Your furry friends are the joy of your existence for 50 weeks of the year… but come holiday time, they’re a complication. Quarantine in most developed nations is longer than your planned stay, and kenneling even in a good pet hotel or doggy day-care just adds the trauma of a new environment to your sudden disappearance.
Getting a friend to pet-sit is a compromise that works for lots of travellers. It leaves your little buddy in his native habitat, while still having him checked on and fed by someone who (presumably) knows and likes him. The trouble with this plan is that it requires a friend willing to help you out. Pure-hearted souls willing to do it just out of love for you and your pet are thin on the ground for even popular, caring people (trust us, we’d know).
So let’s face it, you’re going to have to bribe somebody.
Cash money on the table is the world’s most effective, and least creative, kind of bribe. But, if you want to save all your cash for your travels, consider these other options for sweetening the pot.Search for flights
1. Throw in house-sitting privileges
This works great for millennials in over-priced houseshares (y’know, the ones verging on a nervous breakdown from someone stealing their milk again). Ask them to stay at your place while you’re gone, so they have a mini staycation while you’re out and about. A little extra privacy for them, plus more companionship for your pet, equals a win for everybody.
2. Stock the fridge
Pet-sitting involves spending an hour or so minimum at your house once or twice every day. If you promise to fill the kitchen with your friend’s favourite snacks and drinks, it can sweeten the pot for a low price. Sweets and booze are especially enticing.
3. Invite their (furry or family) friends
Friends with family might try to get out of friend-duty by being “too busy,” but if their pets or kids love your pets you definitely have room for negotiation. Make it about giving your pet time with their people, so everybody gets something out of it. Bonus points for mentioning how it can help teach children the importance of responsibility.
4. Service barter
What do you know how to do that your friends don’t? Or what do you all know how to do that your friends hate doing? Whatever it is, put it on the table. This might mean helping roof a house, paint a nursery, weed a garden or canvas for a school board election, but you can tell stories about your trip the whole time – so it’s not too arduous a task, really.
This is similar to the house-sitting option, and works for the same reasons. If you don’t have a friend without a car, you probably know a family member that could use a second car for a couple of weeks. Fill the tank before you go and you’ll probably get pet-sitting and a ride to and from the airport out of the deal.
6. A decorated hero
Go a step beyond the bottle of local rotgut or set of postcards and promise enough foreign swag to decorate a room, or at least a wall. With the prices at local markets in places like Southeast Asia and South America, this can be a cost-effective way of saying “thank you” that really keeps on giving.
7. Bring a cooking class home
Cooking classes for tourists are still a growing trend, but they’re popular enough to be most places you want to be. Promise to attend a class, then come and teach it to your friends who minded your pet while you were gone. This one has a narrower appeal than some other options on this list, but is a home run for a friend with the right set of interests.
8. Pet-sitting trade
This one hardly needs mentioning, but in case you haven’t thought of it – identify which friends have pets who might need sitting later in the year. Even if you can’t stand their pets, it’s only fair to reciprocate. It’s an elegant solution for civilized people.
Remember: if all else fails, use currency. Cold, hard cash motivates better than almost anything else. Also, remember to plan your pet-sitter as soon as you book your flights. Nothing turns off potential petsitters like a last-minute, panicked appeal.