When I pictured my future, as much as I’d have liked it to include remote Portuguese Islands, a puppy, a surfboard, and a laptop, I’d probably never have come up with that. It looked more like business suits and handshakes… I’m really glad it went in the direction of the puppy and the laptop instead.
I’d love to share how my journey of working remotely got me here and what I’ve learned to do and not to do on future trips with Eca, my dog.
How I Got My Start With Remote Work
I didn’t start working remotely by choice. This, to me, was a concept I never knew about until one day it happened.
I was fresh off an incredible snowboard season in the French Alps (if my family is reading I meant to say finishing my Masters in France), and working at a big firm which, like for most of my classmates, didn’t feel as inspiring as I initially thought.
Thinking through things further, I felt a startup position would teach me a lot more.
I had my first startup opportunity in London, England working for PayWithTab out of Google Seedcamp. This was also my first experience working remotely. Independent coffee shops were our clients, which meant that owners were more than happy to have me work from their cafes while we tried getting our idea off the ground.
This allowed me to be super productive, as I was able to lend a hand in-person if our software wasn’t running well. I also kept a good coffee buzz going all day/ every day which had me working and biking from cafe-to-cafe in warp speeds!
I’ve now been working remotely for a total of 3 years, with my last year and a half being at Buffer.
It has allowed me to engineer my life in a way that makes me happiest. Whether that is working from coffee shops, working from home while I raise a puppy, or from co-work spaces to meet new people in different cities!
Adding A Dog To The Mix
I never had a dog of my own before working remotely. I always thought it’d be too tough to take on with a full-time job, especially the puppy stage.
Landing a remote job at Buffer definitely spurred my decision to pull the trigger!
I didn’t think twice as I blurted out: “Dog… I want Dog.”
Not only are dogs absolute lords, they’ll steer you towards a healthier lifestyle.
Physically, they force you to exercise and spend a ton of time in fresh air. Dogs are also good for the heart and naturally get you to socialize more.
People love dogs, it’s science.
I’ve always wanted to nomad while working remotely. Introducing a dog into the mix definitely raised some doubts about that ever happening. How would I fly with him? How on earth do you get all the paperwork together to enter another country with a dog? Are there vaccinations?
My Guide to Travelling with a Dog
Nomading with a dog can be done without losing your mind or your dog. If you’re planning on doing it, I’d love to share some pieces of advice that might help!
Crate train your new best friend.
People dread the idea of bringing their dog on a plane. If they’re too big, which was the case for Eca, they’ll have to fly in the undercarriage.
But, wait… this is not as bad as it sounds.
The plane’s undercarriage (where animals are stored) is set to the same air pressure and temperature as the cabin where we fly. If you want to compare these conditions to ours in the cabin, dogs get way more leg room as well. Eca’s crate was the equivalent of a king-sized bed.
Crate training them from day one will make this inevitable obstacle painless. I used Cesar Milan’s method and it worked like a charm. Eca was totally relaxed when we arrived at our destination.
Get your timing right with vaccinations and paperwork
This step in getting your dog ready to travel is where I almost blew it. Let’s make sure you don’t do the same.
Firstly, you’re going to want to review the customs laws of the country you’re traveling to. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-stop resource for this, as each country has their own.
This step is super important! There are microchips, shots, and forms involved. Some countries won’t allow dogs from certain other countries to enter at all, and others will have a mandatory quarantine.
Each country will require you fill out a pet passport for your dog. It sounds cute, but it’s no joke. Here’s a handy resource for downloading this necessary paperwork for each country.
Personally, I botched the paperwork and only had it signed by my vet. Upon landing in Azores, customs let me know that the paperwork also had to be signed by another Canadian regulatory body and that what I had wasn’t useful.
They let me know that my dog could be quarantined for 14 days… Luckily Eca was begging for a belly rub as customs debated this. They settled on getting him another rabies shot at the local vet and merrily on my way I went…
…after customs gave Eca a belly rub of course.
Notifying your airline
So, your best friend has all their shots and paperwork ready, and their crate has been solidified as their second home. It’s time to get in touch with your airline to notify them that you’ll be traveling with a dog.
Warning: Don’t skip this! It’ll ensure things go smoothly once your trip comes around.
While an airline will transport animals for one flight, that same airline might not for a different—let’s say international–route.
Make sure you are given written confirmation or something official that states that the airline has been notified you’ll be traveling with your dog. I didn’t and I was put on a later flight, prolonging my trip unnecessarily.
Luckily Eca’s crate was filled with his favorite things on Earth. More on that coming up!
You did it. You’re at that glorious moment where you realize this might actually work. Your dog loves their crate, and the vaccinations and paperwork are organized. Now the trip itself is the next challenge.
Here are some tips to make it a smooth one!
Fill your dog’s crate with some of your dirty laundry. I know, don’t judge me. But your dog will identify your smell and it will have a calming effect, I promise.
Before you fly, make sure to take your dog out for a super rigorous session of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog, and you’ll want your dog on the brink of collapse for this.
In fact, I’ve often been asked if I gave my dog any pills for the flight.
In my opinion, sedatives aren’t the best option. Instead, working diligently to properly crate train your animal so they’re nice and calm in the crate(surrounded by your dirty socks), can really pay off.
Make sure your Airbnb or hotel is pet-friendly.
I forgot to tell my friends about bringing Eca on this surf trip. Luckily, we snuck him into the hostel, although I was caught by the front desk taking him out late at night.
It wasn’t my best moment, but to my surprise, they didn’t send me packing; the fact that it was 1am worked in my favor!
Plus, Eca was asking for another belly rub.
As they faced the wall and called their managers, I slipped away to my room and set up shop with Eca on the balcony. I don’t recommend this as a way to go about things, please learn from my mistake on this one!
So, despite a few minor hiccups (as expected when it’s your first rodeo a.k.a. first trip with your dog), bringing Eca was totally worth the effort.
It went so well, I decided to continue the trip to Lisbon, Portugal and explore the coastline for a few months. In case you’d like to follow along with this adventure, our next stop will be the Canadian Rockies!
I’ve really talked your ear off, haven’t I? Have you ever traveled with your animal? How’d it go?
I’d love to hear any stories if up for sharing below!