Pets and Travel

Ten Tips for Keeping the Expat Furkids Safe and Happy When You’re on the Road

Posted by on Sep 14, 2010 in Pets and Travel | 18 comments

This is the lovely Indy. When I go traveling the camera comes with me, and she has a little vacation all of her own. Not having family nearby means that I have to rely on friends and sometimes strangers to look after her when I’m traveling.

Budding Photographer!

1. The best case scenario is that you find someone else with a furkid and you trade babysitting services. That’s what I did for the first five years, and it worked out great. Indy and Bibs became great friends. Even when our vacations clashed we kept them together. This helped them deal with the stress of a totally new living situation. Alas, Bibs and her owners have moved to another city, so that arrangement has come to an end.

Indy and Bibs

2. The second best option is to find someone you can trust. Start looking well before your travel date. I used to be surprised at how quickly my expat friends would shy away from the obligation. Now, I simply advertise on a local expat board and there are always lots of people willing to take her. Many expats love having a temporary furkid around.


3. Meet the person and ask questions. Make sure they are not knowingly going to be leaving town before you get back. Also, be sure that they live in a pet friendly apartment building. Even when you get all the right answers unforeseen things do happen.
It’s no fun getting an email when you are in Thailand or China saying “I got fired.” Or “Just found out my building is no longer pet friendly.” Both of these scenarios happened to me, and both times I was lucky. Other people quickly stepped in and cared for Indy until I get back.
However, always have a back-up plan. Be sure the sitter knows where they can take your furkid if necessary. I have a local vet who runs a pet hotel. My sitters know that Indy can go there.

4. Make sure that your sitter has everything they need to look after your furkid. That includes food, litter, dishes, treats, toys, etc. He or she should not have to put their hand in their pocket for anything.

5. They need the name and number of your vet in case of an emergency. Also, it’s a good idea to have up-to-date rabies shots, and nails clipped.

6. You may want to offer some money. I’ve had students mind Indy and Bibs in the past and we gave them a reasonable sum. The amounts were not large, but made them smile. This past winter I gave Indy’s sitter a second hand bike. She was very happy with that.

Ms. Beautiful

7. Stay in touch by email while you’re gone. Internet access in China this past summer was the pits. My sitter’s apartment building went to “no pet” and she had a week to get Indy out. Thankfully, we connected and she was able to move Indy to her friend’s until I arrived back.

8. When you get back be sure to ask if they spent any money on your bundle of fur. If yes, reimburse immediately. That should include paying for any damages. My lovely Indy loves to scratch wall paper.

9. Don’t forget a gift for the sitter.

10. Last, but not least, treat and lots of cuddles for the fur kid, who might be a little annoyed at you for the first couple of days back.


All comments, stumbles, and tweets are much appreciated!

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