When British couple Jackie and Mark Lambert retired, they decided to hit the road with not one, but four Cavapoos: Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani.
The Fab Four travel in a caravan – called Kismet, meaning “fate” – towed by a trusty panel van named Big Blue. Their multi month adventures have taken them all over Europe, to countries including England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Romania. They now plan to visit the Baltics and Poland.
Read on to learn how Jackie manages to travel with multiple dogs, and why life AD (After Dogs) is so much better than life BC (Before Canines).
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What inspired you to travel with your dogs?
We were made redundant at work and decided that renting out the house and traveling full-time was a way to fulfill a long-held dream, make our money go further and hopefully mean that we never have to work again. Since we don’t go anywhere without our Fur Babies, the easiest way to travel was by road and in a caravan, towed by a van, which means that we have our own accommodation and can carry all of our windsurfing and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) gear.
You have four dogs who are all the same age. How did that come about?
We got the Fab Four pretty much at the same time. We intended to get two puppies to keep each other company, but when we went to collect Rosie, our second black and white Cavapoo, the breeder had a litter of red puppies and Mark fell in love. “Three dogs is madness!” I maintained for approximately two days. Then, on the third day, I decided that if you have one dog you have a commitment. Two? Three? What’s the difference? So we got three puppies within about three weeks. Mark carried on looking at puppies on the internet, so I knew that number four was inevitable. Three didn’t seem like a good number anyway, so having one for each hand made sense! Lani joined us about three months after the other three.
How do you prepare your dogs for traveling?
We don’t do anything in particular – just make sure that they are up to date on vaccines, which is important for both for our pups’ health and to keep their Pet Passports valid.
We check a website which lists the entry requirements for around 240 countries and make sure that we have the appropriate tests, paperwork (originals – copies are not acceptable) and medication.
We also consult our vet on the best worming and parasite treatments for the countries that we are visiting. Parasites and the diseases that they carry can vary depending on where you travel, and dogs from other areas may have no natural immunity.
What has been the hardest part about traveling with your dogs?
When they get sick and we have to visit the vet in a foreign language.
What’s your favorite thing about traveling with dogs?
We have met so many more people because of the dogs than we did when we travelled BC (Before Canines). We now have invitations to visit all over the world!
How did your style of travel change with a squad of dogs in tow?
Sightseeing can be a little more difficult, since dogs are not allowed in museums and historic monuments. Some beaches and National Parks in Europe do not allow dogs, or specify that dogs must be on leads. We like the Pawsome Foursome to run free, so this can limit where we visit.
How do you find accommodations while traveling?
We take our own! In the UK, both the Camping and Caravan Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club sites are dog-friendly and do not charge for dogs. In Europe, we mostly use ACSI approved campsites. The website advises whether or not dogs are welcome.
We have found that sites who specify that they will accept only one dog will not accept four. However, sites who specify two dogs are usually open to negotiation when we hit them with “They are very small and well-behaved” – a phrase that I can say in several different languages…
In Europe, it is not uncommon for sites to charge up to €4 per dog per night, so we need to factor this into our budget. We do rent a pet-friendly apartment in the Italian Alps for the winter ski season.
What are some essential items that you pack for your dogs?
What advice do you have for those who plan to travel with multiple dogs?
The main consideration is cost. Ferries charge for each pet and as I mentioned, on the continent most campsites charge extra for each dog. We have only been turned away from one campsite and that was because they stipulated only one dog allowed. Our dogs are small – I suspect that if we were touring with four Great Danes, our experience could have been different! It is worth mentioning the regulations too – if you travel with more than five dogs, you are viewed as a commercial operator and the paperwork becomes a lot more onerous. There are issues around the ability to travel with banned breeds, which are usually fighting or attack dogs of the Mastiff, Bull-terrier or Akita type. Clearly, that does not apply to us!
What surprised you the most about traveling with dogs?
The extra cost charged by some campsites for dogs when they provide no facilities for dogs. With four dogs, the charge can sometimes exceed the cost of the pitch! However, in Camping Maroadi on Lake Garda, the dog shower was better appointed than most human campsite showers. It had slate tiles and steps up to the bathtub!
Name a trip highlight.
Romania! We were told that we would be robbed, scammed, attacked by wolves, bears and packs of stray dogs. Instead, we discovered possibly the most beautiful country in the world and the kindest people you could ever wish to meet. And we brought back one of those vicious strays…
What advice do you have for people who want to travel with their dog, but are nervous to do so?
Go for it. It would reduce my enjoyment of a holiday to be parted from my fur babies. It is wonderful to share adventures with your pup – and it is probably not as difficult as you think. For most countries in the world, entry requirements are fairly standard and there is lots of information out there.
Thank you so much to Jackie and the Fab Four!
You can follow along on their adventures on their blog. Jackie is also the author of a series of books about traveling with her pups. Check them out here.
Read more interviews with people traveling with their dogs here.
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