Meet a member: Katharina and cute little Matilda

By Katharina Knoll

Whenever people ask about my experience of I’m always taken back to my very first exchange…

It was my family’s first exchange, and I was meeting up with them from the concrete jungle.  But I wasn’t traveling alone.  Oh no! My furry sidekick, Matilda, never passes up on an adventure so she came along too.

I’m used to traveling with her, but this time it was different. This time we were staying somewhere that would feel like a home away from home. It just so happened to be that the generous lady who we exchanged with was staying in town nearby. Rhoda offered to take care of Matilda while we were out and about: taking her on walks and making sure she was good on water. Since she had two cats of her own, we also made sure that they were taken care of as well. That was such an incredible bonus since we don’t like to leave our furry friends behind for too long, and we couldn’t thank Rhoda enough. But really… with Matilda’s cuteness overload, who wants to leave her behind anyway?


Now that my family has exchanged homes several times now I can share more insights on what to do when traveling with a pet.

  • First things first, book a flight!  Each airlines has different regulations and prices so call ahead of time or check out their site.  I often find that calling is easier, and you never know what special incentives they can share.   For instance, when I was traveling with JetBlue I learned about their JetPaws™ Pet Program so I can earn extra travel points when Matilda joins me. Note: your ticket needs to be purchased beforehand.
  • Like a baby… Traveling with a pet is kind of like traveling with a baby.  Make sure all the necessities are packed: a bowl to replenish their water, treats, dry or freeze-dried food, poop bags, pee pads, a cozy blanket, a couple toys and anything else your dog may need.  Nowadays they sell so many travel accessories for pets, and oftentimes you can find good deals online or at off-price stores like TJ Maxx (aka TK Maxx).
  • Playdate. Look up some pet parks and/or outdoor excursions around the area you’ll be staying at, and any other things they might be able to enjoy with you as well.  Some cities and countries are more pet-friendly than others, and you can take them practically everywhere with you.
  • Emergencies… just in case!  Heaven forbid anything happens to your furry friend while traveling, but to be on the safe side look up nearby animal hospitals (including 24/7 ones).  On a somewhat related note, pay your regular vet a visit before you travel to make sure your pet is up-to-date on its shots and what not.
  • Day of the flight.  Make sure all the necessities are packed and make time to take them out for a nice walk before boarding the plane.


As usual, you can always ask the people who you’re exchanging with any questions, but some great resources for yourself are:

Having arrived late after a major airport delay, when we came to our host’s door at 2am (oh my) Rhoda greeted us with a warm heart and welcomed us to her home. Come morning we came to discover that she had left us baskets of apples from her tree (yes, the apple tree from the first picture) for us to enjoy!  First exchange was marvelous, and so reaffirming about the sense of humanity–one of the many things I truly enjoy about  I think Matilda would have to agree.


What are some of your tried-and-true tips and experiences when traveling with your pet?


About the author

Katharina Knoll, a Florida-based food, wellness and art enthusiast has enjoyed several home exchanges with her family.  Enraptured by the intersection of food, lifestyle and wellness–Kat is the founder, health coach and creative at Behind Foods.  Follow her blog, Katharina’s Food Adventures, and keep in touch through her Facebook fan pageInstagram and Twitter.

2 Comments on “Meet a member: Katharina and cute little Matilda

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