Hello fellow gypsies!
I want to introduce you to the main man in my life:
Mr. Hank E. Hankerton. Yes, he’s a doggo. I know you’re gonna ask about his middle name, but he’s not even told me what the “E” stands for (and apparently never will.)
Since day one, Hank has been traveling with me, and while we like parks, traveling with him isn’t always a walk-in one. This shouldn’t dissuade you, though!
Hank and I are here to help! There are three huge points you need to consider when deciding whether to travel with your pets or not: their health, the trip, and your housing.
The first comes as a bit of a no brainer
—you know if your pet is healthy enough to start traveling to new places every 3 months, but there are aspects you don’t think about until you’re in the situation. I always travel with a copy of Hank’s medical records and a 6-month supply of any medication he may need. This is helpful because if something were to happen (hello ingested rubber band ball incident of 2015), you would have medical records on hand to provide to the veterinary professionals to help make things a little smoother.
Always mention to your personal vet where your next travel nurse assignment is taking you and how long you’ll plan on being there. My vet has recommended a different type of vaccination or a change in monthly flea/tick/worm protection based on the area we’re traveling to, and the time of year we’ll be there. Also, since she knows we’ll be out of the area, I can call her with any small concerns, and she will happily give me medical recommendations or call prescriptions into a local pharmacy if Hank needs them.
This is such a wonderful convenience, but you should always have a local emergency vet in mind should something major happen. While we were in Colorado, we had to go to the emergency vet (twice) because Hank has this thing about eating things that aren’t food. Knowing who I needed to call and where I was driving saved me so much precious time getting Hank to the emergency room when he was desperately sick.
If you aren’t sure where to look, ask your new co-workers. People love talking about their pets, and they usually have great veterinarian recommendations.
Secondly, you need to consider the trip.
I’ve loved traveling all over the country with Hank. We get where we need to go, but we take fun pet-friendly detours that help break up our drives. If you plan your road trips, you can find cool detour attractions that will increase your drive’s entertainment and provide a good energy outlet for your pet. Hank and I have stopped at national parks, roadside attractions, and even Las Vegas!
Parks are easy to find on websites like DogFriendly.com. They can give you a great idea of places you can take your pets in the area you’re currently in.
For my trips, I always have these necessities in my car: a beach towel, my handy-dandy squeezy water bottle, one week’s worth of food, a collapsible bowl, baby wipes, and Hank’s medical records.
Overnight stays can get a little tricky, but I’ve never had an issue staying with Hank at La Quinta Inn and Suites. They don’t charge pet fees, and they’re super budget-friendly for a one-night stop on the way to your destination.
Lastly, you have to consider housing.
Short-term, furnished, wallet-friendly housing is hard to find anyway, but add “pet-friendly” on top of that and you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.
I search on AirBNB or other rental services for housing that falls within my budget/desired area and message owners directly to explain my situation. Some people stand firm on their decision to allow no pets, but some will make exceptions. It never hurts to ask. It also helps to do a search on Facebook for housing groups.
Many places I’ve traveled have their own local version of a “for rent/sublet/roommate search” group that you can join, and don’t forget to join The Gypsy Nurse Housing group on Facebook! There are tons of great options and suggestions from your fellow travel nurses!
If nothing else works out, Hank and I have stayed in an Extended Stay Hotel before for 4 weeks. It wasn’t a bad experience, and many times your travel companies have group rate discounts that you can provide if you ask your recruiter (hint: they can be great resources).
The key to a good pet travel experience is keeping your pet’s normal routine. Hank and I move frequently, but he knows that when I put my scrubs on, it means it’s time for dinner and goodbye treats! If you have a pet and you’ve been considering traveling, I say do it! For me, not having Hank with me isn’t an option. He’s my best friend, and I’m his. I’m so happy we’ve been able to emBARK (hah!) on this travel journey together, and I hope you and your furbaby can have the same amazing experiences.