Cheaper Alternatives To Boarding Pets While You’re Away From Home

Pets are amazing and brighten our lives every day, well most days at least.

Unfortunately, when it comes time to go on a vacation, visit relatives over the holidays or leave your home for an extended period of time, you’re often left with an expensive bill for boarding your pet.

Luckily, Tori and I have been able to avoid boarding our dog, Daphne, when we go on vacations.

We’ve easily saved hundreds of dollars by coming up with alternative arrangements for our pets while we’re away from our home and can’t take our pets with us.

Have Family Watch Your Pets

If you have family that lives near by and loves your pets as much as you do, having your family watch your pets will often be the cheapest and easiest solution.

My parents live nearby and they love Daphne so they don’t mind watching her for a few days. It does, however, add more stress to their daily lives so having them watch our dog shouldn’t only benefit us.

Next time your family member goes out of town you can offer to take care of their pets for them. This way, both parties involved get a benefit out of the arrangement and everyone saves money.

Of course, if they don’t have pets, you may want to slip them some cash for their troubles or buy them a souvenir from your vacation.

Unfortunately, not everyone has family that lives nearby, but there are many other options for cheaper pet care besides your family members.

Arrange For A Pet Watching Swap With Friends

Just because you aren’t related to your friends by blood doesn’t mean that they don’t love your pets, too!

Like with family, you can arrange a pet watching swap with a friend that has pets. After all, they might need someone to watch their pets when they go out of town, too.

If your friends don’t have pets, maybe one of your friends wouldn’t mind getting out of their home for a few days. They could at your place while you’re gone and watch your pets at the same time.

It wouldn’t hurt to bribe them with a little extra spending cash for their troubles.

Employ The Neighborhood Child Entrepreneur

When I was a kid I was quite the little entrepreneur. Pet sitting was one of the many services I offered.

Looking back on it, I’m a little surprised that people trusted me with their animals simply because I left a flyer in their mailbox, but my rates easily beat any boarding options!

Of course, my neighbors were also aware that my parents would be supervising me to make sure I didn’t forget to feed or let the animals out. You may have a neighborhood entrepreneur that is willing to do the same thing.

Just make sure to check with their parents to make sure that they’ll be watching to make sure you’re animals are well cared for.

These three solutions can save you a ton of cash if you have a pet that needs to be taken care of while you’re out of town. I’ve personally been through all three experiences and my pets have been fine every time. Another plus is Daphne didn’t get sick from going to the kennel.

Have you ever boarded your pet and been shocked by the bills? Have you tried one of the cheaper options that I’ve mentioned? Let me know what your experiences were and which option you prefer in the comments!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. We have two cats and luckily they’re both low maintenance and we have my parents who are willing to stop by and feed them when we’re gone, which happens fairly often when we travel to my in-laws across the country. It would be much tougher with a dog.

  2. We have two dogs and have boarded them quite a few times. Since we’re military we don’t have any family around but have arranged for my husband’s co-worker to come pet sit before. Unfortunately, the Air Force had other plans and sent the young airman unexpectedly on a trip the same time we were leaving. So off to the boarder they went! It is expensive, but the place we use here lets them play in an awesome yard (by themselves) several times throughout the day so it’s worth it for us.

  3. We always pay a family friend to watch our dog when we go on trips. We pay her well enough that she’ll come over twice a day, feed him, and take him outside for a while. I think my dog would freak out if I put him in a kennel!

  4. I love the idea of a pet swap or the “childrepreneur”. This is one of the many reasons I’ve never had a pet since living on my own, I simply can’t afford all the additional expenses.

    • Pets are expensive and I am glad you are responsible enough to not get one if you can’t afford it. Not everyone is that smart and the animals are usually the ones that suffer.

  5. Good alternatives although sometimes you have no choice.

  6. I’m lucky. My brother rents our basement suite, and as a result, we have a built in dog sitter. Our dogs love him and it doesn’t interrupt their routine. Plus, it’s free! We usually just buy him beer.

  7. We’re planning on getting a dog right around the time that we move. But, luckily mrs. 20s already has coworkers with dogs, so we’ll likely arrange to watch their dog in exchange for them doing the same. Gotta love friends.

  8. I need to figure out what B and I are going to do with our little guys when we visit my brother and sister in law for Thanksgiving. Normally I would just take them with us but there will be a new born nephew to consider. So sadly I need to figure out some place to stash them while we are away. I’m excited to see my new nephew but sad to leave the pets behind.

  9. We have a renter downstairs that takes care of things when my wife and I travel ou of town for a few days. Otherwise we get friends to stop by and help out.

  10. Great post, Lance. Our biggest frustration with boarding our dog years ago wasn’t the cost, it was the emotional trauma for him. When we got back (it was only a 3 day weekend) he was so upset and looked SO sad at the shelter that we just couldn’t do that to him again. I think if we were to travel these days with our pets we’d probably hire a neighborhood kid. It seems like the best way to handle things, both economically, and emotionally for the pet, as they still get to be at home.

  11. I don’t have any pets right now but I always watch my moms dog when she goes out of town. I love her little dog and my daughters love taking care of it. It’s pretty fun for us to be able to take care of a dog for a week or so and pretty nice for me to be able to give the dog back 😀

  12. We’ve never boarded our dog and I never could (he’s a rescue who lived for many months in a cage, so I couldn’t bear to have him boarded in a cage-or not-with people he doesn’t know). When we go somewhere he comes with us. If he can’t come my friend Molly watches him in our house.

  13. I have never boarded an animal, although I have friends who do regularly. I guess it also helps that I prefer staycations. 🙂

  14. Hi Lance,
    We have neighbors who take care of our pets, or our daughter. It’s always a tiny bit stressful to leave the “babies.”

  15. I’ll never board my pet again. It was at an expensive veterinarian’s office, but our pup STILL came back dirty and shaken. Your pet has a personality. And just like how some kids aren’t cut out for sleep away camp, don’t be so quick to put your dog in a kennel when going on vacation.

  16. I don’t have a pet currently, but my daughter constantly asks for one. I always say we can’t get one because of the cost. Though reading posts such as this are always a bit more encouraging when it comes to trying to make that decision!

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