We had such a lovely time discovering dog friendly Margate! It’s a town nestled on the southeast coast of England in Kent – one that has seen a revival as a sought-after seaside destination.
For years, this town has seamlessly blended traditional British seaside allure with modern arts and culture. We were drawn to its magnetic charm, and our recent visit reaffirmed why it’s a must-visit. A snapshot into dog friendly Margate is here:
Turner Contemporary: A Modern Art Haven
Starting off our journey, one of our first stops was the Turner Contemporary, a beacon of modern art on Margate’s seafront. Named in honour of the 19th-century artist J.M.W. Turner, who was enamoured with Margate’s unique light, this gallery showcases a plethora of contemporary visual arts from global artists. Interestingly, with ever-changing exhibitions, there’s always something fresh and intriguing to witness.
Dreamland: A Nostalgic Adventure
Following that, another highlight is Dreamland, a vintage amusement park that has graced Margate since the early 1900s. After undergoing its recent restoration, Dreamland now boasts retro rides, roller discos, and lively music events. The park’s nostalgic ambiance captivated us, especially the iconic Scenic Railway wooden rollercoaster. It’s an absolute must-ride!
Margate’s Seaside and the Enigmatic Shell Grotto
Transitioning to a more relaxed vibe, strolling along Margate Main Sands was a serene experience. This sandy beach, ideal for sunbathing and swimming, is complemented by a promenade dotted with quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants. However, the real surprise awaited us at the Shell Grotto. Discovered in 1835, this subterranean passage is adorned with intricate seashell mosaics. The grotto’s origins remain a mystery, making it an even more intriguing attraction.
On a side note, our experience here was a hit on social media – check it out!
Old Town and Dog-Friendly Spots
Initially, we couldn’t resist exploring Margate’s Old Town, a treasure trove of independent shops, galleries, and eateries. The best part? Moreover, the best part? Most of these spots are dog-friendly! Our little Westie, London, was more than happy to accompany us, basking in the sun and enjoying the warm ambiance of the town.
A Sunset to Remember
Subsequently, we wrapped up our Margate adventure with a breath-taking sunset, echoing those at Cafe Mambo, Ibiza. Along with many others, we perched on the newly constructed stairs along Margate Harbour’s seafront, absorbing the mesmerising hues of the setting sun.
Margate boasts a plethora of activities, establishing itself as a perfect getaway. Its art galleries, beaches, and the enigmatic Shell Grotto cater to diverse interests. If you seek dog-friendly spots, Margate delivers. We eagerly anticipate our next visit!
What can we say, it’s worth spending 48 hours in Whitstable, Kent! :)
Stepping off the train, we were greeted by the radiant sun shining over Whitstable, a picturesque seaside town on the coast of Kent in Southern England. We had been here once before, and it was so nice to be able to return! Just an hour’s train ride from London, we were eager to dive back into the wonders of this renowned fishing town, adorned with pastel-coloured fishing cottages, expansive pebbled beaches, and an array of quirky shops.
Every corner of Whitstable whispered tales of its rich maritime heritage, a legacy that stretches back to Roman times.
Take a look:
The Oyster Experience
The town’s pride in its oyster farming is palpable, and we learned of the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival, a grand celebration complete with parades, performances, and, naturally, oyster-eating competitions. Tasting the famed Whitstable oysters was the crowning jewel. The taste was a harmonious blend of saline, a touch of saltiness, complemented by a creamy sweetness. One was simply not enough.
Artistic Flair and Coastal Pubs
Our stroll down Harbour Street was nothing short of enchanting. The street, alive with energy, was a tapestry of quirky boutiques, unique shops, and a delightful mix of colourful weatherboard houses, historic edifices, and charming cottages. Our exploration led us to the intriguing street art by Catman, Whitstable’s answer to Banksy. For those in search of a unique coastal pub experience, “Neppies” or Old Neptunes is the place to be.
A Culinary Finale
As our 48 hours neared its end, we decided to indulge in the town’s best fish and chips at Ossie’s. The generous servings and the golden, flaky fish were the perfect culmination to our Whitstable adventure. Sitting on the beach, watching the sun dip below the horizon and the waves gently caress the shore, we reflected on our time in Whitstable.
