Using Rover When Traveling with Your Dog (Tips) [2021]

Traveling with a dog is a lot of fun because you get to explore new places with them and make new memories. But sometimes your pet may not be able to tagalong on certain excursions or activities such as hikes in national parks. In those cases, you need to find someone to watch your pet which can be very difficult to do when in the middle of traveling in a new area.

Luckily, you can use Rover to find a qualified person to care for your dog. But you need to make sure to do an adequate amount of due diligence before handing over your pet and in this article I will explain everything you need to know about using Rover when traveling.

What is Rover?

Rover is an app that allows you to find qualified people to care for your dog or cat. They offer different services including:

  • Dog boarding
  • House sitting
  • Drop in visits
  • Doggy daycare
  • Dog walking

If you are staying at a hotel, most likely you will be looking into dog boarding where your dog spends the night at the sitter’s house.

You may be able to work out an arrangement where the sitter comes by your hotel room to walk your dog or interact with the dog but that would involve leaving your dog by itself and giving access to your hotel room to someone potentially not on your hotel reservation both of which could be problematic.

Plus, you would be paying for the hotel pet fee in addition to the Rover fee, which could quickly add up. So this article is going to focus mostly on dog boarding which I think is the most applicable service for travelers.

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Tips when traveling

A lot of the tips that apply when you’re traveling also apply when using the Rover app generally. The big difference is that when traveling you will be heading to an area that you may not be familiar with, so you need to be a little bit more prepared and do a little bit more research.

Look for prior reviews and repeat clients

When searching for a sitter, Rover will display how many reviews someone has and also how many repeat clients they have. Ideally, you can find a dog sitter with a lot of reviews and a lot of repeat clients as well.

You might check the reviews for past clients who used the sitter when they were traveling to give you added assurance that the sitter knows how to work with people on the road (versus just locals). But if they have a lot of reviews, chances are they will know how to cater to your needs.

Evaluate the location

Because you are venturing somewhere unfamiliar, you want to take extra precaution to ensure that you are leaving your dog in good hands.

The way I think about it is that you should review the area where the dog sitter lives in the same way that you would evaluate an area you are thinking about moving to.

You can look for data on crime in the area. A helpful way to do this is to compare the crime rate in the area you currently live in versus the area that the sitter lives in. You could do that with a website like this.

You can always check to see if there are threads on Reddit that discuss the community. Many cities have subreddits dedicated to general discussion about the city or town and you could always drop a post in there and inquire to see what people think (just be prepared for some people to be biased).

CityData forums also often have pretty in-depth discussions about crime and safety in cities and different regions.

The end goal is just to have a good idea of whether or not the area/ neighborhood where the person lives is generally a good place to live.

Obviously, this will not guarantee that the person watching your pet will be a good fit or that they will do a good job but you will be increasing your odds of things going well by choosing an area where crime and drug use is less common.

Schedule a video call

Before you agree to allow someone to take care of your pet in another location you should schedule a video call with them. (If the sitter is unwilling to do a video call I would look for someone else.)

In this call you are trying to verify that the individual will be a good fit and you can do that by asking very specific questions and by providing them with relevant details about your pet.

Rover gives the potential sitter the ability to indicate a lot of these things but sometimes what is indicated in the app is not exactly what you encounter so I would still rely on interviewing the candidate to verify a lot of the details and not just rely on what you see in the app

What is the living situation?

Find out if this person lives in a house, apartment, condo, etc.

What is their schedule like?

You want to figure out when this person will be home and what their lifestyle is like. For example, do they work from home and if not do they come back for breaks? What are the working hours?

How often will your dog be exercised?

Find out how many times per day your dog will be walked or exercised. Ask how long will each session be and what exactly would it entail in terms of location and activities.

Ask questions like if they have a pool, a nearby dog park, etc.

Where will your dog be situated?

