Traveling with Pets

When considering an upcoming assignment, don’t forget about your furry family members!  Many of us have pets at home and while we love them to death, it is very easy to overlook planning ahead for them while also getting everything else in line.  When it comes to your pets, planning for their safety and comfort is just as important as our own, however, finding accommodations for them isn’t always so easy.  There are so many ways that you can keep them happy and healthy either on the road or back home while you make that money!  Whether you plan to pack them up for the trip with you or leave them behind, here are some tips on how to give them all the love they deserve.

Taking your pet with you

Many of us couldn’t even fathom the thought of one night without our furry friends.  Fret not, there is no reason you would need to leave them behind in most cases.  As long as your contract allows for you to find and provide your own housing, your pet is welcome to tag along.  From the actual trip to your destination, to where they are going to stay while you are at work being a hero…lets jump into everything you need to know.

  • Driving with your cat-  If you’re bringing your feline sidekick along, it is best if you keep them in a carrier.  Now this may not seem like the most comfortable thing for them, it is much more safe for both of you.  Cats tend to get spooked and try to hide.  The worst thing that could happen is your cat gets frightened and runs under your feet (where the gas and the brake pedal are).  This could not only cause an accident, but it can force a very hard decision where you may need to slam on the brakes and injure the cat.  Try putting the cat carrier in the room with your cat at home for a week or so before your trip to get them used to it.  You can even place their favorite treats, toys or blanket in there to encourage them to take comfort.  Catnip or catnip spray works well too!  This way they will be more familiar with the carrier in general for the trip.  Be sure to plan for a litter box.  They generally wont need it during the ride, but they will likely need it when you stop for the night or reach your destination.  Some fresh food and water in their carrier is a good idea as long as they are not too rowdy in there.  Since they are usually not too used to being in the car, motion sickness can be real for them.  So a light meal the night before and the day of is best, and they may not want to eat anything during the trip. 
  • Driving with your dog-  Dogs seem to handle being in the car a bit better than most cats.  If your dog is comfortable being in the car, then no need to place them in a carrier, as long as they do not insist on being in your lap constantly or running throughout the car.  If they aren’t able to sit still and chill, it could cause a distraction to the driver, so in that case, consider a carrier for them.  Same with the cats, their favorite toy or bed may help to keep them calm.  Don’t forget your leash for walks when you stop to use the restroom or when they start acting like they need to go.  Car trips can be exciting, causing tiny bladders to need a little more attention.  There is usually a nice strip of grass at most larger gas stations or truck stops, and some even have mini dog parks for your canine buds.  Keep in mind, if your animal isn’t used to walking outside of your yard or the noise and chaos of a busy road, maybe walk them at the local gas station for a few days before you leave to get them more used to it.  Also- be aware that not everyone vaccinates their dogs in the same way.  So if you are going to be using any of the dog parks or areas at rest stops where dogs are frequently walked, you want to be sure that your pet is properly vaccinated.

Flying with your pet

If you have opted to travel via air vs on the road, your pet can ride along with you!  Most airlines allow for a pet (or even 2) to ride in the cabin with you.  If this is the route you chose to take, be sure that your animal is able to stay *quietly* in their carrier for the duration of the flight.  There are options where your animal can be stored with the cargo, and this is usually an option for larger dogs that wont fit in a small carrier, but I have heard this is really rough on them.  So I wouldn’t recommend it.  The airlines charge either a flat pet fee (like $50 per pet carrier) or they may actually charge you the price of a second seat (especially if the animal needs to be placed in the seat next to you to be comfortable).  Be sure to find out what the rules and regulations are for your pet on the plane before you book it.  Make sure to only feed a light meal the night before and a snack the morning of, as motion sickness is a possibility, as well as the fact that they will not be able to use the restroom for the duration of the flight.  Be sure to remember to walk them right before you check in.  If you’re bringing your cat, try to get them to use the litter box before you leave the house.  A small plastic dish for fresh water in their carrier is a great idea, especially if your dog pants when they are stressed…but again, remember not to overdo it.  They won’t be able to tinkle for a while!  Chances are that the rules require your pet to remain in the carrier for the duration, but if they are well behaved…you may be able to sneak in some cuddles!

Housing with your pet

Now that you’ve reached your destination, it’s time to make your kitty or pup feel at home too!  Be sure to book accommodations that allow for pets.  They may have size, breed and number of pets restrictions…so check into it before you book.  Some just require an extra pet deposit, while others may increase the daily or weekly fee.  If your pet only eats a certain food or diet, be sure to bring at least a week’s worth of their food, in the event that you cant readily find it at your new destination.  Bringing their favorite bed or toy will help them to acclimate to their new surroundings quicker.  Cats may have a harder time with this, so a good thing to do is to isolate them into one room, with their litter box.  At least for the first night or few hours.  Then you can open the door and they will #1 remember where their litter box was and #2 come out to explore more when they are ready.  Take a quick trip around the grounds to figure out where you want to walk your dog and if there are other pets they may encounter during the time out.  Your pet may need a little bit of time to relax after their trip, so don’t be concerned if they don’t eat much for the first day or so.  Be sure not to try to hide your pet without letting the landlord know, as you may find yourself with a hefty fine and being kicked to the curb.  If your pet is not used to the noise of people coming and going, doors closing, people talking in the hallways…etc, hotel living is probably not the best option for you.  Not only will it be stressful for your dog/cat…a barker can cause management to end the housing contract as it may disturb the other guests.  Be aware that you will be gone from the hotel during your shifts, so the animal will be in a new environment all by themselves.  Maybe give management a heads up and give them your number so they can call you the first few days if it does not seem like your pet is adjusting well.  This allows them to realize that you are aware there is an issue and working to rectify it or happy to move if need be.  They may be able to place you in a more quiet part of the hotel (as opposed to right next to the maids closet or dining room).  Most larger cities now have doggy daycares or pet sitters/walkers.  So look into it!  Maybe fido can have a spa day a few times a week.

Leaving your pet behind at home

If your housing situation or the temperament (or size) of your pet doesn’t allow for them to travel with you, fret not.  There are many options for your pet to stay behind, while still being loved and cared for.  This may be the best option for some pets, hands down.  Traveling is very stressful even for us.  Here are some ideas on what to do in that case:

  • Boarding your pet- There are many facilities nationwide that will board your pet for either short or extended periods of time.  They usually charge a fee based on the size and breed of your animal and/or the length of time they will be staying.  If you board your pet, you will need to be sure that they are fully vaccinated (check with the facility you plan on boarding them with first to see what vaccines they require.)  You also want to be sure that your animal has the temperament to be social with other animals as well as able to be crated.  Maybe do a trial run over night or even for a few days first to see how your animal does short term before you leave them for your assignment.
  • Ask a family member or friend to foster- You would be surprised to know that many travelers are able to leave their pets with a family member or friend (in either their home or yours!) while they are out of town.  This is a great scenario for your pet, and the person offering will probably enjoy the extra company as well!  You can work out some sort of payment plan to cover the cost of food and boarding.
  • Use is a website that screens potential caretakers for your animals.  All you do is look up your city and a list of screened, approved and rated caregivers will pop up (with pricing) for you to choose from.  Anywhere from dog walkers to long term boarders, you can find the exact care needed for your pet.  Another option here is to take your pet with you and use to board your pet local to you on your assignment…so you can have visitation days!

No matter if you and your bud are hitting the road together or if your furry loved one is staying behind, you can be confident that your pet will be taken care of while you go to work.  Go ahead get started! (and give them an extra little pat and treat just for good measure!)

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