Any pet owner knows the agonizing feeling of leaving their pet behind on a family trip. After all, they are family, so it just seems wrong that they’re not joining you in your travels. However, sometimes it’s simply not an option. When that’s the case, it’s important to take the necessary steps in ensuring they are well taken care of. Otherwise, you’ll spend your time worrying and losing sleep. And if you’re taking that vacation to help free your mind from the stress you experience on a regular basis at your job (this tends to ring especially true for those who have managerial roles at work), getting rest and relaxation is important.

Here are a few pet care options to consider on your next trip.

Family/Friends

The first option to consider is whether you have any family members or close friends that can watch your pet while you’re away. This is typically the cheapest option since many will do it at little to no charge. Also, having someone you know personally makes it easier to trust that your pet will be taken care of. If your pet is familiar with the family member or friend, even better. Knowing your pet is comfortable with the person will enable you to rest easy.

You could either keep your pet at your home and ask the person to check in, or you could have the person keep the pet at their house. Depending on your pet’s personality, it may be best to keep them in the familiar environment of their home; but if the person watching your pet has pets of their own, they might be good company — as long as everyone gets along. If this is the case, it can help to introduce the pets to one another before the trip.

Pet Sitter

Another option is hiring a professional cat sitter or dog sitter. Like enlisting a family member or friend, you can find sitters that will come to your house to check in on the pet — typically once a day for cats and twice a day for dogs. Or you could hire a sitter who will keep your pet at their own home. This kind of sitter will typically have other pets staying at their home, which can provide your pet with good companionship. Assuming you have chosen a pet sitter you’ve worked with before, or at least one that is well-established in the area, they shouldn’t have a problem caring for your pet with other animals around.

You could also hire a house sitter. House sitters pretty much live in your home while you’re gone, which allows your pet to receive continual supervision and attention. If you are hiring a pet sitter and it’s not someone you know well, you’ll want to make sure they’re trustworthy and legitimate because you’ll literally be giving them the keys to your home. Trusted House Sitters is a well-renowned website to help with that.

Boarding

The other option is to keep your pet in a boarding kennel or pet hotel. There are a few disadvantages of going this route: your pet will be in an unfamiliar environment, they’ll likely be in a cage the majority of the time, and they’ll probably be in close quarters with other animals. Nonetheless, you can find some great boarding facilities with a knowledgeable, competent, and caring staff. Also, such facilities can keep your pet from getting lonely. Ask around for recommendations; and consider testing out a boarding kennel before you leave for a trip.

Whichever route you decide to take, the most important thing is that you can trust whoever is caring for your pet. If it’s a family member or friend, make sure they will be responsible and not just see it as doing you a favor (pay them if necessary). If you hire a sitter, make sure it’s someone who is trusted in the community. If you need to keep your pet at a boarding kennel, check references and try it out for a short stint before leaving your pet there for a long vacation. It’s a lot to consider, but knowing your pet is being well taken care of will allow you the peace of mind to enjoy your travels and sleep at night.