Dogs are remarkably adaptive animals who can teach us a lot about life and travel if we avoid ascribing our own human limitation on them. Their inherent flexibility and natural instincts for exploration and survival have taught me a lot about about it means to be a good traveler. Their philosophies are simple ones that we tend to complicate by over-thinking with our gifted brains.
A Stomach Open To Anything
Few creatures on the planet love ingesting food more than a dog – most of whom will happily eat anything you will. Being a picky eater while traveling complicates your daily routine on the road and can create a low level of stress; making you less tolerant to other common issues that may arise when traveling. Of course, traveling isn’t simply walking with your feet, it’s exploring a culture with your palate and trying new foods, strange and familiar alike.
Go With The Flow
Properly balanced dogs tend to be happy-go-lucky animals who enjoy a routine but are flexible enough to follow you into different schedules and situations. A change in a meal or bed to sleep in are usually not a problem for more than a few minutes, so long as you, the leader, are fine with it. (Dogs with anxious owners tend to absorb those feelings making occasional changes more difficult for them to adjust to.) Travel enough and you’ll find schedules, plans, and paces of life vary all the time around the world. Try to force things to your way if fighting a losing battle but accepting the culture around you relieves you of stress while giving you local insight at the same time. Evolution has already taught your dog that you can’t fight the environment – so rather, become a part of it.
Trust Your Instincts Avoid Those Your Don’t Like
Introductions among dogs mean a lot for where their relationships will head. Body language, a sniff, and eye contact tell one another a great deal about the other. But dogs don’t force the issue, if there is some disharmony in that stage of a meeting, they show it. One dog may ignore another or a quick nip may say, “stay away”. Humans tend to force the issue in introductions, but often, our initial impressions tell us more about a person and situation than we’re willing to listen to. When traveling, it’s important to trust your subconscious perceptions, whether it comes to safety or a shifty tout in a market ripping you off. Instincts can be verified later (he was being culturally rude or his lack of smile was acceptable for the local custom). That’s the advantage of having the human brain – it comes with both intuition and access to vast amounts of information.
Ultimately, when traveling, that is what we can teach ourselves – to perceive more like our dogs – so we can experience and absorb more from the places we’re visiting.