Have Dog, Will Travel: A Look at 2015 on the Road

Dec 14, 2015    /    luna the traveling pooch

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.

Switzerland (Zurich)

Zurich

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.

For more detail about dogs in Switzerland, here are some past posts:
The Small Dog’s Guide to the Lauterbrunnen Valley
Luna the Traveling Pooch, 2014 Adventures

Malta

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.

Switzerland (Interlaken)

Luna in the Alps

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.

Rome

Rome

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.

For more on dog-friendly Italy, check out:
How to Take Your Dog to Italy
The Small Dog’s Guide to Perugia, Italy

Spain

Luna in Spain

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

Spain

Luna in Spain with my latest guide~!

Spain toy

SPAIN

Spain

Switzerland (Interlaken)

Cycling test

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.

Luna snuggled with plants

Austria

Austria

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.

Slovenia

Luna and Gigi Luna and Gigi

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

Luna

France

Luna and bicycle

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.

For more, read:
The Small Dog’s Guide to Distance Cycling
The Small Dog’s Guide to Montmartre, Paris

Luna on towel

Luna cycling

Belgium & The Netherlands

Luna in Belgium

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.

USA

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…

Colombia

Luna in Guatape

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.

Aggressive dogs.

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.

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6 Comments
  • Michele L. Mathews
    December 22, 2015

    I just stumbled upon your website and read through this post. Is Luna a Yorkie? She is adorable. Yes, I do travel with my dog. I have a Border collie/beagle mix who weighs about 30 pounds. Zoe has been with me for over 10 years and has always traveled with me here in the States. Now I haven’t traveled in a couple of years, and I have added a 10 pound Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix. I was planning a trip in October, but things didn’t work out. I found that not many places here take two dogs, and if they do, they want them on the smaller side.

    • gigigriffis
      December 22, 2015

      Welcome! Luna is half Yorkie, half Schnauzer.

  • Jade Leahy
    January 20, 2016

    Hi

    I have just found your blog and I love it ! I would love to travel more with my Shih tzu!
    How does Luna cope with, and what arrangements do you have for flying with her? Mr Woo has a passport but has never flown.

    Thanks,

    • gigigriffis
      January 20, 2016

      Hi Jade,

      Luna is a really good flier, so I’ve never had to really do anything. I got her used to her carrier at home before flying with her, but that’s about it. Sorry not to be more help!

  • Sif Traustadóttir
    February 21, 2016

    Hi! I love your blog!

    I also travel with a small dog :) We travelled all over Europe in a campervan in 2015 for 6 months. I fell in love with Italy so we are spending the winter here and at the moment housesitting near Perugia, so loved to read about your experiences there :)

    I agree that Spain is the least dog-friendly country in Europe in my experience so far. Often they don´t even allow your dog on the bus, I was forced to take a taxi from the campsite sometimes to visit a city because we were not allowed on the bus, plus restaurants almost never allow dogs. Italy is a great place to have a dog, my dog even came with me to class in a language school for the whole month of august and was awarded her own certificate at the graduation ceremony!

    I´m definataly signing up to follow you and Luna. I have a travel blog on facebook called “Sunny on the Road” where my dog tells stories of our travels :)

    Best regards from Sif and Sunny from Iceland

    • gigigriffis
      February 22, 2016

      Hi! Nice to e-meet you!

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