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When you are planning for a trip, it’s easy to become focused on what you need to pack and what you need to do while you are away. You may not necessarily think about making arrangements for your home while you’re away, such as getting someone to water your house plants or asking someone to check on your mail. Even more important than these housekeeping tasks is determining how your pets will be cared for while you are away.

For many people, their pets are like their family. It’s important that you know your pets are getting the best care while you are away so you can relax and truly enjoy your vacation. Here are a few tips for how to make arrangements for your pets so you can enjoy stress-free travel:

Leave Them with Trusted Friends and Family

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The best people to care for your pets in your absence are usually the people who you trust and care for most. Ask them if they are willing to care for your pets either in your home or in their own. The best arrangement would be one in which your pets are with them full-time so that they can receive reassurance in your absence. However, in some cases, you may be able to ask your friend or family member to simply check in on your pet once a day, including a walk and some cuddle time or play time.

Pets who are used to spending long hours alone (such as when you are working) or a large portion of time outside would do best with this arrangement. Pets who are used to having you around a lot should be placed with someone for full-time care to reduce their stress in your absence.

Hire a Pet Sitter

Asking friends and family members can sometimes be a hassle. Paying someone cold hard cash is one of the best ways to get what you need without the guilt. A professional pet sitter will come to your home each day (and several times a day) to feed your pets, walk them, and spend quality time with them. They’ll even check your mail and bring in your paper.

Hiring a pet sitter can be expensive (they charge by the visit), but it’s worth it for the peace of mind and to avoid the hassle of arranging a favor. Just make sure you choose a qualified company to provide the service and don’t just hire someone you found on Craigslist.

Board Them

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There are many pet daycares that are happy to board your pet overnight for as little as one night or as long as several weeks. There are some disadvantages to boarding. In most cases, your pet will be kept in a kennel for most of the day, except to be let out for scheduled playtime and walks. The situation could cause some stress for your pet. However, if you board with a vet, your pet may be able to be given some sedating medication to keep them calm.

Boarding is a good option if you are not able to leave your pets with friends or family or can’t find a pet sitter that you trust. It’s best to look for boarders who have large, open kennel spaces and who will give your pets as much exercise and interaction as possible.

Take them with You

If you are really worried about leaving your pets with others, one of the best things you can do is to take them with you. Traveling with a pet can be stressful, depending on the type of trip you have planned, but leaving them home and worrying about them the whole time you are gone can be stressful, too.

Make your trip easier by planning to travel with pets to locations that are closer to home and to which you can drive. If you must fly, make sure you have comfortable accommodations for your pet and that you fully understand all the airline’s pet travel requirements. Make sure all your pet’s vaccines are up-to-date, and bring paperwork documenting health records with you.

Traveling should be a relaxing and care-free time. Make sure that you make the best arrangements for your pets so you don’t have to worry about them while you are away.

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance blog and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching cookery courses in Wales. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.