Tips & Guides / Pets

How I Live as a Digital Nomad With a Dog

By Jessica Goudreault | Mar 28, 2023
Bo the dog enjoys his life as a digital nomad and swims in some water.

When I set out on my digital nomad journey over a year and a half ago, it was just me, my cat Blink, and my car full of belongings. Now, we have a new family member—my dog, Bo! 

Bo was an unplanned surprise who I adopted along my travels, and he has truly made our little family complete. 

If you’re a digital nomad who is considering adopting a dog, or if you’re already a dog parent thinking about living the digital nomad life, here’s what my experience has been like so far, including how I adopted Bo, what it’s been like traveling with him, and how my lifestyle has changed.

How I adopted Bo as a digital nomad

I absolutely love dogs. I always had dogs while growing up with my family, and I always wanted to adopt one of my own someday. But I knew how big of a commitment it would be, especially considering my love of travel.

While journeying around the U.S. as a digital nomad, I moved to Austin, Texas, in the spring of 2022. One of my friends there was passionate about fostering animals, and she told me about the importance of fostering dogs from kill shelters who are on a “deadline.” 

One of the dogs who needed to be fostered ASAP was Bo (at the time, his shelter name was Roman). If someone didn’t foster him within the next few days, he would be put down. That was all I needed to hear—I called Austin Pets Alive!, submitted my foster application, and just like that, he came to live with me!

Bo immediately got along well with Blink, and I quickly fell in love with him. He was so easy to love because he was incredibly sweet and chill and had the biggest smile! 

I was so surprised by how easily Bo fit into my life and that he didn’t completely flip my world upside down. I enjoyed taking him on walks throughout the day and taking him to dog-friendly coffee shops and restaurants. I didn’t feel like he limited my life at all—instead, he made it feel more complete. 

After a month of fostering Bo, it was clear I couldn’t let him go. But after talking with friends and family, I realized not everyone was supportive of my decision. Some felt that having a dog wouldn’t fit into my lifestyle of traveling from city to city every three months. However, I knew that it was the right choice and that we could make it work. So, I officially adopted Bo on May 27, 2022. 

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What it’s like traveling with Bo

I know what you’re thinking—how the heck are you traveling around the country with a cat and a dog?!

My answer? It’s not as hard as you might think.

I did have to reorganize how I load my car so that Bo could have the passenger seat during our travels (he’s the best copilot!). 

When we travel from city to city, Bo just curls up and sleeps in his bed. We stop roughly every two hours for a potty break, a short walk, and some snacks and water. If it’s a long trip, we’ll stay overnight in a pet-friendly hote. I’ve learned to definitely read the fine print when making a reservation, since hotels can allow pets for free or they can charge nearly the price of the room itself. 

I don’t like to leave my pets alone in hotels, so I usually get takeout and enjoy a relaxing night in. Plus, we’re usually pretty tired from our travels!

When we arrive at our new Landing apartments, Bo adjusts to our new home pretty quickly. I always bring his bed and his favorite toys so he has some familiar items that make him feel more at home. But it seems that he likes to explore new places just as much as I do!

How my lifestyle has changed after adopting Bo

As much as I love being a dog mom (and as easy as Bo is), there are still some limitations and adjustments I’ve needed to make. 

The biggest one for me has been having to leave Bo home alone. While I try to take him with me wherever I can (I’ve found so many dog-friendly places on BringFido!), I do need to leave him at home sometimes. 

For instance, I leave him at home when I’m spending a night out with friends, heading to a human-only event, or just need to run errands. I’ve learned that he’s okay with being alone for several hours at a time, though I don’t like to leave him for more than seven hours. Part of this is just me feeling guilty, even though I know he just sleeps the whole time I’m gone. 

Before I had Bo, I could just go out with my friends, stay out as late as I wanted, or crash at their apartment, if needed. Now, I need to be more responsible and make sure I’m not leaving my pup alone for too long. That sometimes means calling it a night early or taking time to pop back home for a quick visit during the day. 

Similarly, when I take a trip or go on a weekend getaway back home, I need to consider where Bo will stay. If I’m road-tripping somewhere, I usually can take him with me. But if I’m flying, he needs to stay at home with a dog sitter or go to a boarding facility. This is definitely the biggest factor for me when planning travel, since dog boarding can get expensive. 

Unexpected costs and struggles

Speaking of costs, I never realized how expensive it was to travel with a dog. The price of hotels and dog boarding can easily make or break a trip, and that’s on top of traditional dog expenses like food, toys, treats, and vet visits. 

One unexpected and expensive hurdle Bo and I went through was his heartworm diagnosis and treatment. Bo was diagnosed with heartworms in the fall of 2022, which meant he needed to undergo treatment to kill the worms in his heart and allow him to live a safer and healthier life. Unfortunately, the cost of treatment was very expensive (over $3,000), and his recovery was long and difficult. 

After receiving his heartworm injections, Bo was on a strict no-activity regime for nearly three months. If his heart rate became too elevated, it would put him at risk of seizure, stroke, and heart failure, which could lead to death. This meant we couldn’t go for long walks, go hiking, or even visit the dog park. He could only go out for a short potty break, and then it was back inside to the couch.

And, of course, this was while we were living in Colorado—one of the most beautiful states in the country! So, we went for lots of long, scenic drives, I ventured out on solo hikes, and we spent a lot of time snuggled up on the couch together.

Looking back, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, mostly because I couldn’t communicate to him why we were suddenly living such a limited lifestyle.

But the good news is that Bo has fully recovered, and we are back to enjoying long hikes and fun adventures!

The best travel buddy

Now that I’m a dog mom, it means I have a travel buddy everywhere I go. I love taking Bo with me on hikes, long walks, and on visits to breweries, coffee shops, and restaurants. I feel so much more confident (and safer!) when he’s around. Bo also makes friends everywhere he goes, which means I make a lot of friends, too.

I feel so lucky to have such an incredibly sweet dog. He gets along with everyone, including kids and other dogs, which makes it even easier to travel with him. He’s also always up for an adventure, but equally as happy just chilling on the couch. He really is the perfect dog for me.

Things would be very different if he was a high-energy dog or if he was shy or aggressive. I don’t know that I would be able to handle a different dog, so it was really important that I was able to foster him and see how well he fit into my life. It was like a “trial run” to see what life would be like with him. So, if you’re unsure whether you’re ready to adopt a dog, I recommend fostering them first to see if it’s the right choice for you and your lifestyle.

The perks of Landing’s pet-friendly apartments

I’ve been living with Landing since October 2021, and the fact that most of their furnished apartments are pet-friendly was a huge selling point for me. Back when I only had a cat, it was so hard to find a short-term lease or vacation rental that would allow a cat, so I can only imagine how difficult it would be with a dog as well. Every Landing apartment we’ve lived in has been able to easily accommodate my kiddos, and it has made traveling so much easier.

Jessica Goudreault

Jess is a freelance travel writer and digital marketing specialist who has been traveling the United States for over a year with her dog, cat, 10 house plants, and anything else she can fit in her Subaru. She specializes in writing about the best food, drinks, and outdoor activities she tries based on local recommendations. You can catch her hopping from city to city every three months, writing about her travels while sipping on a nice cold pint.