With Dog Travel – 2013 in Review and a Spoiler Alert!

I traveled to Greece!

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.

2013 Accomplishments

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)!

Lessons Learned

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.

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.

Standard view: Mom, iPhone and me!

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:

  1. be a detective to find the right paperwork,
  2. have a willing vet fill out said paperwork and,
  3. 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.

I have the best fans EVER! Jessica sent me an Inugurumi AND sunglasses! Sweeeeeet!

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?

Together now:

“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

18 Comments on “With Dog Travel – 2013 in Review and a Spoiler Alert!

  1. Thanks for a rich and full year of informative and culturally diverse reading. Thanks for bringing me into your world (literally and figuratively). I’m so proud of you and what you’ve accomplished, and I know there is bigger and better things in store. Happy New Year, Monte and bipeds!!

  2. Cheers and Happy New Year to our splendid bloggers and travelers!!! You are wonderful and we Thank you for your work and everything you do to for all of us!!!
    Your BIG fans and friends: Pepi, Slavko and Radmila 🙂
    LOVE YOU and to new meetings!

  3. Thanks for the shout out for Boomeresque and for not being ax murderers 😉 If you had been, people would have been sad I was ax murdered, but murmuring about what a fool I was to invite myself to visit a dog and his people that I met on the internet. My visit to you and Ottawa was one of the highlights of 2013 for me. Your blog is great and not too many chi’s can boast about the following you have accumulated. Your blog performs an informational service, but it’s also fun and engaging—a winning combination.I hope we can visit again in 2014—this time maybe in Philly and/or “down the shore in New Jersey” — a mere road trip. Happy New Year to all. Write on!!

    • I think we will very likely take you up on your invitation Suzanne!! For a few days in both Philly and the shore in New Jersey! If you will have us. Just a matter of figuring out when! 🙂 And thank you for being a lovely guest! You and yours are welcome in our home anytime!

  4. Monte, sweetheart, your social and travel calendar in 2013 must have been fuller than the Queen’s !! It’s so remarkable the way you have kept us in the loop with your life, your accomplishments, your philosophy and, from what I can gather, 2014 is going to be even more remarkable. I trust for ALL of us! And, it is so rewarding to have you as a Star in my children’s trilogy (the traditional novel)and now also in the graphic novel version (book 1) to be released quite soon… Big New Year’s hugs to you, and stay well and healthy for many years to come…

    • I can’t wait for the graphic novel to come out!! The honour really is all mine! And 2014 will be amazing I can feel it in my bones … if only we could figure out where we were off to next! Do we try out Latin America? Do we join you in Spain and Mallorca? Do we try and save money and travel closer to home this year…? *sigh* decisions!!

  5. We love you with all our soul. Love to read you and learn with It.
    We are your fans since long time ago and we have enjoy your
    posts full of important information and exciting adventures. We have something
    in common ; We love to travel , our pets are our family and
    there is love in each thing we do or we express.
    Happy New Year Monte ..mom and dad.

  6. What a wonderful post!! 2013 was truly exciting for your family and I know 2014 will ROCK for y’all as well. We, Stewart and I, thank you so much for opening your beautiful home to us in September and making us feel like family. Hope y’all can come to Texas again and maybe, someday, let us visit again. Happy New Year and MUCH love to all.

    • How could I leave out your visit!! MUST amend the post! 🙂 You are welcome anytime! But I recomend you fly next time… 🙂

  7. What an amazing, enlightening and progressive year you have had Monte and Bipeds! Well done!

    Onwards and upwards with your adventures for 2014.

    Things sure do need to change. I don’t think I can fly anywhere from the UK with a dog 🙁 Thank you for your ground breaking efforts on behalf of us all.

  8. A very Happy New Year!
    Een heel Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

    It’s a great blog with a lot of achievements!
    So we are very curious about your adventures with your bipeds in 2014!!

    a reader from Belgium

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