Dog Friendly Travel with Travelnuity blogger Shandos Cleaver

18th May 2021

Have you ever been tempted to take your pooch with you the next time you plan a trip abroad? Shandos Cleaver has been touring the globe (over 35 countries and counting!) with her adorable miniature dachshund, Schnitzel. 

We spoke to Shandos about life on the road with a dog, her tips for choosing pet-friendly accommodation and why Italy has some of the best places to explore with a pet in tow.

Images © Travelnuity 2021

How did Schnitzel come into your life? Had you always wanted a dog?

After wanting a dog for many years, Schnitzel was one of the first things my husband and I got after buying our first house together. Having a dog and renting in Australia can be difficult, but as soon as we had our offer accepted to buy a house we started looking. We looked into getting a rescue first, but Dachshund rescues in Australia are very quickly rehomed (luckily!), and I really had my heart set on a Mini Dachshund, so we found a breeder expecting pups.

When did you first take the plunge taking Schnitzel abroad? What was that first trip like?

At the time we got Schnitzel, we never considered travelling with him, especially overseas. We had just bought a house and were meant to be settling down! However, a few years down the track, I was running a travel blog and my husband and I wanted to head overseas on some longer trips. Our first trip was to South East Asia, and we sadly left Schnitzel behind with my parents. It made the most sense for the trip, as Asia is not an easy place to travel with a dog.

For our next trip though, we chose to head to Europe, as it seemed like a fairly dog-friendly place to travel. We weren't sure how we would go travelling with Schnitzel, or what he would think about travelling. We reasoned that if it didn't go well, we could return early to Australia. Luckily, Schnitzel took really well to travelling. As long as he was with us and had his bed to curl up in, he was content. Just as well, as we never stayed in one place longer than about a week. We ended up travelling around Europe and then the USA for nearly two years, before returning home to Australia.

Images © Travelnuity 2021

Any standout challenges, humorous or otherwise that you have faced together?

By far the biggest challenge we experienced was returning to Australia with Schnitzel. Luckily the quarantine for pets arriving in Australia is only 10 days now, but there's still a lot of tests and treatments required beforehand. We choose to do this in the USA, so we didn't have a language barrier to further complicate things.

There were other times that language barriers created some funny situations. I remember encountering an elderly lady outside of a Spanish restaurant who fed Schnitzel some bread. She didn't speak English, we barely spoke Spanish, and she was convinced he was starving and wanted to feed him more! Schnitzel loved the attention he received from everyone from Airbnb hosts to strangers on trains.

When you start your research, what factors do you account for to make sure it'll be pet-friendly?

The two main areas we look at are transport and accommodation. By far the easiest way to travel with a dog is by car, whether your own car or by rental car. However, for some trips we've also travelled by train, ferry or by plane. We're lucky that Schnitzel is small enough to fly in the cabin, but not all airlines are pet-friendly. Unfortunately we could never take advantage of cheap flights with Easyjet!

Secondly, we made sure there was somewhere nice to stay. We've sometimes stayed in hotels, plus often in Airbnbs. It's nice having your own kitchen and being able to dine in if you'd prefer, rather than finding a pet-friendly restaurant. Of course it's also important for there to be dog-friendly activities, but often there's more to do once you start searching. If we really want to visit somewhere that's not dog-friendly, my husband and I take turns, or else we've sometimes organised a pet sitter for the day.

Images © Travelnuity 2021

What have you found to be the best destinations for traveling with a dog?

Most of Europe is fairly dog-friendly, but by far the most dog-friendly country we've visited is Italy, especially if you're travelling with a small dog. In Italy we visited Renaissance gardens, Roman and Greek ruins, and wandered the canals of Venice, all with our dog by our side. Another wonderful destination to consider visiting with a dog is Slovenia, with its beautiful natural scenery.

Lastly, once we are able to travel more easily, where to next?

When we went into lockdown in 2020, we had been planning on heading to Mexico, to spend a couple of months with our dog. Afterwards, we had intended to take a road trip around Canada, especially its beautiful national parks, before travelling on to Europe. Luckily we hadn't yet departed, and have spent the last year stuck in Australia.

Once the Australian border re-opens, it's hard to decide where to head to first. We're going to see what the situation is in different parts of the world, before making a decision, but we'd love to return to Europe and travel more with Schnitzel.

Images © Travelnuity 2021

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