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May 29, 2014 4 min read

Our New Puppy MooseMeet Moose, the newest member of our family! We adopted this adorable little beagle two weeks ago and we are already in love with him. He joins our 6 year old beagle Tucker, and our two Tonkinese cats Jade and Blue in our fur-filled home. We wanted to not only introduce our cuties, who bring so much joy into our lives, but also talk about a subject that can be quite stressful for frequent travelers like ourselves…What to do with your pets when traveling? Here are the options we usually choose, and some pros and cons of each one as well as some helpful tips to prepare for your trip and reduce your stress as far as your pets are concerned while you are gone.

Take your pets with you
Let me start this off by saying, that this is not an option we regularly choose. We will take Tucker camping, but that’s about it. We have four pets now, so it would be quite a nightmare logistically to take them all with us, especially if flying is involved. The stress this can put on the animal, and ourselves, is another reason we don’t like to bring them with us on vacation. But, if you have a pet that is relaxed and can handle the stress, then this is definitely an option. Many airlines will allow you to bring smaller cats and dogs in a carrier and place them under your seat for a fee, which would certainly reduce Fluffy’s stress if she gets to stay with you the entire trip. Check with your airline on its policy before you book. Many hotels are listed as “pet friendly”, which you should look for when making reservations. If you are considering taking your pet, be sure to consider if you are planning on sightseeing a lot, and whether you will need to leave your pet alone in the hotel room for the majority of your trip. If so, another option might be better for your pet.

Board them at a kennel
Tucker & JadeThis can be expensive, but is definitely an option we use frequently for Tucker, especially for shorter weekend trips. We like this option for the convenience, and we know Tucker has a blast playing with the other dogs while he is there. I know it’s hard to leave your babies with strangers, but reading online reviews and visiting the kennel beforehand to ensure it is clean and safe will surely ease your mind. If you choose to board your pets, I would highly recommend that you book early, as soon as you know your travel plans. We have two places we like to take our dog and they both book up really fast, especially around holidays. Bring your pet’s bed to the kennel so they have a little piece of home to comfort them while you are away as well as enough of their food to get them through your entire trip and instructions on how much they eat. Verify which vaccinations the kennel requires, as they all seem to have different requirements, and make sure those vaccinations are up to date and that the kennel receives a copy of the records before your trip. You don’t want your pet turned away on the day of your vacation!

Leave them at home
We always choose to leave the cats at home when we go out of town. In my experience, cats do not adjust well to new environments, so for me, boarding them is not an option. If they needed special care or medications, I would probably reconsider. However, my cats are quite happy to roam the house by themselves when we are gone and I really feel like this significantly reduces their anxiety while we are away. We will usually hire a pet sitter to come check on them, scoop the cat box, refill the food and water, etc. There are plenty of resources available online to find a reliable pet sitter in your area. We had ours come over before we hired her to show her what needed to be done, give her a key and introduce her to the kitties. While we are gone she even sends me daily text messages/emails letting me know my babies are safe and sound. This really reduces my worry knowing my angels are well cared for. I don’t feel like this option works as good for dogs as they need a lot more attention than cats. Although, if you had someone staying at the house the entire time, then that would probably work great for dogs. If you don’t feel comfortable hiring a stranger to come into your home, you could always ask neighbors, friends, or family to come check on your animals and offer them some souvenir booty as a thank you upon your return.

Jade & BlueLeave them with friends and family
When we go out of town for an extended period of time, Mike’s mom will usually welcome Tucker (and hopefully from now on Moose) into her home. This saves us a ton of money! We went to Europe for 3 weeks on our honeymoon last year, so that definitely would have added up if we had to board him the entire time. You could always make an agreement with a friend or family member to watch each other’s pets when one is on vacation. Just make sure you wouldn’t mind bringing their rowdy dog into your home when it’s your turn!

No matter what decision you make about what’s best for you and your pets, my best advice is to just plan ahead. When you are budgeting for your vacation, be sure to keep in mind the expenses of making sure all of your sweet little monsters are well cared for while you are gone. You definitely don’t want to be scrambling last minute trying to figure something out. Talk about stress! What do you do with your pets when you are out of town? Let us know in the comments below.

Brenda Phelps
Brenda Phelps

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