A Metro Detroit Blogger Is Traveling to All 50 States by Pet Sitting

How the woman behind ”Restless Meg” combined her love for animals and road trips to find happiness
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Megan Dumas hikes in Salt Lake City during a pet sitting trip. // Photograph courtesy of Megan Dumas

Megan Dumas, the blogger behind Restless Meg, shares photos on her Instagram account that depict a captivating remote lifestyle. She works from the shores of turquoise lakes, explores caverns, and hikes with other people’s pets. As part of her goal to travel to every state in the U.S., over the past two years, she has visited 34 states, lived in 20 houses, and pet sat 30 cats and dogs. But it wasn’t always this way — the scenic life she shares online is a tribute to her courage and triumphs.

In March 2016, Detroit’s silver buildings towered over Megan Dumas from her 27th-floor balcony at Renaissance City Club Apartments. Her first post-college job at General Motors Co. had started two months prior but she had waited to move until the perfect place — with the perfect view — became available. She spent her evenings on her balcony with a glass of wine and a sunset. The wait was worth it. Until the monotony of her life sunk her into depression.

Long hours and feelings of unfulfillment led workplace-related psychiatric conditions like anxiety and insomnia. “I was so unhappy with my life,” says Dumas. She resorted to hard alcohol to fall asleep each night, and eventually, she lost control of her thoughts. “I felt, every single day, like I was going to jump off my balcony, but not want to. I was fighting to protect my life because my brain was haywire, it hadn’t slept properly in four months.” In March 2017, she left GM, her apartment with the view, and moved back to her hometown of Clarkston.

Change of Pace

Dumas spent the rest of 2017 focusing on her passion for health, love for animals, and wanderlust. She landed a new job as a remote health coach and discovered a thrifty way to road trip through the United States: pet sitting. Inspired, she created a profile on trustedhousesitters.com, a site that allows travelers to exchange pet care services — feeding, walking, grooming, administering medication, and playing — for a free place to stay. She left for her first stay in Austin, Texas a few days before Christmas in 2017. She would be on the road for the next 249 days, traveling to states like New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and California and watching plenty of cats and dogs along the way.

Dumas plans her road trips around available pet sitting jobs, though it isn’t exact. Sometimes she doesn’t know where she’ll go next until hours before a stay ends. But roaming freely allows her to stop on the side of the road and watch cows getting manicures, find hidden waterfalls, and meet locals.

Despite her “unconventional and unstructured” lifestyle, Dumas says she never feels unsafe or lonely. She has made lasting relationships with the pets’ owners, fellow nomads, and four-legged friends. Dumas takes her pet companions on her many hiking adventures, “So, it’s not just me exploring,” she says.

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Dumas walks a Colorado hiking trail with Nova. // Photograph courtesy of Megan Dumas

An unexpected friendship formed when an abandoned border collie/Australian shepherd mix approached her during a stay in New Mexico. She searched for an owner for a week but eventually accepted that the “universe brought them together.” Dumas named the dog Nova because, like the sudden eruption of a star, she changed everything. Although Nova makes it harder to find pet sitting jobs, Dumas remains determined to achieve her goal of visiting all 50 states —even if that means hiring someone to pet sit Nova while she travels.

The Road Ahead

Dumas’ view no longer requires a balcony. She experiences the world from the top of mountains, hiking trails, and through her love of animals. She records her travels on her blog, Restless Meg, where she tracks her progress and shares insights with her 3,000 followers. However, encouraging others to travel isn’t what drives her. “I’m more interested in inspiring people to make the most of whatever situation they’re in, and be open to talk to people, and be open to saying ‘yes’ to a new experience.” Mostly, she hopes to push people to honor themselves and their happiness.

She says if someone had been inspiring her when she was “contemplating jumping off a balcony,” it would have made a difference. “I had to find the power and inspiration within myself to get through that.”

Up next for Dumas? South Dakota. Then? Let the pets decide.


From The Archive: A Look at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Photograph Tour of the US

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