By Lee Nelson
You can’t live without your beloved cat Frankie and that sweet little pooch you named Princess, but you also want to adventure as a travel nurse.
“Travelers who know they want to travel with their pets should look for a pet-friendly company when agency shopping,” says Sarah Wengert, senior creative content wordsmith at Medical Solutions, a travel nursing company in Omaha, Nebraska.
Ask questions to make sure the company you choose is actively pet-friendly and not just advertising itself as such. Ask your recruiter what the company actively does to be pet-friendly and make sure that what they offer suits your (and your pet’s) needs.
Housing is the main area where a company can be of help, Wengert says. The most pet-friendly companies offer to exhaust every possibility in finding you housing that allows pets. This can take extensive research and negotiation on the agency’s part — which is of huge value to the traveler. Most pet-friendly companies also offer to cover pet deposits upfront and may also offer pet SWAG or other goodies to help pamper you and your pets.
If I were traveling for the first time with my pet, I would definitely take company housing with a pet-friendly company at least on the first go-round. Let your agency do all the leg work.
While pet-friendly housing is not impossible to find, you’re adding one other element in your hunt for housing. Also, if you’re planning on bringing more than one pet or have a large dog (some rentals have weight and/or breed restrictions), you may have a harder time.
“If a travel nurse doesn’t take company housing, he or she should be prepared to do a good amount of research and negotiating when seeking housing,” Wengert adds.
Pet insurance is increasingly popular among pet owners, but may be more advantageous when traveling with your pet. There are more unknowns than back home where you have a trusted vet and a more static living experience for your pet. Pet insurance policies are typically similar to human medical insurance policies in concept, but each policy will vary in terms of its cost and offerings.
Chances are you’re going to have some long shifts — research doggie daycares or dog walking services in your new area before you leave. This will take some of the stress out of transitioning you and your pet into a new location.
Bring anything along in the car that makes your pet feel secure and comfortable like their favorite toy or blanket. Stop as often as necessary for walks, bathroom breaks, or to shower your pet with a little extra love and attention. Depending on your pet’s personality, your veterinarian may suggest some gentle medication or pet sprays to help keep them calm on the road. Try to keep your driving even and smooth as well, so your pet has less cause for anxiety.
“You definitely want to bring along any favorite items — pillows, toys, and blankets,” Wengert says. Also, try not to make any additional changes to your pet’s routine. For example, keep your pet on the same, regular feeding schedule with the same type of food they enjoyed back home. Give your pet a little extra love and attention as you make this transition, too. Consult your vet if your pet is having a hard time adjusting. There may be a medicinal or other solution to help ease your pet’s anxiety.
“For pet lovers, the advantages of traveling with your pet should far outweigh any obstacles you face to do so,” Wengert states. “Bringing your pets along on assignment allows you to bring your best friend, in many cases.” You have a companion and a connection to home that is absolutely invaluable. Many of our travelers also couldn’t bear the thought of being away from their pets for weeks or leaving them in someone else’s care — no matter how trusted a friend or family member. For many pet lovers, traveling with their pets is the only option when it comes to their travel nurse lifestyle.
Lee Nelson is a Chicago-based writer whose work has appeared on Realtor.org, Yahoo! Homes, TheMortgageReports.com, and more.