When it comes time to go on vacation or travel, it is sometimes hard to know what to do with pets. On the one hand, you may prefer to board them in a kennel, but some pets don’t do as well with other pets. Rescued dogs, in particular, can also have difficulties in kennels or boarding facilities because they have already been abandoned at least once. Leaving them in a kennel or pet hotel may create unnecessary trauma for them. Here are five best practices for leaving your pets at home when you travel.

1. Check with your vet

No matter what kind of pet you have from hamsters to gerbils to goldfish to bearded dragons, it’s always best to get input from a trained professional as to how best to care for your pet when you are away. In addition, they will also be aware of the specific needs of your individual pet. If you have a pet with health issues, they can often recommend a reputable and professional pet sitter or even someone with veterinary experience to help with pet care. If at all possible, it is best to leave your pets with someone they know (like a friend or family member), but if not, make sure it is at least with someone well qualified to care for pets.

2. Leave detailed instructions

Be sure to leave detailed instructions including veterinary information and any specific feeding routines and where any toys or other supplies may be located. It’s a good idea to inform them of any individual habits or behaviors of your pet, including how they let you know they need to go out or where they like (or are allowed) to sleep at night especially if you’re hiring a pet sitter who will also stay in your home.

3. Pet-proof your house

Pets can often behave very differently when you are away than when you are home. Unless your pet sitter or caretaker plans to be in the house 24-hours a day while you are gone, chances are good your pet will be left alone for a period of time. If they are not crate-trained, be sure and close off any rooms you may not want them to destroy or put away any special family heirlooms. Your sitter should also leave adequate food and water for when your pet is alone.

4. Make sure they have a collar with an updated ID

If your pet doesn’t already wear a collar, it might be a good time to get them one. This is particularly important if you are leaving your pets with someone they don’t know, as they may actually go out looking for you. Make sure that if they get lost, anyone that finds them has plenty of contact information to get them safely home.

5. Don’t be afraid to use nanny or security cameras

If you are able to go on vacation and trust that your caretaker will take good care of your pets, great. If not, don’t be afraid to invest in a nannycam or security camera to check in on your pets occasionally. If you don’t personally know the person you hired to watch your pets and your home, using a nanny cam or security camera is a good option to give you peace of mind knowing you can watch over them even when you are away.