As I prepare to leave the country in a little over a month, I’m reminded how long it’s been since I traveled internationally.
As a young person, I traveled throughout Europe. When I got married, my husband and I honeymooned in Canada (no, Canada is not just like the U.S. but more polite). My husband traveled to Bosnia without me. Even that’s been more than a decade ago.
Why haven’t I traveled more?
Well, a big part of it is how difficult it is to leave the dogs. And since 1991, I’ve always had dogs.
Maybe I haven’t missed much. After all, there are some uncanny similarities between living with a dog and traveling to a foreign country.
How is Living With a Dog Like Traveling to a Foreign Country?
Glad you asked.
1. It might involve shots.
Recently I got three shots and a typhoid vaccination to take home for later. It felt like a DHP booster with a worm medicine chaser. Except no one put cookies in my mouth to distract me from the big needle.
2. You spend a lot of time humbled by the beauty that surrounds you.
Botticelli’s Venus is amazing. The Swiss alps are magnificent. Few things are more gorgeous than a Paris Patisserie.
But not one of them is half as beautiful as a damp black nose, liquid brown eyes, and a fuzzy belly.
3. You may spend a lot of time avoiding stomach upset.
My drink of choice is water. I hate the idea of avoiding it to keep from picking up pesky microorganisms.
But it will take me less time to adapt to drinking other things than it does to gradually switch a dog’s food from one brand to another.
4. Communication starts out with lots of stumbling for words, hand motions, and smiles.
My high school Latin helped me read snatches of museum signs and menus in France and Italy. My college German helped me translate road signs and order dinner in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and even the Netherlands.
But nothing prepared me for two barking dogs that just refused to understand English.
5. You keep asking yourself, “why do they do that?”
Whether it’s planning for banks that close in the middle of the afternoon or remembering that it’s bad manners to visit a village without getting the head man’s permission first, you spend a lot of time realizing how different every other culture is from your own.
Luckily, other travelers will point out important customs.
But I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation for why dogs eat grass and then throw up or why Honey likes to hump her stuffed lamb before bed.
6. Although you try to fit in, you still look stupid.
Unlike most Americans, I did not trek across Europe in jeans and sneakers. But even my cute skirts and expensive walking shoes couldn’t make up for the pungent smell of mildew that clung to me after two months spent camping in the rain.
My fantasy is to walk down the street with my dog close by my side. But even with Honey, we only look awesome together as long as she doesn’t stop and refuse to walk home or no one sneaks up on us when I’m saying silly things to her.
Traveling Without Ever Leaving Home
In 22 years of struggling to make myself understood, asking “why do they do that?”, and admiring stunning beauty, I’ve had an adventure as great as any journey.
I guess if I want to experience a new culture, I don’t necessarily have to travel any farther than dog land. Or, if I really want an adventure, cat land.
Your Turn: Have you traveled outside your home country? Does anything about traveling remind you of living with dogs?
Update: It wasn’t until she reminded me on Facebook that I remembered Edie Jarolim introduced her book, Am I Boring My Dog (click the link to see the cutest video book trailer ever), by explaining that as a travel writer, she was well equipped to write about exploring the mysterious world of dogs. I have to give her credit for the concept which has been rolling around in my head for years.
And if you want to know how a witty and funny travel writer tackles everything a dog person needs to know, check out her book.
And yes, this is an affiliate link. I’ve bought a couple copies of this book and loved giving it away to friends. If you decide to buy one I’ll make a few cents but the book won’t cost you any more.