Having Neddy with us is on our trip is beyond awesome – it just takes a bit of thought and preparation to make sure everything runs smoothly. We’ve found that the ‘cons’ of travelling Australia with a dog are more ‘considerations’ than actual negatives.
Pros of travelling Australia with a dog
- Security: Neddy’s more likely to lick a person to death than attack them but the presence of a dog can discourage the opportunistic thief. Neddy also lets us know if something is lurking near our caravan at night (kind of annoying when there’s lots of wildlife about)
- It encourages you to discover places you might not have looked at otherwise: for example the Bay of Martyrs in Peterborough on the Great Ocean Road
- Minimises waste: we are trying to live as simply as possible so we do our best to minimise rubbish. Neddy eats a lot of our scraps and vegie offcuts
- Easy clean-ups: within reason we let Neddy “pre-clean” our dishes before we wash up, which means less bits and pieces going in the bin. Some people might be revolted by this suggestion, but frankly, I’m more grossed out at the thought of eating from a plate that has held raw chicken than dog saliva. We do our washing up in hot water and with detergent, so this should alleviate hygiene concerns!
- Extra company: sharing a caravan with another person twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year is a big call. Neddy’s a good (and blissfully non-human) sounding board for those times when the caravan is feeling much smaller than its 16 feet. He’s also just fun to have around on a regular basis
Cons(iderations) of travelling Australia with a dog
- National Parks: if you want to spend more than a few hours exploring these you’ll need to find a pet-sitter. One option is to connect with people in a similar situation (ie in your campsite) and swap dog-sitting services. Or of course you can put your dog in a kennel/pet resort, or even ask at the local vet as many of them will board animals for a fee. Or there’s services like holidog (we haven’t tried this).
- Dog food (both the cost and space it takes up): We feed Neddy a mix of dry dog food, vegies, brown rice, oats, raw meats, bones and occasionally eggs and fish. We bought a 20kg bag of dry food before departing and are working our way through that, but the fresh meat and bones take up space, don’t keep for long and can be expensive. We keep tinned fish in the pantry but feed this to him no more than once or twice a week. Ultimately, we use our common sense here. He’s not going to wither and die if he goes a few days without fresh meat.
- Possible vet bills: we made the decision to insure Neddy. It’s not the cheapest decision when you don’t have any income but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.
- Mess: a caravan is a small space to share with a wet, muddy dog. However, in our experience, it hasn’t been a problem. Sure, we may have to sweep the floors more often but much like having a wet, muddy dog in a house, you simply clean them off (as best you can) before letting them in and don’t let them jump on any furniture! TIP: we use our dustpan brush to sweep Neddy off when he is particularly sandy/dusty. It works really well, especially on his belly and feet.
- Extra laundry: Neddy does add to our laundry requirements (bedding, towels etc) but thus far it’s not been a noticeable burden.
- Car travel: we have a dual cab ute and Neddy is lucky enough to have the back seat to himself. We purchased a Solvit Sta-Put Waterproof Hammock Seat Cover* to protect the back seat and haven’t looked back. The ‘sta-put’ feature means that the cover stays put without slipping around. It’s been a life saver for us and we highly recommend it. We previously tried a $20 eBay one and it lost its waterproofing capability and ripped within a few weeks.
* We have no affiliation with the DogCulture website except that we purchased the car seat cover through them and found they offered reasonable prices and friendly service.