I would recommend bringing a kennel and verifying with the sitter that there will be space for your kennel. On the app, sitters can indicate if pets are allowed on furniture and on beds so another thing to clarify is if the dog be sleeping on furniture or in a kennel.

How often will they be taking pictures and video?

A good dog watcher will constantly take photos and even videos to give you peace of mind. Try to work out a schedule such as in the morning and evening when you can expect to receive a burst of photos or cute videos of your dog having fun and even making new friends.

Do they have any other pets or children?

You definitely want to know if they have other pets at the house. And not just that but you want to know if the pets are going to be interacting with each other or sharing a space. It could obviously be really bad if the pets are left sharing a space and they are not getting along.

Whether or not children will be present should be another important question asked.

Do they have a yard?

Rover will indicate if they have a yard and if it is fenced but it is good to verify this.

How will they handle an emergency?

Verify that the person knows where the nearest vet clinic is and ask them how they will handle an emergency. If you think you’ll be off the grid then make sure they have a back up phone number for someone close to you to let them know what is going on with the pet.

How do they handle discipline?

I like to know how people handle discipline with pets to ensure that they have a procedure in place for when your pet is not listening or being too much to handle.

Ideally, they will understand how to use re-direction instead of forceful methods of discipline. This is one major reason why I don’t book sitters who are not pet owners.

If your dog is not well mannered you may even consider not using Rover because you could be asking for trouble.

Information you want to give out

We have a document printed out that has our dog’s daily routine on it and it is extremely helpful for anyone watching our dog.

This has everything including:

  • Wake up and sleep times
  • Meal times and quantity of food
  • Walk times
  • Treat times

You may not be able to expect the sitter to follow the regime exactly but at least it will be helpful to give them an idea of what your dog is used to do so they can try to follow it loosely.

You also want to let the person watching your dog know if the dog has any quirks. This will prevent them from being surprised in certain circumstances.

Let them know about things like if your dog:

  • Goes crazy when it smells food
  • Pulls on the leash
  • Is sensitive to loud noises
  • Has a problem with jumping
  • Hates cats
  • Is afraid of water

And obviously if your pet has medical needs you need to make it a priority to ensure that the individual is responsible enough to administer any medications.

Inspect the home

After you have committed to an individual you will eventually meet up with him. You can arrange for that person to come pick up your pet but I would recommend against that.

It is much better for you to physically inspect the home before allowing them to watch your pup. This will also help ease your pet into getting comfortable with the new setting.

When you are talking to them in your video call you can ask them if they are okay with you checking out the home before you drop off your pet. If for some reason you are not able to view the home then at least get them to give you a tour via a video call.

Conservatively estimate pick up and drop off times

Whenever you are traveling things tend to not always go as planned. For example, you may be heading out on a hike and the hike ends up taking you much longer to complete. Or you may not realize that there is a major highway shut down and you could be forced to detour on a much longer route.

It’s just much easier for things to come up when you are not familiar with the place you’re in.

For that reason, you need to make sure that you communicate this to the dog sitter on Rover. Be pretty conservative on estimating when you can drop the dog off and pick the dog up because you do not want to get put in a bind where the dog sitter is forced to leave the house without you being able to pick up your dog.

Rover dog photos

Bring the essentials

Since you will be traveling you may not be able to bring everything along that you would like. Whenever we used Rover when traveling we made sure to bring the following items:

  • Kennel/bed
  • Blanket with our scent
  • Water and food bowl
  • Medication (if applicable)
  • Two favorite toys
  • Favorite treats including something our pup will spend hours munching on
  • Harness/leash

We also have an Apple AirTag on our dog’s leash just in case he ever gets away.

Flying with a pet?

If you are looking to fly with your pet be sure to check out our guides for different airlines:

Final word

I’ve used Rover for our corgi when traveling and I was pretty pleased with the experience. I think that it is a great service but it is the type of thing where you definitely need to do a fair amount of due diligence to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

If you go with someone highly reviewed with many repeat clients and verify things like the location, and all of the necessary details mentioned above, I think you stand very good odds of having a great experience for your dog.

