When a Pet Parent Travels
When you have an incurable case of wanderlust but are also a pet parent, things do tend to get a little complicated, whether we like to accept this or not. I am writing this particular blog piece because this is a topic that I feel strongly about and do realize that many possibly struggle with guilt, uncertainty of what to do and a lack of understanding that one needn’t be compromised for the other. Firstly let’s acknowledge that choosing to have a pet is a big responsibility. Pets are dependent on you, they need to be cared for, have their needs met, require your attention and affection for a healthy life. So, if you need to be jet setting across the world, you need to act responsibly when it comes to your pet.
I do not necessarily need to give up on my passion to travel, it’s too strong a desire to be ignored. I think the day I decide to quit my travel lifestyle, I’d cease to exist in my truest form. I am constantly driven by the need to go out there and explore and I am pretty sure that is not going to change, so does this mean I cannot have pets? The day we brought our fur baby home, we made a solemn promise to never let him down, to never forsake him and to always do right by him. And we aren’t about to forget these vows to globe-trot nor are we ready to give up on our traveling. So how does one strike the right balance between these two? I might not have all the answers but I do seem to be able to make it work for us.
Travel planning ahead
I’ve figured the most responsible thing I can do as a travel addict and a pet parent is plan ahead. How would that work you ask? Travel planning ahead, gives you the opportunity to identify the areas that need addressing, it gives you ample time to answer the important questions and it also is a great way to ensure readiness. The first question one needs to ask is if your pet is travelling with you. We have learnt that short road trips are doable and quite enjoyable with a dog but longer trips, especially in new countries is a no-go. Dogs (and most pets I reckon) live by routine, by familiarity, they have a schedule to adhere and if changes happen too fast, too often it can cause distress and make them very anxious.
Ensure key dates before you book your travel
As pet owners we more often than not have a diary, some place we have written record of our pets’ vaccination calendar and doctor visit schedule. This is very important, the worse thing to do would be to underplay this portion. So before I plan my travel, I always check to see if I have impending appointments or medication scheduled to be administered in the dates I am considering to travel on. If yes, then I look at revisiting my travel plan or speak to the vet to explore alternatives that would address these carefully without putting my fur boy in harm’s way. Vaccinating our pet periodically and at the right time is imperative to their health and there is no way I would risk doing this any different.
Find your pet’s alternate home while you travel
If you are hands-on pet parents like my husband and I, then you are going to always find it challenging to trust your baby with anyone else. We are very particular about how he gets treated, if he will be loved and cared for like we would want, what he eats, his daily schedule and his safety is paramount in our minds. Therefore this is a very significant decision to make. Fortunately for us, our fur boy has a second home in my friend’s dog boarding. There, he is loved and looked after like family so we can worry less. So my suggestion would be to look for a support system. It could be a trusted pet boarder, a neighbour, a family or even a pet sitter. But finding ‘THE’ person to fill in for you in a very important ask.
In the days leading up to the travel
Our boy seems to sense when we are going away for a bit. We realized sometime back that he would be a little quiet and perhaps brood on the days leading up to our travel. We tried to think of what we were doing differently and then figured he used to associate our luggage bags with us leaving him. Once we noticed this, we now have started to make it less obvious. We try to associate the luggage with some positive memories involving him, have it lying around even on days we aren’t really going anywhere makes him think of it less as anything out of the ordinary. We try to maintain the atmosphere at home as normal as other days and it seems to help so we must be doing something right.
Travel or not, Safety is always first
Isn’t that statement true? Whether the pet is home with you or left in someone’s care while you are traveling, safety should always be your top priority. If your sitter or boarder is unaware, do share detailed instructions pertaining to your pet’s dietary needs, temperament, behavioral triggers and other related information to avoid confusion or any untoward incident of any form. So right from picking your travel dates, to choosing their temp home, to ensuring all information is shared with clarity will help make your pet’s stay away from you as comfortable as possible. Please remember you TOOK on this responsibility and you must not undermine the seriousness of doing this right.
Last but not the least, try relax. Don’t let guilt overwhelm you, I know this to be true because I used to worry myself to the point of being obsessive about it. But today with time and better understanding of how to deal with this decision I have found a way to keep both responsibilities at check. I manage to indulge the wanderlust in me while ensuring that I take the time to make support and finances available to give him a pleasant time even while we are away. Also, it is very true that your pet reads off your energy and responds accordingly hence it is but imperative that you stay positive and normal. Sending off alarming signals will confuse your pet and you will be doing more damage than any good.
We absolutely love our boy; he means the world to us and there is nothing we would do that would cause him any harm. Being a responsible pet parent doesn’t mean you put your life on hold but it actually implies you think right, do right and plan right. We are no pet experts (And I admit we may not know a lot about pets) but I write this as an honest, responsible pet parent. We are living it; these tips are first hand experiences that have worked for us and our fur boy. Next time you are itching to make a trip, I’m hoping this blog makes it a little easy for you to make those decisions. So don’t worry, yes you can have the best of both worlds; enjoy a pet’s unconditional love and travel to explore the unknowns.