A town that seamlessly marries its rich history with modern allure. If the Kent Coast is on your radar, Whitstable is a must-visit. A town that’s not just picturesque but also dog-friendly. And remember, the oysters are a must-try!
If you’re a dog lover planning your next trip and searching for the top dog-friendly accommodation in NSW, we have the perfect guide for you. Reflections Holiday Parks in Australia recently curated a list of premier dog-friendly holiday parks in New South Wales, each one a unique paradise for both you and your canine companion.
**You might also enjoy this popular poston options for travelling with your four-pawed BFF**
Top picks: Dog-friendly accommodation in NSW
7 great options for your and your family – two legged and four pawed :)
Shaws Bay Holiday Park: A Tranquil Haven
First on our list of top dog-friendly accommodation in NSW is Shaws Bay Holiday Park. Located in the heart of East Ballina, just a two-hour drive from Brisbane, this tranquil haven welcomes dogs year-round. A quick 5-minute drive brings you to The Spit, a popular off-leash dog beach where your pup can truly unleash its energy.
With the scenic vistas of Ballina and dog-friendly Byron Bay nearby, Shaws Bay is an excellent base for exploring the local attractions.
Moonee Beach Holiday Park: The Heart of Adventure
Continuing our journey, we find Moonee Beach Holiday Park, a mere 10-minute drive from Coffs Harbour. Among the top dog-friendly accommodation in NSW, this park has an abundance of dog-friendly caravan and camping sites, not to mention modern tiny homes and cabins.
After a day of adventure, treat your furry friend to a deluxe dog wash, while you unwind in the camp kitchen, play tennis, or enjoy the warmth of the fire pits.
Discovering More of NSW’s Dog-friendly Wonders
Let’s venture further into NSW to reveal more top dog-friendly accommodation options!
According to the Animal Medicines Australia ‘Pets in Australia’ national survey (Nov 2022), about half of all Australian dog owners take their furry companions on holiday with them. This trend is rapidly growing, with a whopping 37% of dogs being acquired during the pandemic. So, if you’re among the 69% of Australian households that own a pet, why not bring your best friend along on your next NSW adventure?
If you’re keen to get back on the travel trail, but don’t want to leave your best mate behind, here, find out exactly how to house sit with your own pet! Nicky and her husband Andy travels full-time in their campervan around the UK and Europe, and their beautiful Spanish rescue dog, Gus, tags along for the ride.
They now apply for house and pet sits with their dog, which for some pet sitters, feels really complicated. But, if you’re keen to give it a go, take heed of Nicky’s invaluable advice on how they – in the first place – score sits with Gus; and also, the benefits he brings the dogs they are sitting for!
Nicky’s top tips on how to house sit with your own pet
As an avid house and pet sitter who has experienced opportunities across the UK and Europe, Nicky advises anyone coming into the business to really have a good think about what type of sits you want. She also says, start now – start in your own city. This advice echoes what past guests, Kate and Dave, shared as their top tips. Have a read here.
Rescuing a dog on the road
While sitting in Spain, Nicky came across an animal shelter that – of course – had a dog waiting for his new furever home. As it turns out, they met Gus, “the perfect dog” for them. He was two and had been born in the shelter. A black dog, he had struggled to be discovered for a new home. This happens frequently for both cats and dogs in Europe, unfortunately due to a very old superstition around black animals being unlucky.
Gus has proven to be quite the opposite: he’s their four pawed travelling best friend.
Nicky took her time introducing Gus to the lifestyle though, so he’d be comfortable. It’s an important lesson for all of us, especially anyone rescuing a dog – give them time and the proper space to understand and feel comfortable in their new environment.
House and pet sitting with your dog
Once settled, this trio picked up travelling and house sitting again.
Nicky said one of her best pieces of advice is to ensure your profile on house and pet sitting sites makes it very very clear – front and centre – that you’re travelling with your fur baby.
“The top of our profile clearly says, Nicky, Andy and Gus ”, and in her applications she reinforces, “thank you for considering all of us”.
Another great idea – she’s encouraged the homeowners writing a review to please include a reference to Gus in the review, once again, to reinforce the benefits he’s brought to the sit, and how easy it was for him to be included. This tip was also mentioned by Laura who doesn’t travel and house sit with a dog, but her family of four :) Find out more about house and pet sitting as a family.
