Vacations are a way for us to relax and take a temporary leave from the struggles of everyday life. But when you have a pet or two, things become a bit more complicated.
For one, it takes almost as much energy to plan for your pet than it does for you, and I’m not just talking about things like packing and boarding arrangements. If you’re anything like me, you’re also dealing with the emotional side of leaving your pet for some R&R. Not only do I hate leaving my baby girl for a week, but something tells me she doesn’t like it either (those puppy dog eyes are no joke!).
Don’t worry though, I’m here to help you combat those pre-vacation blues by providing some helpful tips on managing stress for both you and your pup.
Tip #1: Pack your dog’s bag first
Do you think your dog may need 10 of his/her favorite toys while your away? Pack them. Familiarity is key. When packing for your pup, keep food and treats the same as if they were at home. Items from your closet (like a shirt, blanket, or even socks) that have your scent on them will create a calming effect on your pup when you’re away.
In addition to packing some of your pet’s favorite items, I also suggest adding a toy of theirs in your suitcase! Maybe not one that they frequently play with, but one that you can hold if you are feeling anxious about being away from them. I know it sounds silly, but this has helped me in the past!
Tip #2: If possible, have a good friend watch your pup
While it’ll still be hard at drop off, having a good friend take care of your dog for the week will bring even more familiarity to your dog and comfort to you. Every time I leave for vacation, I always ask my best friend to watch Savannah. Not only does Savannah know her well, but I can trust my friend to keep her safe (and text me all of the cute pictures throughout the week).
If this vacation just so happens to be a trip WITH your friends, there are plenty of boarding options for your pet. Some, in fact, call themselves “pet resorts” and aim to pamper your pet while you’re away. Schedule a time to visit the boarding facility of your choosing and voice all of your concerns upfront. Meeting the staff and knowing who will be taking care of your dog will ease any anxiety.
Tip #3: Print out an emergency contact list
When it comes time to leave Savannah behind for vacation, I always make sure I combine any and all contacts my petsitter will need just in case something goes wrong. While no one ever wants to think an emergency will occur when you’re out of town, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I suggest including your veterinarian’s address and phone number, the address and phone number of a nearby animal hospital, another local contact (of a nearby family member, if possible) and, of course, a number to reach you and maybe another member of your vacation group.
In the event you’re going out of the country, many of the popular phone companies will offer relatively cheap roaming plans. For example, for my recent cruise to Bermuda, I was very nervous about leaving Savannah and not being able to be reached by my friend due to being out of the country. To calm my nerves, I decided to sign up for Verizon’s $10 per day out-of-the-country phone plan. This allowed me to continue to stay in contact with home and post all of my fun photos while exploring the island. Win-win!
Tip #4: Don’t show you’re feeling anxious
Way easier said than done. Trust me, I totally get it. But this tip is very important if you want to ensure your pet doesn’t become anxious because of your own anxiety! This will only cause more stress to your pet and yourself in the long run.
To help cope, try taking deep breaths and incorporating positive affirmations into your daily thoughts. Continue reminding yourself that your pet will be safe and well taken care of at their pet hotel or petsitter’s home. Also, just think – when it comes time to return home, you’ll have a ton of tail-wagging and puppy kisses to look forward to!
Tip #5: Cuddle up!
A week prior to your vacation, be sure to take time to give some extra loving to your pet. Cuddle a little longer than usual, go on a walk you know they’re going to love, add a few extra fetch sessions to your daily routine – whatever it is you and your pet love doing together, do it!
If this is your first time or your 20th time leaving your pet for vacation, I promise everything will work out. It’s all worth it in the end when you get to reunite with your best friend. And please don’t forget to relax and have fun!
Do you have a tip that works well for you? Share in the comments below!