SHORT TERM HOUSING WITH YOUR PET
What to do when your Travel Companion is a K-9
It’s the Ultimate Challenge. More difficult than teaching your dog to balance on her hind legs, more competitive than getting into Med School, more brutal than carrying your pup up Mount St. Helens: It’s finding affordable, short term housing for you and your pets. Don’t worry, I’m exaggerating. There are a challenges; but I have advice and resources here to help!
I am sure there are more resources out there- feel free to comment on any options I have missed! But let’s discuss Airbnb, VRBO, craigslist, Facebook groups, the Chamber of Commerce, Realestate companies, Furnished Finders, and using word of mouth to locate pet friendly housing. Then I share some advice on ways to help advocate for yourself and your dog when it comes to travel housing; and links to more resources on this topic.
I find dog friendly housing on Airbnb simply by using the filter that designates a place as dog friendly. I choose to sift through, finding the best location and then send a message. There are a lot of hosts who are willing to house traveling health care professionals, out of appreciation for what we do.
My message usually includes my contract days, when or if I can meet them prior to moving in, and some info about my dog and the training she has had. I mention that she is CGC certified and explain her good behavior as well. I usually avoid places with cats, because she is kind of a hooligan when it comes to cats. The best way to find discounts on airbnb is by sending a message. If you look up long term stays right away it looks like you will be paying $1500 a month. There are a lot of people who are willing to negotiate good prices on airbnb, including a castle I found in Ortonville, Minnesota for $600 a month instead of $1500 a month! Sending a message is also a great way to assess the communication between the host and the traveler.
The Chamber of Commerce
I have called the chamber of Commerce for almost every contract after I found out about how incredible this resource is. The Chamber of Commerce understands when their community has a need for health care and is willing to accommodate and make recommendations to help us. In a Kennebunk, Maine; the person I talked to offered her daughter’s farmland for a place for me to stay. It would have been a perfect opportunity! In the end I did decide to stay in a house instead of in my camper because I was nervous about winter camping. The Chamber will sometimes give you a list of their highest rated places with the phone numbers. They usually recommend local businesses that have been around for years and maybe haven’t had the need to transition to online advertising. I found one of my all time favorite housing situations in Nisswa, MN using this method.
To be 100% honest with you all, I have actually had a bad experience the only time I used VRBO, where the host kept changing the written contract we had agreed upon. Remember what I said about communication and written contracts? Yup; this is an excellent example of knowing when to get out of a sketchy situation.
However, I know people have had successful experiences using VRBO, and everywhere you go, there are bad eggs. This website is similar to airbnb, where you can filter dog friendly options, and send a message requesting a monthly rate.
I use craigslist mostly to find RV spots nowadays, but there are a lot of people who have success finding pet friendly housing on this platform. I like Craigslist, because if there is nothing available you can post that you’re seeking housing for yourself and your pet. If you get nervous looking at Craigslist listings, share your google location with a family member or friend; or message someone before and after you go, with the address info!
Extended Stay Hotels
Most of the extended stay hotels I have found are not pet friendly, extremely expensive, and don’t offer the nicest amenities. It is pretty weird, because they sound like an awesome resource for us. I have not had luck using this as a dog friendly strategy. Has anyone else? I do like to mention them, because I spent a lot of time starting out, calling Extended Stay hotels, unsure of what other options were available for short term housing. Now I know a whole plethora of options! Cheers to learning with experience right?
Facebook groups are an incredible resource for finding pet friendly housing. The 1st place to look is on Travel Nursing, the Gypsy Nurse. It is sponsored by furnished finders. There are a ton of people who advertise their homes and who have availability all over the United States. This is appropriate both for RV parking and for home stays. Be sure to be polite and use the search bar at the top of the Facebook group page before you post. The second Facebook group to search is the Travel Therapy Gypsy Housing group, which is specific for traveling therapists.
Another way to use Facebook for pet friendly housing is to find whatever town or city you are headed toward on Facebook and search through their page. Has anyone looked for housing options this way in the past? Or, if you don’t even care- put together an adorable post of you and your pup, and you will have people lining up to house you. For example, if you are working in small town Minnesota and you search “Hardwick, Minnesota” you can ask for housing options on the Facebook group. In this scenario I was able to call the Chamber of Commerce who suggested a place in Hardwick, Minnesota which was in the exact middle of where I needed to be for work! It was so perfect. This was also probably one of my all time favorite campgrounds.
Real Estate Companies
This is a great strategy to find short term, pet friendly housing, because Real Estate companies usually support travel health care workers similarly to our contract company does- hoping we will eventually wish to stay forever. The best communication platform is usually a phone call, followed by email/written communication. Be sure to check Google Maps for the listing that they provided to ensure that it is in a safe area, and a nice looking home because there have been history of Spam-ers in real estate companies who take advantage of people who are looking at housing options from a distance.
Word of Mouth
There is nothing wrong with asking around a community, in pursuit of a place to stay. So many people have room for a camper on their property, or own a spare room in their house. In fact this is a great way to find some awesome deals on housing, and also make some incredible friends. Often times when I am on the housing hunt, I will ask during an interview if the DOR is aware of any well-reviewed campgrounds or places friendly to travel healthcare workers. Co-workers often also seek to support travelers in their housing hunt, because they usually wish for you to stay long term as well.
