One of the issues that causes the most barriers to traveling is pets. Either you want to travel with your pet (or have to, if you’re moving) or you are leaving your pet behind while you go on vacation.
Either way, it can be tough. This is one of the things I’m facing right now while planning my upcoming trip. I have one cat, a feisty little thing I love dearly, and who actually misses me when I’m away. She yells at me when I’m gone for even one night, so imagine what kind of treatment I get when I’m away for a week or more.
I love to travel, but I have to consider how I care for my pet first. I took on the responsibility to care for her, to feed her and love her and make sure she goes to the vet. I made a commitment to her when I accepted her into my life and home to be there. So I can’t rightly go away on vacation or travel for extended periods of time and be entirely without guilt at leaving her. That’s my feeling on the subject. In my mind, I made a commitment to this animal, and it’s as binding to me as if I had a child.
One consideration when planning travel is how long you can stay away from your pet. If you can’t stand the thought of being away more than a week, don’t plan a two week vacation. If you know your animal will begin to pine for you after two weeks, consider keeping your trip to two or two-and-a-half weeks. Think about how long you can reasonably stay away from your pet and plan accordingly.
When leaving pets behind, make sure you leave them with someone responsible. Please leave them with someone responsible. Cats are more independent than dogs and, depending on your cat’s personality, may not need as much human interaction as a dog would need in order to be OK. Still, a cat should really not be left alone for more than one day.
Make sure you have enough food stockpiled for the length of your trip. If you’re traveling during winter months, it’s a good idea to have extra food available as well, in case your pet sitter needs to leave extra or you get delayed.
Make sure you leave the name and contact information for your vet with your pet sitter. It’s also a good idea to leave a file of some kind with your pet’s medical information, in case there is an emergency and your pet can’t be taken to their regular vet. Leave instructions for any medications and, if possible or necessary, show the sitter exactly how to administer.
Another consideration is how much your pet is going to miss you. What I’ve found helps my cat is if I lay on an extra blanket overnight and then put it in her favorite sitting spot. Then the blanket smells like me, she has my scent, and it’s comforting for her to have that there.
Pets are a big consideration to have when planning travel. You are responsible for this other being, and you took on that responsibility when bringing the animal into your home and agreeing to provide care. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go away on travel–it simply means you should consider your pet when making plans and makes sure you can provide care even when you are physically away for a bit.