Bicycle Tour Across Europe

Dog Is My Co-Pilot
By Jen Sotolongo, September 2020
biking across Europe with dogs

My dog, Sora took me on one of the greatest adventures of my lifetime: a 2-year bicycle tour across Europe and South America from 2015 to 2017.

We spent our days cycling, towing Sora behind in her trailer, traveling very slowly from one town to the next. The extra weight and, at times, inconvenience of having a dog on this journey led us to people and places we otherwise would never have visited. There were nights we couldn't find dog-friendly accommodation or a good place to camp and slept in old farm houses, abandoned border stations, and new housing construction (all with permission!). Sometimes, complete strangers would welcome us into their home. She helped us volunteer at an animal shelter in a Peruvian beach town and was the face of adoption for a campaign in Medellin, Colombia.

Traveling internationally with a dog certainly poses some complications, but none were ever enough to deter us from bringing her along. Leaving her behind simply wasn't an option. She took to traveling and new experiences with gusto. A formerly reactive dog, she learned to view people as friends, thanks to all the attention she received. She'd curl up at my feet, squished inside of a car giving us a lift, and joined us on trains, planes, ferries, and buses, if we were able to convince the company to allow her on board.

We gave up seeing many iconic destinations because of Sora, but we saw so much more because she was with us.

Sora died in October 2018 from cancer at age 13. She visited 26 countries, mostly by bicycle.

Photograph by Jen Sotologo