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This is the latest interview in a series featuring digital nomads talking about their lives and lessons (click here if you want to be interviewed). The goal is to help demystify the process of making money online, wandering the world, and living an unconventional life!
Gigi and Roger, the dog, have been traveling full-time together for the last five years. They offer helpful insight to any digital nomad considering bringing a pet along as they travel the world. Be sure to check out their blog for expert tips as well as their YouTube channel!
Thank you both for joining us, Gigi and Roger!
Key takeaways from Gigi and Roger’s interview:
“Nomading has changed our perspective on the material world. Minimalism rocks! Since we’ve been living out of a suitcase for almost five years now, my tail is wagging to bark that personal experience trumps possession of material goods any day! We only buy what we need and save the rest to travel. Without squandering money on stupid luxury goods, we’ve never felt more fulfilled.”
“For anyone who wants to travel with their dog, my advice is to know your dog first and foremost. Just because YOU like to travel doesn’t necessarily mean that your furry family member does. Even though I help dog pawrents travel with their dogs, I don’t always recommend it. Like humans, some dogs will simply travel better than others.”
“Many nomads tend to get burnt out from traveling when they’re hopping around too much; don’t get me wrong – traveling is an ARF-mazing experience, but it’s easy to call your quits and head home early when you’re hopping on a flight every week or two. The physical act of traveling is exhausting if you don’t slow it down.”
Table of Contents
Introduce yourself! 🙂 Who are you? What do you do for work? And what is your nomadic story?
WOOF, I’m Roger Wellington, a senior Yorkshire Terrier hailing from San Francisco, California. I’m a rescue dog who has transformed into a world traveler!
Before being adopted by my forever family in 2015, I spent most of my life inside a crate in a two-car garage for a total of 16 to 18+ hours daily. After the arrival of a newborn baby in my first family, I was further neglected and then unjustly surrendered.
My second family took me in for one week (and also crated me inside a two-car garage) and decided quickly that I wasn’t going to work for them.
Shortly after, my third and forever human Gigi came to my rescue! Knowing that dogs are sentient beings who aren’t “toys” that can be tossed to the side, she brought me home and dedicated herself to providing me with the best life ever. It was right then and there that I left my miserable crate life for good!
As a true alpha dog and #1 Human Trainer, I like to lead and take my time on walks, sleep right smack in the middle of my King bed, and get yummy treats and home-cooked meals on-demand. I live the BEST life!
Since 2016, I’ve set my furry paws on over 45 flights and countless trains across more than 20 countries. I’ve only had to temporarily pause due to the pandemic.
Although I plan on catching up with Gigi, who has been to 50 countries (thus far), I never travel for short vacations or for the sake of collecting countries. Since dogs need more time to rest and adjust to new environments, I’ve mastered the art of slow travel. As a true nomadic dog, I TRAVEL TO LIVE!
What inspired you to start nomading? And how has nomading changed your perspective on life?
Well, let me first bark that my human Gigi became obsessed with international traveling while studying abroad in Beijing, China. After graduating from college, she got a 9 to 5 like most millennials at the time; however, she would literally use every penny and PTO on vacations abroad when working in the office.
A year into my adoption, Gigi left her management role in the conventional office to pursue a nomadic life and travel the world indefinitely.
To prepare for my first international flight, I went on numerous road trips and domestic flights, mostly from NorCal to SoCal, to visit family. After immense research on international dog travel, we hopped on a one-way 10+ hour flight to Paris, and the rest is history!
Nomading has changed our perspective on the material world. Minimalism rocks! Since we’ve been living out of a suitcase for almost five years now, my tail is wagging to bark that personal experience trumps possession of material goods any day! We only buy what we need and save the rest to travel. Without squandering money on stupid luxury goods, we’ve never felt more fulfilled.
Please tell us the detailed story of how you started your business.
My blog is Wet Nose Escapades, which was launched in 2016 during my very first international escapade. At first, Gigi wasn’t planning to take me abroad after quitting her job. The initial plan was for her to travel abroad for six months and return home a few months each time. And, I’d stay with family during the months she’s abroad. She wanted to start a blog that focuses on healthy travel with a foodie component, but with me as the narrator. However, as she researched the possibility of me joining her abroad, she changed the blog’s focus to international dog travel.
Now that I’m an expert dog traveler, I teach dog pawrents how to travel with their dogs AND keep them safe and happy on the road. I also bark out the best dog-friendly activities wherever I’ve made my mark. For the first several years, we were blogging more for fun since Gigi was generating sufficient income from her consulting services, which she could do remotely. However, as the blog grew, we started dedicating more and more time to it. For the last year, we’ve started blogging full-time.
What are the 2-3 favorite places where you’ve lived/traveled to and why?
Vienna – This world-class city is not only clean and modern but also boasts some of the most advanced animal rights laws in the world. I love being able to walk inside restaurants and dine at the table like I belong. At a local bratwurst stand, I was even hand-fed my very own dog-safe bratwurst for free – YUM! Plus, Gigi can find free poop bag stations at nearly every corner in the city.
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Amsterdam – Amsterdam is Top Dog cool. Canals, skewed houses, and rooftop lounges — I just love how funky and hip it is! Even though I can dine indoors, I prefer sitting outside near the canals to people and dog-watch here, especially in my favorite neighborhood of Jordaan. In addition to a nationwide NO STRAY policy, the Netherlands has strong protections against animal cruelty and abandonment. I gotta wag my tail to that!
