Harbinger Travel Diaries is a blog series documenting various worldly experiences from our team of consultants. This week Siri Maldonado, director marketing & communications, sits down with Krista Schaber-Chan, partner, and Gregory Roth, partner, to discuss some of their greatest memories from travelling with their pets.
SM: Let’s start by telling me more about your beloved pets.
KSC: I currently have two cats named Genghis Khat (also known as BKhat or Putput) and Midnight Louie (also known as Lcat). They are both mixed breeds, part Russian Blue or Nebulung, and have been a part of my family for a few years now. Their daily routines include getting some relaxing bird and squirrel watching time in the backyard and lounging in Amazon delivery boxes. They are also great sous chef’s and enjoy a good wine with dinner.
A piece of my heart however, will also always be with Mr. Frodo, our Golden Doodle who was my best friend and travel partner for almost 15 years.
GR: We have always been a family who loves cats and currently have a Maine Coon named Hudson. Hudson is a gorgeous animal and also happens to be Harbinger’s CFO (Chief Feline Officer). While he doesn’t currently travel with me, I started out my consulting career by travelling with Haimish, Bailey and Grendel, our three cats who unfortunately are no longer with us.
SM: Travelling with pets doesn’t seem like an easy feat. What prompted you to do this?
KSC: I was working on a project that required me to be onsite for three weeks per month over a 12-month period. This project happened to be in Stuttgart, Germany and it just made more sense for me to move Mr. Frodo and myself there instead of travelling back and forth.
GR: It was at the onset of my career and my motto at the time was to always say yes and follow the opportunities. One of these opportunities was a multi-year contract and took my family to Sweden and Germany for over four years.
SM: Tell me about one of your earliest experiences of travelling with your pets.
KSC: One that will forever stand out is definitely my secondment in Stuttgart. While Mr. Frodo did not physically travel with me in the cabin on this trip, I must say he got luxury treatment upon landing. When I arrived to pick him up in the airport in the pet area, I found him in great spirits. They not only fed him and walked him, but he was having a great time playing with the airport staff there. Better yet, they made a German Pet Passport for him that was stamped! This was such a lovely surprise and well used as we used our time there as an opportunity to travel to other European countries. At the end of our trip, Mr. Frodo had many stamps.
GR: While most of my travelling experiences with our pets have been great, there is one standout trip that does not have the same happy story as Krista’s with Mr. Frodo. It’s definitely my time in Sweden. There was a delay and I remember being in the airport waiting for our cats. A lot of time passed only for us to find out they weren’t going to release them to us and allow them to enter Sweden. The problem? We didn’t know that we needed to have a signed certificate from the Swedish Bureau of Agriculture—despite our best investigations of what was required before making the trip. One missing piece of paper with a stamp caused so much drama!
Fortunately for us we figured out a workaround and made our way across the water to Denmark. We kept them there and I had to travel back and forth between these countries until we had the proper paperwork in hand.
SM: Best places to visit with your furry family member?
KSC: I really loved my time in Europe with Mr. Frodo. Almost all of the Western-European countries I travelled to, allowed us to bring him into every store and restaurant with no questions asked. He was such a lovable guy and I enjoyed seeing him bring smiles everywhere we went.
GR: My favourite destination with our cats will always be Wiesbaden, Germany. While it’s a city rich in history and culture, it also represents my first experience as an ex-pat. I had many lessons to learn with my support network 6,300 km away. No matter how difficult the days might have been, my “niedliche kleine Kinder” were always there to send me off in the morning and welcome me home at night.
SM: What tips do you have for others who are planning to travel with their pets?
KSC: I would strongly recommend travelling to countries that treat pets in the same way that we do in Canada and Western-Europe. I once travelled to this country in Eastern Europe and stayed in a well-known hotel chain that I knew accepted pets. Once I got arrived it was a very different story and they were not accommodating about having Mr. Frodo with me. Luckily, after some negotiation, they changed their minds and we didn’t have to change hotels.
GR: Remember the rules that apply to people apply to animals too when you travel. For example, never assume both of you will make your connecting flight. Always, always, always choose direct—even if the cost is substantially higher. Every penny spent will buy you peace of mind and an assured arrival with the furry friend(s) you hold most dear.
Krista Schaber-Chan Managing Partner Toronto