As keen campers who love taking our dog with us wherever we can, we draw a lot of inspiration from other travellers doing just that. The idea behind our “Cruising with Canines” series was to share the stories of some intrepid dog parents doing what others would claim was too difficult. These guys are out there living the dream… And they’ve taken their dogs with them! Some claim that travel with a dog is too limiting. They point out that dogs aren’t allowed in Australian National Parks. They ask how you manage to go shopping, or out to dinner, with a dog on the road. Sure, there are limitations! However, we’d argue that travelling with a dog makes the experience so much more memorable. They are family, after all! We hope that these stories will inspire other dog mums and dads to include their canine companions in their travel plans. You can check out the rest of the posts in the “Cruising with Canines” series here.
Kyle and Lou from Collecting Bliss are a young Aussie couple who, with their dog Quinn, are taking on the world! After travelling Australia in their custom-made camper they packed up their life and headed off to Europe. Lou works as a web and graphic designer on the road, and Kyle has a mechanical trade background. As a result, this duo is well equipped to tackle whatever life throws their way. Their instagram feed is filled with awe-inspiring snaps from around the world. The Eiffel Tower, charming French villages, historic ruins in Spain, and campsites with dramatic mountain backdrops. We asked them to share some tips from their extensive travels.
Tell us a bit about yourselves, and lovely canine companion Quinn.
We are a married Australian couple, and Quinny is a 6 year old English staffy. Kyle is a light vehicle mechanic, Lou runs a web design business. We’ve explored all over Australia in our 4wd, and have always wanted to get back overseas to travel long term – so here we are with our Aussie Nissan Patrol custom camper that we built, and Quinn dog who also loves adventure (he’s been moving around with us since he was a puppy). We are living in our camper, currently travelling around Europe, without a time-limit.
Your custom camper set up on your Nissan Patrol is pretty impressive. How long did it take to build, and did you learn any tricks along the way that you can share with others considering a camper build?
Kyle worked on the camper every weekend for a few months initially before it’s first trip (east to west coast of Australia including the iconic Old Tele Track in far north QLD). After that he spent time enhancing features as we thought of new ideas and tested things out. We also upgraded to a newer patrol so we moved the camper onto that which took about 7 days. With Kyle, the project never really ends… he’s always finding ways to make things better!
Kyle’s always had project cars, he’s undergone some pretty awesome builds mechanically but nothing like this before so it was pretty exciting and challenging at times to work out the details without anything other than his drawings to go off. To anyone thinking of building a camper, try to do as of much it yourself as it will save you lots of money! The cost of off the shelf camper options out there compared to what we spent is pretty amazing. We’ve learnt that if you really want to do something, you really can do it yourself!
You guys aren’t just exploring your own backyard in Australia. You’ve taken your travels to the world! What would you say to others considering shipping their campers overseas? Did you need any special permits to use your camper in other countries, and how do you find all the amazing campsites you stay at?
Shipping the car over was actually the easiest part! Our car came over in a 20ft container, from Brisbane to Southampton (England). Our ship ended up being a whole month later than first expected though, so keep that in mind… you can’t really bet on the initial date being definite so it helps to have flexible initial plans.
Most European countries are fine to drive through with a temporary import, but we got a carnet which is basically a passport for your car to be sure that we can travel between other countries without problems. We’ve kept our car registered in Western Australia. Besides that, you just need an insurance green card which can be purchased online for the region you’re travelling through.
For camp sites, we’re pretty relaxed when it comes to timeframes and places to be, so we really don’t do any planning. Most days we just have a general direction and stop when and where we feel like it. There are some great apps like Park4Night, iOverlander, and CamperContact that we use occasionally when travelling through more built up areas, but when in rural or remote areas we love just pulling up in a nice little area away from the road when we’re ready. We usually come by beautiful spots out of the blue. When you have no expectations, you can find a perfect camp pretty easily!
How do you find travelling with a dog overseas? It appears you can take Quinn to a lot of interesting places! Do you miss out on seeing anything because you have him with you?
It’s so lovely having Quinn with us! He’s travelled all over Australia with us and loves being a camper doggo so there is absolutely no way he was staying behind. He’s easy to travel with, he simply goes everywhere we go! We take him for big walks and most places so far have been very dog friendly. He’s allowed in majority of national parks over here. In the UK, he was welcomed into the pubs to join us for tea (the staff would bring him free water and treats), so he’s living a pretty damn good lifestyle! We don’t feel like we miss out on anything with him here. If he was an anxious dog it might be different, but he loves his camper, and the lifestyle just suits him!
Where is the most amazing dog-friendly place you’ve stayed in your travels, either Australia or overseas?
Quinn’s been to five countries so far, and we have found Europe to be more dog friendly than Australia. The UK is incredibly dog friendly! We’ve had people stop in the street, cyclists stop their bikes, and shops open their doors for a pat and chat with him. We tied him up outside a store (1m from the door in a quiet village) in Wales for 2 seconds and the lady came out upset telling us to please bring him inside! We were a bit worried because some countries have breed specific laws which label him as a dangerous dog, but he’s been very welcomed everywhere so far. He’s very used to people, hanging out with other dogs and loves being with us so he travels very well.
What tips would you have for others considering overseas travel with their dog? What do you wish you’d known ahead of time regarding things like quarantine, vaccines, etc.?
Australian quarantine will make it a bit difficult to take him home. He didn’t need to do quarantine coming in being from Australia. We hired Jetpets to take care of everything for us when he flew from Brisbane to London. We’ll probably hire Jetpets again because they take care of all the paperwork. With correct vaccinations, etc, he’ll spend 14 days in quarantine back in Australia but that’s probably a few years down the track yet so it’s very much worth it. It is expensive, but we wouldn’t leave him back in Australia. We love having him with us!
Finally, what have you added to your camping set up along the way, while travelling, that you’d now consider essential?
Our 75L dual zone fridge/freezer by Dometic is awesome. We fit a whole week’s worth of food easily in our camper so we can go off road without any trouble. We carry 80L of water in our tank which is really useful to stay clean and to always have loads of cooking/drinking water in the kitchen sink. We have an oven in the camper too which is so good! We cook all the same food that we would if we had a house. To us, setting up the camper in a way that we can easily use our things without having to dig things out of drawers was important. We simply get in, pop the top (or go to sleep with it down if it’s bad weather or for extra warmth) and she’s ready. We only really carry essentials with us so everything we have plays it’s part in our day – we have everything we need.
I highly recommend giving these guys a follow on social media – you won’t regret it! You’ll be inspired by all the amazing travel snaps they share on their Instagram account. On their Facebook account you’ll get a better idea of the “behind the scenes” details of their travels. Check them out!