What to Expect When Traveling with Pets


By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor

Taking a beloved pet along on a travel nursing assignment can be a great way to have built-in companionship in your new location and to make it your home away from home. But pets can also add some complexities to your travel plans. Not to worry--with a little preplanning and some help from your recruiter and their housing team, the issue can usually be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.

“At Medical Express, our goal is to make our travelers happy, and while there are occasional difficulties in finding a place that will house pets, our housing office does a beautiful job,” remarked Jackie Nelson, senior recruitment manager at Medical Express, an AMN Healthcare company. “I estimate we have a 95 percent or higher rate of being able to accommodate pets.”

It is generally easier to accommodate smaller pets, as some apartment complexes put a weight limit on the pets they will allow, and many prohibit breeds that are considered aggressive. Some properties also ask for a photo and vaccination records. 

Taking a pet on assignment may increase your housing costs, at least up front. Staffing agencies will often charge a refundable deposit for each pet and require travelers to cover any pet deposits or pet rents their housing choice may charge.

“Another reason it is easier to travel with smaller pets is that company-arranged housing is almost always in apartments, so large pets have less room to move about,” noted Nelson. But there are other options. “If a traveler prefers to arrange to stay in a house with a yard, they can take the housing stipend and arrange their own housing.”

A.J. Feiner, RN, who has traveled with Medical Express for the past four years, has always brought her dog along.

“At first we were traveling with a boxer. He was just part of the family so there was no question that he would come with my husband and me on assignment,” Feiner commented. “It did take some time for him to adjust to living in an apartment complex rather than an individual house. At home, we would allow him to bark once when a car pulled up or someone came to the door. He had to learn that not everyone was coming to our home--that some of them were just neighbors.”

Feiner added that it would sometimes take longer to find appropriate housing that would accept their boxer, but the process has been simpler with their current, smaller breed. “Now that we have a miniature schnauzer, it is easier,” she said. “When traveling with a pet you always have to consider accommodations for it--like finding hotels that will allow pets when you are traveling between assignments and finding doggie daycare if your dog can’t stay inside while you are gone 12-13 hours straight.” 

If you plan on flying between assignments with your pet, airlines typically require a kennel which is large enough for the animal to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. Pets traveling in the cabin require reservations, as the number of pets allowed on the plane is limited. There is an extra fee for both in-cabin and checked pets. 

When driving with a pet, seasoned travelers advise keeping the pet contained in a kennel that is secured, in case of sudden stops. Another option is to have the pet in a harness and attached to a seatbelt. These measures increase the safety of both the pet and the driver. Cats in particular are often nervous in cars and will crawl under the driver’s feet, impeding use of the pedals. If your pet is not already used to traveling, it might be a good idea to start taking him or her on shorter trips to get acclimated to the car.

And don’t forget to consider your pet when packing. Just like you, Fido or Fluffy will appreciate having familiar items such as a favorite toy or bed along with essentials such as medications, grooming supplies and food and waste needs. 

“Although housing can be trickier, it is pretty nice to have a friend with you that you know, and to be able to travel with an animal brings people peacefulness and joy,” said Nelson.

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