Time spent with pets is never wasted! That’s an adaptation of a famous quote by Sigmund Freud. It definitely captures the passion that some HomeExchangers have for their pets and supports why home exchange can make travel much easier for pet owners.
Pet personalities must be taken into account when you plan your travels. Some animals love to hit the road, while others prefer the familiarity of home. Both options come with challenges, though, especially if the pets don’t cope well with friends, family or the traumatic captivity of a kennel.
What’s one solution? Home exchange! The obstacles just aren’t as insurmountable when you exchange homes with partners willing to look after your non-human friends or perhaps even welcome them into their homes. Arranging a pet exchange as part of a home exchange is a fantastic way to alleviate your furry, feathered or scaly friends’ anxieties, as well as your own. And it goes without saying that it’s a money-saver too.
Even better, what could be more “living like a local” than walking a four-legged friend down the street as you discover a neighborhood? Your children might soon forget the museums you took them to, but they are likely always to remember the new critters they met during a family holiday.
Think about it: Would you prefer the comforts of a home or the confines of a hotel? Why would your pet want any less? Here are six examples to chew on the way Fido does his bone.
Indeed, our experience with home exchanges has allowed us frequent opportunities to share more than just our home, but also our cat Raya. And even though she couldn’t tell us about her experience in her own words, we always returned to find Raya in perfect health, so well fed, pampered and spoiled that she sometimes even had a few extra pounds on her!
Our first pet experiment was in Italy, near Florence. Rosa opened her house and entrusted to us a whole colony of animals that needed care. There was a very affectionate dog named Quasimodo and many cats, some wild, others not. We were hard pressed to linger in the evening streets of Florence because the children were in such a hurry to get home and look after this little world. During this home exchange, Rosa also had a ferret, but we preferred not to take care of it. He stayed with the neighbors during the holidays.
The second exchange during which we were again welcomed by a large number of pets happened in Thailand. The house was magnificent and the pets included dogs, cats and a few unusual ones: deer and rabbits. A wonderful distraction!
We have never had a bad home exchange experience, and the pets were an added bonus. Sadly, we no longer have Raya, but we would be happy to pamper other pets in future exchanges. One advantage with pets is that there’s no particular need to speak the language of the country! The only concern with pet exchanges is to have a close neighbor who can fill in for us when we leave for several days to visit a place a little far from the home.
We did a home exchange with a couple from Ireland who took care of our dogs. This is a terrific arrangement when it works, as we did not have to board or dogs – they much prefer to stay home. Our house is arranged well for dogs, with a backyard area and dog door. Basically the dogs just needed to be fed. Of course they love walks, and the exchangers did take them out and about! Also, our dogs are super friendly and get along with most anyone.
HomeExchange is not only an exciting way to meet new people and travel around the world, but also a pet-friendly way of making holidays! Being a family with one dog and one cat, we found out that our pets feel much better in their own home instead of being left in an animal hostel during our time abroad. When we exchanged our home with a family from the Netherlands, their love for pets was a crucial factor for making this exchange. They looked after our cat Monty and our dog Dicky, who became very attached to the children of the family. In fact, Dicky used to escort them during their long rides with our bikes and he helped them to “understand how to cross the street in the Greek way,” as the father of the family joked. In turn, we looked after their cat Shartiee, who was a bit “suspicious” about us in the beginning but soon relaxed and became more friendly.
Dogs require a lot of care and everyone has a different idea of how to do it and what they’d deem acceptable. There’s also a lot of liability in the US for dog owners who leave their pets with people who don’t know the pets, especially dogs. But I just remembered one exchange we did where the pet piece worked. In 2010, we arranged an exchange in the British Virgin Islands (Tortola) and the outside dog there was so easy and so nice. My daughter fell in love with him instantly. But he required so little attention and he was not allowed inside, so very unlike most Americans and their dogs. Our exchange partners didn’t watch our dog, but we really enjoyed their dog and it made my daughter’s trip that much more sweet! And our daughter Sofia is now nearly 12 and still an animal lover.
We have exchanged for more than 25 years, and our dogs have done all the exchanges also. They have loved it as much as we did. We also have taken care of the pets of our partners, and that is so much fun for all. I recommend to everyone to take their four-legged friends along, when possible of course. Happy trails to all pet parents, and all!
We have done SO many exchanges with pets!! We traveled many times with our little dog Ladybug and frequently took care of other pets. Such funny memories! We cared for one cat (indoor/outdoor) who was insulted to have a dog in her house and decided to live in the owner’s car. We fed her and petted her there, and whenever she would venture through an upstairs window. We babysat two very big dogs who co-existed fine with our little one. Ladybug has slept in a dog bed so big it would have fitted 10 of her! We babysat a guinea pig too, but had to keep his door closed so our dog wouldn’t get in. Again, we spent plenty of time feeding him and giving him attention, with a jealous little dog outside the door! Home exchanges are wonderful, and having pets involved makes it more interesting and definitely more “homey.”
More Amazing Pet Stories:
HomeExchanges from a Dog’s point of view! – Meet Crusoe
Tips to Travel Safely with your Pets
Meet a Member: Katharina and Cute Little Matilda
Share your Pet Photos!##HomeExchangePets
Mozzie’s Exchange Diary
Ten Most Dog Friendly Cities