The Best Free Travel App for Offline Maps

If you’re like us and do a lot of short, three day trips you may not always want to bother with buying a pre-paid SIM card and mess around with taking out your own SIM card and risk ruining it or losing it. The problem is you may not have any kind of cell phone service or data when you go to certain countries, which can be a good thing sometimes but can be a real pain when you need to quickly pull up directions or find somewhere to eat. So if you’re looking for one of the best free offline map apps that doesn’t require data then consider Maps.Me.


Way better than Google or Apple Maps

Some of you may have relied on Google Maps on your mobile devices even without service. It’s true that your GPS does work, but only to a certain extent. I’m pretty sure phones like iPhones use an “assisted GPS” meaning that without access to data, your maps are not going to be complete at all and often times will be impossible to navigate with. Just about every time I tried to rely on just Google or Apple Maps on my iPhone I had major issues. Often time only a single blue dot would show up amid a screen full of gridlines rendering the map completely useless. So while you can just try to get by with one of those apps, I highly recommend to not risk getting lost and going with an app like Maps.Me.

Maps.Me: zero internet required and great features

Maps.Me requires zero internet connection (it can even function in airplane mode). This applies whether you get the app from the Apple App Store Google Play Store or off Amazon. Speaking of purchasing the app, another great thing about this app is that it’s free!

The app has just about everything covered in terms of locations. As far as I know it has every major country covered and maybe even all or most of the smaller countries — it even has maps for small islands.

The maps are also exceptionally detailed. You can find just about everything: pharmacies, cafes, pubs, restaurants, public bathrooms, parking garages, etc. The streets are also marked for the direction of traffic flow, which proved to be a great asset, especially in places like Lisbon, Portugal where driving can quickly become a nightmare.

Maps.Me also has a helpful “auto direction” feature so that the maps orients itself with the direction that you’re heading, which is great for both walking and driving.

The maps are very easy to manipulate with touch zoom and two-finger touch turning of the maps. I was really impressed with the speed of the app as well. Compared to Google Maps, this app was making our life a lot easier as we approached exits and needed to receive directions promptly. Another handy option is that you can tap on a place and “star” the location to bookmark it for later.

The search feature is great as well. You can look up just about everything from food, hotels, and transport and even less common things like WiFi sites, ATMs, and different types of entertainment and sites. I will say that a few restaurants didn’t pop up for us while we were in the Algarve (Portugal); however, those same restaurants didn’t pop up on Google Maps so they may have just not been officially listed. Still, just about everything else we searched for came up without any issues so I was pretty impressed.


Downloading the Maps

It’s pretty easy getting started on the map, too. You simply zoom in on a country and eventually a “download map” will appear. You can also search for the country in the list option. (For some big countries, like the USA, you actually download the states individually.) The basic maps will take up a decent portion of your memory but it can vary somewhat, especially for countries where you can download region-specific maps. For example, the map for just England UK is 379 MB to download, while the map for the Paris, France region is only 107MB.

In addition to downloading just the maps, you can download routing directions for the country, too. That will require more memory for your phone to store but I used the navigation routes in Portugal and I found the routes to be vastly superior to the crazy routes that Google Maps was sending us so the extra memory required was well worth it. Sometimes the routing options are only about 20 more MB but sometimes they almost double the size like England’s which goes from 379 MB to  566 MB. Now that I have a much bigger iPhone (64 GB) this isn’t so much of a worry for me but before I had the 16 GB and could only afford to download a couple of maps. Thus, I think the only drawback of this app is the space that it takes up, which will probably only be an issue if you have a phone with limited storage capacity. (I believe you can save maps to your SD card with other types of phones.)

I know that there are many other options for offline maps that are solid choices but I haven’t felt the need to try out any other apps because I’ve been so satisfied with this app to date. So look around and research other offline map apps if you must but you really can’t go wrong with this app!