So what’s it actually like to travel with a dog and a tent?
Long term travel often sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually is. For every picture of a low-budget backpacker posing in front of a world heritage site, they probably spent 8 hours on a smelly bus that played a loud action-movie at 3am so the driver didn’t accidentally fall asleep and kill everyone. Worth it? Hell yes. Glamorous? Well, no.
After travelling the world in my early twenties, I felt pretty familiar with the slightly grubby reality of backpacking. But an extended camping road trip? With a DOG? This was a whole new style of travel for me, bound to have its own drawbacks…
Reality check 1
Dogs are not allowed into lots of places.
Right now, we’re working in a pub because pubs hit the sweet spot in the ven diagram of “places with free wifi”, “places that allow dogs” and “places that aren’t super-cold.”
The main problem with this is that, unlike in Brighton where there’s a pub on every street corner, they’re just kinda not a thing here. Bars, restaurants, cafes, yes. Pubs – Really hard to find! So we tried three cafes before this, only to find dogs weren’t allowed inside and the wifi didn’t extend to the outside seating. Pah.
A final wish for us would be a place where we can also plug in our laptops while using them. You know, like all the Starbucks around the world. Unfortunately, this feature just fits absolutely nowhere in the ven diagram of possible places we can go with the dog, so we left it off.
On this note, we went to an awesome museum yesterday, in Jelling, Denmark. Jelling is where the state of Denmark was first declared, and they have a very cool history museum, all about the Vikings. Have you ever wanted to visit an interactive exhibit where you experience a Viking’s journey to Valhalla? You should want that. It’s immense. But like all other museums ever, it doesn’t allow dogs inside, which meant we took it in turns to sit outside with Lex while the other one enjoyed the museum. Morgan spent about 3 hours in there, going to Valhalla over and over again (I assume). Lex napped on the floor. I finished my book.
Reality Check 2
Working on a laptop is painful when you have a bad neck.
I can’t look down at a laptop screen without experiencing neck pain pretty much immediately. At home I always prop my screen up to eye level, but working out how to achieve this on the road has been challenging. I’ve currently constructed a pile of inflatable pillows which I use to bring my Microsoft Surface to eye level. A Surface is basically a high spec tablet with a flappy, detachable keyboard. I love it, but dear lord it’s hard to balance this thing on a pile of inflatable pillows. Especially in a pub.
Now I’m going to stop writing because my neck hurts. And I have a pile of pillows I need to deflate so they fit in my bag. I’m sitting on the largest pillow to deflate it faster, and it sounds like a long, slow fart has been emitting from my backside ever since I started typing this sentence. We’re out of here.
Reality Check 3
Outside is where bugs live.
Camping is awesome, but there are midges outside who give zero shits about how much Deet you’re wearing – they’re still going to have you for dinner. One night we pitched our tent by a very pretty lake, only to realise that water is like catnip to these creatures. We hid in the car for about an hour, constructing an elaborate, military style operation as to how to get into the tent with our sleeping bags but without any bugs. We put the plan into action and dived into the tent, zipping it closed at lightning speed… then looked up to see the 50,000 bugs that had joined us in the tent. Right now my legs, face and neck are covered in bites of varying shapes and sizes.
Reality check 4
Cooking on a camping stove and pitching a tent are not fun* activities in the rain. Pretty much all our meals and accommodation depend on it not raining too much. We sat in the car for 2 hours this morning, waiting for the rain to slow down enough for us to be able to make breakfast. When the downpour became a drizzle, Morgan hastily set up the stove and made porridge whilst I held a giant umbrella over him. Lex whined at us the whole time because he’d only had one walk this morning, and if he didn’t get another one soon he was gonna go ahead and call the RSPCA. So we let him out the car and he immediately bounded through a big muddy puddle. Then we had to deal with that.
4 days in, 4 big reality checks. Of course, none of this is enough to stop us having fun, and for every painful moment, there have been countless moments of unexpected joy. Life always feels more real to me when I travel, and reality means taking the highs and the lows as they come, greeting every new day without all the creature comforts that we take for granted, but also without all the obligations and expectations people navigate in their daily lives.
Curious to see how we manage for the next few months? So are we! Be sure to hit the Follow button up top if you want to get all our updates straight to your email box.