With Dog Travel – 2013 in Review and a Spoiler Alert!
It’s New Year’s Eve and I must admit I am truly excited to see what 2014 will bring. Although I can’t tell you where we will travel to next (because oddly enough we actually don’t know) we have so many plans, dreams and projects that it is making my head spin and I am bursting at the seams with energy.
And it’s good to look forward to the new, but it’s also important to stop and see what has been accomplished, what lessons have been learned and take a moment to fill our hearts with gratitude.
We accomplished a lot in the 365 days that made up 2013. Sometimes as I look at this humble little blog, it is easy for me to think that I haven’t done much. We all have days like that right? But when I list everything and take a step back, I can see that I did … good. *tail wag*
- I continued to post every Saturday without fail even when I ran out of places, transport services, hotels and activities to review. I saw it as a challenge to find a new angle… and did! I spoke to long term travel dreams and how we are saving, and I even posted a poem!
- The blog turned three, breaking the sad statistic that most blogs don’t make it past 33.8 months.
- We went live on radio! Not just once but twice!
- We were featured in Pawsh Magazine, first as interviewees and later Mom got to write her own article!
- We were featured in Casadois Magazine for my world traveler themed dog room!
- We were voted one of Canada’s top 100 Travel bloggers!
- I was featured as a hero in Ingrid McCarthy’s children’s book, The Black Pearl of Osis – How cool is that?
- I traveled within Canada and the US, but I am most grateful for the sailing experience in Greece and my Bulgarian trip (thanks to our fans Radmila and Slavcho)!
- I got to meet some of my Dear Readers face to face this year, by having them stay with us here in Ottawa. I loved meeting Brad Hughes and travel blogger Suzanne Fluhr of Boomeresque!
- We also got to meet Colin and Mario of Vienna Canine Couture at the Hot Dog Cafe and then later at their Atelier (more on that in 2014)!
We aren’t long term travellers yet, so it happens that we run out of things to review. To fill the void we took a risk and decided to share the more emotional and philosophical processes involved with being travellers. It was a huge hit! We got a lot of positive feedback on those posts! People were inspired to comment, to share in their own experiences and that was an important lesson for us. Just go ahead and try. If it doesn’t work you have not lost anything but TRY. Don’t limit yourself in any way, because if you do you will miss out. Here are the posts that I think were the biggest surprises to both you Dear Reader and to us here at Montecristo Travels Inc.
- Language barrier? What language barrier?
- Trying is not failing with honour!
- Why leave your money shot to chance?
- Knowing when to defer a trip!
- Defining Moments during travel!
- What is “home” for the long term traveller?
- The much buzzed about, Pet peeves post …
- AND the BIG favourite: Travel more with less and quit the excuses!
There are more but … you get the idea. It has been a fun time finding new and interesting ways to discuss pets and travel with you Dear Reader.
We learned a lot about social media in 2013. Facebook in particular was a challenge. When we got threatened to be shut down because we had a FB Profile rather than a FB Fan Page things got tense. We are still dealing with this. We now have the Fan Page with over 500 likes already but it doesn’t come close to the 4,000 friends on the profile. Why? Because we tried to do things on our own and didn’t know we could convert a profile to a page and keep the friends as likes. We now know to turn to experts when social media challenges come about.
So, for now we will try to maintain both, but we saw so many FB pet profiles disappear this year that we know that it is just a matter of time before Facebook shuts the profile down for breaking the rules.
Speaking of social media – we still struggle with twitter, don’t know what to do with Pinterest … and now have a presence on Google + we have no idea what to do with. We are still learning the ropes trying to figure out how to best use all of these in order to be effective as a burgeoning business but not annoying. What have I learned so far? I think we need help!
On a travel specific note, we had some tough lessons in 2013. We lost time and money on our commute from Canada to Greece, when our flight got cancelled and had to leave a day later. The bipeds had trouble finding alternative flights because not all airlines accept pets (I am looking at you Air Transat!) and not all airports allow pets (Yes YOU Heathrow!) and had heart stopping moments at customs crossing into Germany because the flight changes had us landing in Munich instead of Geneva, Switzerland as originally planned.
It all worked out but, we are aware that it could have been awful. We learned that the time delays for paperwork are a huge flaw in the current North American pet travel system, and that we desperately need an international pet passport program.
Because here in Canada you must:
- be a detective to find the right paperwork,
- have a willing vet fill out said paperwork and,
- deal with the lack of emergency office hours for the CFIA to get the papers formally stamped.
So as much as we like to say that Pet Travel is on the up and up, it is still a long way away from being streamlined or easy. In a way that is good news for us, because it proves that this blog remains a much needed resource. And for more than just reviews; it can help people prepare for what could happen. That is important and I plan to write more posts on how to stay calm and … carry on. (Sorry I had to!!)
For the blog specifically, we learned to adapt to the loss of our editors and our illustrator as they moved on to bigger, brighter pastures. We wish them all the best and in a way it was a gift… as we have grown more independent and self-sufficient from our initial struggles. We have made new and wonderful contacts, and although the delays on one particular project have been frustrating, we are excited at the collaborations that lie ahead.
What is next! (Spoiler alert)
The blog is growing, not only in terms of content, but also in what it will have to offer. You will see some new faces here as we reach out to include some canine foreign correspondents! We hope to have products and more resources as well. And we are now also available for public speaking events!
I don’t want to let all the cats out of the bag yet … so stay tuned! Because 2014 is going to be amazing!
We are incredibly grateful to everyone that has reached out to our team and offered opportunities to work on projects. To all of you… thank you. We really hope our collaborations continue. May we all do our small part in making this world more accessible to “with pet” travelers!
And of course, it remains clear to us, that without you, Dear Reader, we are nothing. Without your comments and support there would be no blog. Without your visits and interest, shares and likes … we would soon disappear into the interweb’s twilight.
So all of us here at Montecristo Travels Inc. want to lift our glasses up and share a toast with you … you ready?
Is your glass full?
“To the friends we have made and those still to come. To the places we have seen and those yet to be discovered; to all that we have shared and to the bright promise of more to come!”
Happy New Year Dear Reader, to you and your loved ones!
-Montecristo and Bipeds