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Paris – Well, because it’s Paris! Despite the unavoidable second-hand smoke that disgusts Gigi and me nearly every second, it’s hard not to fall in love with Paris. Every dog (lover) knows that this city is flooded with dogs everywhere! From Le Marais to the Latin Quarter, I can hang out at cafes and brasseries from dusk till dawn. I also like roaming around the Louvre Palace.
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What is unique about how you travel, and what advice do you have for someone who wants to travel with a similar style?
WOOF, I’m a dog traveler! It’s not every day that you see people travel internationally with their dogs – at least not long-term. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been on the road FULL-TIME with Gigi for nearly five years now. For anyone who wants to travel with their dog, my advice is to know your dog first and foremost. Just because YOU like to travel doesn’t necessarily mean that your furry family member does. Even though I help dog pawrents travel with their dogs, I don’t always recommend it. Like humans, some dogs will simply travel better than others. Some questions to ask yourself before making the decision: Do you think they’ll like it? Would they be better off at home with someone you trust? How do they fare when out and about? How well do they adapt to new environments?
And most importantly, health comes first! Travel days are tough for everyone, including your dog. As valued family members, dogs aren’t luggage to be hauled around from place to place. Whether you have a senior dog like myself or a 9-month-old puppy, your dog’s health must come first and foremost. Make sure you get veterinarian clearance and address any pending health issues before taking your dog on a long flight.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about nomading?
Travel slow! As a nomad, you have the priceless gift of time that tourists or vacationers don’t have (or really wish they have).
Before Gigi resigned from the conventional office, she would travel internationally for three weeks or so each time – perhaps covering one or two countries along with several major cities. Now, with me in the mix, we’ll spend at least a whole month in Paris. Devouring savoury crepes in the Latin Quarter and sippin’ on espressos in Le Marais before moving onto the next destination. Slow travel means that we can immerse ourselves with the local people and culture versus simply checking off that bucket list. Essentially, it allows you to live like a local and make lasting friendships.
Plus, you’ll save some money from moving around less AND have a much more enriched experience. Many nomads tend to get burnt out from traveling when they’re hopping around too much; don’t get me wrong – traveling is an ARF-mazing experience, but it’s easy to call your quits and head home early when you’re hopping on a flight every week or two. The physical act of traveling is exhausting if you don’t slow it down.
Since launching, what has been most effective to acquire/retain customers and scale your business?
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The most effective strategy is to engage with your audience, whether it’s through social media channels or direct messages/emails. People love to feel connected, especially in the age of social media. Ultimately, it’s never about the size of your audience, but how engaged they are (and if you’re able to establish a good relationship with them). If someone unsubscribes to your newsletter, reach out personally and find out why! You’ll either learn where/what to improve on OR get them to resubscribe. That personal touch is what people want.
For someone interested in becoming an entrepreneur in your field, what’s the best advice you would give? And what books, podcasts, thought leaders, or other learning resources do you recommend?
Don’t give up! Keep going. Perseverance will pay off. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. You’ll be driven on some days and completely discouraged on other days. As long as you keep going, no matter how you’re feeling, you will see progress. We seek blogging mentorship from Nomadic Matt – his advice and guidance have been super helpful! We also listen to Rob Dial, Jr.’s Mindset Mentor Podcast every single day to stay motivated. Some of our favorite books are Atomic Habits by James Clear, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Tell us about your content creation journey and share some of your favorite content that people should check out!
Although our main focus is blogging, we also create YouTube videos! Gigi loves putting together silly, lighthearted videos of ME traveling the world and doing who knows what…:)
Sniff out some of our most popular videos:
What digital tools do you use for your work/business?
Google Docs for drafting posts, Google Sheets for organizing a weekly/daily to-do list, Canva for editing pictures and creating covers and pins, iMovie for making videos, Ahrefs for tracking backlinks, Grammarly for editing posts, and of course, WordPress for running the blog.
What scale is your business at today, and what are your future goals?
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At this point, we are definitely still growing. Our main objective is to increase visibility in search results through backlink building and keyword focus. The last few months have been exciting because we are seeing over double the amount of traffic and users. WOOF, I can’t wait to see what’s to come for the rest of the year!
If you only had a few minutes to live, what are the most important life lessons you would share with the world?
I would share with the world that humans need to treat animals better.
The great Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Sadly, animal abuse exists virtually everywhere in the world, even in my progressive hometown California. Traveling creates more awareness of animal welfare and rights in societies and cultures around the world. As Gigi and I are always seeking dog-friendly or dog-accepting places in our destinations, we’ve experienced a wide range of attitudes and treatments towards dogs.
And, it’s not just about dogs – from chained monkeys in Marrakech (Morocco) to enslaved donkeys in Santorini (Greece) to drugged tigers in Chiang Mai, we as travelers need to do a better job in decreasing the demand for such unethical animal attractions.
Whether it’s skipping animal attractions or simply eating less meat, a small action can make a huge impact! Yet the origins of Covid-19 also reiterate that animals need greater legal protections and wildlife should be left alone.
What do you travel with that you couldn’t imagine traveling without?
I’d like to bark that I can’t travel without my human Gigi. She’s my #1 Human whose purpose in life is to serve me and make sure I’m happy. 🙂
Now, in terms of material goods, here’s a short list of things that I can’t travel without:
Airline Approved Dog Carrier – this one has been on the road with me for five years now!
What small change has made a big difference in your life?
Sleeping earlier and waking up earlier! It has PAWS DOWN given us better energy, focus, and outlook throughout the day.
How can people learn more about you and your work?