Where you can keep your pet if you travel without them
Between feeding, exercising, grooming and, of course, getting in plenty of cuddles, you’re used to providing for all your pet’s needs. (After all, they are called fur babies for a reason). Owning an animal comes with a lot of responsibility, and when you travel as a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure your companion is cared for during your time away.
Depending on your pet and destination, you may be able to bring them along. But if your pet is staying behind, you’ll have to arrange for care, such as boarding or a pet sitter. So, what are your options?
Use our guide for pet care when traveling.
Can you bring your pet with you on a trip?
If you can’t bear the thought of being away from your pet for even a few days (or perhaps they are visiting the grandparents with you), consider packing them up for the trip.
Flying with pets
If you’re taking to the skies, policies around pets onboard vary by airline. Some may allow small dogs to fly in the aircraft cabin with you, while others only allow pets to fly in the cargo area. You may need to pay an extra fee for your animal to fly, or even purchase an additional ticket. Most airlines prohibit exotic pets, such as rodents, reptiles and birds from flying in the cabin. Start by reaching out to your preferred airline to find out what your options might be.
Beyond the airline’s rules, it’s important to consider your pet’s safety and comfort. Many animals become anxious when flying. To calm their nerves, your veterinarian might prescribe a mild sedative to help your pet relax en route. Consider your pet’s general health and age and whether they are up for the stress of travel.
Pro tip: Your airline may require a certificate of health for your pet.
You should also think about the length of the flight and whether your pet can withstand it. Don’t forget their food and water needs, too.
Driving with pets
If you’re going on a road trip, you’ll have a little more flexibility. You can stop for bathroom breaks, as well as snacks, fresh air and some exercise. You’ll still want to take measures for your pet’s safety, such as using a carrier, crate or harness to secure them while driving.
Check out your route to find pet-friendly pit stops along the way. And always be considerate of others by keeping your pet on leash and cleaning up after them. Never leave your pet alone in a car that is too hot or too cold.
Pets generally do better with car travel than air travel, but come prepared with medications or other interventions if your pet gets anxious or carsick. (No one wants to clean up a backseat!)
Look for pet-friendly accommodations
Some hotels allow pets, but many have restrictions on which pets are allowed, including size and breed. Your furball may be able to stay for free at some, while others will charge an additional fee.
You should also inquire about whether you’re allowed to leave your pet unattended if you plan to spend a lot of time away from your room without your companion. Check out the hotel’s accommodations for pets — which can range from a designated relief area to more luxurious perks like pet spa treatments and pet sitting services.
If you stay at a vacation rental, learn about the property’s pet policies and do your best to be courteous of any fellow guests. If you know your bird tends to chirp away when you’re gone, it may be best to leave them at home.
When you travel with Fido, don’t forget to pack for them as well. While they may not need as many outfits as you, they will need food, bowls, toys, a bed, leash and medicine. It can also be worthwhile to have an emergency vet in mind at your destination should any unexpected medical issues arise.
Traveling without your pet
Perhaps you’ll be too busy on a business trip to attend to their needs, or your hotel does not allow pets. If traveling with your pet is a no-go, you have to come up with a plan for caring for them while you’re away.
Think of a pet sitter as a new human friend that can care for your animal in their home or yours to feed them, offer exercise and play time. Pet sitters may also clean litter boxes (among other clean-ups) and can administer medications. While no one can replace you, your pet will be happy to have companionship in your absence.
The type of service you need depends a lot on your type of pet and their needs. Fish or lizards might be able to stay home alone with periodic check-ins for food and water, while a cat likely needs litter changes and some play time, and a dog might need round-the-clock attention for bathroom breaks, walks and cuddles.
You can find pet sitters through word-of-mouth (maybe your parents really love their grand-fur-babies) or through online marketplace sites like Rover or Care.com. Pet sitters generally charge an hourly or daily rate, so be sure to budget for their service when planning your trip.
Another option is to board your pet at a facility while you’re gone, which can be a good option if you don’t feel comfortable having a pet sitter in your house or leaving your pet at someone else’s. It can be a lot of fun for pets who enjoy socializing, though others could become anxious. Boarding facilities range from bare bones accommodations providing the basics of food and shelter to luxurious “pet hotels” that will pamper your pet with spa services. Some boarding facilities charge a nightly rate, like a hotel. Additional services can typically be purchased a la carte or as part of a package. If you’re considering boarding, make a visit to the facility to see what their accommodations include.
Plan your dream vacation with your best friend in mind
No matter where you go, your animal companion is always close to your heart. Prioritize their wellbeing while you’re away. Whether you bring them with you or arrange for their care in your absence, you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind knowing your pet is safe and happy.