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Australians cancel holidays for their pets

Jack Russell Terrier puppy perched on top of Christmas presents looks intensely at the camera
Aussies by the millions are forgoing holidays due to their love of pets ...

This new research from TrustedHousesitters examines the travel habits of Aussie pet owners, finding that:

  • One in 10 cancelled a holiday at least once to be at home with their furry friend
  • One in three won’t go overseas on holiday if they don’t have adequate pet care

Australians really do love their pets – so much so that one in three of us (30%) won’t go on holiday, according to research released today from house and pet sitting service TrustedHousesitters.

The study of 1,000 pet owners for TrustedHousesitters examined the lifestyle impacts that pets have on our travel habits. With 5.7 million households owning a pet in Australia (over 13 million people), roughly 4 million people choose to stay at home rather than getting away, due to concerns around their pet’s wellbeing.

Of those that did go on holiday, the majority (69%) said they have felt guilty when leaving their pet behind to travel, while over one-third of Australian pet owners (36%) have turned down a weekend away, citing pet care difficult to arrange.

Additionally, 18% of respondents say they have regularly missed attending social engagements and 16% have left friends and family unvisited in favour of staying at home to ensure their pets are being cared for. Of those surveyed, 6% have even avoided going on dates, picking their pets over love.

“It’s a sad fact for pet owners that holidays can be such a hassle. One in 10 owners have even gone as far as to cancel a holiday,” explained Tim Lyons, TrustedHousesitters’ CEO.
Woman lies in the grass cuddling four kittens and a Golden Retriever dog

“Pet sitting does rely on finding a sitter that you can trust, but there is no need to miss out on cultural and travel experiences just because you are a pet owner. On average, our members travel up to three times a year, which is more than most Australian pet owners as a result of having the peace of mind that comes with finding a sitter.”

Lyons continued, “TrustedHousesitters helps pet owners travel by connecting them with animal lovers who will look after pets in their own homes at no cost, with a network of owners and sitters in over 130 countries.”

When it comes to Australian pet owners who regularly take holidays, 29% opt for a trusted pet sitter versus putting their pet in a kennel or boarding house (21%), while 35% of pet owners will make arrangements for their furry friend to be cared for by friends or family. However, many pet owners are also conscious not to disrupt their pet’s routine.

Nearly one in four respondents said they would never travel overseas or even interstate without their pet.

“Australians may well prioritise their pets over visiting friends or dating, but it doesn’t mean they should forfeit a well-deserved holiday too. While it is hard not to worry about an animal that is essentially part of the family, TrustedHousesitters can help pet owners travel more frequently by connecting them with caring and trusted pet lovers who don’t charge a dollar,” added Lyons.

In a British study of veterinary experts conducted by TrustedHousesitters, 100% believed animals responded better to a new carer rather than a new environment as animals are particularly bonded to their home.

About TrustedHousesitters

TrustedHousesitters is based in Brighton, UK and it is now the world’s largest house-sitting platform, facilitating more than two million nights of house and pet sitting globally, and saving its members more than half a billion dollars in accommodation and pet care costs since its inception. Its community, which is nearly half a million strong, is spread across more than 130 countries.

For a small annual membership fee, members can find caring and verified house sitters or unlimited house sits all over the world.

Because no money changes hands between owners and sitters, the business has one of the strongest and most trusted reputations in travel. The site has more five-star reviews than any other travel or pet company on Trustpilot.

MEDIA RELEASE, 20th November 2018

We thought we'd investigate a little further and spoke to Cath Psychal from Victoria about her personal experience of how she managed to get away whilst having two senior dogs.

Q: When was the last time you went on vacation without your dogs? Did you use to stay at home or find pet-friendly accommodation and take your dogs with you?

Cathy: We have never let our dogs stop us from taking a vacation, but as our two dogs got older, we found friends (a retired couple) that we knew well to look after our dogs in their own home. Prior to this, we boarded them in kennels, but never felt happy about this choice. We kept worrying about how they coped in an environment they weren’t used to and with other dogs, even though they had each other as company. 

One of our dogs, Winston, was going blind and taking him out of his familiar surroundings made him quite anxious. Then our other dog Ellie, who is now sadly deceased, suffered from worsening ‘doggy dementia’ and also didn’t adjust well to the change of environment. 
For this reason, we asked for help from our friends but we kept feeling extremely guilty leaving both of our dogs behind and for the strain we put on our friends having to care for them.

For a while we found dog-friendly accommodation for shorter holidays so that our dogs could come with us, but it was a struggle bringing them along on the holidays, so when we found out about TrustedHousesitters it really was the perfect solution for us. By having a pet sitter taking care of our dogs in their own safe environment, we can go away and enjoy our holiday with peace of mind and without having to worry about our dogs. The platform has also allowed us to go away for longer holidays and this year we went away twice, once for seven weeks and another time for three weeks.

Q: Why do you feel that staying at a boarding kennel have been traumatic for your senior dog? 
What was your main concern with using a pet sitting service? 

Cathy: To be completely transparent, I don’t think either of our dogs would have survived in kennels. As they are rescue dogs they both suffer from anxiety and Winston is also blind. They need plenty of love, attention and both need a lot of care such as medication and special diets, therefore need to stay in a familiar environment and keep to their regular routine.

I didn’t hesitate to sign up to TrustedHousesitters, after reading sitters’ profiles and the positive reviews they had I knew TrustedHousesitters was to answer to our problems. The joining fee is reasonable, and we have had a great experience using the platform, even if we only have used it once so far.

Q: Did you get to interview your chosen house sitter or was the whole process outsourced online?

Cathy: The first time I was looking for a pet sitter on TrustedHousesitters I actually treated each application as if I was interviewing a candidate for a job. 

We love our dogs and we knew their medical conditions were going to be quite demanding and we were inundated with applications from all around the world so we could afford to be picky. 

Once I shortlisted my favourite pet sitters, I got them to answer a few poignant questions through the secure message service that is provided on the platform and before making the final cut we spoke to our sitter by a video link. The process was very simple and streamlined and in the end we felt confident and safe with our choice of pet sitter.

Q: Where did you go on one of your trips and did you get any updates from the sitter whilst you were away?

Cathy: This year we spent seven weeks away, mainly in London. My daughter, who lives there, gave birth to our first grandchild and we wanted to spend plenty of time with our new family member. When we were away, we got regular email and photo updates from our sitters so we never felt out of touch. It was such a relief to have our dogs looked after by a reliable pet sitter in their own home and knowing they were spoilt with love and attention.

When we were in England we actually tried out our first pet sitting experience through TrustedHousesitters and we spent a few days looking after a gorgeous German Shepherd girl. It was great to see the other side of the coin and try out pet sitting on our own.

Q: What was your overall impression with the service provided by TrustedHousesitters and what advice would you give to someone considering using them?

Cathy: My experience so far of TrustedHousesitters is that it’s very well thought out and a professional company. It’s easy and secure to find suitable sitters and you can choose to go with local people or find pet sitters who travel the world. The process of finding a sitter is straightforward and I would advise anyone considering to join not to hesitate as it’s a great way to find like-minded animal lovers who are prepared to look after your pets and home in return for a change of scenery.

I have had no trouble finding good, experienced sitters and have just booked an eight week holiday for 2019, simply because I know that my dogs are going to be happy and safe and that my house will be well looked after by a reliable pet and house sitter once again.

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