Though I have not personally done this because I feel awkward asking for a written contract when it’s someone I know, I had a friend who did this in southern Minnesota and made some awesome relationships- including being involved in bean bag competitions and a volleyball gig, and some first-hand education related to hog farming. A few of the word-of-mouth opportunities I’ve experienced involved helping out a family by babysitting on occasion, or driving an elderly person to appointments. I think it’s fantastic to help a community, be close to a family and have cheap housing; and though I personally value my weekend’s a lot and plan to use time for adventures; it is a wonderful money saving strategy and pet friendly concept to just ask your coworkers, or discuss during an interview and talk to the locals at the local bar/coffee shop to see what housing opportunities are available .
Newspaper Classified Ads
I’m cringing a little bit. Are you? Yeah, so I have not used this strategy since I started traveling; however the best car I have ever purchased was found using the classified ads in the newspaper. I also have had multiple patients who advertise a spare bedroom in the newspaper, hoping that someone can be around to help them out with little things such as making meals or walking their dogs. It is another fantastic way to find pet friendly housing! Yeah, it is hard to look at newspapers when you’re not in the area you’re going to be living; but often times they have newspaper classified listed online. Check out ksl.com with its information on classified ads. This also works well if you have a couple weeks in town at a short term location; and then assess the situation upon arrival.
Here is another strategy I have never used, but definitely recommend trying! I looked into the website and it is an awesome resource. The first thing they do that I really like, is offer housing ehh… let’s just call them housing reality checks because they make sure the listing is legit! It doesn’t have to be a furnished finder listing- you can do this for ANY housing opportunity you find. SO. DARN. COOL. I also really appreciate they have a payment platform called cozy, so you can set up payments just like you would do with airbnb. I know they charge for people to list their houses on this platform, but they do not charge the travelers anything for using this platform- airbnb and VRBO have a service fee, where they make all of their money; but furnished finders does not! It is really a super traveler friendly way to find great spaces. I have had a friend list her housing option this way in Summerville, SC with success.
If You Still Can’t Find Anything
Some of the lesser known methods that can lead to some pretty unique housing situations include looking into staying in a tiny house, RV, yurt or teepee; having a roommate, or just browsing through all of the online housing options that are out there. Check out this list for more apps/websites you can use to find pet friendly, short term housing: Hipcamp, RVshare, Zillow, transplanthousing, flipkey, homeaway, sublet.com, padmapper, synergyhousing or Roomi or SpareRoom.
Other Considerations for Pet Friendly Travel Housing
There are a few variables that have to be considered here. Do you have a cat? A Dog? Both? Maybe a supposedly aggressive breed (ask me how I really feel about that load of horse radish) or a pet that’s still getting potty trained? Perhaps you have the sweetest dog ever but he or she is terrified of other dogs. There is a lot to consider. Please, check out my post about training your dog for travel and use the resources! Dogs need education just like we do as humans, and they respond to it wonderfully. We need to make sure we are spending the time with them that they deserve. A well trained rottweiler or pitbull can change preconceived notions. I do like to push any Pitt or Rotweiler mixes to have ‘mixed breed’ paperwork, or to go the extra mile with multiple training certificates to show housing hosts that your dog will be a supportive member of the community instead of detrimental. If your dog is a barker, potty training or anxious when you leave, please make training a priority and use resources to accommodate their needs. All dogs can be trained to be receptive to other dogs, to potty appropriately and to travel well with you. It takes time, patience, and sometimes its own budget category- but it’s SO worth it. Let me tell you- despite all of the variables IT IS 100% POSSIBLE to find housing with your adventure pet.
I do like to suggest in the hunt for dog friendly, short term housing to arrive to a contract early and research housing options when you arrive. I have consistently spent 2 weeks- a month at a state park, a hotel, or an airbnb to assess the housing situations, the safe areas in town and to get a feel for my options before committing to anything. Hosts feel better about having you after meeting you and your pet; travelers feel better about staying somewhere when they’ve seen the space.
The priority when searching for housing is always to find the best price, the best location and the best communication. Communication is essential when it comes to traveling as a health care professional because so often we come across housing situations where there has been a lack of communication and as a result someone ends up getting burnt. I also heavily recommend having a written contract for the housing situation no matter what. Even if the hospital provides you housing, have a contract written up so all expectations are clearly understood. I ran across a terrible situation in Missouri where the hospital provided housing and I did not have a contract and ended up having a 2 day notice to move out of the house. It was terrible and extremely stressful.
Last, consider having a resume for your pet. Show how your dog can be an asset to the housing situation, instead of a detriment. Make sure to add a photo, show off any training classes you’ve done, or environments you’ve trained your dog. This can be extremely helpful; so people have an idea what to expect from your pet!
My advice for you all is- prioritize training your dog for travel, use certificates and paperwork to support how they are an asset to any housing community, organize housing options to use multiple platforms to your advantage, ALWAYS have a housing contract and consider personally looking at options before committing.
For more tips on traveling with your pet, follow Suzanne from Suzanne
What about Housing with an RV?
The above are detailed accounts for traveling with a pet when you do not have an RV. And though I had planned to discuss RV options on this blog post too… I am exceeding my 2,000 words. By a lot. Holy crow, I can talk. Chloe knows it too.
For more info about pet friendly housing and travel, check out the following posts:
In the meantime, here is a massive barking hug to all of you who read this post, and to Erica from The LIST for letting me write this post for you all! Be sure to follow barking embarkers on social media! And be sure to keep getting updates from The LIST because it has worked for me in a slow market- TWICE. Cheers to you travelers! Happy Trails and Happy Tails to you all.