Pet hotel and 4 other options for your dog when you travel

Pet hotel and other dog care vacation ideas

The school holidays are fast approaching and no doubt you’re already planning a trip with the family – but this begs the question: pet hotel, or what else to do with the fur child?

Cooper and I have had dogs most of our lives. We know that they all have different personalities and cope in varying ways outside of our company. Also, we learnt lessons from the years spent as younger, less experienced dog owners, on what is good or not so good for pets when we are absent.

Pet hotel, in home sitting or take them with you? Questions to ask yourself about your pooch:

  1. Does my dog have problems with unfamiliar people or surroundings?
  2. Does my dog get along well with other dogs?
  3. How long is reasonable to leave my dog at home on his/her own for (keeping in mind, they are social creatures)?
  4. How much exercise does my dog need, even if we’re travelling/on holidays?

The answers to these questions take you some way to deciding on what you need to arrange for your four-legged friend(s) when planning your own break away.

Pet hotel and dog-friendly accommodation: can you take your dog with you?

Of course, one option is to take your pooch with you and this requires a lot of planning. 02 dog and kidsThe main things to keep in mind are to book dog friendly accommodation and to choose a travel destination that best fits your dog’s breed. It might not be ideal to go hiking with a dachshund, for example. But a hotel that allows dogs (dog hotel) is perfect.

You also have to think about if you will travel by car or plane (and the high costs of the latter). Both in the car and on a plane, the dog should be in a dog crate. It will take time for your dog to get used to staying in a crate over an extended period of time, which means you have to train him/her before you go on a holiday. Travelling can mean a lot of stress for your pooch if it’s not facilitated in the right way.

Boarding kennels

Not everything that is expensive is the best option. A boarding kennel is one of the most expensive and usually least ideal options to consider (I personally have had both wonderful and terrible experiences, and it truly depends on whether the establishment is run by genuine, caring ‘dog people’ or not).

Your dog is in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people and won’t get a lot of individual attention, because the sitter-to-dog ratio can be as low as 1:100. The dogs often sleep and stay in small cages. A positive however, is that your dog has a lot of friends to play with when in the running yard (assuming there is one – which there should be).

Friends and family

This might be the best and most trustworthy option (shout out to our family in Cairns – you know who you are). 03 dog and teddyYour dog is already familiar with the people and surroundings, this means less stress when you’re away.

If your dog stays with friends or family, make sure they have their favourite toy and/or dog bed. We’d also leave something that smelled like us (eg. an old t-shirt). It only makes sense that your dog stays there if your friend or family member is at home often enough to take care of the pooch and has fun doing it.

Your dog can also stay at your home and someone comes to feed and walk him/her every day, but keep in mind that dogs can break things, tip over their water bowl, get hurt or very anxious if left alone for extended periods of time.

In-home dog sitting

When your dog feels uncomfortable being in unfamiliar surroundings for a long period of time this is a good option, as long as it’s something you are happy with too.

A dog sitter will come and live in your house for the time you’re on holiday. There are many options advertised in local newspapers and online, but you’ll want to be satisfied with references before leaving someone the keys to your home.

Must read: our experience being dog-sitters in London


Dog sitting at the minder’s home

A great alternative for dogs that need that extra level of TLC, and easy to find thanks to the internet. Dog sitters are mostly passionate ‘dog people’ who currently own a dog, or who have had a dog in the past but cannot make the long-term commitment.

As you can meet the minder prior to committing, you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing your dog is in good hands. There’s plenty of services we are aware of, like Borrow My Doggy in the UK, or in Australia, where you can even choose the kind of property your prefer for your pooch to hang out at, and all minders are insured and screened too.

Do you have tips, thoughts or suggestions on caring for dogs while you’re on holidays? We’re passionate dog people so would love to hear from you… leave a note in the comments below. 


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By Sarah Blinco

Writer, editor and digital content manager – find me on social media @sarahblinco PS - if you found this piece helpful, I would be really grateful if you could take a moment to leave a comment below.


  1. It sure was nice to know that you can consider hiring a dog sitter if your dog is not comfortable when they are in unfamiliar surroundings for a long period of time. My husband and I have a scheduled trip next week, and we have to leave our dog. We don’t want him to suffer from anxiety while we’re away. Since he feels calm and relaxed when he’s on his favorite spot in our house, we’ll hire a dog sitter that can care for him.

    1. Totally agree Sharon 🙂 We are now signed up to TrustedHousesitters in the UK so we can help take care of dogs so they may stay at home when their parents are away. Makes a huge difference – I’m so glad this is an industry now, wasn’t something that was freely available before the internet.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    Good to hear back from you, this is a perfect inspiration who raise the dog. I think you are a pet animal lover. My dog has broken right legs, now it is a wheelchair user. Any suggestions for it?

    1. aw the poor little love. We just house sit with an old pooch who didn’t have the use of his back legs. We walked him on a harness because apparently the little wheels weren’t good for him. Obviously special needs pets need special care. We’ll certainly keep an eye out for good options and report back here. Robert, give your dog a hug from us! 🙂

    1. So great of you to leave a comment Rachel, really appreciate it! We’re looking forward to being pet sitters with TrustedHousesitters later in the year – some great places in Canada on there! We may meet one day 🙂 Sarah and Cooper x

  3. Great content, really helpful. We’ve got some extra content on this topic if you’re interested: 🙂

    1. As far as cost, they range from middle to luxury. You’d have to find your options in the area you’re travelling and ask for a quote. I quite like using or TripAdvisor for area research 🙂

  4. I like how you said that if you put your dog in a boarding service while on vacation they will have tons of other dogs to play with. I am going to go on vacation in a couple of weeks with my family but we can’t bring our dog. I am looking to take him to a kennel but I was worried because he likes to play a lot and I thought that he would be all alone. Thank you for writing about the positive side to a boarding service, it put me at ease.

    1. Thanks for the comment David 🙂 I think some kennels are really well run. That said, I’d strongly urge anyone planning to leave their pets anywhere that they go check it out properly to make sure it’s suitable, has space etc. It’s our responsibility to make sure the pups are totally happy and taken care of, wherever they are, right? Thanks again, Sarah

    1. Hi Aca – interesting suggestion. I’m not sure it’s always viable to leave a pet at a vet’s and there are a lot of wonderful personal options to explore too 🙂

  5. I appreciate your advice to think about how much exercise your dog needs in order to stay healthy. That way, you can find a place that will give them that exercise while you are away. We need to find a local boarding facility for our dog while we go on a business trip.

  6. It’s great to learn that you should look on the internet to find a reliable dog sitter. My wife and I are wanting to go on vacation with our family soon and we were wondering where we could take our puppy while we’re gone. I’ll be sure to tell her that we should look on the internet to find a reliable dog sitter in our area.

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