Finding the right sit for you and your dog
Nicky says that she does do a lot more work now to choose house sits that are right for both she and Andy, and especially Gus. It’s obviously worthwhile in order to score those perfect sits though.
If a profile states that a dog doesn’t get on with other dogs, then of course she will not apply. She says, prioritise your pet when applying for sits – set your boundaries. Some homeowners are so keen to have you as a sitter, that they’ll say “Yes, come along!”, when, the match for Gus and the dogs on the ground, wasn’t right. Be selective in location and situation in terms of other animals there.
Despite the bit extra work around sifting through available house sits and applying for those that match their bigger picture, Nicky reports that they’re in demand! They’re booked 12 months in advance! In fact, they get plenty of repeat business from families whose pets loved the sits with Gus.
Travel and house sitting
“Travel is the ability to see other places and immerse yourself in a new culture”, says Nicky. But she stresses that in an application for a sit, they’ll highlight that the pets come first. Importantly, that they plan to be present, and love the pets as if they are their own.
The beautiful thing about pairing ‘travel’ and ‘house sitting’ is that you can live like a local. You can see places you might never have visited had it not been for the house sit! And, you’re constantly reminded of the good in people. That is, inherent kindness despite what we may see on the news.
It’s also wonderful to have the chance to see what the Universe presents and to go with the flow. “It’s wonderful how things inevitably align,” marvels Nicky. We agree.
Join us on our podcasting adventures as we hear inspiring stories from amazing people travelling the world. They’re living their best life, often with their pets in tow!
In this episode of Freedom and Four Paws, discover how being a dog owner yourself, can add value to applying for gigs as a house sitter where there are other dogs. Nicky is brimming with excellent advice for house and pet sitting with your own dog.
Listen for additional tips on travelling in Europe and being mindful of what visas and health certificates you may need.
Watch the episode for their complete story and advice. Or listen on your favourite podcast service, search ‘Freedom and Four Paws’.
Subscribe now and never miss an episode featuring excellent tips on how to slow travel, successfully work remotely or as a digital nomad, and house + pet sit. We’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your favourite podcasting app. Search ‘Freedom and Four Paws’
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In our post-COVID exploration, we had been searching for options in South East Queensland. But, it soon became obvious that dog-friendly travel isn’t that easy to come by within driving distance of Brisbane. And, if it’s there, it can be expensive or quite restrictive.
Northern NSW became an option when I stumbled across the info on Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments. Now, they’re not sponsoring this post, but deserve a shout-out! For a low fuss flat fee of $80, we can take London with us on an adventure. And, this dog-friendly accommodation is located right in the heart of Byron Bay.
Dog friendly Byron: best of
You’ll spot that London our Westie is wearing a jumper. That’s because our pet friendly excursion to Byron Bay (the first time!) came about as winter hit in Australia.
But the experience made up for the chilly weather. This was London’s first trip to the beach in his little life of 15 months. Take a look at the video of our dog friendly Byron Bay adventure and you’ll see how much he LOVED IT ❤️ This made us so happy too
Our top picks for dog friendly Byron Bay are as follows:
Byron Bay dog beaches
Belongil Beach dog friendly beach is literally right there in Byron Bay. As anyone for directions, just keep an eye out for high tide coming in.
Suffolk Park, about ten minutes’ drive from the heart of Byron Bay, boasts a beautiful beach too. This spot is also dog friendly and is brimming with cool locals to chat to (the two and four legged variety).
Pet friendly cafes and restaurants in Byron Bay
Outside of seeing the pure joy in London when he discovered ‘the beach’, we also had real fun at some of Byron’s best pet friendly hangouts.
Notably, Byron Bay does Mexican really well. We LOVE Miss Margarita in Byron – it’s right near the beach and boasts a happy hour between 5-6pm every day. Also, the food is excellent! This place gets busy so you should time your visit, especially if bringing your pooch.
At Miss Margarita they went out of their way to make sure London was happy and cared for with a bowl of water and a spot to sit. But, you need to grab a table out the front, so don’t land right in the middle of happy hour or peak dinner time.
Don Pedros, just a street up from the beach, also served great food and London was welcome in the area out the front.
