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!

468 ad


  1. EXCELLENT tips!! 🙂 I don’t have a pet at the moment, but when I get one again, I now know exactly what to do. 🙂

  2. Indy looks really cute. I don’t have a pet at the moment either, too heartbreaking with travelling. Good tips though. Does Indy ever get jealous that you go travelling and she can’t?

    • Hi Kerry Ann………….She’s pretty good about me taking off. She’s a little “cool” the first night home, but after that it’s back to normal.

      • Hi Nancie – I bet she wouldn’t be so good if she knew where you were going and all the delicious food and smells that would be available! I just read about a cat that used to travel with his owner (way before quarantine laws got strict!) – a real jetsetter cat!

  3. Great tips, when we go away we leave our little ‘rocky’ with our neighbour, she is the owner of rocky’s mum. So it’s like a wee family reunion for him.

    • That’s great. When Indy and Bibs “vacationed” together they loved it. They were great buddies.

  4. I can’t have animals because I am way too much on the road, but I am very lucky that I can animal-sit for friends – from cats to horses 🙂 It’s like having grand-kids – you can spoil them rotten and don’t have to deal with the consequences ;))

    • Right on Fida! It means a lot to the owner of a furkid that someone is happy to take them and spoil them.

  5. My kitty passed away a few years ago at nearly 18 years of age, so I remember well the many times I had to find a sitter for her when I traveled. It was very stressful for both of us. These are good tips. It’s always good to see how the potential sitter and kitty get along before your travel dates. Cats can be very particular about who they like and who they don’t.

    • Hi Gray………….that’s true. Indy is pretty good about staying with a sitter. I have found she has gotten better as she has gotten older. I think I feel worse than she does. I just spoil her with treats, so she doesn’t stay mad at me for long….haha.

  6. Bravo for this!!! I recently wrote a post about taking rescues home with you to the United States. This is so close to my heart! I’m so happy more and more travelers are spreading the word that you CAN be a wonderful pet owner and still see the world. Yay!

    • Yes Abby, we definitely can. There are lots of people who for whatever reason cannot commit to a pet full-time, but are happy to furkid sit. I also plan on taking Indy with me when I leave Korea.

  7. Furkid made me laugh, I think it would be so tough to leave a little one at home.

    • It is tough Ayngelina, but Indy makes out okay. The people who look after her always treat really well.

  8. Once when looking after a friend’s cat, because I didn’t know its habits, I closed the fridge door on its head! (it was OK).
    When leaving our budgies in the care of a relative, one died.
    When looking after my niece’s pet rat while she was away, it died!
    I am absolutely paranoid about leaving my pets and looking after someone else’s pet!

  9. Really wonderful tips. A lot of help for sure. Thanks for sharing such content.

  10. Nancie, I just stumbled upon your article while searching for some pet-sitting ideas. You have put together a great list of tips to keep in mind for travelers who can’t take their fur-kids along. I run an rv park near Glacier Park in Montana, and being a pet owner myself, I know how much fur-kids mean to their parents, so we are a fur-kid-friendly park 🙂 But there are times when I travel to destinations where the kids are not allowed, and it is always a struggle for me to leave them behind. I especially like your tips number 6 and 9. A good trusted sitter whom you know will treat your fur-kids right is worth their weight in gold, when you find one you like you really want to keep them happy so they will be there for you again next time the need arises. I like your idea of getting them a gift for their efforts, perhaps a souvenir from wherever you vacationed to. That is something a little extra special that your sitter couldn’t get just anywhere, and might help make a greater impact on them. Thanks for the great tips! Also love all the pics, your fur-kiddos are adorable!


  1. Tweets that mention Keeping Expat Furkids Safe and Happy when on the road - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alison, Michael Lynch. Michael Lynch said: ten-tips-for-keeping-the-expat-furkids-safe-and-happy-when-you%e2%80%99re-on-the-road from budgettravelerssandbox.com http://su.pr/1uJyeg [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *