Life as a travel nurse comes with a built-in set of logistical challenges. Even when you’re relatively unencumbered in your personal affairs, it can be stressful enough having to spend time every couple of months finding a new assignment, securing a place to stay, and dealing with your mom calling you every three hours to harass you as you try to explain to her yet again that no, you’re not moving home this time just because she needs help unloading her groceries from the car. When you add a beloved pet into the equation, things can get even more complicated.
We know you care more about your furbabies than life itself, and that, when it comes to selecting new assignments, making sure they are comfortable and well taken care of is as much of a consideration as your own access to indoor plumbing (hey, your pets seems to do okay without it). That being the case, here are a few things to keep in mind if you want your furry friends to remain a part of your travel nursing lifestyle.
Look for pet-friendly housing
Many staffing agencies offer housing to travel nurses on assignment. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that housing—usually small apartments—will be particularly amenable to or will even allow pets. So make sure you do your research before you move in. If the offered accommodations won’t cut it for your animal pals and you need to secure your own housing, know that your staffing agency may be able to offer a stipend to help you cover the rent on the palatial pet paradise of your choice.
Budget for pet fees
Travel nursing can throw a lot of unexpected kinks into your budget, whether caused by regional variances in cost of living or all those long-distance calls to mom and dad. So make sure you set aside some cash to cover any housing-mandated fees. Experienced renters know that these fees can vary depending on the property and the type of pet. But as long as you factor that into your budgetary plans beforehand, even the most curmudgeonly animal-hating, exorbitant fee-charging landlord won’t foil your plans.
Research resources in your new area
Just like you need to get familiar with the resources you’ll need for your own self-preservation in each new area to which you relocate—grocery stores, public transportation, the location of every Starbucks within a 20-mile radius—you should do the same for your pets. Research local animal hospitals, pet stores, sitters, places that carry your pet’s favorite exotic snack – don’t leave anything to chance.
Look, we know you’d do practically anything for your pet, no matter what the cost. But sometimes you just have to accept that we live in a human world that can’t always accommodate every animal whim. So no, just because you’re having trouble finding pet-friendly housing doesn’t mean you should be allowed to bring your dog to work every day, no matter how adorable he or she is. No, you can’t force your staffing agency to pay for circus training for your parakeets. And maybe northern Alaska isn’t the best environment for the desert tortoise you rescued who only lives outside. Just keep reasonable expectations about what you can and cannot do with your pet in each new place you travel for work.
Temporarily rehome if you have to
Unfortunately, there may be times when, due to any given confluence of factors, you just won’t be able to take your pet with you to your new assignment location. If that happens, best not fight it. Just say your tearful goodbyes, leave your critter comrade with friends and family, and jet off on your latest travel nursing adventure, comforted by the fact that it will only be a few short weeks before you are reunited with the only being, man or beast, who truly understands you.
Have you traveled with a pet before? Have any useful tips? We encourage you to share with us (and other travel nurses)!