Just me, my dog, and the open road: meet Kristina, the workawayer who travels with her dog

Ever thought about taking your pet on your travels, just to be immediately put off by thinking about quarantines and vet visits? Well, meet animal welfare warrior and proud pet owner Kristina, who’s shown us it’s definitely ‘paws’ible to bring your pet along on your adventures! Kristina has been backpacking across Portugal with her adorable doggy Tate, and has some great advice about travelling with a pet, staying patient when travelling slow, and how a different perspective can transform your travel experience. Read on to learn more about our latest Workawayer of the month!

workawayer Kristina nature sustainable project collage with animals and gardening
How did you start Workawaying? 
In 2009, I was volunteering with another organisation during my holidays. I was really excited about it and I decided, I want to do this more, and often! So I took a look on Google and did some research, and then I found Workaway. I thought it was amazing because there are hosts in Europe and all around the world, so I decided to join. Because you can use the filters, or put in your profile that you want to travel with your dog, Workaway just made it really easy to find hosts who would accept me and my pet.
WORKAWAYER OF THE MONTH kristina and dog tate hiking in a sweater

Related blog post:  Workaway News: explore worldwide hosts on our new and improved site

Tell us about Tate! What inspired you to bring him along? 
My first volunteer project before Workaway was in Asia, and I felt like it wasn't possible to take him with me from Europe. I wanted to do this long-term - I’ve been doing Workaways for over a year now, and I didn't want to leave him alone with my parents, so I was looking for places where I could bring him with me. That’s how I started travelling with my dog!
volunteer travel with dog enjoy nature woods
How do hosts and other volunteers react to you bringing a pet?
Oh, they're mostly really happy. The biggest problem is if they already have animals, and are worried about adding Tate in on top. Sometimes other Workawayers are also confused about how I’m travelling with a dog using the same platform as they are because they didn’t know it was possible - some people don’t realise it’s so easy with Workaway!
collage of kristina and Tate camping in the woods

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How do you two get about? Is it difficult travelling with a pet?
I don't have a car or a van, so I’m travelling on foot, with just my backpack and my dog. When I’m flying, it's no problem, because I can take him with me in the cabin. I just have to go to the vet one day before I fly or cross a border. He has a European pet passport which they check, and they also check if the vaccinations and de-worming are done. Then they have to look at the countries you are going to, because there are some special destinations with extra requirements. But you can always ask the vet and they will check everything for you and make sure you have what you need. You also have to be at the airport a little bit earlier because it takes time to get him out of the basket. But the people at the airport are so happy to board a dog, they all take turns holding him and think it’s nice!
Yeah, it sounds easier, I think, than many people would expect. 
I was also really surprised. In the beginning I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be so stressful’. But he was calm, he was chill, everything was easy-going.
happy Tate the dog running in the field

Related blog post:  Top tips on workawaying and travelling with pets

If you're on foot with a backpack, how do you pack light? Especially when you’re packing for two - what are Tate’s travel must-haves?
If you have a really big dog, it would be harder to travel the way that we do. But I have a really light bag, like a sports bag, which can be folded up and put in my backpack when it’s not being used. When we aren’t travelling by foot I'm using always trains, buses and sometimes Uber, so I can just unfold it and he can sleep in his bag. 
travel bag for dog when travelling and workawaying
Oh, he goes in the bag. That's so cute!
Yeah, it’s his sleeping bag! He has a nice blanket inside, and his toys. 

In the beginning, I always carried lots of food with me for him, but I'm not doing this anymore after a year of travelling. I plan more now - I’ll arrive at a new Workaway with just a little bit for him, and then on the first day I’ll go to the shop and buy what I need. If I know I’m staying for a long time, like a month, I’ll bulk buy the bigger packages. Sometimes I cook for him, which can be easier. 
backpacker and dog enjoying walk outdoors sunny weather

Related blog post: 10 essential things to pack on your Workaway trip

Apart from being an obvious animal lover, what draws you to animal welfare projects?
I have always loved animals, and I wanted to have animals. I started looking into animal welfare projects but it was very important to me that being around the other animals didn’t stress the animals, Tate or anyone else out. Sometimes, I would travel to a Workaway just for one day to see if Tate would be okay with the other animals there. Then I would go back to my other Workaway till the time comes, and the new host and I agree everyone is comfortable and it’s a good fit. It’s great that he can be free with other animals! I’ve worked in a dog rescue, where he was around other dogs and cats, and other places with pigs and rescue chickens, and everything has been fine.
unique workaway experiences with own pet and other animals

Related blog post: The Beginner’s Guide to Workawaying with Animals

It sounds like you guys are keeping really busy! What's been your favourite Workaway so far?
It's hard. I have too many! … Let me think. I think it was an animal rescue place in Portugal
collage of animal rescue project in portugal with pigs and sheep

This was my favourite place to be, and to help, because you don’t only make friends with humans, you make friends with animals. A really nice part about Workaway is you can always come back to the same Workaway and you remember the animals, and you're happy to see them again. And this is what I did - right now, I’m at the very first Workaway I ever did. I came back! 

 It's really nice to see some of the dogs here again after a year. Like meeting old friends!

workaway adventure happiness puppy and dog kisses

Related blog post: Stop counting countries: Travel slow and travel further

That's so sweet! Have you got any words of wisdom for people who are thinking about joining Workway? 
My biggest advice is don't be scared to travel alone, just do it! I always think what could be the worst thing that could happen? Maybe you don't like it, but then you just go back home. Even then, you’d go back with a good experience, of knowing yourself better. So it's not even a bad thing.

And yeah, with Workaway you’re never alone, even if you travel alone. You’ll always meet people!

My favourite part about Workaway is meeting other people, especially when the hosts have an idea or a special goal and I can help them make it become a reality. Something they can look at later and say ‘Oh, we built this with these Workawayers’, so I stay in their mind and in their memory. Also, that Tate can join me in this experience and just run free in the garden, that's really nice. 
happy Tate the dog sticking tongue out
What has Tate taught you about travelling?
He taught me to enjoy the moment. When I travel, and I'm in new places, sometimes I get overwhelmed. I feel like I need to take pictures of this and that, and there are so many new things and people, and it can be overwhelming sometimes. But then I just watch him, and he's sitting there enjoying the sun, enjoying the small things, a little bit of grass. And then we’ll move on to the next place and there is a beach, so he's just enjoying the beach. He's not looking back, thinking he misses the other place, he's just in the moment. I think my dog is my biggest inspiration!
kristina and tate at the beach staring off at waves
That sounds like a really great perspective to have. It's been absolutely lovely talking to you!
Thanks Kristina for sharing her Workaway moments with us! If you’re also a pet parent, feel free to connect with her via her workawayer profile and exchange more tips on how to with your four-legged pal. Make sure to check out her Instagram for more ‘fur’tastic adventures too!

Check out our full interview with Kristina here!

Feeling inspired? Could Workaway be the next step in your travel adventure? Check out more posts on our blog if you’re still making up your mind… or take the plunge and sign up here! Or, if you’ve already been on the road as a workawayer and have inspiring stories to share, pop us an email and you could be our next workawayer of the month ;) 
travel with dogsdogsvolunteeringanimal loverstravel with pets

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