From Rome, Luna and I caught a flight to Seville, where we spent a few days exploring the city and staying in one of my favorite boutique hotels before heading south to Nerja on the coast and then up to the pretty walled city of Toledo in central Spain.
Overall, Spain is the least pet-friendly country I’ve encountered in Europe. Buses only carry pets as luggage, which means they have to travel in a dark compartment under the bus (so absolutely not okay, Spain). Many restaurants and shops don’t allow dogs. And Spain had, hands down, the biggest garbage problem I’ve seen in Europe. Garbage was strewn along roadsides. Broken glass littered walking paths. And that makes walking the dog a whole lot more dangerous, not only because she could step on glass, but because what if she licks or eats something toxic?
And so Spain was definitely not my favorite country for traveling with a dog.
For more on Spain, check out:
The Small Dog’s Guide to Spain
And so we left Spain behind for our much-more-pet-friendly home in Switzerland, where we spent the next few months teaching Luna to run alongside and ride in the basket of a bicycle for our upcoming cycling trip in France.
After that, Luna hit her second new country of the year—Austria—and I’m happy to report that it is just as wonderfully pet-friendly as Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, etc. Luna was welcomed into cafes and restaurants and shops. There were great walking and cycling paths for us to explore. And accommodation-finding was a snap.
Our next stop was Slovenia, where we stayed in Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Lake Bovinj, and Kobarid for varying lengths of time. Again, we were spoiled by the wonderful pet-friendliness of Europe. Luna went into ice cream shops and restaurants, lace-making shops and gourmet food stores. We found pet-friendly accommodations with relative ease and even found one hostel that was bursting with dogs. The Slovenians even let me carry Luna into a church (something that I’ve never before been allowed to do in any country).
And so Slovenia wins our informal award for most pet-friendly country in Europe and mine and Luna’s favorite new stop this year.
For more, check out:
The Small Dog’s Guide to Slovenia
Then there was France.
In September, I took my first vacation in two years and Luna and I rode a vintage bicycle all the way across France: from the Swiss border to the Atlantic Ocean. As usual, France was extremely pet-friendly. The only time I ever had to leave Luna was when I went into the grocery store. And I think this was the absolute easiest time I’ve had with accommodations. I was nervous that because I was cycling and thus couldn’t plan my accommodations ahead, I’d have trouble finding things. But that wasn’t the case at all. Pretty much every time I rolled into a new town and walked into a budget hotel, they had no problem with the dog. Sometimes there was a small extra fee, but only once or twice was I told that they had a no-dog policy.
Belgium & The Netherlands
Once Luna and I reached the end of our cycle trip, we headed to Paris for a few days and then to Lille, from where we cycled into Belgium and stayed for several nights in one of my favorite European cities: Bruges.
I’ve written about how pet-friendly Belgium is before, but I’ll say it again: Belgium is a great place to take a dog.
From Belgium, we headed to Amsterdam for a couple weeks and, again, it was generally pet-friendly. Luna rode on buses and trains without any problem. I didn’t take her in many restaurants or bars simply because it was cold and crowded there, and Luna gets nervous around lots of traffic and gets cold easily, so she often stayed home.
As the year started to draw toward its close, Luna and I left Europe for the first time in about two years and made a quick stop in the states to see friends and family before heading to Luna’s 5th new country of the year…
It just so happens that Colombia is the first place Luna’s ever been in South America. It felt a little exciting to be off to a whole new continent for her. And the paperwork was surprisingly easy and straightforward.
But there’s a big downside.
Colombian ideas about dog ownership are a bit different than western ideas. Dogs here run wild, often unsupervised, and many of them are aggressive, especially with other dogs. Luna and I were approached aggressively many times and I eventually started taking less walks because I was so anxious and exhausted whenever we did walk. And it’s frustrating and scary to have to pick up your dog and ward off an aggressive dog with your feet.
And so after about six weeks here in Colombia, I’m sad to say that I definitely would not recommend it for travelers with dogs.
So, now to you: do you travel with your dog? Where did you go this year? What was your favorite pet-friendly destination?
Oh yeah. And going to Europe yourself? I wrote some guidebooks for you.