Have you ever dreamed of going to Italy for an extended stay with your best friend? One woman did exactly that: she spent 3 months traveling through Italy – with her dog! Susan Rigby reports on the 10 things she learned when she traveled to Italy with her Chihuahua mix, Seymour.
All of the planets lined up to give me the travel opportunity of a lifetime. I was going to spend 3 months exploring Italy, traveling like a vagabond with a backpack, a guidebook… and my dog.
I chose Italy in part because I had heard that Italy was pet friendly, which turned out to be true. In fact, most people spoke to Seymour first and then they noticed he was attached to me.
There were many benefits to traveling with a dog, but it took being there to learn what I needed to know about how to travel and what to bring when traveling with a pet in Italy.
1. Consider using a smaller folding travel crate.
I tried out a few travel crates and finally found one that Seymour liked. It was probably a little bigger than he needed but it was the right size for fitting under the airline seat, as noted on the airline website. Seymour is only 6 ½ pounds so he was able to travel in the cabin. But there were two problems with our crate. First, it didn’t fit under any of the seats on the planes, even though it wasn’t the largest crate allowed. I spent hours on the plane straddling the crate. Yes, I’m sure my inner thigh muscles toned a bit but not enough to counter the pain. Seymour, on the other hand, was perfectly content in his large private space partially under the seat. The other problem was that the crate would only partially collapse for storage. It was too big to carry him around in it throughout Italy so I had to carry it, my backpack, and him in a sling when going from place to place on the trains and buses.
After about a month, I had accumulated enough souvenirs that I needed another suitcase so then I was juggling a suitcase, a backpack, a crate, and a dog everywhere. On one train transfer, I gathered all of my belongings, but accidentally left his crate behind. (Luckily, Seymour was not in it!) For the next month I looked for pet stores that sold travel crates – not an easy task. Finding a pet store was hard enough, but finding one that sold more than designer clothes and princess beds proved almost impossible. Finally while walking from the train to my room in Arezzo, I passed a pet store. After trying to talk in my very limited Italian, they took me to their second floor and I finally saw the perfect travel crate. It folded into a zippered pouch and was easy to attach to my new larger rolling suitcase with a bungee cord I had brought from home. It also was a little smaller so although it still didn’t fit completely under the airline seat, it gave me a little more leg room on our return trip, and Seymour didn’t seem to notice the size difference. I will definitely bring the new crate for our next adventure.
I was afraid that I would not be allowed to bring treats in to the country so I only brought a few for the plane. Yet I found that no one questioned his little bag of treats and that I could have probably brought a bigger supply with me. Who knew that his favorite treat was not sold in all of Italy? Bringing his own would have saved me a lot of money because I purchased all sorts of Italian doggie treats and he would have none of them. (At least the neighborhood dogs in Italy ate well when we were around.) Also, be prepared that you probably won’t find the food your dog normally eats, either. I often found a row of cat food and just a few choices for dogs, especially in the smaller town supermarkets. So I found that it was important to carry a small stock of single-service dog food in my backpack when I traveled to a new town.