I love travelling. I also love animals. It’s a shame that the two things seem to impinge on each other.
If I knew I was going to be staying in my home country for the foreseeable future, I would get myself a pet in a heartbeat. I come from a family of animal lovers, and growing up we always had pets. Not having one seems like an unnatural affair.
However, I cannot commit to staying in my home country for more than the next few years – and so I cannot responsibly commit to getting a pet either.
It’s a shame, but it’s not all doom and gloom! Over time I’ve developed coping strategies and sneaky ways to get my animal fix, even without owning a pet myself. These include:
Wherever you are in the world, there are sure to be animals in need. Sign up to volunteer at a local sanctuary, and you can enjoy all the kitten cuddles you desire whilst helping a good cause – and none of the commitment of taking in a stray yourself. If it’s a sanctuary in your home town then you won’t need to worry about your travel plans disrupting things (just let them know when you’re unavailable), and if you volunteer in a sanctuary abroad then it can be a great way to meet locals and learn the language, even if you’re not going to be there more than a few weeks or months.
Alternatively, integrate some volunteer work into your travel plans, perhaps by WWOOFing or through a work exchange somewhere with animals. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a farm – I once worked in a yoga camp where I shared my pillow with a kitten each night! – so keep an open mind.
Choose your friends wisely
If you can’t get a pet yourself, do the next best thing: beg, borrow and steal your friends’ pets. Make yourself to go-to pet sitter in your circle, and offer to walk their dogs. If none of your friends have pets, make new friends. Trawl parks and dog-friendly cafes, or even go the whole hog and find a pet owners’ event – pug party, anyone?
Better yet, find yourself a romantic partner with a pet and you can enjoy pet snuggles all night long, baby. (Warning: this should probably not be your only reason you pick a partner, but is a completely acceptable contributing factor.)
Live with a pet-owner
Whether this is in a house share or a hostel, for the foreseeable future or just a few days, keep an eye out for accommodation where pets are already in residence. Couchsurfing is particularly good for this – you can even write on your profile that you’re an animal lover looking for pets to spoil – while many hostels and campsites have pets in residence or, at the very least, are pet friendly.
Fostering can be a great option if you have a solid home base in a house or flat where pets are allowed, but cannot commit to a pet yourself. Google fostering schemes in your area, and you’ll be sure to find plenty of options. Basically the idea is that you look after animals which are waiting to re-homed, or whose owners are temporarily unable to care for them (for example, who are escaping domestic violence; it is a sad fact that many refuge shelters do not accommodate pets). This is a great way to make a real difference to the lives of these animals and possibly their owners as well.
Take to Youtube
When all else fails: find a surrogate internet cat.
And for the dog lovers, I give you: dog GIFs. You’re welcome.