Courtni Sladek
Courtni Sladek
May 13, 2016 - 4 min read

Travel Nursing With Pets: How And Why To Bring Them On Assignment

When my husband and I first started throwing the travel nursing idea around there was no question our sweet, first-born fur-baby was coming with us. I’m sure my mom would’ve loved months of quality time with her grand-dog but we just couldn’t leave Pearl behind.

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For us there were no reservations and the benefits of traveling with a pet were so great that we adopted our youngest June, last year. As with anything worth something in life, traveling with a pet has it’s pros and pros…wait…I mean pros and c…well, cons is just too strong of a word.

You should definitely travel with a pet and I’m going to tell you why, and then I’m going to tell you about some things that should be thought of beforehand, not necessarily cons, AND THEN I’m going to fill you in on how your company can make things easier for you and Fido on the road.

The Benefits of a Constant Companion

The first few years of our travel nursing adventure, my husband Ryan didn’t have a job so if Pearl (and later, June) wouldn’t have been there I would imagine it would’ve gotten pretty lonely on the days I worked. Same goes if you’re traveling solo.

A four-legged companion is just what you need to curb any feelings of loneliness or homesickness. Nothing feels better than getting home from a long day at work and being greeted so excitedly by little fur-babies that love you so much! Also, if you’re stressed out or mad, they’re perfect to vent to because they just listen and look at you and don’t offer any unsolicited advice you probably wouldn’t take anyway.

Most travelers I know travel with a dog, but that’s not saying you can’t travel with a cat or other animal. I actually met a couple who traveled with a cat, a bird, and some sort of lizard. They fit all of them with all their stuff in a little Toyota Camry. The options are limitless!

For the last year Ryan has found odd jobs at all of our locations, so now we’re both at home by ourselves sometimes. The girls are not only great Downton Abbey binge watching buddies, but they also help get me off the couch and outside. If I’m in a new place with no buddies to hang out with, it’s very easy for me to not even get out of my PJs.

Having the pups encourages me to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise. Plus, they’re great for starting conversations with people. “Well hello, I see you have dogs. I too have dogs. See how cute they are? Let’s be best friends.” And there you have it. New hiking buddies. You’re welcome.

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Things to Consider (Again, Not Cons)

Transporting: Regardless of the type of vehicle you have, most pets will fit. Ryan and I pack our Ford Escape to the tippy top. Pearl prefers the floorboard at my feet but June likes to see all the action so she stays on my lap. I would imagine that as long as you have front passenger seat space, you’ve got enough space for pets.

Cost: Pets travel in cars for free, but if at any time during your contract you might need to fly somewhere it’s gonna cost you. Having pets in the cabin is going to cost you around $100 a pet, give or take $20 depending on the airline. Storing pets in the cargo area is going to be closer to $250 and quite frankly it sounds horrible.

Boarding: If traveling with you pet isn’t an option, there are plenty of reliable places to board your buddy. Price per night is typically anywhere from $25-$40/pet. Big pet stores like PetSmart have boarding kennels, some vets offer boarding, and now there’s even an Airbnb-esque app where you can find regular ol’ pet people who keep them at their house. We used it most recently in Denver and loved it! The sitter even sent us texts and photos letting us know how they were doing. Side note: if you feel guilty about leaving your buddy at home for your 12 hour shifts the same app has people who are just willing to walk your dog for a nominal price.

What Your Company Can Do For You

In my own personal experience it is much easier to travel with a pet if you take your company’s housing. They already work with so many housing complexes and have many more options.

Going with this scenario, some things to expect are familiar if you’re used to living in an apartment – pet deposits, pet rent, pet fees, and breed restrictions. Some companies will take care of all of those things for you providing your pet doesn’t tear up the place.

Others will ask you for a deposit up front that will carry over to each assignment. Then if at some point you leave or decide to take the stipend they’ll give it back to you. With these companies you’ll usually be responsible for any extra pet fees or pet rent as well.

If you prefer finding your own housing you might need to allow for a little extra time for research. I’ve noticed that some cities are more pet friendly and tend to be easier to find a place for you and your fur-baby.

Every time I’ve looked for my own pet friendly housing I’ve struck out, but to be fair that was like once or twice and I didn’t try very hard. Since then I’ve met tons of travelers who find their pet friendly housing with no problems. This is also the ideal situation if your pet falls into that restricted breed category.

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Go Ahead, Give In To That Doggie in the Window

Traveling with pets is so rewarding. They are the best buddies and having someone to come home to can turn a bad day into a great evening full of loving attention.

We treat our pups like they’re our kids and I like to think they get something out of traveling too. It was so fun to see how excited they were to be in Arches National Park – even though it was definitely just my excitement and they were just stoked because they knew they were about to get out of the car.

I like to think that’s how parents feel when they bring their kids to Disneyland for the first time. No? Too far? Okay.  

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