Pets are terrible roommates. They are messy, noisy, take up a lot of space and they never replace anything they take from the fridge or from my plate. The dogs rarely leave room for me on the couch, the cat manages to get cat litter into rooms that she has never been in and the parrot is always both up too early and too late. As Jason and I were enjoying some silly banter about why the pets have all of the traits of who we would absolutely never want to share living quarters with, it occurred to me that those exact same inferior roommate qualities, make the pets perfect travel buddies.
Best Travel Buddy: Conversation Starter
It is a dream of mine to someday have a friend over for lunch and not have a pet or two frequently prance through the room. Longing for a phone conversation that isn't interrupted every few minutes by barking dogs or a cockatoo shouting "hello" is also part of life with my imperfect animal roommates. However, one of my favorite parts of travel is chatting with a variety of people and there are no better conversation starters than my pets. The Grand Canyon would have been boring had it not been for every single person we passed commenting on the pets. Okay. Not boring but an extremely different experience. While I may long for my civilly amateurish roommates to stop spoiling every social event at my home, I wouldn't want my fantastic travel buddy pets to stop enhancing the profound human interactions of our adventures.
Best Travel Buddy: Clean-As-I-Go Inspiration
Leaving greasy dishes in the sink or dirty laundry on the floor until the weekend is not too terrible of a way to live at home. It is messy, yes, but it won't lead to much more of a disaster than infuriating anyone else in the house. On the road, however, leaving unwashed dishes at the campsite means attracting pests and the longer stinky laundry sits the tougher it gets to wash the smell out in rest stop sink. With five pets, cleaning at home is just a part of every day life but it isn't the end of the world if things slide. While traveling, however, if I don't scoop the cat litter immediately, put all the dog toys back in the bag immediately after play time or wipe off Leo's Popemobile frequently, a trip can suddenly go very bad. Supplies can diminish more quickly than packed and budgeted for, essential items can be lost or, worse of all, a pet could get sick. Cleaning as I go is already an important part of the way I travel but my bad roommate/good travel buddy pets never let me get off track.
Best Travel Buddy: Prevents Me From Taking Up Too Much Space
Sometimes being super organized and concrete sequential is detrimental to travel packing. Everything needs to match perfectly. There must be something for absolutely every situation. Experienced travelers reading this know that now is where I confess to being an over packer. Yeah. But when there needs to be room for bird toys, cat litter and dog blankets, suddenly my obsessive need to have everything and the kitchen sink for myself loses importance. If one less bag of my prepared for anything gear means the dogs can be buckled where they can see out the window or the cat can travel in a larger crate, it's done. So an unpleasant roommate that takes up a lot of space suddenly becomes a travel buddy that cures my wicked over packing issue.
Best Travel Buddy: Reminds Me That Memories Are Better Than Stuff
Between Amelia and Leo's love of chewing, well, anything, Brychwyn's wild corgi leaping and Huxley's rope like tail, 85% of the things I once treasured are gone. But they're just things, right? Well, some of those things I really liked, like the heavy ceramic cactus lamp I dragged back from Mexico. Yet pining for my shattered lamp reminds me that nothing lasts forever. And no experience can be repeated. If I had a dollar for all the times I have said I would surely return to a particular locale, I'd have enough money to actually do it! Though the time to return to all those places would probably still not present itself. There is no better trait in a travel partner than the reminder that this moment, the one you are in right now, is the most special. You will never be here again. Nobody does that better than my pets, even if they have to break a lot of stuff to cause me to remember.
Best Travel Buddy: Excitedly Observing The Little Things
Even if I had a quiet, small, tidy roommate, er, pet, there would surely still be petty things they'd do that would irritate me. Leo cheering as the dogs and Amelia chase a fly around the house is one such irritating trivial incident. Yet on an urban hike yesterday afternoon, a red winged dragonfly caught my eye. Excitement welled up; it was the first sighting of my favorite insect of the season. And what were my perfect travel companions doing? Calmly watching the dragonfly with me. Yes, all five pets. Awesome. Travel partners that help to appreciate the little things as well as enjoy those little moments with me are the best.
Best Travel Buddy: Up For Adventure At Any Hour
Never missing a second of any adventure is the way I travel and sleep is the number one way to miss something. Now, it's not that I don't sleep when I am on the road. I just try not to sleep very much. At home, when the dogs begin stirring at 8AM after having a late walk the night before, I get annoyed. When the cat stomps on my head upon hearing the first bird song outside before dawn or Leo sings "tickle, tickle" to the sunrise from his sleeping cage, I bury myself further under the covers. However, on the road, I couldn't be more grateful for the pets enthusiasm to get the day started even if we were up into the wee hours around the campfire. A noisy at-all-hours roommate makes for a fun, up-for-anything travel buddy.
Best Travel Buddy: Shares Food
Roommates that raid the fridge and never replace the food that I purchased and craved eating are the worst. The food issue has been the last straw in many of my cohabitation situations. Obviously, the pets get a bit of a pass because I have not taught them how to go to the store and purchase food. I have, however, taught the pets not to take food off of my plate so when food occasionally goes missing, once Jason has said it wasn't him, there is no one left to blame but my negligent roommate parrot, cat and dogs. On the plus side, the pets and I like the same foods. Budget travel means hauling my own meals and there is a little less to lug when the pets and I can all enjoy a lot of the same food items.
Best Travel Buddy: Invigorates My Every Nerve
At home, especially while I type from the couch, like now, the dogs run to the window to bark at a passing neighbor, the cat cries at the door to go outside and Leo sings along to The Beatles. Nothing could be more annoying. On the road, however, nothing is more uplifting than a sing-a-long, Amelia is always up for an adventure and Wilhelm, Brychwyn and Huxley alert me to danger as well as frighten unkind strangers away. It is moments like this that I realize why I someday intend to be a full time nomad...
Have you ever been surprised to find an unexpectedly exceptional travel buddy?