Both places served up an awesome margarita, by the way
For brekky, we enjoyed Bayleaf. It’s lovely on a lazy sunny weekend morning, but gets very busy! London was more than welcome in the front section, but we were lucky to get a table, so be mindful after 8am.
Also, we liked Byron Fresh, right in the heart of Byron. They let us take London inside on a cold day – you can see him below hanging out on his mat, in his jacket, with a rug. Spoilt, much? :)
Another lovely spot we discovered that has plenty of dog friendly places to perch in Byron Bay, is Treehouse on Belongil. If you are to enter Belongil dog friendly beach from the centre of Byron Bay side, Treehouse is situated about 10 to 15 minutes walk along the beach. Walk up off the beach and you’ll find it. The lovely venue serves up some nice food and coffees, and it’s a very chilled out vibe. We loved it.
Other dog friendly experiences in Byron Bay
There’s quite a bit of Northern New South Wales (NSW) that is well known for being dog friendly. Love that! You can search for options on Airbnb and Booking.com. Surrounding towns include Ballina and Lennox Head. There’s also the Tweed Coast nearer to the Queensland border.
As you enter Byron Bay, a worthwhile experience is to visit the Stone & Wood Brewery. We do enjoy a pint of this one, especially in summer, so it’s nice to visit its origin. The brewery has a huge outdoor area at its entryway. You can order tasting trays and snacks. And, your pooch is entirely welcome to hang out with you in the sun.
There’s a few places we didn’t make it to, including The Farm which is a popular spot for parents of human and fur babies! Our little mate, Schnitzel (who we met at TBEX Czech Republic, would you believe?!), shares more in this blog.
Additionally, we have a host of excellent info on house and pet sitting as an option, here on YouTube. If you’re interested in this, maybe you’d also like to join our Facebook Group that’s all about house and pet sitting + travel as a way of life ❤️
Ten months ago, my Mum, Cooper and I found ourselves in a sleepy suburb outside of Brisbane, surrounded by a squeaking pack of tiny Westie puppies. It was a far cry from where we expected to be in December 2020. I for one fully intended to be at a nice crisp German Christmas market, sipping on mulled wine and impulse buying sparkly decorations that I had nowhere to display.
But, surrounded by these white creatures that more so resembled tiny polar bears than Westie puppies with their eyes barely open wasn’t entirely bad either.
For the love of dog
One look at all of our past content here and on YouTube, and you’ll spot a mile off that Cooper and I are “dog people”. Not part time or casual dog people. Oh no. We are those all-in-totally-obsessed-heart-eyed weirdos who quite literally would follow a wagging tail along the road, through a shopping mall, down a commuter platform and onto a train if it meant we could have just one pat.
If that sounds insane to you, maybe you better go find another post to read
As long as Cooper and I have known each other, we have loved dogs. In fact, I recall the first time I thought Cooper (my co-worker at the time) was “sweet” was when he stooped down to kiss one of our mutual friends’ dogs on the head when he met it.
“That’s so sweet,” I thought…and looked at him kinda differently after that.
Jumping forward a few years, we had two blue cattle dogs in our lives. One, Stephanie, my beloved childhood pet who moved with me to a small rural town in NSW where Cooper ended up befriending her and giving her a roaring good time in her twilight years.
And the second, Harry (pictured above), another bluey who was quite simply the best dog you could ever, ever know. He loved us and we loved him with all of our hearts. Everyone loved Harry – he was a popular family member with all relations and friends. He had his own identity and personality. When you imagine the “man’s (or woman) best friend” analogy of a dog and their human living their best life, together, Harry is the dog in that picture.
That rainbow bridge, I tell you, it’s a wonderful place with all our four-legged mates chasing their tails and their tennis balls, just waiting for us on the other side.
But of course, there’s that time in between. And ours was spent living abroad and travelling. We were always dog spotting and stalking puppies in the park – well, everywhere really (pubs, trains, cafes, courtyards, the workplace…). The time was never right for us to get a dog when we lived in London. We did however, sign up to be Trusted Housesitters specifically to get our dog fix and give love to fur babies in the absence of their own humans who wanted to get away on a holiday somewhere.
