One of the most difficult issues to deal with when planning a vacation is whether you will take your children and pets with you or leave them behind. If you have children, naturally you will want to take them with you on most of your vacations, especially during times when school is out such as Christmas/New Year”s, Spring Break and Summer Vacation.

Taking children and pets involves a commitment to a certain kind of vacation and definitely limits your choices. Some resorts are designated for couples only and most prohibit pets. Your nightlife, dining and entertainment options will certainly be restricted when taking younger children with you. This may cause you to take several different vacations each year”some with children and pets, others leaving them behind.

The following are pointers for persons leaving children behind while vacationing:

Leave children in the care of trustworthy relatives or friends who you know have already established good relationships with your kids.

Decide whether the children will go to the other person”s house or stay in your own home. The latter is preferable if routines such as school attendance are to be maintained.

Inform the baby-sitter of any schedules for school, club meetings, sports, lessons, etc. and make sure that they are aware of any special dietary or medicinal needs that your kids have.

Leave a list of emergency phone numbers which will include numbers for the doctor, dentist and local emergency services.

Make known specific house rules such as curfews, computer use and television watching restrictions.

If the children are prone to loneliness leave a photo of yourself or all of the family together for them to look at and leave a nice loving note telling them to be good while assuring them that you will return soon.

Try not to give your children an open line to call you whenever they wish. Instead, set aside a couple of times in the middle of the vacation when you can call back and talk to them on your own time. Send them some brief e-mails if you wish but try not to preoccupy yourself by constantly checking in on them.

Bring back some nice gifts and souvenirs for your children and they will more readily accept your going away without them the next time.

Leaving behind pets is even more common than leaving your kids behind while vacationing. The following are suggestions for pet care while you are away:

If you do want not board your animals at a kennel, find a friend, relative or pet-sitting service that will come to your home to feed and take care of your pets.

If the animals are caged such as birds or hamsters, make sure the sitter is reminded to always close the cages after attending to the pets.

For uncaged animals such as cats and dogs, make sure the sitter does not inadvertently allow the animal to get outside while visiting the home unless they are specifically meant to go out while under their care (i.e. taking the dog for a walk).

If the pet sitter is trusted and their schedule permits, have them live in your home. This will not only provide company for your pets but will provide extra security for the home.

Give specific feeding instructions so that the pets are not over or under fed or fed the wrong things. If the person is not staying with your pet make sure that they always leave a fresh and ample supply of food and water. For water to be constantly available you can assure that the toilet is always left with the seat up (as long as there are no chemicals present in the toilet”s water supply).

Leave sufficient supplies such as newspapers, garbage bags and cat litter so that the animals can be properly cleaned up after.

If the event that the pet becomes sick, leave instructions for the pet sitter on what to do and who to contact (i.e. veterinarian).

Make known the pet”s peculiarities such as its hiding places.

Have the pet sitter come for a visit before you leave to watch them interact and handle the animal in order to be satisfied that they will care for them properly.

Your pets, just like your children can become lonely when you are gone. Leaving a clothing article with your aroma on it can help to soothe some pets. Believe me, my cat used to sleep on my coat when I was gone for an extended period!

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