What to do With Your Pets When Traveling: A Guide for Pet Owners

When we recently adopted a puppy, one comment I kept hearing was “I thought you wanted to travel” or “you know it’s going to be harder to travel with a dog at home”. And maybe that depends on the pet, but I personally haven’t faced many obstacles when it comes traveling with a pet at home. And that’s because I always make meticulous plans (and backup plans) in place for my pet’s care when I’m away.

In this article, we will explore some of the most popular choices when it comes to finding accommodation for your pet while you’re traveling.

First Things First—Assess Your Pet’s Needs

Not every pet is the same. Ask yourself the right questions to decide on their care. Can your pet be left alone for a few hours at a time? Or does your pet need 24/7 attention? Does your pet do well with other animals? Or would they do better alone? Are they crate trained? Do they get comfortable with strangers quickly? Or would they fare better staying in their own home? These are all important questions to ask when making your decision.

Family/Friends

Asking family or friends to house/pet sit is a great option, especially if your pet is already familiar with them. My partner’s parents are retired, and they are usually our first call when we are going out of town. He knows them and their house, so he’s immediately comfortable.

Pros: Your pet is with a familiar person / affordable
Cons: No insurance / limited socialization (unless you have other pets)

In-Home Pet Care (House/Pet-Sitter Combo)

If you’re hesitant about having your pet stay somewhere else, you might consider in-home pet care. This involves hiring a professional pet sitter who will stay in your home while you’re away. Your pet will be able to follow their usual routine and have the added benefit of someone on-site overnight. The benefits of a house sitter are great if you can find someone you trust! This way, your pet gets to stay in a familiar setting, causing less stress. Plus, you don’t leave an empty house, lessening the chance of break-ins while you’re gone.

Now, how to find one. There are services out there (like Rover or Trusted House Sitters) where you can hire house sitters. Ensure you thoroughly screen and interview potential pet sitters before making a decision to ensure the safety of your home and pet. Pricing for this varies greatly depending on your geographic region.

Pros: Built in house-sitter / pet stays in familiar environment / Rover has insurance
Cons: Must find someone you trust in your home / can be expensive / limited socialization (unless you have other pets)

Hiring a Pet-Sitter

If you can’t find a house-sitter you trust, maybe consider a pet sitter who would welcome your pet into their home. On our last trip, our usual house sitter was unavailable, so we utilized a dog sitter we found on Rover.

We have a puppy, so it was important we found someone who would be with our pup 24/7. And we found a sitter with excellent reviews who dog sits full time—meaning she is home full-time with the dogs. She had 1.5 acres of fenced in yard, and he would get the chance to socialize with a bunch of other dogs. He loves other dogs, so we figured he would be so distracted by them he may not even notice we were gone.

Gus Gus

Your options are also pretty broad with hiring a pet-sitter. You can choose a sitter who has other dogs, or no other pets, sitters who work-from-home, sitters with fenced in yards—you can really choose a sitter who fits your needs best. Pricing for this varies greatly depending on your geographic region and what you are looking for.

Pros: Personal attention / Rover has insurance / potential socialization
Cons: Unfamiliar environment / can be expensive

Boarding Facilities

If you prefer to have your pet in a supervised environment, boarding facilities can be an excellent option. These facilities typically have trained staff to look after your pet’s needs, providing them with food, exercise, and socialization opportunities. Be sure to research different boarding facilities in advance, check their reputation, and visit the facility to ensure it meets your expectations. Some facilities even offer webcam access, allowing you to check in on your pet remotely. Your pet must be crate trained for this option, since most boarding facilities crate the animals overnight. Ask your vet for recommendations of good boarding facilities!

Pros: Socialization / check-in webcams / many boarding facilities have insurance
Cons: Pet must be crate trained / unfamiliar environment

Board-and-Train Programs

While definitely the most expensive option, if you want to come home to an even better trained pet than when you left, this could be the option for you. Board and train programs typically range from 1-2 weeks. If you were considering training anyway, why not while you’re out of town?

Pros: You will return to a better behaved pet
Cons: Expensive / unfamiliar environment

Boarding at the Vet

Some vets or animal hospitals offer boarding. This is an especially good option if your pet has any sort of health issues.

Pros: Best option if your pet has medical needs
Cons: Expensive / unfamiliar environment

Additional Tips

• Pet care should be considered in your overall trip budget. I always have it as its own line item.

• Research is key. I would never leave my dog with just ANYONE. When we chose our Rover sitter after reading through hundreds of reviews. When searching, we only looked at sitters who had at least a 4.8 and at least 100 reviews.

• If there’s anything anyone should know about your pet, make sure they do. Can you dog jump a 4 ft. fence? Do they have any allergies? Are they spooked during thunderstorms? Probably good information to know.

• Make sure to provide clear instructions on your pet’s routine, dietary needs, and any medications they require. Consider leaving emergency contact numbers and a list of nearby veterinary clinics, just in case.

• Our pup has is microchipped, but also has a QR tag. The QR tag is great because we CHANGE the contact information as we travel. Our phones do not have service when we travel internationally, so someone calling our phones would be useless. So we change the contact information to whoever is watching him.

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Traveling as a pet parent can seem stressful if you’re feeling unprepared and you don’t know your options. Fortunately, there are many options available depending on your budget, the length of time you will be away, and the type of accommodation that best suits your pet’s needs. With our comprehensive guide, you can confidently choose the best accommodations for your pet while you enjoy your travels.Enjoy your adventures knowing your beloved pet is in the best hands possible.

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10 thoughts on “What to do With Your Pets When Traveling: A Guide for Pet Owners

  1. Thank you for the thorough summary. We normally have our dog stay at a nearby doggie daycare/boarding facility that he enjoys. With the dog virus going around, we changed plans and he stayed with friends of ours. These can be stressful decisions, since our dog is part of the family.

  2. This is a great guide on what to do with pets while traveling. We were fortunate that our friend boarded dogs in her home – our Romeo even had his specula chair. 😂 We’ve also had pet sitters. I wasn’t aware if the board and train option. That’s great for new pets.

  3. Great options for pet owners. Our son used to have a fish, and he could stay home up until a week and a half, longer then he stayed at grandparents.

  4. I think it is important to know your dog so that you can better accommodate to its needs. My dog needs human interaction and he is not happy spending long periods at home by himself. So for us, we put him in a doggy care facility and he loves it.

    1. Same! Our dog doesn’t do well alone and thrives in a “pack” lol. So he stays with a dog sitter that has a few other dogs and he loves it!

  5. My husband isn’t into travel so he stays at home with out three cats. Best way to care for them, except he is the cats firm favourite. We definitely placed plans before adopting our three cats what to do if we travel/have a family emergency and we are lucky to know a really good cattery where our babies are in good hands.

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