VICTOR TEIXEIRA – LMDI
When I was first introduced to Ben Ward, immediately we started talking about dogs, of course. But it wasn’t long before we moved on to our other passion in common – travel. Being the youngest of 3 children in school, I was always acutely aware that the budget was tight. Our holidays were religiously spent in our native Portugal or, at a push, next door in Spain. And we always drove to save money. I didn’t fly for the first time until I was about 13. And even then it only happened every 3 or 4 years. As a result, travel was naturally at the forefront of my plans for the future and formed part of any pledge I ever made in life.
At the age of 21, two weeks before I turned 22, I decided to finish University and move abroad. Initially, it was only supposed to be for a few years to get it out of my system. 22 years later I’m still living abroad and I have traveled the world. For someone with the travel seed sown into their every cell, what better job than being a Flight Attendant? Add to that an unexplainable love of animals – and in particular of the canine variety – and I’m now the proud owner and founder of a dog website, a dog Facebook group, a dog Instagram account and a monthly DogBlog. Not to mention 2 adorable Sprockers (Springer-Cockers).
Over the last couple of years I have covered quite a lot of subjects and have always kept an open mind as to what my contributors might want to write about. So what a surprise when Ben and I got chatting (one summer night while driving home from the airport) and I launched him a challenge: let’s fill an aeroplane with dogs and their humans and fly somewhere! This sounded crazy yet achievable… I could sense Ben’s reaction on the other end of the line. To me, this is a matter of “when” rather than “if”; to Ben it must have sounded like a crazy idea – a challenge he promptly accepted!
It wasn’t long before Ben started to tell me about his plans to travel around Europe with his new wife and their faithful dog. This filled me with healthy jealousy and created yet another project for the next few years of my life – to travel around Europe with our 2 dogs.
Here is Ben’s account of his EuroTour – he’s been traveling for the last 7 weeks and has a few more to go. Just when I thought that I was the craziest dog person around, someone else takes it to another level… I am currently dreaming up my own plans to take my own husband and my own two dogs around Europe and it’s all thanks to Ben Ward’s inspirational tour.
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading his journal as much as I did. And keep your eyes peeled! For Ben and I will be working together in the near future on filling that aeroplane with dogs and their humans at a place near you. For now, here is Ben’s DogBlog!
Taking our little dog on a ‘Big Adventure’
Hi, firstly let me introduce myself. My name is Ben and currently I am traveling around Europe with my wife, Catherine and our little dog, Button. We have always had a yearning to travel, you may call it a ‘wanderlust’ and this year we finally put all the pieces in place to allow us to follow our dream.
We got married 3 years ago, and honeymooned in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Fiji and Los Angeles. It was fantastic, however, the whole time we kept saying: “do you know who would love this?……Button!”.
We missed her and sharing our adventures with her. The following year we decided to drive down to Bordeaux for our holiday, exploring the vineyards and medieval towns, dining in lovely restaurants and playing on the sand dunes at Pilat – all with the little white fluffy bark machine in tow. It was wonderful and during this holiday the kernel of an idea started growing – to go on a grand adventure around Europe with Button and show her the world… I’m pretty sure it was over a few large glasses of wine but hey, ideas have to come from somewhere.
At that time, I was going through a few things in my personal life and we both decided that ‘life is too short’ to spend our best years office-bound; we also both wanted to spend as much time as possible with Button who is now eight years old. Luckily, I am married to the most incredible woman and when she has got something in her head, there is no stopping her. A strict three-year plan was put together to take our lives from bricks and mortar for home and work, to fully digital and nomadic. As difficult as it sometimes was to stick to, we did it! Catherine has a fantastic career in Marketing that allows her to work remotely, and I have my own business in what I am most passionate about – travel! Benjamin Ward – Not Just Travel.
We now needed to work out the best way to travel. The first thought was to rent a new apartment every month in different European cities, however, not all rentals allow pets and Button can become a little unsettled in new places that she doesn’t know – so it was decided quite quickly we needed to take our home with us. The first and most conventional thought was a motorhome, however this came with its own issues – they are very expensive, you don’t get a huge amount of living space (bearing in mind we both still have to work) and every time you want to pop to the shops, you have to pack everything away.
Our thoughts then moved onto a caravan – not exactly the most glamorous idea but the pros of once it is parked in its place, you then have the car to use at your disposal and the extra space for a good price was certainly in its favour. Looking at all our options it was certainly the one that best suited our needs and gave us the freedom that we were looking for. Once it was decided on what home we should have, another potential issue arose…. Brexit! What effects could this have on our plans with Button?
At that time no-one knew how long it would take to leave the EU, what the implications would be or whether it would actually happen. All things needed to be considered and factored in for the worst-case scenario, a ‘no-deal’. When we got Button’s passport in 2015 the rules were relatively simple; she had to be microchipped, up to date with annual boosters, have a rabies vaccination and on our return, a tapeworm tablet and a stamp on her passport from a local vet – very easy! The situation we feared would happen, is if we set off on our travels and while we are away there is a no deal, then it could mean that on our return she would not be allowed back into the UK. We used the RSPCA guide and had the additional rabies blood test and certificate done to make sure she was Brexit-proof!
We asked our vet what they would recommend in vaccinations for travel across Europe; she recommended the Leishmaniasis and Lepto 4 vaccines’. The Leishmaniasis vaccine gives cover to bites by sand-flies, they are prevalent from April – October in southern Europe and if infected, there is no cure. The Lepto 4 vaccine covers four strains of the leptospirosis bacteria, in the UK we have two strains but on mainland Europe the extra two strains can be found. Currently, none of these vaccinations are a requirement to travel, however, all the professional advice is to have it done anyway.
Originally, we planned to start travelling last September, however, when we worked out exactly what Button needed to be as safe as possible while travelling, our plans soon changed. In the end it took around 12 weeks to complete all the vaccinations and in January we were ready to go, safe in the knowledge we have done everything we can to protect our little Button. To fill the time, I fully refurbished our caravan’s interior, making it a true home from home – and Button even got her own special nook to call her own.
The next stop from there was Barcelona for a couple of weeks, where we managed to get a pitch right on the beach which Button absolutely loved! Getting to swim in the sea and then dig in the sand, resulted in a seriously sandy little dog!
Currently we are on the Costa Brava, about two hours north of Barcelona, exploring all the rocky coves, medieval towns and Roman ruins this beautiful area has to offer. Best of all, Button is having the time of her life! Before we left, she was starting to show a few signs of her senior age, however being here and doing all the things we are getting to do has made her act just like a puppy again.
From here we travel across the south coast of France and into Italy where we plan to spend four months making our way down the west coast to Sicily then back up the East Coast, returning to the UK in July.
If you want to follow Button on her adventures you can on our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehermitcrabsadventures/
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