Which brings me back to being surrounded by Westie puppies…
Since we had to leave London for now, and with so much loss experienced over the past year, we decided that it was time to bring in new puppy joy. (Well, when I say ‘we’, I mean I kept shoving the newborn picture of our future Westie pup in Cooper’s face until he said ‘yes’ :).
We couldn’t get a bluey again based on our apartment living requirements, so we set about searching for a breed that we feel is quite similar in personality: the West Highland Terrier. Maybe it was sentimental – Westies had been the first breed we pet sat for in London; or maybe it was always meant to be, but we decided to give raising a Westie a go.
That day surrounded by Westie puppies, we made our choice: not the loudest pup, and not the quietest – the one in the middle who did seem content enough with us gently picking him up and having a chat with him about his future.
What did we learn about Westie puppies?
Well let me tell you, Westies, they’re not the same as cattle dogs In fact, we’d clocked early on – at about 9 weeks old – that our little Westie puppy, London (named after our beloved adopted home in England) had no intention of listening to anything other than what pleased him. Our vet even said to us, “yeah, he’ll never be obedient like the cattle dog”.
‘Westitude’, we later discovered on a Facebook Group full of Westie owners – is an actual thing. Defiant, belligerent, obstinate.
But oh my God, he’s just the cutest little defiant, belligerent, obstinate thing we could ever know!
Also, we are kind of in love with him, which is evident by the fact he has nine places comfortably laid out to sleep at home (in a one bedroom flat!). We also bought a doggie cam so we could check on him and make sure he was ok and not fretting when he was a little pup. Additionally, London has the luxury of attending doggy daycare during the week to keep him happy and social.
Best things we did to help our West Highland Terrier puppy as he grew up
If you’re considering the journey, go for it. These are the funniest little dogs you’ll ever meet! Actually hilarious! But here are my top tips based on our own experience:
Crate training was a new concept for us, but it’s the BEST thing we did. Even though London isn’t bound to his crate anymore, he still makes his way inside for his own peace, solace, warmth and rest.
The first eight weeks might be tough: they’re babies and need the same care human babies do. They also wake VERY early and need to know you’re there to help them with potty or nurturing.
Give your puppy the time he/she deserves. I think it’s easy to forget they’re still so young and really do need proper care. They love interaction and play, so spend time with them.
Ensure plenty of toys and stimulation are available for your puppy, especially if you’re going to be out.
But with that said, please please do not get a puppy (of any breed) without thinking through how he/she will spend their days. If you’re going to be out a lot in the future, will you provide daycare or walkers – what’s the plan?
Best treats we discovered are chilled carrots (he LOVES these) which are especially great when your puppy is teething; and peanut butter on a Lickimat (available on Amazon and at pet stores).
Our doggie webcam was so inexpensive on Amazon and well worth it so we could monitor in his early days how he was coping when we were at work.I spotted there was a two hour window in the afternoon when he started to panic and suffer from separation anxiety, so arranged for friends to drop in and play with him during that time while he was very young.
Get proper breed-related advice on how to feed and care for your pup: Westies tend towards sensitive stomachs and allergies, so do your research to ensure you are prepared and can prevent these things if possible.
Educate yourself: there’s a WEALTH of wonderful training information on YouTube. If you’re getting a puppy, spend time teaching yourself how to care for him or her. They deserve it, and your future self will thank you! Two of our fave trainers’ channels for this are Zak George and Michele Lennon.
Learn to go with your intuition. If a cry is more than a cry or you sense there’s a difference between anxiety and tantrum (and there is), take action on it accordingly.
Westie puppies are very social, so after vaccinations, ensure you’re getting your pup out and about to play with other dogs. Puppy preschool is a good option, as is doggie daycare in the long run. Dog parks are in every city, and you can find breed-specific or location-specific pooch meet-up groups on Facebook.
The world will revolve around your Westie puppy, because he/she demands it to be so :)
A future world with our Westie
As London grows, he is gradually shedding some of the puppy Westitude. He wants to hang out with us more and do dog things … like we remember dogs do. He’s brought so much fun and laughter though, and reminds us yet again of the value of dogs: they are pure joy.
He is certainly part of our pack now. Or perhaps, it’s us who are in his.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds: adventures with London in London, perhaps?
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
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